"And there came a day, a day unlike any other, when Earth's mightiest heroes and heroines found themselves united against a common threat. On that day, the Avengers were born-to fight the foes no single super hero could withstand!"
As the Heroic Age dawns on the Marvel Universe and we prepare for a new chapter in the ongoing saga of Earth's Mightiest Heroes, each Friday Marvel.com will present a different column focusing on the one and only Avengers. From line-ups to costumes to villains to classic stories and beyond, we've got you covered on the history of Marvel's most prolific team of heroes!
So let the call go out: Avengers Assemble!
By TJ Dietsch
In the days of King Arthur, fashion was mostly utilitarian, especially for knights, which explains why Sir Percy—the original Black Knight—wore armor, a helmet and sported the Ebony Blade, a sword Merlin himself fashioned out of a mysterious meteorite. Since these olden times, several have picked up Sir Percy's mantle on both sides of the law. We'll be taking a look at not only the different people who have worn the armor, but also each of their looks over the years.
The original Black Knight first appeared in 1955's BLACK KNIGHT. As mentioned above, he sported black armor with yellow and blue embellishments along with a red eagle symbol on his chest and shield. The most successful wielder of the Ebony Blade in his day, Percy made arrangements for his spirit to return if his enemy Mordred ever did the same. He continues to pop up from time to time in ghostly form wearing mostly the same outfit.
The first modern day Black Knight, Nathan Garrett, took up the armor and Ebony Blade not to help his fellow man, but to wreak havoc. Garrett first appeared in TALES TO ASTONISH #52 with a more modern looking armor that lacked the red and yellow elements of Percy's look, but added a skull and crossbones symbol to the chest and a flat-top helmet. Garret also updated a series of ancient weapons with his scientific background to aid in his villainy. The evil Black Knight wore this costume when he first fought the Avengers later that year in AVENGERS #6 alongside the Masters of Evil and again in #14-15 before seemingly meeting his end in TALES OF SUSPENSE #73.
A few years later in AVENGERS #48, Dane Whitman made his debut as the brand new heroic Black Knight. Through flashbacks readers discovered that Garrett called Whitman—his nephew—while dying from the wounds suffered in TALES OF SUSPENSE #73. The dying villain asked Whitman to take up his identity and become a hero to atone for Garrett's crimes. Whitman donned an armor that looked a lot more like Percy's with the red eagle symbol as well as a yellow belt and cape and a sleeker helmet. Dane also used Garrett's science to create his own flying horse named Aragorn. The Black Knight didn't join the Avengers right away thanks to a case of mistaken identity, but would appear several times as a supporting player.
An Avenger Once More
After regaining control of his own body following a period of mystic petrifaction, Dane started his first stint as a full time Avenger after the events of 1985's AVENGERS #254. Around this time, Dane discovered that the Ebony Blade was actually doing him harm as he used it to vanquish his enemies. Thanks to the help of Thor and Dr. Strange, he eventually got better and ditched the sword for a laser replacement.
To fit in with his teammates, The Black Knight started sporting the classic, early 90’s brown Avengers team jacket. He also made a small adjustment to his lower half, protecting his legs from the knee down with metal guards.
Hero for Hire
After a brief exile through time and space, The Black Knight helped fill the void left by the Avengers' “death” by joining the Heroes For Hire. He also donned a more stylized armor with a metallic look, larger shoulder pads and yellow leg guards to go along with the Sword of Day and Shield of Night granted to him by the Lady of the Lake.
The Casual Look
The Black Knight's costume remained consistent for several years as he palled around with various incarnations of the Avengers and Excalibur, but he finally got another new look in CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI: 13. Dane ditched the chainmail armor in favor of jeans, a t-shirt and jacket, but kept the helmet and a facsimile of the Ebony Blade. He soon returned to the classic look and even got the real Ebony Blade back from Black Panther.