Avengers annual #22
Issue(s): Avengers annual #22
A cabal of obscure mystics attack Avengers mansion (while Crystal is naked in the bathtub, naturally). The initial attackers are Mongu and the Maha Yogi. They were actually expecting to find Dr. Druid, but Crystal is now the occupant of the room he used to reside in.
With some help from Black Widow, Lockjaw, and Marilla, Crystal is able to fight them off while protecting Luna.
Le Sabre and Chandu - not to be confused with Chondu; this is a very minor wizard, the one who summoned the cool gnomes in Defenders #11 - attack and capture Hercules (embarrassing him in front of his girlfriend Taylor Madison) - but Sersi and the Vision perform a cool power trick to drive Chandu off.
Meanwhile, the Black Knight is at his castle in Washington, D.C.. It becomes clearer that the Black Knight stopped using his Ebony Blade because the curse has become stronger since the spirit of Sir Percy returned to it in the miniseries (the opposite actually seemed true at the end of the mini).
Dane is called away from impressing Shawn with the dangers of the sword thanks to the attack at Avengers mansion. He squares off against Le Sabre, and that's when we see that the attackers are after the Knight's blade.
And we learn that these guys are only part of a convocation of "wizards" (Le Sabre has an ebony dagger made from the same meteorite as Dane's sword, but i wouldn't call him a wizard) seeking artifacts like the Ebony Blade.
Indeed, Dane's butler Catherwood is trying to hold off a pair of (evil Arab) wizards with Dane's uncle's old weaponry.
Sean joins the fight, but gets shot, and on top of that the (evil Arab) wizards threaten to rape Victoria Bentley.
And this causes Sean to attempt to pull the Ebony Blade from the stone that Dane embedded it in. Sean is able to retrieve the sword, and he's transformed.
He immediately uses the blade to literally disarm one of the wizards with a splorch.
Clearly, already, Sean isn't Sean anymore.
Unlike when Dane used the sword, Sean has telekinetic control over it.
With the bad guys killed, Victoria asks if she's addressing Sean or Sir Percy. The figure responds that he is the "sum of them both -- and more!". He also says that he depends "on the blood, the very souls of others for sustenance". And he seems to move towards Victoria, but at this point Dane has arrived.
The other Avengers have accompanied him. Crystal is used as a hostage and is then knocked out (note also Victoria learning about Dane's relationship with Crystal)...
...Hercules is surprised to learn that he can be cut by the blade...
...and Vision learns for the umpteempth time that he's not as soulless as he thinks he is.
Sersi is stumped by the fact that she can't affect the blade directly (which shouldn't preclude her from, like, trapping Sean in a pile of rocks or something). The Black Widow is actually the most effective, using her Widow's Line to temporarily disarm Sean. But the Black Knight hesitates in picking up the sword, so Sean is able to summon it back to him. The Black Knight then asks to fight Sean alone. It's during this fight that Sean takes the name Bloodwraith.
Bloodwraith wins the fight, and Black Knight allows him to leave. Bloodwraith takes Valinor with him.
Most of the 1993 annuals have a back-up featuring the new character in some kind of solo story, but this one does not. It does have a story featuring the Anachronauts. At first i thought it was going to be related to the main story, because the plot driver is their version of the Black Knight, Sir Raston, finding that his Ebony Blade is losing substance, and it relates to fluctuations in the time fields.
I thought the idea was that now that Bloodwraith has the Ebony Blade, it's wreaking havoc with the sword's timeline. But this problem turns out to be unrelated to that. (For what it's worth, Sir Raston is nephew to the original Black Knight, Sir Percy. So he comes from earlier in the timeline than Dane and Sean.)
Ravonna takes the Anachronauts to Camelot to investigate the disturbance with the sword.
They find, er, Daleks, retrieving the meteorite that will be turned into the Ebony Blade.
They follow the Daleks into a small cottage that turns out to be a TARDIS, complete with a doctor... who?
Ok, what's going on here. The "doctor" is in fact Justin Alphonse Gamble, a former TVA employee. The Daleks, aka Incenerators, are actually known to us as the Dreadlox. Both Professor Gamble and the Dreadlox previously appeared in Power Man & Iron Fist #79 (although the idea that Gamble was a TVA employee obviously wasn't brought up at the time).
The original PM&IF story was a jokey one-off, but i feel like we're deep into infringement territory here. I know Marvel UK had a right to publish Doctor Who characters so maybe something like this would be overlooked. Anyway, the Dreadlox wanted the Starstone to destroy all of time, but Ravonna leads the Anachronauts in stopping them.
And then Professor Gamble makes sure that Merlin gets the meteorite.
There are things that i like about both of these stories from a continuity/connections perspective, but it's not enough to save the sloppy storytelling and art.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Black Knight loses Valinor in this story, so any story showing him with Valinor (e.g. Infinity Crusade) needs to take place prior to this. A back-up in Avengers #366 takes place after this. The Anachronauts story takes place before the Anachronauts quit working for Ravonna in the Terminatrix Objective. Presumably the Merlin that appears at the end of the Anachronauts is the real one (i.e. not Maha Yogi, even though it's noted that Kang's encounter with "Merlin" was really with the mutant imposter), but since he's a local in a time travel story, i'm not listing him. Just as a clarification/reminder, Maha Yogi coincidentally appears in the main story, which is why he's listed.
Crossover: 1993 Annuals
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showApocryphus, Black Knight (Dane Whitman), Black Widow, Bloodwraith, Brideshead, Catherwood, Chandu, Crystal, Deathunt 9000, Hercules, Le Sabre, Lockjaw, Luna, Maha Yogi, Marilla, Mongu, Professor Gamble, Raa, Ravonna, Sersi, Sir Raston, Sssith, Taylor Madison, Tyndar, Valinor, Victoria Bentley, Vision, Wildrun
Interestingly enough, in the actual Doctor Who television series, it is implied that the Doctor *is* Merlin... or at least he might become Merlin at some indeterminate point in his personal future. See the 1989 serial "Battlefield" for the full details.
Posted by: Ben Herman | January 30, 2017 3:20 PM
The stuff censoring Crystal's naughty bits in the first scan looks less like steam and more like someone bleached out the colors.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | January 30, 2017 6:05 PM
The Iron-Bound Book of Skelos is a Conan-related artifact that turned up, among other places, in a Marvel Conan story featuring both Kulan Gath and Shuma-Gorath. (The story helps explain how Gath went from the version Barry Windsor-Smith originally drew to the version John Byrne drew in Marvel Team-Up. And therefore it is of course by Roy Thomas.)
Posted by: Omar Karindu | January 30, 2017 6:16 PM
The revelation that the Ebony Blade steals the souls of its victims was criticized for making it too similar to Katana's Soultaker.
Posted by: Michael | January 30, 2017 7:57 PM
By people who never heard of Michael Moorcock, Elric, or Stormbringer?
Posted by: Andrew | January 30, 2017 8:41 PM
By people who never heard of Michael Moorcock, Elric, or Stormbringer?
In theory, Bloodwraith is a good opposite number for Dane, and potentially a conflicted villain. You'd think Doctor Strange would've eventually gotten involved, given his connections to both the Black Knight's tangled past and to Victoria Bentley. The "Convocation of Wizards" seems like it was a setup for Strange to turn up somewhere as well.
In practice, though, Bloodwraith seems like another throwaway to fill out the required "new character" Annual that no one really wanted to use afterwards, and, as noted in the comments for Avengers #366, a way to write out the stuff Bob Harras didn't want to deal with from the Black Knight's previous appearances.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | January 31, 2017 7:00 AM
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