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Jan 21

Death of Doctor Strange: X-Men / Black Knight

Posted on Friday, January 21, 2022 by Paul in x-axis

by Si Spurrier, Bob Quinn & Israel Silva

So here’s an early entry for 2022’s most “technically” technically-an-X-book. Tie-in to a wider event that doesn’t affect the X-Men in the slightest? Check! Co-starring with a character the X-Men have nothing to do with? Check! Written by that character’s regular writer? Well… as much as Black Knight has a regular writer. Spurrier wrote the recent Black Knight: Curse of the Ebony Blade miniseries, after all. So sure! Check!

Don’t worry if you haven’t been following Death of Doctor Strange, because it’s one of those stories that’s set up to have a bunch of tie-ins around the margins. All you really need to know about the main story is that with Strange dead, his barrier spell is fading and Earth’s dimension is being invaded by weird stuff. That’s literally it.

So… it’s a team-up between the X-Men and the Black Knight, is it? Well… depends how generous you’re feeling, to be honest.

Si Spurrier is an X-office writer, but this is a follow-up to his Black Knight mini. That story established a new status quo: Dane Whitman and his long lost daughter Jacks now share the identity of the Black Knight. So you have one of them in the field, and the other one at home giving direction. And this is Spurrier’s chance to show how the gimmick is meant to work. With lots of squabbling, basically.

The X-Men were in London doing superhero stuff when it got transformed by the encroaching dimension of the Hungry Land, ruled by the demon Necromon. If that’s not ringing a bell, congratulations! You are a normal person and unfamiliar with Black Knight stories published exclusively in UK-only Hulk comics in 1979!

Jacks enters the transformed London as the Black Knight, with Dane trying to provide some useful guidance. The odd-couple dynamic here is that she doesn’t much trust his judgment on anything, and he’s not particularly convincing, but at the same time, she’s the reckless one and he’s got the legitimate experience that she should maybe be listening to a bit more. So, Jacks teams up with the X-Men? Er, no. The X-Men have been transformed by the magical dimension. Black Knight teams up with Faiza Hussein to fight them.

Which means the X-Men’s contribution to this is, pretty much, to be opposing monsters who the hero has to rescue, so that once they’re freed they can help summarily resolve the plot.

It does look great. The art by Bob Quinn is dynamic, the designs for the transformed X-Men are suitably grotesque. The hellish colouring works. There’s a real sense of place that seems just a cut above the usual generic hellscapes. It does look like a demonic hazy city, and the splash page of Necromon himself is imposing. Dane Whitman sitting in a chair isn’t the most visual thing in the world – artists working with this set-up are going to have to work quite hard to make his panels sing – but he’s expressive enough to get away with it.

Realistically, this is a Black Knight story, with the X-Men’s name attached to help sales. Ostensibly, the angle is the contrast between the teamwork of the X-Men and the dysfunctionality of the Black Knights – two individually dysfunctional heroes who have teamed up to be not much better. But that feels tacked on. It’s not like the X-Men get to show off much teamwork during the period when they’re transformed. And even on the story’s own terms, all it needs is a team who can work together. You could have done this plot with Cloak and Dagger and it would be basically the same.

Still, if you ignore the title and treat it as what it is – a Black Knight backdoor pilot – it’s perfectly fine. But calling it an X-Men comic is a stretch.

Bring on the comments

  1. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    We’ve finally reached the point in sliding time where somehow a seemingly like 32 year old man has a seemingly 26 year old daughter without time travel.

    The biggest X-Men related thing in this is that Jack’s is revealed to be a mutant but she doesn’t know.

    Which could tie in a potential continuation with the X books a bit.

  2. Si says:

    Oh no, superheroes have been turned into monsters again! Such a weird trope to keep revisiting.

  3. Rareblight says:

    Actually, towards the end of Black Knight: Curse of the Ebony Blade #5, the first thing that Dane sees when he sit on Ebon Siege, is the events of this issue which is a nice foreshadowing in my opinion.

  4. ASV says:

    Dane Whitman and his long lost daughter Jacks now share the identity of the Black Knight

    Seems an odd thing to do just as the character is (sort of) introduced into the MCU.

  5. Taibak says:

    I’m an American and I’ve heard of Necromon.

