THE BLACK KNIGHTMedium: Comic books
Published by: Marvel Comics
First Appeared: 1968
Creators: Roy Thomas (writer) and George Tuska (artist)
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In a visual medium like comic books, you'd think a visual effect like a winged horse would guarantee exposure. But DC Comics tried one in the 1940s, The Shining Knight, and except
as a member of The Seven Soldiers of Victory, that guy never even appeared on a cover. Marvel's stab at it a couple of decades later, The Black Knight, fared better than that, but still never became anything like a major star.
The Black Knight, the guy who had that flying steed, was originally a minor villain who fought Giant Man and Iron Man a couple of times. But the idea was apparently too good to waste on a two-bit bad guy, so they killed him off and had him pass the paraphernalia on to a younger, more heroic relative. It was in The Avengers #48 (January, 1968) that Nathan Garrett (the villain), on his deathbed, gave Dane Whitman (his nephew) the armor, the energy lance (capable of emitting both laser beams and sonic blasts) and most important, the research notes that enabled him to use advanced genetic engineering techniques to create his winged horse, Aragorn. In return, Garrett elicited a promise that Whitman would use it all to atone for the harm caused by his villainous activities (thus soothing his conscience at little cost to himself). The story was written by Roy Thomas (The Invaders, Ghost Rider) and drawn by George Tuska (Buck Rogers, Shark Brodie).
He had several adventures with The Avengers, even holding active membership for a brief period. He was also associated with The Defenders for a while, but there too, he failed to find a home. He also got an adventure by himself in Marvel Super-Heroes #17 (November, 1968), but that didn't lead to a series. While this was happening, he got tied in with the Black Knight character Marvel had published in the 1950s, an Arthurian adventurer. Dane was a direct descendant, it seems, and as current owner of his medieval predecessor's castle, heir to the mantle. This came with a magical Ebony Sword, forged by Merlin himself.
But since he didn't have the reader interest of Thor or Captain America, writers could do pretty much what they wanted with him, and did. The sword turned out to be cursed. He was turned to stone, and stayed that way for years. He was cast back in time to fight in the Crusades. Aragorn was sent away and he started using a bat-winged black horse named Valinor, which later got sick and lost its wings. He went into exile in an alien dimension, with a mentally unstable girlfriend. He's been involved with a superhero group called Ultraforce, and later was employed by the outfit Power Man and Iron Fist started, Heroes for Hire.
He had a mini-series in 1990 and another in 1996. Most recently, he's been hanging around Mount Wundagore, a Marvel Universe location where evolution itself has been tampered with, and where oddly-evolved creatures abound. He never quite goes away, permanently at least, but never did find a stable gig.