Solo Avengers #4

Issue Date: 
March 1988
Story Title: 
1st Story: The Great Escape - 2nd Story: Knight's Errant

1st Story: Tom DeFalco (writer), Ron Lim (penciler), Joe Rubinstein (inker), Janet Jackson (colorist)

2nd Story: Roger Stern (writer), Paul Ryan (penciler), Bob Layton (inker), Paul Becton (colorist)

Jack Morelli (letterer), Mark Gruenwald (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

(1st story)
Hawkeye is thrown into a cell by Silver Sable and her men. Sable tells him that she was authorized by the French government to detain him. While Sable trains her men, a government Minister talks to her about her plan. Sable explains that this is the only way that she will be able to apprehend Trick Shot, which is what the French government has contracted her to do. Hawkeye uses this opportunity to create some makeshift weapons, and when soldiers visit his cell, he makes his getaway, and after retrieving his weapons, he makes his way through the castle, while battling Sable's soldiers, and being observed by Sable on a monitor. Sable wonders whether she could hire Hawkeye on a mission-by-mission basis, before Hawkeye eventually escapes the castle – only to be attacked by Trick Shot!

(2nd story)
The Black Knight is in a lab within Hydrobase, doing some analysis on his Ebony Blade in an attempt to learn everything he can about it to destroy the curse of the blade in which if he ever draws blood with the sword, he will be overcome by the bloodlust of the sword. Dr Druid joins him in the lab, and offers to use his abilities to try and learn more about the blade – but in doing so, he is wracked with pain, and suddenly vanishes, replaced by an armored being calling himself the Last Knight. The Last Knight claims to be a descendant of the Black Knight's and explains that he has traveled back in time to put an end to his bloodline, which would in turn end the curse of the Ebony Blade. They battle for some time, during which Dane worries about ending the curse, and staying away from the blade when the Last Knight takes the sword from him. Eventually, Dane knocks the Last Knight out, and he vanishes, causing Dr Druid to return. Dane vows to do everything he can to end the curse of the Ebony Blade.

Full Summary: 

1st story:
'I apologize for the accommodations. They were the best I could arrange on such short notice' Silver Sable remarks as Clint Barton a.k.a. Hawkeye is thrown into a small jail cell by Sable's men. Sable adds that one doesn't usually arrest a gentleman of Hawkeye's stature - the chairman of the West Coast Avengers – for murder – the murder of Trick Shot! Hawkeye is shirtless, only wearing his mask and trousers as he declares that he didn't kill anybody, and the charges against him are ridiculous. 'Be a good little girl – and release me! C'mon, lady, you know that I'm innocent!' Hawkeye pleads with Silver Sable, who is wearing a long silver gown with a fur trim around her shoulders, and is flanked by several men in purple and orange costumes, and a man in a blue suit. 'Stop calling me lady!' Silver Sable retorts, reminding Hawkeye that her name is Silver Sable, she boasts that she is no lady, in any sense of the way he means the word.

Sable informs Hawkeye that the French government has authorized her to capture a murderer, and so she has done that. 'Says you! Howsabout a lawyer!' Hawkeye exclaims. 'All in good time, friend' Sable replies, assuring Hawkeye that the American Embassy will eventually provide him with one, but until then, he should enjoy his stay. She adds that luncheon will be served within the hour. The door them slams closed, trapping Hawkeye in the cel. 'Yeah...sure, lady' Hawkeye mutters to himself.

Within the large castle that Hawkeye is being held, Silver Sable has changed into her battlesuit, and her men are now dressed in ninja costumes, as they surround her, ready for a training session. The man in the blue suit tells Sable that he protests her handling of this most delicate situation. 'If that man should contact the other Avengers -' the man in the blue suit begins, but Sable, addressing him as “Minister” assures him that he won't. 'How can you be so certain?' the Minister asks. 'I know men' Sable remarks, while one of her squad thinks to themselves that hate these daily workouts. Sable then starts to kick her way through the men, using her staff against them as well, she remarks that Hawkeye is much too stubborn and egotistical to call for help at the first sign of trouble. The Minister points out that Sable has no legal right to detain him. 'I know that – but he does not!' Sable replies.

