In this week’s Black Knight: Curse of the Ebony Blade #1, one of the earliest Avengers is forced to reckon with his greatest threat to date: himself.
Despite technically being among the first (but not original) Avengers, Black Knight has never really been one of Marvel’s most popular characters. This is especially true in the post-MCU landscape of the company, where any obscure character from the comics can become a pop cultural sensation overnight. With his impending live-action debut in Eternals, however, you can imagine Marvel is readying him for big things to come. If Groot—of all things—can become a marquee idol, why not Black Knight?
Black Knight: Curse of the Ebony Blade is technically a follow-up to the King in Black: Black Knight one-shot from a few months back (written by Si Spurrier, also of this series). However, barring one notable development that I’ll get to, I don’t think you need to have read any of that event to understand what’s going on here. If anything, you would likely be better served with some background knowledge of Black Knight himself and his decades-plus mythos.
After inheriting the Ebony Blade from his supervillain uncle, Dane Whitman assumed the title of Black Knight and vowed to use his new gift for good. He later learned his uncle’s villainy was a result of the sword’s ability to corrupt its user into madness, but recent dealings with Knull have revealed a worse truth: the Blade feeds off its user’s inherent darkness and can only be wielded by the impure of heart. This new wrinkle is alluded to in the issue but in a subtle way that regards it as a given aspect of his backstory that has always existed. That’s probably the right call in terms of potential new readers who shouldn’t be immediately burdened with lore or recent continuity developments.
As for the story itself, Black Knight: Curse of the Ebony Blade seems to have this new central conflict at its core, which lends some interesting new dimensionality to a character who’s been largely stagnant for a while. If the Blade only works for those who are impure of heart, does that mean Dane is inherently evil despite his good actions? Have his years as a hero been a vain attempt to fight the inevitable?
Spurrier’s script is accessible enough that you can follow along with what’s happening on the page, but Black Knight is still a dense, lore-heavy character. Accordingly, I’m not sure how this series will play out for those who are not so into the mythical, Arthurian side of the Marvel Universe. I do like that he invokes Dane’s history as an Avenger, featuring them in a prominent supporting role. This provides a nice contrast as it pits his darker nature against their upstanding, paragonic stature. He might technically be one of them, but his imposter syndrome keeps him from feeling truly accepted, which dovetails nicely with the new revelation of his sword. That being said, this issue doesn’t exactly “move” along at a brisk pace and might not be the right read for those who prefer an action-heavy experience over a character piece, so YMMV on that.
Sergio Davila’s art is fairly classical, bordering on house style-y, and suits the script given to him, but I hope he has more of an opportunity to dig into some weirder visuals as the series goes on. Most of this #1 involves an Avengers tussle and isn’t especially interesting to look at, but then there are glimpses of life at his weird castle (complete with a goat-man butler) that hint at strangeness on the fringes. Since this is a Black Knight story, I would assume that’ll be the case moving forward, but that much remains to be seen.
BLACK KNIGHT: CURSE OF THE EBONY BLADE #1
- Writer: Si Spurrier
- Artists: Sergio Davila (penciller), Sean Parsons (inker)
- Color Artist: Arif Prianto
- Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
- Cover Artists: Iban Coello, Jesus Aburtov
- Editor: Tom Groneman
- Publisher: Marvel Entertainment