I love the Marvel Universe, but sometimes we all need a palate cleanser. With lots of new first issues to try, several are likely to get overlooked. Black Knight #1 is something to pick up if you want to see something tonally different than the colorful All-new, All-different Marvel shelves.
The cover by Julian Totino Tedesco is epic and promising of things to come. Readers will be immediately eager to journey into whatever adventure lies ahead. Upon skimming through, Luca Pizzari’s art is definitely worthy of such a prelude. Plenty of action and fantastic landscapes fill the story in a way that really evokes gritty, mysterious adventure. This isn’t to say the whole book is dim and dreary. The colors supplied by Anthony Fabela help maintain variety in each scene. This book is colorful. It may not be as bright and vibrant as some other Marvel books, but isn’t that the point of art; to distinguish? Black Knight is easily one of the most unique-looking books on the shelves right now and that should be a point of pride.
The duty of a writer in the first issue of a series is two-pronged. Readers need to be brought up to speed so that the story can take off, and readers need to be hooked so that they stay with it past the launch. Frank Tieri is in charge of telling a story from the perspective of a character who, despite having been an Avenger, does not have the sizable following that many of Earth’s Mightiest enjoy. New readers may still find themselves questioning who he is by the end of this first issue. This is unfortunate, since most of the issue centers on exposition.
Dane Whitman is the king of people. These people live in “Weirdworld,” which one can only assume resides in the Bermuda Triangle. He doesn’t seem to have much knowledge about them, the land or their enemies. This raises a lot of questions. How did a former Avenger end up in a place like this? Why would he not only choose sides in a battle, but in such an important role as king? More importantly, why does he seem so confused? These will most likely be answered soon, if you’re willing to be patient.
Dane Whitman’s voice is hard to find. While most of the issue consists of casual modern lingo with a hint of attempted wit, he also has one or two lines that make him seem like he’s from the time of the first Black Knight. For someone unfamiliar with the character, this makes him more of a daunting puzzle than an intriguing mystery. There is a dualism to his intentions that seems almost like a type-o to those who are unfamiliar with the legacy of the Ebony Blade. Readers may not be willing to stick by a character that they don’t fully grasp after investing in an issue.
Highlights of the writing are definitely the characterization of Weirdworld. Tieri manages to explain the island using pop culture references and folk lore within the Marvel Universe in a way that echoes the promises made by the cover and art. This is the big reason to hold your doubts and wait for the arc to play out. If Dane Whitman isn’t enough to hook readers, perhaps his setting will do the trick. If not, there’re always the inevitable crossovers…
Authentically Marvel, but tonally unique
Weirdworld’s mysterious allure
Confusing, not so charismatic protagonist
Inefficient exposition (may intimidate new readers)
Struggled cohesion between art and narrative