Black Knight: Curse of the Ebony Blade #1
Writer: Sy Spurrier
Penciller: Sergio Davila
The Black Knight returns! If only anyone in the Marvel universe wanted him back. After becoming useful again to the Avengers for the first time in decades, Dane Whitman has a new lease on life. It helps that he’s been talking to a listening AI as a form of therapy. (The AI does not dispense advice, only listens.) The Avengers still don’t want him around though, only calling him as a last resort. (Honestly, Dane is desperate for some hang time) Dane has his uses though, as long as he controls the Ebony Blade, and its curse.
Black Knight has been around Earth-616 for centuries. Originally Sir Percival, the Black Knight role is most famously held by Dane Whitman. (Dane will be showing up in The Eternals movie soon, played by Kit Harrington.) Dane lives in a castle. He employs a goat-headed butler. His sword though, stands as his defining feature. The blade works as a reverse Mjolnir, only able to be wielded by those who carry a lust for violence and “unworthiness”. The comic drive this home by literally having Thor unable to lift the sword. The scene is a little on the nose, but considering Black Knight is a bit of a deep cut these days, I can forgive it.
This comic starts with Dane using a therapy app called Listenr. He talks to the app about how he feels isolated from the other heroes. How he wants to live a happy life, but the sword’s power comes from violence and pain and anger. Self Care weakens him, and to use his ultimate power with the sword, he has to focus on all the pain in his life. All of the trauma. Not very healthy.
These therapy scenes are cut with scenes from a battle in New York, where the Avengers fight giant scab monsters. Its gross, but funny, with Spurrier showing off his wit in the hero banter. Dane shows up, since the scabs seem to respawn using magic. All of the heroes collectively groan at his appearance. Dane is the Marvel equivalent of “That guy” from work, that no one likes and some pity. He means well, but he is painfully awkward. He fights the scab monsters, speaking the whole time like its the days of yore. Eventually though, the avengers make it clear they want him to go nuclear, so he lists out the tragedies that have befallen him. He feels all the pain of his trauma, and he blasts the monsters to smithereens. Then the supervillain appears.
They go to each hero, pulling an “Original Sin” with each of them. Each hero immobilizes by the whispers, their minds reeling from the truths spoken by the villain. Then the villain reaches Dane. Since the hero runs on bad feelings, the attack doesn’t work well on him. So…fisticuffs!
The writing from Spurrier is top level. While many might have gone the dark and brooding direction, the writer goes for a fun and hilarious take on the story. The issue balances perfectly between being funny and sad, creating a character you both like and pity.
The art is top notch. While the art contains the gore you expect in a Spurrier joint, the colors create a vibrant world. The characters emote their hilarious reactions and banter perfectly. I am infinitely thankful the artists went this route as opposed to bringing back the “gritty” art of the past. Leave the excess gloom to DC when they feel “serious.”
Verdict: Buy! This quirky comic made me laugh and care about a character I haven’t thought about in years. I loved every moment of it, and I can’t wait for the next issue.