Black Knight (Dane Whitman)
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|First appearance||The Avengers #47 (December 1967)|
|Created by||Roy Thomas|
|Alter ego||Dane Whitman|
Heroes for Hire
Masters of Evil
|Abilities||Excellent swordsman and hand to hand combatant|
Strong strategist and tactician
Wields the Sword of Light and Shield of Night
Dane Whitman is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The third character to bear the Black Knight name, he was created by writer Roy Thomas and artist John Buscema, and first appeared in The Avengers #47 (December 1967). The original Black Knight's descendant and the supervillain Black Knight's nephew, he inherited a mystical sword that carried a curse and took the Black Knight name to help restore honor, and has been a long time member of the Avengers' various incarnations as well as the Defenders, Ultraforce, Heroes for Hire, and MI: 13.
The character was featured in a four-issue mini-series in 1990 and two one-shots in 1996 and 2007. Starting in 2015, he was the main character in Marvel's All-New, All-Different Marvel ongoing Black Knight series, the first ongoing series to feature Dane Whitman as the titular character; however, this was short-lived as dwindling sales resulted in the series' cancellation after five issues.
- 1 Publication history
- 2 Fictional character biography
- 3 Powers and abilities
- 4 Weapons and equipment
- 5 Other versions
- 6 In other media
- 7 References
- 8 External links
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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 a black and 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.
In July 2015, it was announced that Frank Tieri and Luca Pizzari would be launching a new Black Knight series as part of Marvel's post-Secret Wars relaunch. This series will feature Whitman as the ruler of New Avalon, a kingdom he has claimed in the reality known as Weirdworld. The ongoing series was cancelled with issue #5 in 2016, as Marvel was unhappy with its sales. The writer of the series, Frank Tieri, now considers it a standalone limited series and expressed his feelings over the series being cut short. Black Knight is notable as the first "All-New, All-Different Marvel" comic book series to be cancelled.
Fictional character biography
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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 Mordred began a string of successors, all of them Percy's descendants.
It was revived by Whitman's uncle Nathan Garrett, who became the supervillain the 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.
Whitman became the Black Knight, using 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. Later, he infiltrated the Masters of Evil, proving his worth to the Avengers, who offered him provisional membership. 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. He then encountered Doctor Strange, and helped fight the extra-dimensional threat Tiboro.
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 that Whitman had become unwittingly involved in when he assisted Goliath in defeating his chosen opponent (thus rendering that round of the game a draw in the Grandmaster's eyes, since the Avengers did not defeat their opponents on their own). 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. 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. The Black Knight traveled to Olympus with other members and helped defeat Ares.
The Defenders and Captain Britain
Whitman was an early member of the Defenders. He also became the team's first casualty after kissing the Enchantress, petrifying him. 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 the Valkyrie. 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. Sometime later, Merlyn sent Whitman to locate the lost hero Captain Britain and, with his aid, travel to the Otherworld dimension to save Camelot. Both heroes were briefly kidnapped by the Grandmaster to participate in the original Contest of Champions.
The blood curse
Whitman learned that 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. Whitman resumed active duty with the Avengers, helping his teammates Wasp and Captain Marvel experiment with their powers, and battled against the Masters of Evil IV while they invaded Avengers Mansion.
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. 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. Ultimately, the blood curse became so virulent that it would draw blood from anyone even touching the Black Knight. Sir Percy took possession of Whitman's body to stop the blood curse. 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. 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.
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 did not 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 later 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 their battle with Onslaught while he was gone. Whitman then learned that 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
The newly empowered Black 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]
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 to him. The Ebony Blade, however, corrupted these men, and Sir Percy was deemed the only one who was 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 he needs to find the original.
Whitman returned to join MI-13 as part of the Secret Invasion crossover event. 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 created by Dracula; this fake possessed an intelligence and fed on blood. Whitman also was revealed to have a literal stone heart, given to him by Sersi to keep him "above it all" and uninvolved.
Whitman 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.
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 bloodlust 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. He is also seen threatening to slay Rebecca with the Blade, but she remained unaware of the danger.
Around this same time, Whitman returned to action as the leader of Euroforce, a team of European superheroes. Though he claimed to not be bitter about being excluded from Captain America's new team of Avengers, it was implied that Whitman's deteriorating mental state had been the very reason that he was passed over for membership.
