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Black Knight (XI)

First Name: Dane Whitman
Occupation: Former scientist, former crusader, now crimefighter
Legal status: Citizen of the United States with no criminal record
Identity: Secret
Other aliases: None
Place of birth: Gloucester, Massachussetts
Marital Status: Single
Known relatives: Nathan Garrett (alias the Black Knight II, uncle, deceased), Sir Percy of Scandia(alias the Black Knight I), Lady Rosamund, Eobar Garrington(ancestors, deceased)
Group affiliation: Member of the East Coast Avengers
Base of Operation: New York City
First appearance: AVENGERS #47

History: The original Black Knight was Sir Percy of Scandia, a member of the Knights of the Round Table in King Arthur's Sixth Century Camelot. One of Arthur's staunchest supporters, Sir Percy adopted the guise of the Black Knight in order to serve his king in a dual capacity: as an unassuming man of the royal court and as a mysterious avenging champion. King Arthur's court magician Merlin gave the Knight the Ebony Sword, an enchanted blade constructed from a meteorite. The Black Knight's greatest foe was Mordred, "nephew" of King Arthur, and for years Percy tried to gather evidence of Mordred's treachery to no avail. Soon after the fall of Camelot, the wounded Mordred dispatched his men to kill the Black Knight, using a dagger constructed of the same meteoric ore as the Knight's Ebony Blade. The ambush succeeded, and Sir Percy was slain. Merlin, however, cast a spell upon Percy's spirit, enabling it to return to the Earthly plane when the spirit of Mordred threatened. Sir Percy's body was buried beneath his castle, and his sword interred with him.

There is no record of any of Sir Percy's descendants discovering the Ebony Sword of following in his footsteps as the Black Knight until the Twelfth Century when Eobar Garrington assumed the guise of the Knight in order to fight in the Crusades. Curiously, the spirit of a twentieth Century descendant of Garrington's, Dane Whitman, co-occupied Garrington's body during the last five years of the Crusades. Whitman possessed the body up until the time of its death. The Twelfth Century Black Knight was an ally of King Richard the Lion-Hearted.

There is no record of the activities of any of Garrington's descendants until the mid-Twentieth Century. Then British scientist Nathan Garrett discovered the tomb of Sir Percy beneath the castle he had inherited (now called Garrett Castle). Garrett saw the Ebony Blade in a scabbard near the tomb, but being unworthy to wield it, could not draw the sword. Garrett was inspired to become the new Black Knight, however, and he used his scientific genius to mutate a winged horse and to create a lance capable of discharging concussive blast as well as other advanced weaponry. Garrett used the identity of the Black Knight to commit crimes in order to finance his further scientific research. He was opposed on separate occasions by Giant-Man and Iron Man, and as a member of Baron Heinrich Zemo's original Masters of Evil, he battled the Avengers. While in aerial combat with Iron Man, Garrett was unseated from his winged steed and was mortally wounded in the fall. He managed to contact his only living relative, his sister's son. Dane Whitman, also a scientist. On his deathbed, Garrett told Whitman he regretted the wrongs he committed and wished for his nephew to put his discoveries to good use. Whitman decided to improve unpon his uncle's work and assume the identity of the Black Knight. Using his uncle's notes, Whitman mutated a winged steed to replace his uncle's horse, who had flown away and, having been further mutated, is now in the possession of the Dreadknight.

Whitman first went into action as the Black Knight in order to warn the Avengers that the mutant Magneto had taken two of their member, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, captive. He was mistaken for his criminal uncle, however, and after a brief skirmish parted with the Avengers on bad terms. He next appeared to warn the Avengers about a new grouping of the Masters of Evil, which he had infiltrated, and succeeded in rescuing them from their clutches. Learning that he had inherited Garrett Castle, Whitman traveled to England with the intent to sell the property. However, while taking a tour of the place, Whitman stumbled upon the tomb of Sir Percy and was contacted by the ghost of his ancestor. Sir Percy explained to him the origins of his noble lineage and told him of the Ebony Sword. When Whitman tried to draw it from its scabbard, he succeeded where his uncle had failed. After successfully battling the demonic guardian of the sword, Whitman left the castle with the enchanted blade and soon found himself drawn into battle with Le Sabre, a modern day agent of Mordred. Defeating Le Sabre, the knight resolved not to sell his castle.

Soon after, Whitman made the acquaintance of the occult master Dr. Strange through his neighbor, Victoria Bentley, an old friend of Strange's. The Black Knight assisted Dr. Strange in his battle with the extradimensional Tiboro and the two of them joined forces with the Avengers to battle Surtur and Ymir. A short time later, the Knight helped the Avengers defeat the time master Kang and was elected to membership. He assumed reserve status, however, so he could return to his castle in England to live. He helped the Avengers battle Ares, the Olympian god of war, but later fell prey to the charms of the Asgardian Enchantress, who sought to employ him as her agent her rival, the sorceress Casiolena. To "reward" him for his services, the Enchantress turned the Black Knight's body to stone, and not even Dr. Strange could reverse the enchantment. (The Black Knight's winged steed Argorn was taken into the care of the Valkyrie.

