Black Knight (Dane Whitman)

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Black Knight
Avengers48.jpg
The Avengers #48 (Jan. 1968)
Cover art by George Tuska.
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Avengers #47 (Dec. 1967)
Created by Roy Thomas
John Buscema
In-story information
Alter ego Dane Whitman
Team affiliations MI-13
Avengers
Defenders
Ultraforce
Excalibur
Heroes for Hire
Masters of Evil
Abilities Expert swordsmanship, magic senses.
Wields the Sword of Light and Shield of Night.

Dane Whitman is a fictional comic book superhero in the Marvel Comics universe, the company's third person to bear the name Black Knight. Created by writer Roy Thomas and artist John Buscema, he first appeared in The Avengers #47 (Dec. 1967)

Publication history[edit]

Following his introduction, the Dane Whitman Black Knight became a recurring character in the superhero-team comic The Avengers, with his first solo story appearing shortly afterward in the anthology title Marvel Super-Heroes #17 (Nov. 1968). From 1979 to 1980, the Black Knight also appeared in black & white feature in the Marvel UK comic Hulk Weekly, where the feature was to be the longest-lasting of the comic's UK-originated material, appearing in the majority of the title's 63 issues. It was written by Steve Parkhouse with art by Paul Neary and John Stokes. He also appeared in his own Marvel US title, the miniseries Black Knight #1-4 (June-Sept. 1990) by husband-and-wife writers Roy and Dann Thomas and successive pencillers Tony DeZuniga and Rich Buckler. This was followed by the one-shot Black Knight: Exodus #1 (Dec. 1996), by writer Ben Raab and penciller Jimmy Cheung.

Fictional character biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Dane Whitman was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts and is best known as the modern-day Black Knight, continuing a legacy that began in medieval England. The first Black Knight, Whitman's ancestor Sir Percy of Scandia, lived during the reign of King Arthur. Percy's murder at the hand of his nemesis Modred began a string of successors, all of them Percy's descendants.

It was revived by Whitman's uncle Nathan Garrett, who became the supervillain Black Knight II. After being mortally wounded during a battle with Iron Man, he escaped to his estate, summoned his nephew to confess his crimes, and asked him to restore honor to their family legacy and atone for Garrett's misdeeds.[1]

The Avengers[edit]

Whitman became the Black Knight, creating Aragorn for his mount. During his first outing, he was mistaken for his uncle and attacked by the Avengers, though they eventually realized their mistake.[2] Later, he infiltrated the Masters of Evil, proving his worth to the Avengers, who offered him provisional membership.[3] Shortly afterward, he inherited Castle Garrett and traveled to England. He encountered the spirit of Sir Percy of Scandia there and was given the Ebony Blade.[4] He then encountered Doctor Strange, and helped fight the extra-dimensional threat Tiboro.[5]

Marvel Super-Heroes #17 (Nov. 1968). Black Knight figure by John Romita Sr.; background art by Howard Purcell (penciller) and Dan Adkins (inker), from page 14 of story.[6]

While still a provisional Avenger, he helped defeat Kang the Conqueror, who was given the power of death over the Avengers by the Grandmaster as a prize for winning a recent game. Since Whitman was not a full Avenger at the time, Kang had no power over him, and so Whitman was able to defeat him with relative ease. Whitman then officially joined the Avengers in recognition of his aid.[7] Later the Ebony Blade was used by the Olympian war god Ares, to put out the Promethean Flame and turn most of the Olympians to crystal. Black Knight travelled to Olympus with other members and helped defeat Ares.[8]

The Defenders and Captain Britain[edit]

Whitman was an early member of the Defenders. He also became the team's first casualty after kissing the Enchantress - petrifying him.[9] His spirit was drawn to the 12th century by the sorcerer Amergin the Druid, and he took spiritual possession of his ancestor, the Crusader Sir Eobar Garrington until Garrington died due to the Evil Eye. Meanwhile, Whitman chose to stay in the 12th century and was cared for by fellow Defender Valkyrie.[10] Whitman then battled the Fomor, alongside the time-traveling Avengers. He then employed the Evil Eye to seal the portal between Earth and Avalon. Whitman returned to the 20th century and his original body was restored. He was accompanied by a gift from Amergin: a black, winged horse called Valinor, named after the fictional location of that name.[11] Some time later Merlyn sent Whitman to locate the lost hero Captain Britain and, with his aid, travel to the Otherworld dimension to save Camelot.[12] Both heroes were briefly kidnapped by the Grandmaster to participate in the original Contest of Champions.[13]

The Blood Curse[edit]