In his cell, the shirtless Hawkeye lifts the mattress of the bed off its base, while Silver Sable dodges one of her men who lunge at her with the wooden staff, and Sable spins her staff around, slamming it into her man's head, while reminding the Minister that his government hired Silver Sable International to apprehend a dangerous criminal, a contract killer known as Trick Shot! At that moment, Hawkeye tears back the material from the mattress base, while Sable begins spinning her staff to keep her men at bay, slamming a fist into one of them, while she tells the Minister that, through various sources, she has learned that Hawkeye and Trick Shot have a prior relationship – and were to meet in Paris and battle to the death! Hawkeye then takes a piece of wood from the mattress base, while Sable continues to battle her men, telling the Minister that since his people want Trick Shot to stand trial for his crimes, she has arranged for Hawkeye's false arrest.

Hawkeye snaps the piece of wood in two, while Silver Sable announces that in order to prove Hawkeye's innocence, he will have to produce Trick Shot – alive. 'Quite a simple plan, no?' Sable asks, while Hawkeye smiles, holding the two short pieces of wood in his hand now. The Minister asks Sable how she expects Hawkeye to capture Trick Shot if she is holding him prisoner. 'Silly boy!' Sable replies. 'The man's an Avenger, isn't he?' she remarks, before telling her men that they did good work with the workout, but to try and pick up the pace a bit next time.

Three of the men arrive at Hawkeye's cell, 'Lunch time, archer!' one of them calls out. 'We do hope you're partial to pheasant under glass' one of them adds. 'After all, it's a speciality of the house' one of them remarks as the enter the cell, to find Hawkeye standing with his back to them, facing the wall. 'Too bad! I had a real hankering for a Big Mac!' Hawkeye jokes, spinning around suddenly, he throws the two short blocks of wood, 'So I'll just have to give you guys the bird – and go out and find the beef myself!' Hawkeye exclaims as one of the pieces of wood strikes one of the men in their helmet, knocking him back into another, while the second block of wood strikes the third man in his helmet, causing him to drop the tray of food.

The third man doesn't fall over though, and reaches for his gun. 'What's the matter, pal? Fast food not your style? No problem' Hawkeye calls out, reaching for another larger plank ogf wood, he tells Sable's man that if he really has an itch for something of the vegetarian persuasion, he could always eat wood!' Hawkeye then slams the large plank of wood against the man, knocking him back and causing him to drop the gun. Hawkeye grabs the man by his collar and tells him that the main course is over, so now it is time for dessert. 'I want my bow and arrows! Now!' Hawkeye shouts.

In another part of the castle, one of Sable's men rushes over to her and reports that the Avenger has escaped. 'WHA -?!' the Minister shouts, but Sable tells him to relax, that everything is proceeding according to plan.

At that moment, Hawkeye rushes down a long winding staircase, he has recovered his tunic and bow and arrows, and thinks that recovering his stuff was almost too easy. He decides that a castle is a weird place to hold a murder suspect, and wonders what game Sable is playing at. He knows that he can't worry about that now, as he hears someone coming. Another of the purple and orange clad men that work for Sable confronts Hawkeye, so the Avenger fires an arrow with adhesive substance at him, knocking him back and keeping him occupied as he tries to pry himself free.

Hawkeye hears a whole crowd headed his way, and decides that he needs an arrowhead with a bit more stopping power. He readies an arrow with an explosive tip, thinking that will throw a real scare into these costumed clowns and convince them that he means business. Hawkeye aims the arrow low and outside, as he doesn't want to accidentally hurt them. The arrow explodes against the wall, knocking several of the men over, and engulfing them in a cloud – but not for long, as the men recover and see Hawkeye. 'He missed us!' one of them exclaims. 'Whoops' Hawkeye mutters. 'Get him! Silver will probably give us a big bonus for his recapture!' one of the men tells the others, before the large army of men begin to give chase.

Hawkeye runs for his life, thinking that these guys are a lot tougher than they look – but he can't pull the stops, as for all he knows, they might really work for the French government. 'After him! We must stop him before he reaches the end of the parapet!' one of the men calls out. As he approaches the large open parapet, Hawkeye has nowhere else to run, so he fires an arrow with  a cable  connected to it, and as the arrowhead strikes another part of the castle, 'Ta-ta, gentlemen! I really would like to stay and fight it out with you guys – but there just aren't enough of you to give me a decent workout!' Hawkeye jokes as he drops away from the castle, a couple of the men falling over the edge, though their teammates help them up.

