Thursday, November 6, 2014

Black Knight #4


The fourth issue of Black Knight dated November, 1955 brings significant change. While Joe Maneely does the cover as usual, Fred Kida moves in as regular artist on the Black Knight stories inside while John Romia supplies the artwork for The Crusader tale.


A knight named Sir Guy Wanderell is put down for his plundering his neighbors thanks to the efforts of the Black Knight, but pleads with King Arthur that he did it to win the hand of Rosamund, the King's ward. The lie spares him the dungeons but he immediately plots to destroy the Black Knight's reputation by pretending to be him. The two "Black Knights" meet in a joust and Wanderell is soundly defeated.


The Black Knight rescues a peasant who happens to be living in the abandoned Black Castle. Later the former resident of that castle, Kevin McCaull returns and plots revenge against King Arthur for having been driven away years before. The peasant finds the Black Knight and warns him and helps him to lead a successful attack on the Black Castle despite the mighty beasts McCaull has brought with him such as lions and elephants.

"The Intruder" is a two-page text story about Richard the Lion-Heart. A suspicious man is spotted on the outskirts of Richard's camp and his men work overtime to find what they believe to be a Moslem spy from Saladin's army. A swarthy man is captured but Richard demands to speak to him alone and it is revealed that he is rather a loyal knight who has come to report the results of his spy mission in Saladin's camp. Armed with new information Richard changes his strategy and then pretends to let the intruder get the better of him while is loyal knight escapes to spy some more. 


The Crusader is forced to go in disguise into the camp of Saladin when Quincy, a loyal knight of Richard the Lion-Heart is captured along with a precious map. De Montfort, a disloyal knight sends one of his henchmen to warn Saladin of the spy in his midst, but the noble Saladin is more impressed with El Alamain's bravery than with the treachery and sets both the Crusader and Quincy free while sending the traitor to the slave galley.


King Arthur is captured by pirates in the employ of Modred and he and his party are taken aboard the pirate ship. Sir Percy escapes and becomes the Black Knight returning to Camelot and leading loyal knights to the pirate stronghold to rescue the King and Rosamund.

The loss of Joe Maneely on this series is a severe blow, despite the largely competent work of Kida here. Maneely brought something intangible to the book, some glowing effervescent sense of wonder which despite all the clear and appropriate storytelling here is missing. Romita brings some distinction to the Crusader pages, but even they fall short. 

The first Black Knight story reprinted.

One more to come.

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2 comments:

  1. Nice cover again! I like your description: art with "sense of wonder" vs merely "clear and appropriate".

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    1. The wonder of Maneely becomes all too evident when compared to the solid but workmanlike Kida material. It's not a critique of Kida, merely a recognition of the amazing way Maneely elevated his work.

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