Whitman learned the Ebony Blade was cursed: Every time it drew blood, it drove its user closer to madness. Whitman freed Sir Percy's spirit from the Earthly plane, purging the blood curse from the sword.[14] Whitman resumed active duty with the Avengers,[15] and battled against the fourth Masters of Evil while they invaded Avengers Mansion.[16]

When the Sub-Mariner used the sword to kill his wife Marrina, who had become a monster, the blood curse was revived. The curse began to transform Whitman's body into the same mystic metal as the blade.[17] He was forced to don an exo-skeleton when the curse's creeping paralysis began to affect his mobility. He also showed signs of mental instability.[18] Ultimately, the blood curse became so virulent, that it would draw blood from anyone touching the Black Knight.[19] Sir Percy took possession of Whitman's body to stop the blood curse.[20] The transformation was undone by the sorcerer Doctor Strange, Whitman and the ghost of Sir Percy. Sir Percy's spirit merged with the sword, canceling the curse and returning Whitman to normal.[21] Whitman stopped using the Ebony Blade and left the Avengers.[volume & issue needed] He later developed a weapon that projected a sword-like sheath of energy (a lightsaber) as a replacement.[volume & issue needed] The Ebony Blade would come into the possession of Sean Dolan, who had briefly served as the "squire" of the Black Knight; it transformed Dolan into the Bloodwraith.[22]

Sersi[edit]

After rejoining the Avengers, Whitman was a major member of the team and eventually became the de facto field leader in Captain America's absence. He became romantically involved with his teammate Sersi (of the Eternals). This relationship soon came under strain as Sersi proved increasingly unstable due to the machinations of a man called Proctor. In an attempt to stabilize her, fellow Eternal Ikaris mentally bonded Sersi and Whitman with a process called the "gann josin," but this did little to slow the process — not least due to Whitman's resentment at having the bond imposed upon him, especially as he was beginning to turn his attentions toward Crystal, one of the Inhumans' royal family. Sersi eventually snapped completely, forcing Whitman to aid her — until the sight of her attacking Crystal enabled him to break the gann josin's hold on him temporarily. Proctor was later revealed to be an alternate universe counterpart of Whitman. Having been rejected by his own Sersi and twisted by the gann josin and his Ebony Blade's curse, he now traveled the multiverse with the aid of a captured Watcher named Ute on a mission to kill the Sersi of every reality. Ultimately, Sersi slew Proctor with his own Ebony Blade and was subsequently forced to leave the Marvel Universe to restore her mind. Whitman left with her, partly because he didn't want to come between Crystal and her husband Quicksilver and partly because he felt responsible for what had happened to Sersi.[volume & issue needed]

The pair were transported to the Ultraverse (home of the Malibu Comics characters). They were separated and Whitman became the leader of the superhero team called Ultraforce. He and Sersi briefly reunited to return to the Marvel universe, but something went wrong along the way. Instead of returning to the Marvel universe's present, they ended up in the 12th century and Whitman once again found his spirit in the body of Sir Eobar Garrington. His consciousness was buried under Garrington's, however, and Sersi was forced to pass Garrington's soul onto the next plane (with his permission) to restore Whitman's consciousness. Whitman found himself embroiled in a conflict with the evil mutant Apocalypse alongside his ancestor's best friend Bennet du Paris, the mutant who would become Exodus. Apocalypse tried to get du Paris to kill his friend, but du Paris refused. Judging him weak, Apocalypse put du Paris in a state of suspended animation. Out of respect for his ancestor's friendship with du Paris, Whitman organized an order of knights to guard du Paris' body, which they did through the ages until he was found and revived by Magneto. Sersi created another portal, this time to the correct time period, and she and Whitman departed the 12th century.[volume & issue needed]

Whitman and Sersi were somehow separated in transit, which ripped their gann josin bond apart. Whitman found himself back in New York in the proper time, but without Sersi. He was soon dealt another shattering blow when he learned that the Avengers and most of the other major heroes had apparently perished in battle with Onslaught while he was gone. Whitman then learned the Lady of the Lake had selected him as the Pendragon for his age. She bestowed upon him new mystical equipment from Avalon: a suit of armor, the enchanted flying horse Strider, the Shield of Night, which absorbed energy, and the Sword of Light, which returned that energy in the form of an energy projectile.[volume & issue needed]

Heroes for Hire[edit]

The newly empowered Knight helped the Heroes for Hire defeat Nitro, then accepted Iron Fist's offer to join the newly formed team (due primarily to his concern over former teammate and friend Hercules, who had been drinking heavily out of grief for the Avengers' deaths). Whitman eventually learned what happened to Sersi when she reappeared asking for help to defeat yet another of her old enemy Ghaur's nefarious schemes. Later, the Heroes for Hire found themselves in the midst of a major conflict in the High Evolutionary's city of Wundagore. The Black Knight left the team to assist the Knights of Wundagore along with Quicksilver and later returned to the Avengers when they expanded their roster to include satellite teams around the world. Whitman was sent to the Slorenian border, where the Bloodwraith had used the Ebony Blade to absorb the souls of the entire population after they had been killed by the android Ultron. After the "Kang War" arc, the Avengers disbanded these global teams.[volume & issue needed]

