Writer: Si Spurrier
Art: Bob Quinn and Israel Silva
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: January 19th, 2022
It’s chaos in London in The Death of Doctor Strange: X-Men Black Knight #1! Doctor Strange’s death has caused part of Otherworld to devour London, changing the X-Men into demonic creatures. Fortunately (Unfortunately?), Dane Whitman and his daughter Jacks are there to set things right. But can London and the X-Men be saved when Dane and his daughter barely get along?
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The Death of Doctor Strange: X-Men Black Knight #1 drops us right into the middle of the action as the book opens, with London already being devoured, and Dane Whitman perched on a “Game of Thrones” style throne, monitoring his daughter Jakes as she goes out in the field to deal with the threat.
Black Knight is a great character that I lost track of over time. He was at his best back in the 90’s, when he lead the Avengers during Operation Galactic Storm and had a romance with Sersi of the Eternals. Now he shares the ebony blade with his daughter Jacks.
I don’t like Dane here, he’s written like a Booster Gold-style buffoon. I suppose having a daughter and adjusting to the powers of the Siege, which reminds me of a cross between the throne from “Game of Thrones” and Metron’s chair from DC, giving Dane telepathic and divination abilities. During the book, he keeps having visions of the Arthurian age, even as he tries to guide Jacks in combat.
Jacks herself comes off as a bit buffoonish herself, arguing with Dane at every turn when he’s just trying to help her. If you’re wielding something as powerful as the Ebony Blade, wouldn’t you want to listen to the guy who’s used it for over a decade? I mean, he might have some useful tips for you.
The arguing between her and Dane seems forced, possibly for comic effect, but it diminishes both characters.
I didn’t even start caring about the story until Faiza Hussain appears wielding Excalibur. Now THAT is a heroine! Si Spurrier writes her level-headed, strong, fearless and compassionate. Basically everything Dane and Jacks should be. She even listens when Dane offers advice. Imagine that! Why couldn’t we just drop Dane and Jacks from the book and just feature Faiza? I’d love to see more of her character in the future.
Thankfully, Jacks does come through at the end, when she and Faiza have a final showdown with the demonic X-Men. But it seems like they stumble their way through the battle, staying alive only through pure luck and coincidence. I wish the two had had more of a presence in battle. I would have loved to see Faiza have a long duel with the demonic Wolverine.
There’s a fun couple pages in the middle of the story, where each of the X-Men’s new identities (having been changed to demons) are given a backstory and name. These pages are drawn to look like pages ripped from an ancient tome. My favorite of these is Cyclops’ new identity of The Cockatrice Knight. What??? That name needs to be trademarked right away. Also, there’s a surprise revelation at the end of the story, which opens up Jacks possibilities in the Marvel Universe.
Bob Quinn’s art for The Death of Doctor Strange: X-Men Black Knight #1 shines in the depiction of the demonic X-Men. There are panels where Cyclops’ giant troll-like form loom eerily in the distance, the sky dark as ink as Jacks and Faiza try to form a plan.
The demonic X-Men and the converted city of London all look like something out of a nightmare, which gives the book a great atmosphere, despite Dane and Jacks being written in a comical fashion.
The Death of Doctor Strange: X-Men Black Knight #1 is a mediocre addition to The Death of Doctor Strange saga. It adds a new twist to Jacks’ character and gives Faiza Hussain some screen time, but seems unnecessary in the current avalanche of one-shots that are tied into the main story.