Collecting the Black Knight!
Amazing at is is, Marvel is planning a Black Knight film. Earlier this year the rumors started to swirl and surprisingly the interest from speculators and collectors was minimal. No matter what you read remember – at his point nothing is confirmed, not Dane Whitman as the Black Knight, not a Captain Britain/Black Knight film or that the character will be an Eternal. That means we can have a lot of fun speculating. This type of announcement is something I love because no one has ever really cared about the Black Knight. In a way that is kind of sad because the character has a long, rich history in literature and in comics! There is no better time to start looking at Black Knight books.
If you can’t wait for Marvel the Black Knight has already appeared in the movies!
Now get out there and find some Black Knight books!
THE BLACK KNIGHT
First appearance: La Vengeance Raguidel
The Black Knight is an Arthurian, Christian, literary/comic figure whose origins date back at far as the early 12th century. The character has been utilized by Chaucer, Schiller even Raymond Chandler and of course Monty Python! Clad in black or even crimson armor ( well maybe just Sir Pervical ) his many incarnations have varying degrees of importance. Now he's set to get the MCU treatment which should, like Starlord, make him a household name!
De Houdence's La Vengeance Raguidel was a French Aurthurian Poem inspired by music from the Chantilly Manuscript, a codex comprised of ballads and other popular music by many composers. According to French historians it only survives in one 1862 manuscript but the poem was first put to paper in the early 13th century.
Over the centuries the Black Knight moniker has been held by many characters. To date this is the earliest known appearance.
Sir Perceval of Galles
Percival, the Story of the Grail and Yvain the Knight and the Lion
Chrétien de Troyes's Story explores Percival as a member of King Arthur's round table as he persues the holy Grail. In this work he wears an armor of red and to my knowledge is not the Black Knight. In his earlier work Yvain, a Black Knight does appear but to my knowledge he is not Percival of Galles.
De Troyes is lauded for popularizing the grail and Christian themes through the use of romantic poetry centered around chivalric pursuits. His stories were wildly popular, exposing grail myth to the masses, helping to expand Christian lore and dominance.
Sir Perceval of Galles ( The Black Knight )
First appearance: Lincoln Thornton Manuscript 1440
This version of the Black Knight differs greatly from previous characters and is firmly rooted in Medieval Romance and is not concerned with Grail lore . In a sort of whimsical tale of Camelot and it's vast assortment of characters, Percival wields a magic ring not a sword and was crafted to entertain in a more light-hearted manner. I only mention these early works because the comic version of the Black Knight continually draws heavy on the literature which preceded it.
This characters is unrelated to both Marvel and the Arthurian legends but is notable thanks to its rarity and first use of the Black Knight titled comic.
First appearance of Sir Percy, Thunder, Galagad, Morgan Le Fey & Mordred
The second most likely character to be the protagonist of any movie, Sir Percy was first written by Stan Lee in 1955 and the mini was published by Marvel's precursor Atlas Comics. The character continued the tradition of Arthurian adventures as a champion of Camelot and was pitted against his mortal enemy Mordred.
I think most expect the modern version, Percy's descendant Dane Whitman to be the focal point of a film but you simply cannot have Dane without Percy. In this comic everything originates in the world of Arthur including the most important weapon that will see the screen since maybe the Infinity Gauntlet, the Ebony Blade.
and the super rare Monitos 167!
Marvel Tribune 8 ( 1968 )
You could also buy this sick poster made available by Marvel in the Marvelmania Catalog
Though this is the first appearance of the blade its origins were not revealed until The Black Knight 1 was reprinted in Marvel Super-Heroes 17. This issue was not the first reprinting though, that honor goes to Fantasy Masterpieces 11 and is also a cover appearance.
First appearance of the Starstone, Origin of the Ebony Blade
With all this medieval, Arthurian stuff going on some movie fans might be turned off. These days Arthur isn't that popular but it is important to note that the Blade is what gives the Black Knight his power. The blade is really what is important. Its strength and enchantments allow it to cut through anything, protects its user from magic and bestows upon its owner invulnerability. The only problem is that it also curses its owner thanks to all the blood it spilled at the hands of Sir Percy.
But at the end of the day the sword has cosmic roots first. It was derived from a meteorite called the Starstone and was then given mystical properties by the wizard Merlin. At one point Dane Whitman returned it to the meteor from where it was derived creating a sort of modern sword in the stone!
NOTE: Issues 12-17 and 19 contain key Black Knight reprints.