New Excalibur[edit]

Whitman reappeared in New Excalibur in the mid-2000s. He has opened up a museum in England chronicling the Black Knights that have existed throughout history. Whitman recently learned that Sir Percy was not the original Black Knight, but that eight men had held the Ebony Blade prior. The Ebony Blade however corrupted these men, and Sir Percy was deemed the only one noble enough to wield the Blade. Also at this time, Merlin told Whitman that he must not destroy the Blade as he had previously been told to do. It is not clear whether he has access to his Avalonian equipment at present. In New Excalibur, Whitman was invited to join the team but after the second adventure with them he refuses as he believes that his Ebony Blade is not the real one and needs to find the original.[23]

MI: 13[edit]

Whitman returned to join MI-13 as part of the Secret Invasion crossover.[24] He was armed by what he believed was the Ebony Blade, which strongly encouraged him to kill, but was later revealed to be a fake [25] created by Dracula;[26] this fake possessed an intelligence and fed on blood. Dane also was revealed to have a literal stone heart, given to him by Sersi to keep him "above it all" and uninvolved.[27]

Dane battled the Skrull forces in London, showing a new informal and wisecracking personality (a deliberate defence against the "Ebony Blade's" suggestions), and quickly bonded with medic Faiza Hussain, with whom he appears to have romantic tensions. Following the Skrull war, he made her his squire.[28]

After discovering he did not have the real Ebony Blade, he went to Wakanda and was given the real Blade back. He still retains the fake, vampiric sword.[27]

Original Sin[edit]

During the events of Original Sin, a historian named Rebecca Stevens learned that Whitman had violently attacked and nearly killed a new version of Savage Steel due to the influence of the Ebony Blade. Rebecca pleaded with him to turn over the sword to S.H.I.E.L.D. or the Avengers, reasoning that its blood lust was driving him mad, but Whitman refused. Despite his assurance that he was fine, his home was seen covered in slash marks, with Whitman himself curled up on the floor in a mentally unhinged state.[29]

Around this same time, Dane returned to action as the leader of Euroforce, a team of European superheroes.[30] Though he claimed to not be bitter about being excluded from Captain America's new team of Avengers, it was implied that Dane's deteriorating mental state had been the very reason he was passed over for membership.[31]

Powers and abilities[edit]

The Black Knight was originally a normal athletic human being with no superhuman powers. While sharing the gann josin with Sersi, his strength, speed, and other physical abilities were mildly enhanced. After the gann josin link was broken, Whitman returned to being a normal human being. As part of his new role as the Pendragon, however, Whitman has gained minor mystical abilities, such as the ability to see through mystical illusions by looking "past the mundane."

Whitman is an excellent swordsman whose skills have allowed him to best the Swordsman in combat. He is also an excellent fighter in general, able to hold his own against such skilled fighters as Captain America and Wolverine. He is also an expert horseman. Additionally, Whitman started out as a scientist, though specializing in physics (having earned a Master's degree in physics), he is proficient in a wide array of advanced sciences and technologies, including genetic and mechanical engineering; and continues to approach things from a scientific perspective more often than not, despite his ties to the world of magic. He has also demonstrated good leadership skills as leader of both the Avengers and Ultraforce. He has strong strategic and tactical skills.

Weapons and equipment[edit]

Whitman has gone through several different sets of equipment since his creation.

Scientific equipment[edit]

Whitman first became the Black Knight to atone for the crimes his uncle Nathan Garrett had committed using the name. He started out with his uncle's non-magical tools, namely a power lance that fired energy blasts, a suit of body armor, and Aragorn, a genetically engineered flying white horse.

Ebony Blade[edit]

Main article: Ebony Blade

Whitman eventually gained the Ebony Blade, a weapon that had been passed down through the ages from one of his ancestors to another. Although it was incredibly powerful, it carried a harmful curse that caused Whitman to eventually abandon it. As of New Excalibur #10, Whitman gained possession of a faux Ebony Blade.

Neural Sword[edit]

After giving up the Ebony Blade, Whitman designed and constructed a neural sword. The neural sword resembles a lightsaber in both its appearance and its effects on non-living matter, but the sword functions differently when used against living beings. Its "laser" blade is actually a neural disruptor; when Whitman cuts someone with the sword, it delivers a massive jolt to the being's central nervous system. This jolt is usually enough to incapacitate someone within just a few hits. Alternately, Whitman can reverse the neural sword's energy stream so that it encases its hilt and, by extension, Whitman's fist in a high-energy field. Using the sword in this fashion enables Whitman to punch with some unspecified degree of enhanced strength. The neural sword also creates a refraction field used to defend against energy-based attacks.

