An action-packed debut issue with an intriguing plotline and no fear of exploring some of the deeper topics and subjects centered around the emotional human experience. Beautiful artwork, bouts of dark humor, and a personality that lets it stand apart from other Marvel books make it all even better.
Being a hero is hard. Not only are there all the crimes to stop and fighting the same bad guys, sometimes one’s personal issues do not get addressed and tend to get worse. Long ago, what set Marvel apart from DC Comics was the idea that the former’s heroes came with a lot of personal baggage and issues to deal with. That tradition is alive and well as the publisher has launched Black Knight: Curse of the Ebony Blade.
Dane Whitman, the aforementioned Black Knight, has been a hero for a long time within the Marvel Universe. There was a point where he was a stalwart member of and even leader of the Avengers, a point he makes sure to bring up in this debut issue, but a lot has changed since then. This series picks up from the aftermath of the King in Black: Black Knight one-shot where Dane’s world was shattered as it was revealed that those in his ancestral line chosen to wield the cursed Ebony Blade were not chosen for heroic fortitude, but instead for the fact that they are broken, easily swayed and corruptible.
Simon Spurrier brings a welcome dark humor to the proceedings, especially the more jerk-leaning ways of the Avengers that are present, along with showcasing the rougher sides of heroism. Some of the best books on the shelves at Marvel right now are not shying away from the idea that some heroes have a lot to deal with and that it’s okay to need help. Dane Whitman seeks some assistance here from an AI self-help therapy system, that keeps stressing that legally it is not an actual therapist, and he’s not alone in that vein as Rich Rider is getting full therapy over in Guardians of the Galaxy as well.
This realness is truly appreciated because it is so much more real and connective than being shown heroes often that have pretty perfect lives and just have issues of who to date or where to park their super jet. Despite a long history in the Marvel Universe, Black Knight does not have a long list of issues/series to his name but Spurrier proves the idea that any character in the right hands can be golden.
While I’m not fully familiar with the previous works of Sergio Davilla and Arif Prianto, on lines and colors respectively, this issue provides a wonderful showcase for what they are capable of. There is a perfect energy to the fight scenes alongside the Avengers against the scab monsters, all of the emotions perfectly fitting of the moods of each of the characters and the colors are bright and stunning to look at. All of it is deeply enhanced by the veteran inks of Sean Parsons.
There are quite a few stand-out moments, including one that is truly brutal where you can fully feel the weight of the moment and what it does to Dane. The panels with him cutting loose with the blade, while dealing with some of his saddest moments to do it, are powerful as the bright colors fade away to be replaced by splashes of yellow and red and appropriate shadows.
Cory Petit has played a part in a great many books across the Marvel Universe at this point and brings that steady lettering hand to these proceedings. There aren’t as many moments to really cut loose/get creative with lettering as one might expect with the amount of action, but those moments that do come are ones that Petit makes work.
Camelot and what it means within the Marvel realm can be a concept that doesn’t intrigue everyone, but bringing in a skeptical new character to pair against Dane’s deep belief should be very interesting. Especially after this historian, known as Jacks, has a particular encounter that might begin to really change her views.
Dane Whitman is close to getting some big-screen attention, played by Kit Harrington, so seeing the character get more spotlight in the comics is a very welcome thing. Bring on more of the sad broken but willing to accept help type of heroes.
Black Knight: Curse of the Ebony Blade is on sale in print and digitally from Marvel Comics.