|“||As long as the Black Blade blazes darkly in my hand, I must fight on ... No matter what the cost!||„|
|~ Dane Whitman.|
Dane Whitman is a fictional comic book superhero in the Marvel Comics universe, the company's third person to bear the name Black Knight.
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 became the Black Knight, using the winged horse Aragorn for his mount. During his first outing, he was mistaken for his uncle and attacked by the Avengers, though they eventually realized their mistake. Later, he infiltrated the Masters of Evil, proving his worth to the Avengers, who offered him provisional membership. Shortly afterward, he inherited Castle Garrett and traveled to England. He encountered the spirit of Sir Percy of Scandia there and was given the Ebony Blade. He then encountered Doctor Strange, and helped fight the extra-dimensional threat Tiboro.
While still a provisional Avenger, he helped defeat Kang the Conqueror, who was given the power of death over the Avengers by the Grandmaster as a prize for winning a recent game that Whitman had become unwittingly involved in when he assisted Goliath in defeating his chosen opponent (thus rendering that round of the game a draw in the Grandmaster's eyes since the Avengers did not defeat their opponents on their own). Since Whitman was not a full Avenger at the time, Kang had no power over him, and so Whitman was able to defeat him with relative ease. Whitman then officially joined the Avengers in recognition of his aid. Later the Ebony Blade was used by the Olympian war god Ares, to put out the Promethean Flame and turn most of the Olympians to crystal. Black Knight travelled to Olympus with other members and helped defeat Ares.
Whitman was an early member of the Defenders. He also became the team's first casualty after kissing the Enchantress, petrifying him. His spirit was drawn to the 12th century by the sorcerer Amergin the Druid, and he took spiritual possession of his ancestor, the Crusader Sir Eobar Garrington until Garrington died due to the Evil Eye. Meanwhile, Whitman chose to stay in the 12th century and was cared for by 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, named after the fictional location of that name. Some time later Merlyn sent Whitman to locate the lost hero Captain Britain and, with his aid, travel to the Otherworld dimension to save Camelot. Both heroes were briefly kidnapped by the Grandmaster to participate in the original Contest of Champions.
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, purging the blood curse from the sword. Whitman resumed active duty with the Avengers, helping his teammates Wasp and Captain Marvel experiment with their powers, and battled against the fourth Masters of Evil while they invaded Avengers Mansion.
After rejoining the Avengers, Whitman was a major member of the team and eventually became the de facto field leader in Captain America's absence. He became romantically involved with his teammate, the seductive and mischievous spellcaster Sersi (of the Eternals). This relationship soon came under strain as Sersi proved increasingly unstable due to the machinations of a mysterious man called Proctor. In an attempt to stabilize her, fellow Eternal Ikaris mentally bonded Sersi and Whitman with a ritual 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.
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.
As part of the All-New, All-Different Marvel event, Black Knight arrived on Weirdworld after killing Carnivore while losing control to the Ebony Blade, which caused him to flee from the scene of Carnivore's death. Upon arriving on Weirdworld, he killed King Zaltin Tar to establish New Avalon and built an army with the help of two warriors named Shield and Spear. Black Knight has the army built in anticipation of the arrival of the Avengers Unity Division, who are seeking to bring him to justice. After struggling to maintain his sanity, Dane Whitman is forced to battle the Uncanny Avengers, led by the aged Steve Rogers, who wish to arrest him for killing a criminal when he was still part of the Avengers team. It is revealed that Whitman accidentally entered Weirdworld, along with a Hydra submarine, from 1945. The members of Hydra on board the submarine became the group known as the Fangs of the Serpent to the inhabitants of Weirdworld. As the Uncanny Avengers arrive to arrest Whitman, he unites the armies of the land to fight against them. Eventually, he is defeated and a truce is made: Rogers will take the Ebony Blade back to Earth and Whitman will be free to rule New Avalon. However, Rogers is possessed by the blade and attacks his teammates. Meanwhile, the son of the king Whitman overthrew to become the new lord gathers the Fangs of the Serpent to attack Whitman. After their defeat, Rogers and Doctor Voodoo agree that the only person who can bear the toll of the Ebony Blade is Whitman, and the Blade also shows this by not allowing any harm to come to Whitman. As the Avengers leave, leaving behind an expert on the Black Knight who came with them to look after Whitman, it is concluded that Whitman had been maintaining his sanity better than everyone had thought. Whitman concludes that for now ruling New Avalon is good, and the story ends on a light tone, Whitman not being persecuted as he has suffered enough under the Blade's curse.
Powers and abilities
The Black Knight was originally a normal athletic human being with no superhuman powers. While sharing the gann josin with Sersi, 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 and legends. He has also demonstrated good leadership skills as leader of both the Avengers and Ultraforce. He has strong strategic and tactical skills.
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.
After giving up the Ebony Blade, Whitman designed and constructed a neural sword. The neural sword appears to be made of a laser beam and cuts through non-living matter. Its "laser" blade is actually a neural disruptor when used against living beings; when Whitman cuts someone with the sword, 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 neural 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. The neural sword also creates a refraction field used to defend against energy-based attacks.
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 the durability of 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.
Later Main Team Members