Avalonian equipment[edit]

In the 1997 Heroes for Hire series, the Lady of the Lake named Whitman the Pendragon for the current era and gave him an amulet. When Whitman says the word "Avalon" while wearing the amulet, he gains the following:

Armor: The armor Whitman currently wears has been described as mystical. It is said to be supernaturally durable for its light weight, but specific information on the durability of the armor is scarce.
Strider: Strider is a mystical creature like Valinor rather than a genetically engineered one like Aragorn, but he is unique in that he possesses mystical powers of his own. Most notably, Strider is capable of far greater airspeeds than either of Whitman's previous mounts; he is easily capable of breaking the sound barrier. Whitman can verbally summon Strider to appear at his side or return to Avalon as he pleased. While mounted on Strider, Whitman is magically protected from any harsh environments such as the depths of the ocean.
Shield of Night: The Shield of Night is a mystical kite shield; it not only protects him from most attacks but also absorbs the energy of the forces directed against it. He can then release that stored energy in the form of power blasts from his blade, the Sword of Light. Whitman has used it to block and absorb the energy of everything from Nitro's explosive blasts to fire to punches.
Sword of Light: The Sword of Light is a mystical sword capable of projecting the energy absorbed by the Shield of Night in blasts of the same kind of energy. It is also, supernaturally durable and can cut through almost any substance.

While Whitman still has access to Strider and the mystical armor he has not been seen using the Shield of Night or Sword of Light for some time. He has adopted a photonic shield similar to those used in the past by Captain America and U.S.Agent.

Miscellaneous[edit]

Whitman has also employed an atomic steed, typically used by the High Evolutionary's Knights of Wundagore, in place of a flying horse.

Other versions[edit]

Marvel Zombies[edit]

Whitman appears as a zombified version of himself in Marvel Zombies, in the Dead Days one-shot. He can be seen battling Thor in a battle between the living and dead inhabitants of the Marvel Universe in New York City.[32]

Ultimate Marvel[edit]

In the Ultimate Marvel reality, Dane Whitman, the second Black Knight appears in the pages of Ultimate Comics: Ultimates as a member of an Ultimates team that preceded the current one by almost a decade. This version of Dane Whitman was a Corporal in the Marine Corps. After saving the lives of his fellow soldiers from an explosive in Baghdad, he received the Purple Heart badge, the Silver Star Medal and the Medal of Honor, but was left quadriplegic. As The Black Knight, he is highly unstable and was kept from officially joining the team until he stabilized. This never came to pass as the team made a bungle on a mission and the project was shut down immediately after until the project was revived by a corrupt California Governor who sicked them on the Ultimates.[33]

Proctor[edit]

Proctor is the Earth-374 version of Dane Whitman.[34]

In other media[edit]

Television[edit]

Video games[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Avengers #47
  2. ^ The Avengers #48
  3. ^ The Avengers #54
  4. ^ Marvel Super Heroes #17
  5. ^ Doctor Strange #178
  6. ^ Credits per The Official Marvel Index to the Avengers #3 (Oct. 1987), p. 22
  7. ^ The Avengers #71
  8. ^ The Avengers #100
  9. ^ The Defenders #4 (Feb. 1973)
  10. ^ The Defenders #11
  11. ^ The Avengers #225
  12. ^ Hulk Comic #1-63, March 1979-May 1980
  13. ^ Marvel Super Hero Contest of Champions #1-3, Jun-Aug 1982
  14. ^ Doctor Strange vol. 2, #68-69
  15. ^ Avengers #254
  16. ^ Avengers #273-277
  17. ^ The Avengers #293
  18. ^ The Avengers #294
  19. ^ The Avengers #295
  20. ^ Black Knight vol. 2, #1
  21. ^ Black Knight vol. 2 #4
  22. ^ Avengers Annual #22 (1993)
  23. ^ New Excalibur #10-11
  24. ^ Super Spy Weekend: Black Knight, Comic Book Resources, March 10, 2008
  25. ^ Captain Britain and MI:13 #7
  26. ^ Captain Britain and MI:13 #9
  27. ^ a b Captain Britain and MI:13 #10
  28. ^ Captain Britain and MI:13 #5
  29. ^ Original Sins #2
  30. ^ Avengers World #8
  31. ^ Avengers World#10
  32. ^ Marvel Zombies: Dead Days #1
  33. ^ Ultimate Comics: Ultimates #23
  34. ^ Proctor at the Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe

External links[edit]