In recent years Marvel Comics has developed a fondness for exploring their pre-Captain America/Fantastic Four history and telling stories set centuries and even millenniums in the past, which often bear similarities to the present.
In the limited series Black Knight: Curse of the Ebony Blade they aren't going as far back as the 1,000,000 B.C. Avengers, but they are going back to the days of Camelot and for a meeting between Sir Percy of Scandia, the ancestor of current Black Knight Dane Whitman, and a young ... or at least younger Thor.
The scene, part of a first look at penciler Sergio Dávila and inker Sean Parsons' art from Curse of the Ebony Blade #3, along with fully colored pages by Arif Prianto from issue #2, is part of the series exploration into Dane Whitman's somewhat tortured role as a superhero.
"It's been the purest joy contributing to the wild and wonderful history of the Black Knight and his forebears," series writer Simon Spurrier tells Newsarama. "The great challenge - and, for me, one of our neatest solutions - lay in finding a way to encapsulate all the internal conflicts and complications the character has suffered over the years in one elegant place."
Marvel readers know Whitman faces an extremely painful dilemma. The Ebony Blade, which gives him his power, acts "like a sort of Reverse Mjolnir."
"It is at its mightiest - its most devastating - when wielded by someone in the grip of negative emotion," the writer continues. "Anger, pain, regret. Unworthy thoughts. So... should Dane lean into that unhealthy mindset, spiraling deeper into darkness and evil - all in the name of the greater good? Or should he let go of the Ebony Blade and take a shot at a healthy, happy life - albeit as a civilian? Even though being a hero is hardwired into his identity."
Spurrier says Whitman's situation is a tricky one.
"And of course, he's not the first Black Knight to contend with this dilemma," he says. "One of the greatest pleasures of this story has been delving back into the distant past to reimagine Arthur's Court at Camelot as a sort of medieval equivalent of the modern Marvel Universe's Manhattan: a place where wonders, wizards, and warriors were drawn to gather in all their teeming color and variety.
"The first Black Knight - Sir Percy of Scandia - was Camelot's dirty little secret. A man slowly succumbing to the berserker rages that are the Ebony Blade's legacy. A shadow tasked with defending the light.
"And you know who else was around, in those days? A certain young god - brash and untested - roving far from the Northlands with bands of loyal Viking worshippers. You can imagine he might pay an active interest if he learned this so-called City of Light - this wondrous Camelot - was defended by a man of shadow and evil...?"
So, yeah. It's Thor versus Black Knight on the blood-spattered drawbridge of ancient Camelot.
"It's gonna get ugly," Spurrier adds, belying the fact Dávila and Parsons' art is really pretty.
And speaking of the artist...
"Working on this series is very exciting," says Dávila. "With Simon's scripts, you never know what awaits you in this series. He always manages to surprise me with something else and being able to draw the scene of Thor's fight with the classic Black Knight ... has been a gift for me.
"I am a huge fan of Thor and drawing him facing off against Black Knight from the past in all his splendor, these two characters with their full powers has been a great experience for me. I have really enjoyed it."
And on the topic of the brash, Norse god, check out Newsarama's look at the best Thor stories of all time.