Dane Whitman is a fictional comic book superhero in the Marvel Comics universe, the company's third person to bear the name Black Knight. Created by writer Roy Thomas and artist John Buscema, he first appeared in The Avengers #47 (Dec. 1967)
Following his introduction, the Dane Whitman Black Knight became a recurring character in the superhero-team comic The Avengers
, with his first solo story appearing shortly afterward in the anthology
title Marvel Super-Heroes
#17 (Nov. 1968). From 1979 to 1980, the Black Knight also appeared in an epic black & white Marvel UK
strip in the Hulk Weekly
comic, where the feature was to be the longest-lasting of the comic's UK-originated material, appearing in the majority of the title's 63 issues. Written by Steve Parkhouse
with art by Paul Neary
and John Stokes
, the complete story has never been reprinted. He also appeared in his own Marvel US title under the 1990 miniseries Black Knight
#1-4 (June-Sept. 1990) by husband-and-wife writers Roy
and Dann Thomas
and successive pencillers Tony DeZuniga
and Rich Buckler
. This was followed by the one-shot Black Knight: Exodus
#1 (Dec. 1996), by writer Ben Raab
and penciller Jimmy Cheung
Fictional character biography
Dane Whitman was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts
and is best known as the modern-day Black Knight, continuing a legacy that began in medieval England. The first Black Knight
, Whitman's ancestor Sir Percy of Scandia, lived during the reign of King Arthur. Percy's murder at the hand of his nemesis Modred
began a string of successors, all of them Percy's descendants.
It was revived by Whitman's uncle Nathan Garrett, who became the supervillain Black Knight II. After being mortally wounded during a battle with Iron Man, he escaped to his estate, summoned his nephew to confess his crimes, and asked him to restore honor to their family legacy and atone for Garrett's misdeeds.
Whitman agreed and took up the role of the Black Knight, creating Aragorn
for his mount. During his first outing, he was mistaken for his uncle and attacked by the superhero team Avengers
, though the mistake was soon realized. Later, he infiltrated the then-current incarnation of the Masters of Evil
, proving his worth to the Avengers, who then offered him provisional membership. Shortly afterward, he inherited Castle Garrett and traveled to England. He first encountered the spirit of Sir Percy of Scandia there, who gave him the Ebony Blade
. He then first encountered Doctor Strange
, and aided him against the extra-dimensional threat Tiboro
While still a provisional Avenger, he helped them to defeat Kang the Conqueror, who had been given the power of death over the Avengers by the Grandmaster. Since Whitman was not a full Avenger at the time, Kang had no power over him, and so Whitman was able to defeat the powerful foe. Whitman then officially joined the active membership.
Whitman became an early member of the Defenders
. He also became the team's first casualty after a kiss from the Enchantress
petrified him. His spirit was drawn to the 12th century by the sorcerer Amergin
, and took recurring spiritual possession
of his ancestor, the Crusader
Sir Eobar Garrington until Garrington's destruction due to the Evil Eye
. Meanwhile, Whitman chose to stay in the 12th century and per his wishes Aragorn
came into the care of fellow Defender Valkyrie
. Whitman then battled the Fomor
, alongside the time-traveling Avengers. He then employed the Evil Eye to seal the portal between Earth and Avalon
. Whitman returned to the 20th century and his original body was restored. He was accompanied by a gift from Amergin: a black, winged horse called Valinor
, presumably named after the fictional location of that name
, and its echoes of "valor.
The Blood Curse
Over time, Whitman learned the Ebony Blade was cursed: Every time it drew blood, it drove its user closer to madness. Whitman freed Sir Percy's spirit from the Earthly plane, thus seemingly purging the blood curse from the sword. Whitman resumed active duty with the Avengers, and joined the Avengers in battle against the fourth Masters of Evil as they invaded Avengers Mansion
When the Sub-Mariner used the sword to kill his wife Marrina, who had become a rampaging monster, the blood curse was revived. The curse began to transform Whitman's body into the same mystic metal as that of the blade. He was forced to don an artificial exo-skeleton when the curse's creeping paralysis began to affect his mobility. He also began having episodes of mental instability. Ultimately, the blood curse got so bad, that it would draw blood from anyone touching the Black Knight. Sir Percy took possession of Whitman's body to arrest the progress of the blood curse. The transformation was undone through the efforts of the sorcerer Doctor Strange, Whitman himself, and the ghost of Sir Percy. Sir Percy's spirit merged with the sword, canceling the curse and returning Whitman to normal. Whitman stopped using the Ebony Blade and left the Avengers. He later developed a weapon that projected a sword-like sheath of energy (in essence, an imitation lightsaber) as a replacement. The Ebony Blade would come into the possession of Sean Dolan, who had briefly served as the "squire" of the Black Knight; it transformed Dolan into the Bloodwraith.
