Dane Whitman, the Black Knight, is one of those Marvel characters that is often part of a larger story but doesn't get as much in-depth exploration or as many new adventures as the bigger names surrounding him. But the character's recent "King in Black" appearance shifted that a bit, hinting at a grander story for a hero whose track record with the Avengers isn't exactly great and that's what makes Black Knight: Curse of The Ebony Blade #1 a refreshing read and an interesting start to what feels like a deep dive into the heart of this character and the Ebony Blade in a legendary adventure.
The issue starts out in a place that, frankly, makes a lot of sense with Dane struggling with his position in the grand scheme of Marvel Comics things. You see, Dane is struggling. As he tells the listening service he's using to talk it out, he gets caught up in a spiral of dark emotions that ultimately taints all of his actions and attempts to be a good guy. All of this plays out over a major battle between the Avengers and these terrifying, seemingly unkillable creatures that the Black Knight gets called in to help defeat and which reveal that Dane's struggle isn't just in his mind.
Writer Si Spurrier does some fantastic storytelling here, revealing in the back-and-forth conversations between the Avengers while dealing with these strange monsters exactly what they think of Dane. He's dangerous, unstable, unwell, and they don't really want to be around him. It's not that they don't have good reason to possess these concerns, but from a reader's perspective, it makes Dane's feelings of rejection even more raw. He's been called in just for what he can do, not to sit with the cool kids.
Working within that is the other half of the story with the arrival of an Arthurian scholar who wants to speak with Dane. She arrives just as he's departing to respond to the Avengers' call, leaving a space for her to discover just how sad he is as well as reveal how insignificant he's considered to be. The Avengers don't want him around and as for this scholar? She's really just there to see the Ebony Blade. It's this sense of disappointment that creates a tone keeping with the heart of most heroic journeys and Spurrier uses it well to create the twist that takes readers into the real adventure—not only propelling this title forward, but kicking the doors open on a fresh legend for this old character. It crackles with adventurous energy, promising a collision of history, legend, magic, and more.
While Spurrier's story and writing are a huge part of that energy, it's Sergio Davila's art and Arif Prianto's colors that really makes it all work. This issue is full of action, but rather than feeling rushed or cluttered, each page manages to have forward momentum that carries past the end of a fight forward to a greater destination. The colors in particular seem to be telling their own story, leading the reader deeper into a story that seems endless in the best way possible. Even aspects outside of the story, the visual function of the book, is beautifully organized. It all just works.
Overall, Black Knight: Curse of The Ebony Blade #1 is a long-overdue story for Dane Whitman. There's a lot of unmined treasure in the Black Knight and this comic is digging into both the humanity of the character as well as the Arthurian aspect of things; the result is something deeply engaging, relatable, and exciting—allowing readers both familiar new to the character to identify with his flaws and the darkness within him and still be thrilled by promises of more adventure around it all.
Published by Marvel Comics
On March 17, 2021
Written by Si Spurrier
Art by Sergio Davila and Sean Parsons
Colors by Arif Prianto0comments
Letters by Cory Petit
Cover by Iban Coello and Jesus Aburtov