Avengers (1st series) #48

Issue Date: 
January 1968
Story Title: 
The Black Knight Lives Again!

Roy Thomas (writer), George Tuska (pencils), Artie Simek (letters), Stan Lee (editor)

Brief Description: 

Magneto and Toad continue to try to convince their prisoners, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, into rejoining the cause of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, but constantly fail to. Magneto and Toad leave the cell of the twins, wanting to give them more time to think things over. Pietro manages to use his speed to free once of his arms. He finds a communication device nearby and sends out a message to the other Avengers so that they can come to their rescue. The message is heard by Jarvis, who informs the other Avengers about it. Hank and Janet have to interrupt their vacation in Las Vegas because of this, and rush back to Avengers Mansion on riding on Hank’s ants. Meanwhile, back at the castle, Dr. Dane Whitman has managed to escape from his cell and remembers the vow he made to his uncle months ago. He promised Nathan Garrett, the now deceased villainous Black Knight, he would make up for his evil dees and make sure his science was used for good, and that his name was cleared. Dane has also decided to take on the mantle of the Black Knight so he can do even more good. He manages to escape the castle unnoticed, and flies to Avengers Mansion on his winged horse Pegasus to inform them about what happened to their teammates. At the same time in Olympus, Hercules finds one of its sacred temples in ruins and wants to make the villain responsible for this pay! Back at the castle, Magneto punishes Quicksilver for trying to escape, and thinks he better brings them to another location for further attempts to persuade them into rejoining. He, Toad, Wanda and Pietro leave in a ship Magneto build by just using his magnetic powers. The Black Knight arrives at the mansion, but the Avengers at first believe he’s still the evil Knight and fight him. The Knight eventually manages to calm them all down, and informs them about the current situation. They rush to the castle, where they find it empty. Hank doesn’t entirely trust the Knight and wants to know who he is under the helmet. The Black Knight can’t believe that the Avengers don’t trust them, even after he called for their help, and takes off angry, wanting to find and fight Magneto all by himself!

Full Summary: 

Inside Magneto’s castle, where…
Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch have been chained against a wall. Speaking to his captor, Pietro calls Magneto stark staring mad if he thinks he and Wanda shall ever rejoin his insane bid to rule the world. Wanda is proud to say that, whatever Magneto will do to them, they’ll remain Avengers until the very end. Magneto threatens in that case, the end for the twins won’t be long in coming, for the both of them!

An impatient Toad, bouncing across the room, tells Magneto to kill his former teammates for daring to defy him. They have to pay the supreme penalty for allying themselves with the “accursed Homo sapiens!” Pietro confidentially tells Magneto he can do whatever he wants with him, certain that the Avengers will seek him out… and defeat him as well!

Magneto grows tired of hearing the name of the Avengers. He warns Pietro that he taxes their old friendship too far! Pietro shouts that Magneto doesn’t even know the meaning of the word “friendship.” Pietro reminds Magneto, calling him a monster, that he and his sister were never more than puppets, pawns of the villain’s limitless ambition. Magneto has heard enough and warns Pietro to stop it, or else he’ll hurl him to his death.

Toad again begs his master to kill them both, thinking that they need no one but the two of them, however Magneto shouts at Toad to be silent. He sees now that it will take more than threats to win Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch to their side. So, they must demonstrate their invincible might… the power which renders them invincible! Pietro thinks that perhaps Magneto can overcome the youthful X-Men (and perhaps not), but there are still the Avengers!

Magneto again hears the Avengers’ infernal name! He mocks he didn’t return from his exile in space to be afraid of a group he has never seen. Never! He points his hand at an armor of a knight and easily destroys it using his powers. He reveals that his powers have increased since he and the twins last met. With a gesture, he can destroy a man just as easily. His physical strength is great as well, and Magneto demonstrates it by smashing his fists on a table and tearing it apart!

