Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Black Knight #3

The third issue of Black Knight dated September, 1955 features one of Joe Maneely's best covers, a wildly exciting image of the Black Knight himself charging right at the reader.

The first story begins with the Black Knight showing off his prowess in the a mock battle but Merlin is wary and consulting his crystal ball finds that Modred and his man Hawkes are plotting to defeat the Knight by bringing in a burly knight who strikes him from behind and wounds him. Merlin is able to use his magic to obscure the scene so that he can administer a potion to Sir Percy to help heal him. Later Modred seeks to find the wounded man in the castle, thus revealing the true identity of the Black Knight. He finds Sir Percy is injured and despite his disbelief confronts him but Merlin appears in the Black Knight's armor and Modred is fooled. Later Percy assumes the armor and defeats Modred and his men.

King Arthur is proud to announce that gypsies have come to Camelot and with them a large collection of lions for a magnificent hunt. But Modred plots with one of the trainers to release the lions and isolate Arthur to arrange an accident. The Black Knight learns of this treachery and arrives to save his King single-handedly defeating the lions and with Arthur's help the gypsies too.

"The Plotters" is a two-page text story which has Modred and his wife Morgan Le Fay conspire with the son of a man who once claimed King Arthur's throne. With Lancelot away, the time is ripe to challenge the King and some knock-out drops in his wine makes him a very soft target. But thanks to Merlin, Lancelot arrives in time to save the day and King Arthur's throne. 

The Crusader finds himself falling victim to Richard the Lion-Heart's treacherous knight De Montfort and imprisoned on a slave galley. He leads a revolt and returns to the camp in time to foil De Montfort's schemes to unseat the king.

A knight named D'Arcy wishes the hand of King Arthur's ward Rosamund in marriage, but is denied. While on a journey Rosamund is waylaid by some of a brash man named Simon but the Black Knight appears sans his armor in time to defend her honor. Then D'Arcy reappears and the Knight and Simon and his men escape and join forces to rescue Rosamund, though she is not impressed with Sir Percy's ballad about the adventure.

The third issue of the series featuring Joe Maneely's artwork doesn't miss a step. The consistency of Maneely's work, whether on adventures of this sort or westerns or mystery stories, is one of the striking characteristics. He apparently roughed his work then did the final product directly in ink, a bold technique but one which gave a vigor to the work. He clearly could see what the page was supposed to look like in his head and then proceeded to make it happen.

Some of these stories have been reprinted and in fact it was in the pages of Marvel Super-Heroes #16 that I read my very first Black Knight adventure. 

The first Black Knight story reprinted.
The second Black Knight story reprinted.

More to come.

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  1. Great cover! It would've been exciting to see Maneely in the Silver/Bronze Age. Stan Lee said, "Joe Maneely to me would have been the next Jack Kirby. He also could draw anything, make anything look exciting, and I actually think he was even faster than Jack."

    1. I read that the reason no one inked his work is because he was so fast that he could pencil and ink faster than most could pencil. He seems to have been a really wonderful talent.

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