Acquiring the Evil Eye, a mystical power object of Avalon, the realm of the Celtic gods, Dr. Strange attempted to restore the Black Knight's humanity, instead, Strange and his fellow Defenders were transported through time to the Twelfth Century where they discovered Dane Whitman in the body of his Twelfth Century ancestor, battling the Arabs in the Crusades. The spirit of Mordred had assumed a human host, and allied himself with Prince John, King Richard's ambitious brother, and Chandu, an Arabian wizard. Whitman hoped to lend his might to that of his ancestor's and combat the evil wrought by Mordred. When the Defenders learned of Whitman's wishes, they left for their own time.

For about five years (in the Twelfth Century, but for a shorter period in the Twentieth), Dane Whitman lived in his ancestor's body in the Twelfth Century while his real body remained a stone statue in the Twentieth Century. In accounts not yet disclosed, the Black Knight defeated Mordred and his allies and following the Crusades, met Amergin, High Druid of Avalon. Avalon was under attack by the Fomor, the ancestral enemies of the gods, and the Black Knight offered his aid to England's ancient deities. The forces of the Fomor were too great, however, and Amergin contacted his twentieth Centurydescendant, Dr. Anthony Druid, for assistance. Druid dispatched the Avengers back through time to Avalon. With the Avengers' aid, the Black Knight succeeded in closing off the portal between Avalon and Earth using the Evil Eye. The process, however, destroyed the body of his Twelfth Century ancestor, Eobar Garrington. Through Amergin's magic, Dane Whitman was restored to his rightful body in the Twentieth Century; the stone having been transformed back to flesh. The Knight's Ebony Sword and his new winged steed given him by Amergin, were sent to the future with him.

Readjusting to the Twentieth Century life was difficult for Whitman. After a brief adventure in which he found the amnesiac Captain Britain, he settled in at Garrett Castle, only to learn that its caretaker Victoria Bentley had purchased it when it was about to be seized by the British government for non-payment of property tax. When Whitman started acting moodily, Bentley summoned Dr. Strange. Strange learned that the Ebony Sword was cursed by the blood of the victims of its original wielder, Sir Percy, and that it was this blood-curse that compelled Whitman to remain in the Twelfth Century where it could be used for more bloodshed. After convincing the Knight of the sword's malevolence, Strange instructed him to purge the Ebony Blade of its curse by plunging it into the Brazier of Truth, the mystic receptacle which was the spirit of Sir Percy's touchstone with the Earthly plane. Whitman shattered the Brazier, purging the sword of its curse, and freeing Sir Percy's spirit from all ties with the Earthly plane. The Black Knight returned to America with Dr. Strange and renewed his membership in the Avengers.

Height: 6 ft.
Weight: 190 lbs.
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Brown

Strength Level: The Black Knight possesses the normal human strength of a man of his age, height, and build who engages in intensive regular exercise.

Known Superhuman Powers: The Black Knight is an expert swordsman, and combatant. He also has considerable knowledge of advanced technology and of genetic manipulation thanks to his studies of his uncle's journals and equipment.

Weapons: The Ebony Sword, forged from a meteorite by Merlin, possesses a number of properties, some innate to the metal, and some magical enchantments. The sword is extraordinarily hard and invulnerable to all harm. Weighing fifty pounds, the sword is capable of cleaving through any substance up to foot-thick steel. Its mystical properties include an immunity to magic. It can deflect mystical energy and shatter mystical barriers and shields. Merlin created a magical bond between the sworn and its prime wielder (the Black Knight and his descendants) enabling that wielder, through arcane ritual, to magically transport himself across space and time if he should become separated from the sword.

The Ebony Sword has been purged of the blood-curse it had acquired through the deaths it had caused. Provided the Black Knight does not kill anyone with it, the sword shall remain free of the curse.

Transportation: The Black Knight has ridden two winged steeds in his career so far. The first was Aragorn, on whom Whitman had used uncle's technique for mutating animals, to give it bird-like wing enabling it to fly. Aragorn was entrusted to the care of the Valkyrie, in whose custody it remains today. The Black Knight's second winged steed was Valinor, who possessed bat-like wings. Valinor was a gift of Amergin, High Druid of Avalon. Taking ill not long after it was transported to Twentieth Century England due to its lack of affinity for the Earth Demension, Valinor was cured by Dr. Strange's magic at the expense of its wings. The Black Knight currently employs one of the "Atomic Steeds" built and employed by the Knights of Wundagore.

NOTE: In New Excalibur #12 (2006) Sir Percy of Scandia told Dane Whitman that there were eight men before him who were also known as the Black Knight. All of whom were consumed by the sword, the Ebony Blade, and had to be "put down."

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