Hawkeye lands on a bridge, 'Uh-oh! Out of the frying pan – and into the microwave!' he jokes as several more of Sable's men appear on the bridge, one has a large weapon, and warns Hawkeye to freeze, or else they will flash-fry his face. 'Really?' Hawkeye replies, telling the men that they will find that awfully hard with their gizmo jammed. He fires an arrow at the weapon, and it explodes. 'You've been lucky, archer, real lucky!' another of Sable's men exclaims as they rush up behind him, 'That was before you met me!' he boasts as he prepares to slam a weapon against Hawkeye – who elbows him in the back. Hawkeye maneuvers himself away from his foe, who is using an electro-whip, which he boasts will flay Hawkeye alive. 'No matter how fast you are, you can't dodge me forever!' the soldier calls out as Hawkeye leaps from the electro-whip. 'I don't have to – not when an old fashioned sock  on the jaw can put you out of my misery!' Hawkeye declares, slamming his fist into the soldier's face.

Hawkeye then kicks the soldier and tells him that a man should not rely on his weapons to fight his battles for him – as weapons can malfunction or be taken away! 'You've got to be able to depend on yourself – on your own natural abilities!' Hawkeye remarks 'Well said – from a man who's entire reputation is built on a bunch of trick arrows!' another soldier calls out as he flies towards Hawkeye on a sky-cycle like vehicle. 'Sure, I use my share of gimmicks, but I back them up with a lot of skill and smarts!' Hawkeye exclaims, before leaping into the air and firing a net arrow off the bridge, where is strikes the ground below, nestled between some bushes, Hawkeye leaps onto it, then flips onto the ground, firing an arrow backwards up to the soldier's most vulnerable area – the underside of the sky-cycle! 'Nuff said!' Hawkeye calls out.

Hawkeye makes his way through the castle once more, when several more soldiers rush towards him. 'Oh, swell! Here come fresh troops!' Hawkeye mutters to himself, wondering if perhaps he should have eaten that pheasant when he had the chance, as all this exercise is making him hungry. He supposes that he can always stop for something after he is though here, and tells himself that trhe battle shouldn't last much longer, anyway, as he fires several arrows towards the approaching soldiers, the arrows release a tear gas, which disables the soldiers. Hawkeye rushes towards some nearby stairs, and knows that once he gets to the top of them, he will be home free – but before he can get up the stairs, one of the soldiers at the top opens fire, so Hawkeye ducks back behind a wall. 'Just what I need – some jerk with a laser pistol!' Clint thinks to himself, supposing that the soldier has the right to earn a living, too. He prepares another arrow and wonders if Silver Sable pays her people extra for all of this.

'I'd be really insulted if I ever learned that she considers tussling with me to be a normal day's work!' Clint thinks to himself as he fires the arrow – which curves around the side of the wall and up the steps, striking the soldier and knocking him out. All of this is watched by Sable, who leans over some monitors, 'Impressive. Most impressive' she thinks to herself, deciding that her men are top professionals – the very best mercenaries money can buy. Sable had assumed Hawkeye was good, but never imagined that anyone could be this good. She wonders if she could entice him into accepting a retainer and working for her on a job by job basis. Hawkeye is on the edge of the bridge, and fires an arrow across the moat, where it strikes the ground, a cable connecting the arrow to Hawkeye, who thinks that he could have made that shot with his eyes closed, and that now he just has to clear the moat and then he is outta here. 'Sayonara, Silver! I haven't had fun like this since my last root canal!' Hawkeye calls out, jokingly.

The cable retracts into the arrow, pulling Hawkeye across the moat, he lands safely on the other side of the moat. He remarks that he just has to find Trick Shot, and then his problem are over. 'Wrong, punk!' a voice calls out. Hawkeye spins around, before an arrow is fired into his chest. 'They're just beginning the voice calls out' as Hawkeye falls back onto the ground. An older, chunky man wearing a black costume with purple tunic, similar to Hawkeye's, stands over Hawkeye and declares 'You done your old teacher proud, kid! It barely took you an hour to escape Silver Sable's stronghold! Too bad you couldn't keep your winning streak going!' Trick Shot grins, declaring that when it came to his final exam, Hawkeye choked!

2nd story:
Deep within the laboratories of the Avengers Hydrobase headquarters, Dr Anthony Ludgate Druid finds one of his teammates engrossed in a maze of electronics. 'Dane, what the deuce are you doing?' Druid asks as he enters the lab, where Dane Whitman the Black Knight is running some tests on his Ebony Blade sword, although the tests aren't going according to plan, as he tells Druid that the blade pretty much defies scientific analysis. 'But I'm not licked yet! If there's any way on Earth, I'm going to know this sword right down to its molecular structure!' Dane declares. 'A most worthy goal, to be certain' Druid agrees, before confessing to being intrigued by Dane's sword, as it is, after all, the only known artefact of lost Camelot. Druid asks Dane if he has learned anything of its construction, but Dane reports that he hasn't learned much more than he knew already, and remarks that it was created in the sixth century for Sir Percival of Scandia, the first Black Knight, as the wizard Merlin forged it from a meteorite and worked all manner of enchantment on the metal, making it indestructible, creating a bond between it and Percival, and as he is Percival's descendant, that bond has passed on to him.