After rejoining the Avengers, Whitman had a long stretch of time as a major member of the team and eventually rose to the position of de facto
field leader in Captain America
's absence. He became romantically involved with his teammate Sersi
(of the Eternals
). This relationship soon came under strain as Sersi proved increasingly unstable due to the machinations of a man called Proctor
. In an attempt to stabilize her, fellow Eternal Ikaris
mentally bonded Sersi and Whitman with a process called the "gann josin
," but this did little to slow the process — not least due to Whitman's resentment at having the bond imposed upon him, especially as he was beginning to turn his attentions toward Crystal
, one of the Inhumans
' royal family. Sersi eventually snapped completely, forcing Whitman to aid her — until the sight of her attacking Crystal enabled him to break the gann josin
's hold on him temporarily. Proctor was later revealed to be an alternate universe
counterpart of Whitman. Having been rejected by his own Sersi and twisted by the gann josin
and his Ebony Blade's curse, he now traveled the multiverse
with the aid of a captured Watcher
named Ute on a mission to kill the Sersi of every reality. Ultimately, Sersi slew Proctor with his own Ebony Blade and was subsequently forced to leave the Marvel Universe to restore her mind. Whitman left with her, partly because he didn't want to come between Crystal and her husband Quicksilver
and partly because he felt responsible for what had happened to Sersi.
The pair were transported to the Ultraverse (home of the Malibu Comics characters). They were separated and Whitman became the leader of the superhero team called Ultraforce. He and Sersi briefly reunited to return to the Marvel universe, but something went wrong along the way. Instead of returning to the Marvel universe's present, they ended up in the 12th century and Whitman once again found his spirit in the body of Sir Eobar Garrington. His consciousness was buried under Garrington's, however, and Sersi was forced to pass Garrington's soul onto the next plane (with his permission) to restore Whitman's consciousness. Whitman found himself embroiled in a conflict with the evil mutant Apocalypse alongside his ancestor's best friend Bennet du Paris, the mutant who would become Exodus. Apocalypse tried to get du Paris to kill his friend, but du Paris refused. Judging him weak, Apocalypse put du Paris in a state of suspended animation. Out of respect for his ancestor's friendship with du Paris, Whitman organized an order of knights to guard du Paris' body, which they did through the ages until he was found and revived by Magneto. Sersi created another portal, this time to the correct time period, and she and Whitman departed the 12th century.
Whitman and Sersi were somehow separated in transit, which ripped their gann josin bond apart. Whitman found himself back in New York in the proper time, but without Sersi. He was soon dealt another shattering blow when he learned that the Avengers and most of the other major heroes had apparently perished in battle with Onslaught while he was gone. Whitman then learned the Lady of the Lake had selected him as the Pendragon for his age. She bestowed upon him new mystical equipment from Avalon: a suit of armor, the enchanted flying horse Strider, the Shield of Night, which absorbed energy, and the Sword of Light, which returned that energy in the form of an energy projectile.
Heroes for Hire
The newly empowered Knight helped the Heroes for Hire
, then accepted Iron Fist
's offer to join the newly formed team (due primarily to his concern over former teammate and friend Hercules
, who had been drinking heavily out of grief for the Avengers' deaths). Whitman eventually learned what happened to Sersi when she reappeared asking for help to defeat yet another of her old enemy Ghaur
's nefarious schemes. Later, the Heroes for Hire found themselves in the midst of a major conflict in the High Evolutionary
's city of Wundagore
. The Black Knight left the team to assist the Knights of Wundagore
along with Quicksilver and later returned to the Avengers when they expanded their roster to include satellite teams around the world. Whitman was sent to the Slorenian
border, where the Bloodwraith had used the Ebony Blade to absorb the souls of the entire population after they had been killed by the android Ultron
. After the "Kang War" arc, the Avengers disbanded these global teams.