    Do I, like, get a prize or something?

  6. Eric G says:

    I really need to sit down and read the chunk of the Black Knight serial in Hulk Comic that I have and see if it’s worth tracking down the rest. I grabbed the first 20 issues for Night Raven and the Nick Fury by Steve Dillon stories.

  7. The Other Michael says:

    I’m surprised they didn’t reveal Faiza Hussain to be a mutant. Because “powers manifest after being shot by a Skrull weapon” has always been a really random origin story. Of course, with her wielding Excalibur as well, you’d think Tini Howard would be chomping at the bit to use the character. I mean… actually British? Has a sword? Has connection to magical stuff and Arthurian legend?

    I’ve always liked the character though.

  8. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    The Other Michael-

    Yeah she’s a deeply weird collection of things for one character.

  9. David White says:

    Some of Faiza’s weirdness has to do with the fact that she was created post HOUSE OF M, since Marvel went with “No More Mutants” to starve Fox of new mutant characters.

  10. Ceries says:

    The thing about making Faiza into a mutant would be that she’d immediately end up as a background healer on Krakoa, which would take away a lot of what’s actually interesting about the character-she’s a Pakistani-British NHS doctor and all of those are factors that are important to her identity, personally. Adding “mutant” on top of that would almost certainly overwrite several elements-instead of having to deal with discrimination for being Pakistani or Muslim it would become the result of being a mutant, and she’d probably move to Krakoa to show up in background shots. It would in effect erase what’s interesting about Faiza to make her more generic.

    So basically you’re right, it’s very surprising nobody has retconned her yet.

  11. Luis Dantas says:

    I wonder how Muslim characters such as DC’s Simon Baz, Faiza, Dust and IIRC Kamala (Ms. Marvel) are received by the Muslim community.

  12. Si says:

    I believe Ms Marvel was very well received. I know if the others were even really noticed. Dust is barely more than a cardboard cutout, but I believe Paul Cornell went to some pains to make Faiza as authentic as possible.

  13. Josie says:

    Simon Baz is weird. Like, yeah, interesting character, cool design, good angle, but introduced in literally the finale of Geoff Johns’s Green Lantern saga, such that the final issues sidelined him almost entirely.

    Good that he got to co-star in his own series later, at least. The fact that series lasted for over 50 issues, when other Rebirth books were getting chopped in less than 12, probably says something about the characters.

  14. Andrew says:



    For all of his many faults, Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern run was pretty good, especially the first few years before it turned into a rolling series of epic crossoevers but overall it’s an entertaining read in collected form.

    His JSA run was very good too.

    His Superman, second Flash run and obsession with Barry Allen and the Silver Age…less so.

  15. Voord 99 says:

    According to the owner of Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, Simon Baz was very successful with the community he was meant to reflect:.

  16. Miyamoris says:

    “We’ve finally reached the point in sliding time where somehow a seemingly like 32 year old man has a seemingly 26 year old daughter without time travel.”

    Yeah I was pretty confused by how old Jacks is supposed to be. But if her mutant powers haven’t awakened yet, wouldn’t it means she’s a teenager? A lot of her dialogue felt slightly brattish too.

    This was a fun read, I’m mostly happy to see Faiza again. Such a fun character.

  17. Josie says:

    @Andrew I agree with everything you said.

    Johns has gotten a lot weaker in the past decade (wtf was up with Three Jokers?), but his Green Lantern run is a wild ride with nearly perfectly cast art teams throughout. Hal Jordan is the most boring character at the beginning of the run . . . and still boring at the end, but the supporting cast is stellar.

  18. New kid says:

    Next time DC does a reboot they really need to ditch the test pilot backstory of Hal Jordan. The green lantern mythos is pretty good, but Hal needs a rethink. Yes, we’ve gotten pretty off topic.

  19. Joseph S. says:

    Paul, will you cover the Devil’s Reign: X-Men book? It’s Duggan and Noto and basically a direct extension of plots from Marauders re: Emma and Kingpin.

  20. Paul says:

    I’ll review the series but no, I’m not annotating it.

  21. […] Paul O’Brien reviews the expressive squabbles of Si Spurrier, Bob Quinn, Israel Silva, et al’s Death of Doctor Strange: X-Men/Black Knight. […]

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