Holding the blade, Dane explains that if he is separated from the sword, he can will it back to his hand, through a sort of mental teleportation, and while in his hand it feels light as a rapier – it actually weighs a good fifty pounds. Dane then holds the sword over a granite block, tip of the blade facing down – and the blade's own weight does the rest, smoothly sliding into the granite block. 'Extraordinary!' Druid exclaims. Dane picks the blade back up and announces that he can cut through anything this side of adamantium, and depending on his he holds it, it can either deflect or absorb dangerous energies. 'It would be a near-perfect weapon – if not for the curse!' Dane laments. 'Curse?' Druid asks. Dane reveals that it is a side-effect of the enchantments – if the sword tastes human blood, it would start to control him, forcing him to draw more blood – even to kill. Dane explains that he uses the flat of the sword when he fights one-on-one – but if the blade should slip, even a drop of blood would be too much, which is why he continues to study the sword, as he must never become a danger.

Druid offers to help Dane, explaining that he has, in times past, been able to discern clues of mystic origin through sustained mental concentration. He holds a hand out towards the blade, 'Ah, yes...I can feel it' Druid utters. 'Considerable power... bound up in this metal'. He adds that its enchantments have not diminished with the passage of time. Suddenly, he remarks 'Odd' and Dane asks him what it is. Druid reveals that he can hear a voice, faintly calling out, as if from across time, he can almost feel the presence. Suddenly, Druid cries out in agony, his body contorts backwards, and he shouts 'No! Get back!' 'What's wrong?' Dane asks, as Druid begins to glow and announce that the presence is here – his psychic probe formed a conduit, and he can't hold the presence back, it's too powerful. 'Doc! What's happening?' Dane calls out, as Druid has his back to him. 'Doc? Why do you call me that?' Druid suddenly asks – but as he turns around, Dr Druid is clearly gone – replaced by a mysterious figure in a similar blue, black and red costume to Dane's.

'You do not recognize me?' the new arrival asks the surprised Dane. The mysterious figure supposes that this must be centuries before his birthing. 'You know, primitive, that before you now stands Ernst Wyythim...the  ast Knight!' booms the new arrival. The Last Knight reveals that since the second millennia of the legendary Ebony Sword, he has been its prime wielder, and that nothing can separate it from him – not even death! 'How in blazes did you get here? And what have you done to Doctor Druid?' Dane calls out. 'Who are you to demand... eh? The sword!' the Last Knight begins to reply, before he notices the Ebony Blade in Dane's hand and asks him 'What are you doing with my sword?' 'Your sword? This is my sword! I'm the Black Knight!' Dane replies. 'Then you are my ancestor! Tell me – quickly – have you yet sired any progeny?' the Last Knight enquires.

'Have I had any kids? No, but what does that -' Dane begins, before the Last Knight rushes over and grabs the sword from Dane's hand. 'Hey! What's the big idea?' Dane asks. 'The idea is my salvation through your death!' the Last Knight shouts as he lunges at Dane, who ducks before the sword can strike him. 'What are you, nuts?' Dane asks. 'If I'm your ancestor, why do you want to kill me?' Dane enquires. 'You must die...your line must be ended...!' the Last Knight shouts as he runs towards Dane again, ' that I will never be born!' the Last Knight exclaims, bringing the sword down, it narrowly misses Dane, cutting into the wall behind him. 'He is crazy! He must be!' Dane thinks to himself, as he grabs a chair, and whacks it against the Last Knight, deciding that he has no inhibitions about using the blade, so he has to get it away from him.

'Was that mean to incapacitate me?' the Last Knight asks as he throws the chair back to the Black Knight. 'Well, I had hoped' Dane remarks. 'You still do not realize what you face!' the Last Knight exclaims, revealing that his body armor is the product of a technology some 600 years more advanced than this time's, and boasts that he is the victor of thousands of battles. 'And our ego's as big as all outdoors!' Dane thinks to himself, hoping to keep the Last Knight talking, he runs across the lab and grabs a long metal pole that is lying on the floor. 'I would have made your death a fast, merciful one! Why will you not accept your fate?' the Last Knight enquires, as the Ebony Blade clangs against the metal pole. 'I've fallen into the habit of staying alive over the past thirty years!' Dane replies, admitting that it is not an easy habit for someone in his line of work, he tells the Last Knight to back off, and suggests they talk things over sensibly.

