Born and raised in Gloucester, Massachusetts, Dane Whitman attended university as a young man, eventually obtaining a Master's degree in physics. The descendant of a long line of heroes who took up the mantle of the Black Knight, Whitman assumed the role after his uncle Nathan Garrett had resurrected the name to partake in villainy.
Garrett was seriously wounded in a fight with Iron Man, and on his deathbed expressed his wish that his nephew should restore the family legacy by making the Black Knight a hero once again. Initially resistant to this idea, Whitman eventually took up the mantle to fight the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, whom he had accidentally summoned to Earth, and soon established himself as a hero.
Dane Whitman was created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema and first appeared in The Avengers #47 (1967). He became the Black Knight in the issue after his first appearance, The Avengers #48 (1967).
Major Story Arcs
In his early adventures, the Black Knight is frequently mistaken for his villainous uncle, which allowed him to infiltrate the Masters of Evil. This act of espionage leads to him helping the Avengers to defeat the Masters of Evil, and earns him the respect of the Avengers, who invite him to join them as a provisional member. He declines the offer, and travels to England where he has inherited a castle.
In the castle, he is contacted by the ghost of his ancestor Sir Percy Scandia, the original Black Knight. He is found to be worthy of wielding the Ebony Blade, and returns to America with it. In America, he finds the Avengers have become subject to the will of Kang, who has been given the power to control all Avengers by Grandmaster. Not an Avenger himself, Black Knight is able to defeat Kang and free the others from his power. Again he is offered membership in the Avengers, and accepts.
Black Knight joins the Defenders, and is seemingly killed when he kisses the Enchantress and turns to stone. His petrified state is the impetus for the Defenders becoming involved in the search for the shards of the Evil Eye which causes the Avengers-Defenders War.
His soul is revealed to have travelled back to the twelfth century, where he inhabited the body of one of his ancestors. He remains in the past for some time until he is rescued by the Avengers, who travel back in time to bring him back to the proper era. He returns after defeating Fomor and sealing the portal between Earth and Avalon.
Black Knight briefly leaves active duty with the Avengers when he learns that the Ebony Blade has a blood curse that is twisting his mind every time it draws blood. He is able to remove the curse by removing the tethers holding Sir Percy's soul on Earth.
He then returns to fight alongside the Avengers when they come under siege from the newly-reformed Masters of Evil. He and Captain America are captured by the villains, but eventually manage to free themselves. They rejoin their team members and are able to defeat the Masters of Evil.
Operation Galactic Storm
As a war brews between the Kree and the Shi'ar, Black Knight is assigned to Team Kree, an Avengers delegation that attempts to negotiate peace with the Kree faction. Though the peace negotiations are successful, much of the Kree Empire is destroyed by a bomb detonated by the Skrulls.
Black Knight joins several other team members in an effort to destroy the Kree Supreme Intelligence, which is revealed to have been responsible for the war and the bomb. They succeed in apparently destroying the Intelligence.
Black Knight joins several of his Avengers teammates in travelling to Genosha to challenge the despotic ruler and aid in the attempted recovery of Luna, the daughter of Crystal and Quicksilver. He fights alongside his allies, and wounds Exodus with his sword. Later, he performs cardiopulmonary resuscitation on a severely wounded Quicksilver, saving his life.
The Black Knight became attracted to the Eternal and fellow teammate Sersi, who was at the time, unbeknownst to him, mentally unstable due to the secret actions of a mysterious man called Proctor. Sersi was attracted to him as well and the two became affectionate. After a time the Black Knight and Sersi decide to take their relationship t a higher level. They form a special bond by sharing a mental link the Eternals use as a form of matrimony; a bond they call the Gann Josin.
Though it is usually forbidden for an Eternal to enter into the Gann Josin with a human, the bonding of the Black Knight and Sersi was permitted by Ikaris, then the acting Prime Eternal, because he saw their bonding as a way to possibly help stabilize Sersi's troubled mental state. It soon came to light that Proctor was a version of Black Knight from an alternate reality who had traveled into the mainstream Marvel Universe reality to seek revenge on the Sersi of that reality. He did this because his reality's Sersi had an intimate relationship with him but later rejected him leaving him alone and distraught, his mind twisted by their bond created by the Gann Josin.
Proctor finally met the mainstream Marvel Universe Sersi in battle and Sersi killed him. Needing a change in her life, a fresh start; Sersi soon after decided to leave the the mainstream Marvel Universe for the an alternate universe known as the Ultraverse. Though their Gann Josin bond was now severed, the Black Knight accompanied her to the Ultraverse because he still had feeling for her and out of a sense of duty to her. He also went with Sersi to keep his feelings for Crystal destroying her relationship with her estranged husband, Quicksilver.
