- Written By: Si Spurrier, Sergio Davila
- Art By: Sean Parson, Marc Deering
- Colors By: Arif Prianto, Chris Sotomayor, Andrew Crossley
- Letters By: VC’s Cory Petit
- Cover Art By: Iban Coello, Jesus Aburtov
- Cover Price: $3.99
- Release Date: June 30, 2021
Black Knight: Curse of the Ebony Blade #4 puts Dane Whitman, Elsa Bloodstone, and Jacks on a chase to find Mordred to recover the ebony artifacts. When they find him, Dane is still reeling from the effects of drinking from the Ebony Chalice as it shows him the “truth” of what was, what is, and what will be in the legacy of the Ebony Blade. Ultimately, the trio is no match for Mordred and he easily completes the evil bad guy twofer – re-forge the ebony artifacts into something new and kill the hero.
Was It Good?
Not quite. You get the feeling Spurrier tried to make this a more profound, eventful issue than it really was but he doesn’t quite get there.
The entire issue is effectively one scene with montage flashbacks laced into the panels to put more meat on the bone, but there are two key points that detract from the story in significant ways. In no particular order, a) the story makes an unfounded assumption about the general population’s knowledge of the King Arthur legend, and b) Mordred makes a comment that telegraphs the conclusion of the issue (and possibly the arc) from a mile away.
I like the art a lot. There’s a heat shimmer quality to Dane as the effects of the Ebony Chalice overcome him that feels like reality is melting. That effect works perfectly for this type of story. Overall, it’s a beautiful-looking book.
What’s It About?
Dane, Jacks, and Elsa manage to track down Mordred to recover the Ebony Artifacts. Jacks is uncertain in her role in all this except as an informed observer. Elsa just wants her stolen bloodstone back. And Dane’s brain is short-circuiting over the increasing number of visions the Ebony Chalice is stabbing into his brain.
When they find Mordred, idly sitting around waiting for the trio to arrive, we get a flowing montage of Mordred’s past where he pushes the idea the Arthurian legends are propagandist pap. Unfortunately, most readers with even a cursory understanding of the Arthurian legends knows Mordred’s parentage is *ahem* unconventional, and he’s partly the man he is now because Arthur couldn’t accept him. Spurrier tries to play this up as some big revelation when it’s nothing new if you’ve Watched Excalibur or read La muerte de Arturo or White’s The Once and Future King.
Mordred knows Elsa just wants her bloodstone back, so he gives it to her because he doesn’t need it any more, and she simply leaves. Elsa isn’t in the stop-the-evil-wizard business, apparently.
The increasing waves of visions begin to drag Dane down in some sort of emotional tsunami. It’s not clear how the visions are harming him, but he acts like they’re overwhelming him. As the visions pour in, Mordred either knows what Dane is seeing or he remembers because he lived through it, and he narrates the visons with his own spin.
Mordred’s view is that it’s long past time to put an end to the legacy of deception started with Camelot. A legacy of virtue, honor, and nobility that’s all a pack of lies rewritten by Merlin to be something “OH SO VERY MALE.”
At the risk of getting canceled, as soon as Mordred says that line, you know exactly what’s coming next. Dane decides he wants no more of the Black Knight legacy and drops the sword, and so Mordred stabs him with the Ebony Dagger. Jacks tries to shoot Mordred but the Ebony Shield blocks her shot, and she’s easily knocked aside.
With Dane fatally wounded, Elsa gone, and Jacks standing around ineffectually, Mordred takes all the Ebony Artifacts he needs and casts them into a forge. When his work is finished, he puts on a new artifact — the Ebony Crown.
Jacks decides standing around for the hour it must have taken to melt down and re-forge the crown was too much, so she picks up the Ebony Sword that’s still on the ground where Dane dropped it. Apparently, Mordred didn’t need the sword but the meager explanation makes no sense why he didn’t need it if all the other Ebony Artifacts were part of the same power.
Mordred, glowing purple with the power of the Ebony Crown, easily blocks Jacks’ attack and shoots her with a magical blast that appears to be turning her to dust. We conclude the issue with Dane and Jacks both very nearly dead.
But the preview page spoils the cover for issue #5 with Jacks becoming the new Black Knight, at least temporarily.
Black Knight: Curse of the Ebony Blade #4 is all revelation that we mostly knew, and takes a hard left into “this random character, who’s done nothing for the entire run, is actually the most important character” territory. Just when you think you get a talented writer to do something important with a neglected character, it was all a big setup to throw that character away. At least the art is great.