Pietro realizes that Magneto isn’t kidding: he’s stronger and deadlier than ever before. Magneto asks the siblings what their final answer to his generous offer is. Shall they join Magneto in his quest against the humans, or do they prefer death?! Wanda says Magneto already heard their answer. Pietro asks his sister to wait, promising Magneto that perhaps they should consider it. An incredulous Wanda asks her brother what he is saying, though Magneto compliments Wanda that her brother gets wiser with age. He tells Toad they’ll leave the twins to talk over the matter for a moment.

When the two have left the room, a disappointed Wanda asks Pietro how he could even suggest a new alliance with Magneto like that. Pietro tells her to be quiet. He merely said that, hoping they would leave. And they did… confident of their helplessness. Now moving to his shackles, Pietro feels that one of his metal claps is loose and, with a little twisting, he is free. However, Pietro realizes that there’s no time to work on the other clasp and decides he should play his other ace at once. He takes out a tiny microphone, which he slipped into his belt as a precaution. Wanda tells him to hurry up as Magneto can return any moment, a fact of which Pietro knows. He is determined to contact the Avengers, wherever they may be. “Calling Avengers!” he shouts into the mike. “Mayday! Mayday!”

However, outside of the dungeon, Toad overheard the twins’ attempt and hops back, having realized the twins couldn’t be trusted. Since he doesn’t dare to attack them by himself, he decides to go fetch Magneto.

However, far swifter than even the bounding Toad are the miraculous impulses known as radio waves, which go off at Avengers HQ. Jarvis hears the signal, just as he was putting his coat on for a night out. He still thinks that Pietro and Wanda are on monitor duty and that they’ll probably answer it.

Elsewhere in town, Hawkeye leaps over some rooftops, not unnoticed by the street-bound citizens below. The crowd goes wild and ask for autographs, but that’s the last thing Clint wants to do after his fight with Natasha. In fact, he doesn’t want to talk to anybody right now. He just keeps wondering what made Cap suddenly decide to quit the Avengers like that. He now realizes that surely Cap has a private life like the rest of the team, but they all thought that being an Avenger was everything his life was all about. A disappointed crowd goes back home, mocking that they were looking for Captain America anyway, as they figure he’s what keeps the team going on. Hawkeye pauses to consider this, silently realizing the world doesn’t know yet that Cap quit the team, and wonders if they can make it without Cap – the greatest leader a fighting team ever had.

Back at Avengers Mansion, the phone continues ringing and Jarvis finally decides to answer it. It’s Pietro, much to his surprise. However, before he can ask more, Pietro has already hung up again, without giving his location to Jarvis. The loyal butler hopes he can receive the others before it’s too late.

Meanwhile in a Las Vegas casino, Janet van Dyne watches a roulette table, where one man has won five times in a row, something she regards as impossible. With a smile and a cigar hanging out of his mouth, the man tells the group that he is J.B. Desalvio and that Lady Lucks seems to have decided to befriend him this evening. However, it is not Lady Luck but a powerful magnet in Mr. Desalvio’s pocket, which he took months to perfect. Using it, Desalvio moves his bets to number eleven, which comes up next.

Watching this in growing anger, Janet knows that the man is cheating, but is unsure how to expose him. Suddenly, Hank walks over to her, wanting to tell her about the call he got from Jarvis, but she wants to discuss something else first. Hank uses his powers over the ants to make them, unseen by anyone, dive into the cheater’s jacket, where they detect Desalvio’s miniature magnetic device. Hank tells his little friends they know what to do, and so does he!

With this, Hank shrinks to his tiniest form. He knows Jarvis’ call sounded urgent, but he can’t stand to see Janet lose while this cheater runs away with her money. He knows his lovely financée could afford it to lose, but maybe the rest of the players can’t. As Janet delays the game, pretending to drop some chips, Hank has some ants remove Desalvio’s device from his pocket, while he moves the ball to a number of his own choice.
Intending to use his device one last time before cashing in, Desalvio tries to activate his device to make the ball run to his number, but finds the device gone. Rather than his number of eleven, the number comes up sixteen. Janet cheers, even though she lost her money to another player. But that’s fine by her, as at least the other guy wasn’t cheating.