Journey to Weirdworld
As part of the All-New, All-Different Marvel event, the Black Knight arrived on Weirdworld after killing Carnivore while losing control to the Ebony Blade, which caused him to flee from the scene of Carnivore's death. Upon arriving on Weirdworld, he killed King Zaltin Tar to establish New Avalon and built an army with the help of two warriors named Shield and Spear. Black Knight has the army built in anticipation of the arrival of the Avengers Unity Division, who are seeking to bring him to justice. After struggling to maintain his sanity, Whitman is forced to battle the Uncanny Avengers, led by the aged Steve Rogers, who wish to arrest him for killing a criminal when he was still part of the Avengers team. It is revealed that Whitman accidentally entered Weirdworld, along with a HYDRA submarine, from 1945. The members of HYDRA on board the submarine became the group known as the Fangs of the Serpent to the inhabitants of Weirdworld. As the Uncanny Avengers arrive to arrest Whitman, he unites the armies of the land to fight against them. Eventually, he is defeated and a truce is made: Rogers will take the Ebony Blade back to Earth and Whitman will be free to rule New Avalon. However, Rogers is possessed by the Blade and attacks his teammates. Meanwhile, the son of the king that Whitman overthrew to become the new lord gathers the Fangs of the Serpent to attack Whitman. After their defeat, Rogers and Doctor Voodoo agree that the only person who can bear the toll of the Ebony Blade is Whitman, and the Blade also shows this by not allowing any harm to come to Whitman. As the Avengers leave, leaving behind an expert on the Black Knight who came with them to look after Whitman, it is concluded that Whitman had been maintaining his sanity better than everyone had thought. Whitman concludes that for now ruling New Avalon is good, and the story ends on a light tone, Whitman not being persecuted as he has suffered enough under the Blade's spell.
During the "Secret Empire" storyline, Black Knight returned to Europe to help Euroforce fight HYDRA groups following their conquest of the United States. The group was imprisoned by HYDRA until they were freed by the Champions of Europe.
During the "War of the Realms" storyline, the Black Knight, Union Jack, and Spitfire were defeated by Malekith the Accursed. Before he can slay them, he is attacked by Captain Marvel and the War Avengers.
Powers and abilities
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 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
Whitman has gone through several different sets of equipment since his creation.
Whitman first became the Black Knight to atone for the crimes that 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 winged white horse.
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.
After giving up the Ebony Blade, Whitman designed and constructed a neural sword. The neural sword appears to be made of a laser beam and cuts through non-living matter. Its "laser" blade is actually a neural disruptor when used against living beings; 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.
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 air speeds than either of Whitman's previous mounts; for example, 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 pleases. 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 the U.S.Agent.
Whitman appears as a zombified version of himself in Marvel Zombies, in the one-shot issue Marvel Zombies: Dead Days #1. He can be seen battling Thor in a battle between the living and dead inhabitants of the Marvel Universe in New York City.
In the Ultimate Marvel reality, Dane Whitman 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 botched the mission and the project was shut down immediately. Later, the project was revived by Ford, a corrupt California Governor who sent them to fight the Ultimates.
Proctor is a villainous alternate version of the Black Knight. He leads a team called the "Gatherers", whose goal is to kill all versions of Sersi in retaliation for the one in Proctor's reality rejecting him. His mission brings him to the mainstream reality's Earth, where he tries to win Magdalene's love. and infiltrate the Avengers. At the end of his confrontation with the Avengers, he is impaled by the Ebony Blade, but manages to escape. Proctor possesses superhuman strength, speed, stamina, durability, agility, and reflexes, can project destructive energy beams from his eyes, telepathy, and the psionic ability to manipulate the chemical composition of the human brain.
In other media
- The Dane Whitman version of the Black Knight makes a non-voiced cameo appearance in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes episode "Come the Conqueror". He is seen protecting London from an attack by Kang the Conqueror's forces.
- Kit Harington will portray Dane Whitman in the upcoming film The Eternals, set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
- The Dane Whitman version of the Black Knight appears as a playable character in Avengers in Galactic Storm.
- The Dane Whitman version of the Black Knight appears as an unlockable playable character in Marvel Avengers Alliance.
- The Dane Whitman version of the Black Knight appears as an unlockable playable character in Lego Marvel's Avengers. He is available through the DLC "The Masters of Evil Pack".
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