Black September and Aftermath
In the Ultraverse, Black Knight becomes the leader of the Ultraforce and fights alongside them for some time. Eventually Sersi's mental stability is restored, and the pair attempt to return to their native universe. They briefly become trapped in the twelfth century, where they fight against Apocalypse and meet Bennet du Paris, who they befriend. When du Paris is put into suspended animation by Apocalypse, Black Knight organizes an honour guard that will protect his body until he awakens.
He and Sersi attempt to travel to their native time period, but are mysteriously separated, and their gann josin bond is also broken. In the correct time period but alone, Black Knight learns of the Avengers' apparent deaths at the hands of Onslaught. Later, he is selected to act as the Pendragon for his age, and gifted with new Avalonian weapons. He joins the Heroes for Hire for a time, and with them fights the High Evolutionary and discovers the New Men at Wundagore Mountain. He leads the New Men for a while, but ultimately returns to the Avengers.
Last Days of Camelot and Time with Excalibur
Dane returns to his ancestral home, Garret Castle and transforms it into a museum dedicated to telling the tales of those that wore the Black Knight Mantle throughout the centuries. While there, he receives a phone call from Brian Braddock, seeking his membership in the recently reformed Excalibur. During the course of the conversation, Dane is again possessed by the spirit of his ancestor, the original Black Knight, Sir Percy of Scandia, sent forward in time by the Lady of the Lake in order to seek out the aid of Excalibur. After a brief scuffle between Sir Percy and members of Excalibur, Sir Percy leads the team to the Lake and the portal back in time in order to avert the premature destruction of Camelot.
When they arrive, Dane is once again in control of his own body as Sir Percy, possessing his original body, greets them. Sir Percy leads them to Merlin, fighting a group of dragon-like creatures, in order to stop his assassination by the creatures. During the fight, the Ebony Blade is knocked from Sir Percy's hand. Dane picks up the weapon in order to continue fighting. Though Excalibur is ultimately successful in rescuing Merlin, Percy warns that the creatures will return the following day to destroy Camelot. When the fighting is done, Dane is surprised when Percy strikes him, warning him never to touch his sword again.
They make their way back to Camelot, where they are greeted by King Arthur. Hearing the tale of how they came to be there and their purpose, Arthur, deciding that nothing can be gained and realizing that the following day might b Camelot's last, orders a banquet to be held. During the banquet, Dane is still troubled by Percy's behavior and decides to speak to Merlin of it. Merlin warns him that the sword will ultimately consume Percy and that all the times his spirit urged him to destroy the blade, it was only because Percy could not bear the thought of another holding the blade.
As they are discussing why Percy is allowed to continue wielding the blade, Merlin suggests Dane ask Percy, who arrives at that moment. Again Percy strikes Dane and Merlin leaves to allow them to sort out their issues. This time, however, Dane fights back. As they are fighting, Percy allows Dane to hold the sword again, telling him to feel the power of the blade. The sword, Dane realizes, is much stronger in this time, when it is new. He realizes that Percy was concerned the blade might consume Dane, as it is slowly consuming him. Percy reveals that he is, in fact, not the first Black Knight, that eight other knights, all noble men, were given the sword first, and each one was consumed by the blade and had to be put down.
After the last of them, Arthur's own cousin Sir Reginald, was slain, it was determined that only Merlin, Arthur and Percy were noble enough to be trusted with the Ebony Blade. However Arthur was the King, and Camelot needed his steady rule. Should Merlin become consumed by the blade, it was feared that no force on earth could stop him. The blade, therefore fell to Percy. After hearing the tale, Dane finally understood Percy's actions and the two made amends.
During their discussion, Camelot was attacked by the dragon-like creatures that had attempted to kill Merlin the day before. Dane and Percy join the battle, and while they fought valiantly, there appeared to be too many of the creatures for even Excalibur to fight off. At that moment, Sage and Wisdom, who had been scouting the creatures returned and Sage instructed Merlin to conjure formosan herb. Confused, Merlin did as he was instructed, which caused all the creatures to fall into a deep slumber. Sage then revealed that the creatures were not Dragons but were in fact Makluans, creatures of the same species as Fin Fang Foom. Formosan herb had been used to put Fin Fang Foom, which gave Sage the idea. Their task done, Dane and Excalibur returned to the present where, while not officially joining the team, Dane nevertheless elected to remain with them for a time.
Sometime later, Juggernaut is attacked by the Wrecking Crew. In his weakened condition, they overwhelm him, dropping a bus on him. At that moment, Dane and Excalibur arrive and quickly defeat them, despite both Captain Britain and Wisdom arguing about who of them was in charge. Juggernaut, clearly upset about this turn of events, walks away. With most of the team believing he just needed some time to cool off, they are surprised to learn that he has gone to Korea, the original 'birthplace' of the Juggernaut.