Turning to Hank, who rests on her shoulder, Janet suggests that he return to his normal size and take her out to dinner. However, Hank informs her that he just received a top-priority call from HQ, which springs Jan into action, shrinking down to the form of the Wasp. Unfortunately, doing so causes her to leave behind her mink stole, but Hank tries to cheer her up, telling her to think how happy she’s going to make some lucky loser who finds it – not to mention the fun she’ll have shopping for another one. Hearing this, Janet agrees, wondering at the same time if Sue Richards ever has problems like this!?

A few seconds later, the two diminutive heroes ride on flying ants toward the airport, where they have a pilot, who is always standing by on 24 hour alert, is ready to take them back to New York. Along the way, Hank wonders why Pietro or Wanda weren’t the ones to call them – and what of Hercules, who is away on a secret mission. Will their Avengers summons reach him?

Meanwhile, at Olympus...
Hercules has found the temple of Promethean Flame, whose fires must ever burn so that the gods may live. Yet, the temple lies in ruins, almost beyond recognition, and its sacred fires are quenched! Hercules wonders who could have dared to do such a horrible thing. He thinks about it, and believes to know the only possible answer. The eternal gods have many enemies from time primeval! Some there are who would even have defiled this sacred temple, that the Olympians might thus be cast into a nameless limbo! Hercules wonders what faceless foe has lain waste this sanctum, yet spared the rest of the timeless Olympus. Whoever he may be, the villain will soon face the unconquered son of Zeus!

Back at Avengers mansion...
Hawkeye informs his teammates about the automatically recorded mayday call from Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch he just heard. He learned that someone had lured the twins off monitor duty and captured them. Janet wonders which of the Avengers’ foe it will be this time. Hank thinks they’ll know soon enough, and asks Hawkeye to run the tape again. Hawkeye mocks that he didn’t recall Cap putting Hank in charge, but does as told.

A moment later, the Avengers hear on the tape that Pietro and Wanda have been captured by Magneto. Hank is surprised to hear this, since Magneto is the X-Men’s greatest enemy. However, Janet jokes that the X-Men’s monopoly on Magneto appears to be over, since it’s now up to the Avengers to rescue Pietro and Wanda.

Down at Garrett Castle...
Dane has managed to escape his cell and explores the large dungeons. It has taken him hours to work his way into the room he’s in now, through the many secret passages built into the walls. He didn’t dare to move too quickly, in fear that Magneto might hear him. This castle belongs to Dane, left to him by his late uncle, the villainous Black Knight! But no one, not even Magneto, must ever be allowed to use the castle for evil again.

Back in the cell, Norris wakes up after being defeated, and wonders where Dr. Whitman could have gone.

In the meantime, Dane reaches the chamber he was seeking and hopes that the walls of it are as soundproofed as he tried to make them. He finds it ironic, though, as it was he who designed the magnetic space-communicator in his main lab. And so, it must be he who accidentally gave Magneto the magnetic bridge he needed to return to Earth. Yet, Dane’s only intention was to fulfill a vow, a sacred pledge he made to do something great in the name of science. He remembers the day he made that vow well.

It must have been only a few hours after his uncle’s final fight with Iron Man. Dane’s uncle managed to strike some branches which broke his fall, so that he fell into the water below. However, the Black Knight’s armor couldn’t absorb the shock, and he saw the same went for Iron Man. He was sure the golden Avenger didn’t see where he fell, but the Knight’s was still badly hurt. He needed to find some help.

Then, staggering almost blindly, the Knight reached a nearly empty farmhouse and entered it. Though pained by possible broken bones, the Knight finally spies a phone, intending to call someone he trusts. There’s one person who always meant everything to him. He contacts Willowton Research Center, and asks to speak to Dr. Dane Whitman. Everything was starting to turn black to the Knight, but promised himself not to die... not now!

