Monday, January 16, 2012

Secret Origins: "The Black Knight Reborn!" by Thomas, Purcell, and Adkins

Greetings, Groove-ophiles! Rascally Roy Thomas was a veritable character creating dynamo during the Groovy Age. The Vision, Havoc, Doc Samson, Valkyrie, Morbius, Killraven, Iron Fist, and tons more. One character that combined Roy's love of Golden Age comics, continuity, and "legacy heroes" (which, ironically, would become extremely important at DC after the Crisis on Infinite Earths) was Dane Whitman, The Black Knight (III).

The first Black Knight, Sir Percy of Scandia, was created by Stan Lee and Joe Maneely and appeared in 5 issues of his own mag in 1955. Stan, with artist Dick Ayers, created a second villainous Black Knight to battle Giant Man Tales to Astonish #52 (November 1963). The evil BK's nephew, Dane Whitman, then took up the mantle (and armor, and flying horse) as the brand-new, heroic Black Knight in Avengers #48 (October 1967) by Roy Thomas and artist George Tuska.

Dane became an instant fan-fave, appearing a couple more times in the pages of the Avengers (#'s 54-55, April-May 1968). Three months later, the new Black Knight got a shot in Marvel's (then) try-out mag, Marvel Super-Heroes #17. Roy took all the scattered pieces of Marvel's trio of Black Knights and combined them into a 22 page comicbook history lesson, combining elements of King Arthur, Gardner Fox, and Robert E. Howard. Interestingly, the art was provided by Golden Age great Howard Purcell (co-creator of Sargon the Sorcerer and the Grim Ghost) and inked by Dan Adkins ("and company"). Are you ready to witness..."The Black Knight Reborn!"?

Sadly, the Black Knight didn't catch on as Marvel thought it might, appearing sporadically in the Avengers and then the Defenders. Eventually he was turned to stone and sent back to the Days of King Arthur. In the 1980s, Dane finally became a regular member of the Avengers.


  1. Dan Adkins assistant on this story was obviously Tom Palmer. This must be one of his very first jobs at Marvel.

  2. That Howard Purcell art is just lovely, with some terrific layouts. He was no Golden Age dinosaur.

  3. Wow! Thanks, Groove. I haven't read this story in about 20 years. It came out around the time of my tenth birthday---and about 8 months after I'd become a full-fledged "Marvelite." I was too young to appreciate all the back story and details, but I was sure blown away by the artwork.

  4. and how.. they never followed it up, what a shame. now that I look at it again, can see traces of just about the whole bullpen - Buscema, Romita, Palmer.. even Marie Severin. Dug that MSH comic with all the one-offs every month, one of my favorites.

  5. This was always a favorite of mine...I wish the speed and gist of this story carried on with the Knight as time went on. But the Supernatural feel and element was gone after this...STILL it's one of my favorite. The Black Knight is also one of the greatest most under used Heroes ever.

  6. I had forgotten that this was this inspiration for the 1970's Marvelmania Black Knight poster.

  7. I asked Tom (Palmer) and he said he didn't work on this.

  8. Strange. Page 2 looks a lot like Palmers work at this vintage.

  9. Purcell and Adkins are, of course, the primary artistic hands, but there's definitely some Marie Severin and John Romita Sr. too. I don't see the Tom Palmer stuff, but I can see why you might think that he's in there (zipatone).



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