Dane accompanies the team as they go in search of them. While there, the group suddenly breaks down into a bout of in-fighting. Dane attempts to stop them and at that moment feels something is wrong with his sword. Nevertheless he has their attention and his rebuke gets the team back on track. A short time later, the team is attacked by agents of Cyttorak. The team defeats them, after which they disappear, allowing Excalibur to continue following Juggernaut. Arriving in the temple of Cyttorak, they learn the truth of Cain's ascension to the Juggernaut mantle and what he had to do in order to attain it. Shocked, they walk out of the cave, leaving Cain alone.
Back at their headquarters, Dane has elected to leave. His recent handling of the original Ebony Blade as well as his uneasy feelings around his current blade made him come to the realization that the blade he has is, in fact, a fake and he plans to undertake a mission to find out how and where the original blade is. While Brian offers Excalibur's aid, Dane states that this is something he must do alone. Bidding farewell to his friend, Dane leaves.
Having dropped out of heroism to look into allegations that his Ebony Blade was fake, Black Knight returns during the Secret Invasion and becomes a member of MI: 13. His Ebony Blade continues to cause him trouble, frequently urging him to kill. It is ultimately revealed that the Blade is indeed a fake, constructed by Dracula and designed to feed on blood.
He ignores the Blade's suggestions, and is among those who battle the Skrulls in London. He becomes close with Faiza Hussain, a medic who saves his life and discovers the fact that his heart is still petrified stone, and after the conclusion of the war he makes her his squire. Also after the war he travels to Wakanda to reclaim the true Ebony Blade from Black Panther.
He slowly started to become insane because of the curse of the Ebony Blade. The longer the weapon is wielded, the more of a toll it takes on the mind. While apprehending Savage Steel, he inevitably lost control and brutally beat the criminal, costing him an eye and leaving him in a coma. This atrocity was revealed to Rebeca Stevens, an expert on the Ebony Blade, after the Watcher's death and the release of the secrets buried in his eye. She tracked Dane down and told him that the past users of the Blade had all fallen insane because of its curse. She offered her help, but he refused.
8 months after the events of Secret Wars, Dane was once again recruited to be on the main team of Avengers. He fought with them while trying to conceal his insanity. However he exposed himself one day when he brutally murdered a criminal. At the scene of the crime, Rebeca Stevens met with the Avengers and explained the curse of the Ebony Blade and the other crimes he has committed, including the beating of Savage Steel. Steve Rogers and the Avengers vowed to take him in and make him answer for his crimes. They chased him until a portal opened up that sucked Dane into Weirdworld.
While there, Dane was made king and ruled unopposed. This was until the Avengers eventually made it there and apprehended him.
Powers and Abilities
Black Knight has no exceptional superhuman abilities; he possesses the normal physical attributes of an athletic man of his age. He possessed enhanced physical skills when mentally bonded to Sersi, and as Pendragon possesses the ability to see through magical illusions.
He is a fighter of exceptional skill, particularly when it comes to swordsmanship. He is skilled with horses. He is notably intelligent, particularly in areas of science and especially in physics. He also possesses good tactical and strategic skills. He wields the Ebony Blade, a powerful sword, as well as a photonic sword, the Sword of Light, and Shield of Night.
The Black Knight is trained and skilled with many weapons, most of them being the medieval type. He is particularly skilled with and has wielded several swords including the Ebony Blade, a weapon forged from an meteorite which is capable of cutting through almost any substance, the Sword of Light, which was bestowed upon Dane by the Lady of the Lake, and even a modern "photonic" sword, a blade constructed of solid, laser-like light.
In this reality, Black Knight was rejected by Sersi and becomes known as Proctor. He forms a group called the Gatherers, who aim to destroy all Sersis in all universes. To this end, he crosses over into the main universe.
Black Knight is a member of the Queen's Guard in Morgan le Fay's self-created universe.
On Earth-2149, Black Knight is zombified.
Black Knight is the son of Black Bolt and Medusa, and possesses powers similar to Black Bolt's.
In the Ultimate universe, Dane Whitman is a former soldier who was rendered a quadriplegic while serving his country. He was transformed into a cyborg and given an advanced suit of armor by Nick Fury, and was part of the prototype team of West Coast Ultimates. After being released from his cryogenic stasis, Black Knight battled Thor.
In Other Media
The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes
Black Knight makes a cameo appearance in the episode "Come the Conquerer".
Avengers in Galactic Storm
Black Knight appears as a playable character.