Moments later, Dane heard for the first time in years the voice of his uncle, Professor Nathan Garrett, who had once been a respected scientist before he turned to crime. And so, Dane immediately rushed to his uncle’s whereabouts and helped him out. Dane recalls how lucky he felt the center wasn’t far from his uncle’s location, and carried him to a bedroom. However, the lightweight armor he wore, the fantastic story Dane heard over the phone, was so much. Dane knew that his uncle was a wanted criminal now, but not that he also was the powerful villain known as the Black Knight!

And it was on that day, as Dane’s only relative lay dying before him, that the strangest of vows was made. Nathan admitted he was wrong in his ways, but it was too late for him. But, Nathan declared, it was not too late for Dane. He wanted Dane to swear to use his research for good, and not for evil like he did. Dane promises his Uncle Nathan to do exactly that. He promises that, one day, his uncle will be remembered, not as a man who died a criminal, but one who lived a benefactor of mankind. A few days later, after Dane buried his uncle Nathan, he checked out his uncle’s former weapons.

Dane was impressed with the huge lance the Knight wielded. He always thought his uncle was a biologist. Yet, this beam-shooting lance of his betrayed an intimate knowledge of other sciences as well! Dane wanted to use some of his own skills with the lance and declared that Professor Nathan Garrett’s genius shall not die with him. He swore that the Black Knight shall live again! Then followed long, intensive months of research, as Dane pored over the carefully-recorded secrets of his uncle, making them his own. Dane even managed to create a second mutant winged stallion, which was much swifter and more powerful than the horse that was used by the villainous Black Knight. At first, the horse was flying a bit awkward, as for up until that day Dane only let the horse walk.

Then, as the young scientist concluded his reverie, he chose to don the helmet of Black Knight, declaring that the time had come. He must don the improved armor he has developed, and redeem the name of… the Black Knight.

Clad in the armor of the Black Knight and battle-ready, Dane rushes into action. He considers the long-forgotten stories which tell of the original Black Knight, who once stood between King Arthur and the evil ambition of his nephew Mordred. Dane doesn’t know if those stories are true, or merely glittering legends. Still, Dane longs to battle Magneto by himself, so he can see if he’s worthy to call himself a Black Knight. Yet, he doesn’t dare, because he heard Magneto speak of two Avengers who are now his captives. Dane thinks he better goes to contact the remaining Avengers first, so they can work together on this.

Magneto slaps Quicksilver across the face, having discovered the speedster’s attempt to escape. Pietro, with one arm still in chains, can’t fight back and silently hopes that his message got through. Wanda panics for her brother’s safety, but Magneto tells her not to – not yet, that is! He doesn’t intend to snuff out Pietro’s existence. Looking at the now unconscious Pietro, Magneto wants the boy to recover, so that he can once again try to persuade him into rejoining the cause of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants! Wanda promises Magneto they’ll never serve him again.

Toad thinks Wanda speaks the truth and pleads for Magneto to kill them both. Magneto kicks Toad away, shouting that Pietro and Wanda can be of much more use than Toad has ever been. Magneto magnetically raises the platform Wanda and Pietro are held captive on in the air, smiling that he’s just demonstrating his powers. He shall take them both to another place, and give them one last chance to rejoin the Brotherhood. Seconds later, Magneto, Toad, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch leave in an air-ship. Magneto tells Wanda to behold the extent of his powers. He boasts to her that he returned to this planet only a few hours ago, and already he has constructed this supersonic cruiser; built and powered by his own vast magnetic powers!

Avengers’ mansion...
The Avengers are just about to leave for the rescue of their teammates, when Jarvis warns them about something in the air. It’s the Black Knight on his flying horse! Dane tells his flying beast, Pegasus, to land and hopes the Avengers are home, because he didn’t have time to make an appointment. Hawkeye recognizes the Knight and thinks it’s the same enemy the original Avengers once fought. Janet isn’t so sure it’s the same Knight, because he’s still so far away. However, the stubborn and impatient Hawkeye fires his arrows against the Knight, who blocks them with his lance.