First appearance of Nathan Garrett and Hellhorse!
The second Black Knight was also a decedent of Sir Percy but was unworthy of the sword and became a villainous Avengers enemy. Even though he repented to his successor Dane there really is no need for him to be included in any film. Percy can easily assume a repentant role for all the blood he spilled causing the curse of the blade. I would pass on this unless you want to bet on Garrett as a possible lead villain for the film.
First appearance of Dane Whitman and first appearance of Dane as the Black Knight, first Aragorn
Dane is the most likely choice to become the movie version of the Black Knight. Heroic in every way he is the best or his predecessors, has modern connections to the Eternals and his human identity is science based. I could easily see this man of science acquiring his unknown birthright as a medieval knight thrusting him into a world of heroes and fantasy he previously knew nothing about.
Avengers 47 and 48 were first reprinted here.
Sir Percy doesn't appear again in an original story until this issue just giving one more reason to think about its importance.
First appearance of Strider
Dane's second horse Strider was given to Dane by the lady of lake when he resumed his role as the Black Knight!
First Modern Mordred and Black Knight 4, Eobar of Garrington
Eobar might be an after thought to most but he too is a decedent of Sir Percy. Because he is more of a blank slate he could be used to rewrite the character completely. By this I mean Marvel could decide to create a new character based on elements from all the Black Knights. Rumor has it the film version is going to be an Eternal so some changes are going to happen.
Eobar hasn't appeared in comics since this issue but it is a very important comic as it establishes certain key connections between the Black Knight and the Eternal Sersi!
First appearance of Sean Dolan
Another possible villain is Sean Dolan, The Black Knight's squire who eventually becomes the cursed Bloodwraith when he takes possession of the Ebony Blade.
Thanks again to Jason Shaw for pointing this one out!
First appearance as Bloodwraith
First appearance of Augustine Du Lac
An enemy of the Black Panther, Du Lac became the Black Knight after acquiring the Ebony Blade in Iraq. He is unlikely to be of any importance.
First Female Black Knight
Marvel's female push is crowded. I doubt the Black Knight will be a woman in any Marvel film.
Sorry Mr. Cates, the answer is no.
NOTE: The Earth-X Black Knight first appears in Universe X issue 0
OTHER BLACK KNIGHTS…
First appearance of E-307 Black Knight
First Robotic Black Knight
Maybe Marvel will go completely nuts and make the whole film about a robot.
First appearance of E-398 Black Knight
This one has a badass cover but that is about it.
First Ultimates Black Knight
The Ultimate Black Knight is not usable source material for a film but this image a Valkyrie just lingers in my mind!
First appearance of ultimate Dane Whitman ( Black Knight )
The secret British counterintelligence organization is also rumored to appear in the film. If so these are the books to hunt for!
First mention of MI:13
First appearance ( unnamed ): X-Force 115
First appearance New Excalibur 1
MI:13 was founded by Alistaire Stuart so it's possible he plays a supporting role.
First appearance: Excalibur 6
First appearance of Merlin/Merlyn
There are multiple version of Merlin/Merlyn in Marvel comics. In my opinion he is going to become more and more important after a Black Knight film. Not only did he help forge the Ebony Blade but he founded the Captain Britain Corps and thanks to Captain Britain and M:13 3 we know that the two characters are indeed the same.
Merlin/Merlyn's contributions to the creation of the Ebony Blade are considerable. He could not have done so without access to the Pool of Blood which first appeared here
2nd Merlin and by Steve Ditko!
This one shot offers key insight into the Black Knight's origin.
There were a few forgettable minis prior to this, published by Marvel over the years but this recent series has some gems.
Oddly there is no variant for issue 4 but the others certainly make up for it! The Powell variant has been mentioned before but I agree with G+ member Jason Shaw who pointed out the rarity and quality of the Bradstreet variant for issue 3 which might just be the Black Knight's best cover.
Eric Powell Variant
Marvel Atlas Erra Black Knight Yellow Claw HC
In closing I would like to say that Marvel clearly has the ability and money to take any property from their immense catalog and weave something original and entertaining. Some of us may initially shake our heads at announcements like this and Shang Chi but with any film from any genre we should reserve judgment until after the movie is released. In the meantime we must strive to expand our knowledge about these more obscure characters. If anything I hope these movies get people who have never heard of them to seek out these books, written and drawn by legends like Lee, Thomas, Ditko and more!