Whitman reappeared in New Excalibur in the mid-2000s. He has opened up a museum in England chronicling the Black Knights that have existed throughout history. Whitman recently learned that Sir Percy was not the original Black Knight, but that eight men had held the Ebony Blade prior. The Ebony Blade however corrupted these men, and Sir Percy was deemed the only one noble enough to wield the Blade. Also at this time, Merlin told Whitman that he must not destroy the Blade as he had previously been told to do. It is not clear whether he has access to his Avalonian equipment at present. In New Excalibur, Whitman was invited to join the team but after the second adventure with them he refuses as he believes that his Ebony Blade is not the real one and needs to find the original.
Most recently Whitman has joined MI-13
, appearing in Captain Britain and MI-13
, part of the Secret Invasion
Powers and abilities
The Black Knight was originally a normal athletic human being with no superhuman powers. While sharing the gann josin
, his strength, speed, and other physical abilities were mildly enhanced. After the gann josin
link was broken, Whitman returned to being a normal human being. As part of his new role as the Pendragon, however, Whitman has gained minor mystical abilities, such as the ability to see through mystical illusions by looking "past the mundane."
Whitman is an excellent swordsman whose skills have allowed him to best the Swordsman in combat. He is also an excellent fighter in general, able to hold his own against such skilled fighters as Captain America and Wolverine. He is also an expert horseman. Additionally, Whitman started out as a scientist, though specializing in physics (having earned a Master's degree in physics), he is proficient in a wide array of advanced sciences and technologies, including genetic and mechanical engineering; and continues to approach things from a scientific perspective more often than not, despite his ties to the world of magic. He has also demonstrated good leadership skills as leader of both the Avengers and Ultraforce. He has strong strategic and tactical skills.
Weapons and equipment
Whitman has gone through several different sets of equipment since his creation.
Whitman first became the Black Knight to atone for the crimes his uncle Nathan Garrett
had committed using the name. He started out with his uncle's non-magical tools, namely a power lance that fired energy blasts, a suit of body armor, and Aragorn
, a genetically engineered flying white horse.
The Ebony Blade
Whitman eventually gained the Ebony Blade, a weapon that had been passed down through the ages from one of his ancestors to another. Although it was incredibly powerful, it carried a harmful curse that caused Whitman to eventually abandon it. As of New Excalibur #10, Whitman gained possession of a faux Ebony Blade.
After giving up the Ebony Blade, Whitman designed and constructed a laser sword, often called his photonic or neural sword. The sword resembles a lightsaber
in both its appearance and its effects on non-living matter, but it functions differently when used against living beings. Its "laser
" blade is actually a neural disruptor; when Whitman cuts someone with it, it delivers a massive jolt to the being's central nervous system. This jolt is usually enough to incapacitate someone within just a few hits. Alternately, Whitman can reverse the sword's energy stream so that it encases its hilt and by extension Whitman's fist in a high-energy field. Using the sword in this fashion enables Whitman to punch with some unspecified degree of enhanced strength.
In the 1997 Heroes for Hire
series, the Lady of the Lake named Whitman the Pendragon for the current era and gave him an amulet. When Whitman says the word "Avalon" while wearing the amulet, he gains the following:
- Armor: The armor Whitman currently wears has been described as mystical. It is said to be supernaturally durable for its light weight, but specific information on how durable the armor is scarce.
- Strider: Strider is a mystical creature like Valinor rather than a genetically engineered one like Aragorn, but he is unique in that he possesses mystical powers of his own. Most notably, Strider is capable of far greater airspeeds than either of Whitman's previous mounts; he is easily capable of breaking the sound barrier. Whitman can verbally summon Strider to appear at his side or return to Avalon as he pleased. While mounted on Strider, Whitman is magically protected from any harsh environments such as the depths of the ocean.
- Shield of Night: The Shield of Night is a mystical kite shield; it not only protects him from most attacks but also absorbs the energy of the forces directed against it. He can then release that stored energy in the form of power blasts from his blade, the Sword of Light. Whitman has used it to block and absorb the energy of everything from Nitro's explosive blasts to fire to punches.
- Sword of Light: The Sword of Light is a mystical sword capable of projecting the energy absorbed by the Shield of Night in blasts of the same kind of energy. It is also, supernaturally durable and can cut through almost any substance.
Whitman has also employed an atomic steed, typically used by the High Evolutionary
's Knights of Wundagore
, in place of a flying horse.