Dane realizes the Avengers must think they’re fighting his evil uncle, and wants to make them understand the truth. Unfortunately, moments later Janet attacks the Knight, impacting against the Knight’s weapon, causing it to fire. The laser which it projects obliterates a chimney, causing the nearby Hawkeye and Goliath to take cover.

Though he had thought that with the new costume and new mount might mean that it was a different Black Knight, Goliath is now convinced that they are now under attack by the same one, perhaps more powerful than ever. Now ready to counterattack, Goliath uses his antennae to order all nearby wasps and flying ants to attack the Knight. In response, the Knight emits heavy smoke, which has a fatal effect on the insects. As the Black Knight laments his plan going awry, Hawkeye makes his move, firing an “arrowpoon.” Snagging the flying horse’s saddle, Hawkeye reels himself skyward, unknown to the oblivious rider. When the archer twists himself behind the Knight on the saddle, the Black Knight manages to deliver a blow with his lance to Hawkeye, knocking him off. Still holding his bow, Hawkeye fires an arrow line to a nearby building and swings to safety.

Exasperated, the Black Knight yells to the Avengers that if they respect nothing but sheer, brute force, then he will show them the destructive power of his laser lance. Unfortunately, in his anger the Knight fires with too much power and knocks loose a piece of cornice, which begins to fall to the street below. Acting fast, Hank transforms into Goliath and uses his great strength to catch the bricks and throw them away to a safe spot. Unfortunately, the act causes Goliath to lose balance and fall off of the rooftop – to his apparent death.

However, seeing this, the Black Knight dives his winged horse to catch the Avengers, knowing that Goliath is too large to break his fall. At the last moment, however, Goliath’s size has been reduced to normal size, allowing the Knight to catch him. A few moments later, the Knight has landed on a nearby rooftop and has begun to apologize profusely for his actions. Still recovering, Goliath realizes that the Knight’s voice is not that of the former Avengers’ foe. As Goliath begins to ask his identity, the Knight dismisses him, saying that it’s not important. He explains that he’s come about two of their fellow Avengers – Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch.

After a few hurried words of explanation, the Avengers follow the Black Knight to the castle. Unfortunately, once they arrive there, the Black Knight and the Avengers discover that the castle is empty. Hank has his doubts if the Knight is telling the truth about all this, and wants to know who the Knight is under his helmet, and why he has taken on the role of the Black Knight. Dane can’t believe that the Avengers still don’t trust him, even if he informed them about their two missing teammates. He gets angry and flies away on Pegasus alone, wanting to find Magneto wherever he might have gone to... solo!

As Hawkeye remarks that some people complain about his temper, Hank realizes they can’t waste time trying to persuade the Knight into helping them now. But somehow, Hank thinks, they haven’t seen the last of the Knight. Janet sure hopes not, because she bets the Knight looks cute under that nutty helmet.

Characters Involved: 

Goliath, Hawkeye, Hercules, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Wasp (all Avengers)

Magneto, Toad (all Brotherhood of Evil Mutants I)

Black Knight (Dane Whitman)
Pegasus (the Black Knight’s flying horse)

Edwin Jarvis (butler to the Avengers)
Norris (Whitman’s former assistant)

several citizens including Charlie (others unnamed)
players at the casino (all unnamed)

Throughout Whitman’s flashback:
Iron Man (former Avenger)
Black Knight I (Nathan Garrett)

Story Notes: 

The Wasp wears a new costume in this issue, which Hank sewed for her personally.

The flashback Dane tells about his uncle’s death originates from Tales of Suspense (1st series) #73. This issue confirms that his Uncle Nathan truly is dead.

Hercules learns more about what happened to Olympus in Avengers (1st series) #50.

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