When it was announced Si Spurrier would be joining Marvel for a King in Black Black Knight one-shot, anyone who read his excellent The Dreaming with Bilquis Evely got giddy. Spurrier has an exceptional handle on fantasy themes and storytelling in general. Then we found out he’s doing an X-Men series, and eventually a Black Knight miniseries too. The miniseries kicks off this week and it’s a hell of a good ride as it sets up its plot and characters.
Ever felt like an outsider in a group? That’s Black Knight, especially in how he’s depicted at the start of this issue, which you can read for yourself in our preview. Dane Whitman uses the magical Ebony Blade which curses its wielder with the desire to commit violence and mayhem. In these opening pages, Spurrier and artist Sergio Dávila show us how the Avengers think of him. Meanwhile, cutting into some monster-battling action is Whitman’s personal diary. He’s basically unfurling his deepest and darkest emotions, which juxtaposes well with the Avengers treating him like weirdo. The misunderstood hero is crafted well from the get-go.
The Black Knight also looks pretty awesome, especially thanks to Dávila’s art, Sean Parsons’ inks, and Arif Prianto’s colors. There’s an exceptional full-page splash of Whitman wielding the sword and striking down with a great vengeance. He’s also fearless, which you can see by his antics. Given the Avengers’ sour point of view on the man, his courage is also evident in how he puts up with their snide remarks and looking down upon attitude.
Another key element the art captures are the Avengers’ expressions. A lot can be said about how they feel through these characters holding back what they really want to say. Character acting down to the body language is expertly done.
Half of the book is devoted to Black Knight’s courage, his personal doubts, and how the Avengers feel about it. The second half does some excellent world-building. I won’t get into spoilers, but we get a look at his home and a few characters that will help define him. They’re colorful, very different from Black Knight, and instantly likable in their own ways. There’s also a new character who has a unique perspective that should play off Black Knights backstory and the history of the Ebony Blade in new and interesting ways.
It’s in this second half that the book begins to have a similar feel to The Dreaming. It’s not as visceral, but the imaginative nature and limitless potential we get a taste of is ever-present. If given the chance, it’s obvious this series could last for quite some time. This section also reminds us of the story’s past with the Ebony Blade and the baggage Whitman is likely carrying. It is slightly jarring how this book splits down the middle. It doesn’t quite gel between the Avengers and the exploration of Black Knights domain.
Emotionally engaging and definitively entrenched in fantasy, don’t skip Black Knight: Curse Of The Ebony Blade #1. It’s early yet, but it’s obvious the fantasy elements are strong enough to make this the go-to fantasy title at Marvel. It’s an excellent start that will be a surefire hit with fantasy fans and those who connect with outsider characters who aren’t given a chance. So maybe all of us? Spurrier and Dávila make a case for further exploration of Black Knight and the opportunities that character has to bring.
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!