Dane reminds the Last Knight that he mentioned the sword's curse, and informs him that he had hoped to beat the curse. 'Mayhap you did, but I could not! When the sword fell to me, I sought to use its power in the cause of justice!' the Last Knight explains, adding that, eventually, his blade tasted blood, and I he was compelled to give it more – and over ten thousand souls died at his hands, before he took his own life. 'Took your own -' the Black Knight begins, wide-eyed, he is distracted, and the Last Knight uses the Ebony Blade to cut the metal pole in two. 'The truth can be distracting, can it not?' he exclaims, while the Black Knight tells him that he has only his word as to the “truth” and announces that he would like a second opinion. Dane dodges the Last Knight, who rushes towards him, but as Dane spins around and kicks the Last Knight , he almost busts his knee trying to knock the wind out of the Last Knight, who is too well padded with his special armor.

Dane decides that whoever this guy is, he must be telling the truth about being his descendant, as he has been concentrating on the sword, trying to zap it back to him, and getting nowhere. 'His link to the sword is at least as strong as mine!' Dane tells himself, supposing that there is just one thing left to do, he pulls a cable from a panel, and as the Last Knight shouts 'DIE!' Dane points the cable at him, firing some sort of gas towards him. 'Nope! Fight dirty!' Dane retorts, before he leaps forward and kicks the Last Knight's arm, knocking the Ebony Blade from him. Dane knows that the emergency backup systems will shut down the gas tine in seconds – but a few seconds is all he needs. The Last Knight coughs and splutters, while Dane lands and picks the Ebony Blade up. He suggests to the Last Knight that they go back to square one, and asks him how he got here and where Dr Druid has gone to. 

The Last Knight explains that he came here via the sword's mystic bond, turned the Ebony Blade upon himself, spilling his own blood to send his mind back through time, seeking out a receptive mind to displace. 'This doctor you speak of must have provided that mind!' the Last Knight supposes. Dane holds the Ebony Blade ready, and tells him he can't have come back to kill off his family line, that is impossible, he can't wipe out his own existence. Dane adds that for what he understands of time, the most the Last Knight would have accomplished by killing him is cause an alternate reality – one without their family tree, that's all. The Last Knight clenches his fists and declares 'Then that must suffice!' and that so long as there is one future denied the curse of the sword, he will not have died in vain. 'My sacred mission must be completed!' the Last Knight shouts as he grabs a small dagger and lunges towards the Black Knight. 'Let's swing our sword, ancestor! We shall both go to our destiny... ending the curse in the throes of glorious combat!' the Last Knight exclaims.

'This is insane! He's determined to fight to the death... but I don't dare let him! It might prove fatal to Druid, whatever's happened to him!' Dane thinks to himself as he dodges the Last Knight's attack. Dane then tosses the Ebony Blade away, knowing he cannot use the sword against him, as there is too much risk of his blood lust taking over him. Dane suggests to Ernst that they settle this hand to hand, but the Last Knight retrieves his dagger and shouts 'No! An unarmed foe is a dead one!' and lunging at Dane, asks him how he has lived for so long. 'I've been lucky – to train in te martial arts – with a fella named Captain America!' Dane replies as he drops backwards and flips the Last Knight over – where he slams into the wall. 'Too bad you couldn't... he was before your time!' Dane adds.

The Last Knight gets to his feet and tells the Black Knight that he cannot win, as he is bigger, stronger. 'Maybe so...but I'm a lot more desperate!' the Black Knight exclaims, punching the Last Knight in the face, knocking him backwards, Dane declares that he is not ready to die – not by a long shot! Dane looks down at the Last Knight, who lays motionless on the floor. 'I did it! I nearly broke my fists on his chin guard, but I finally knocked him out!' Dane thinks to himself. Dane wonders what he is to do with the Last Knight, and better still, the whereabouts of Dr Druid. Dane decides to tie the Last Knight up before he regains consciousness, then he had better call the other Avengers to assemble. 'If we can't come up with a way to find Druid -' Dane thinks to himself, when suddenly, the Last Knight fades away, and Druid takes his place. 'Doc! Are you all right?' Dane calls out. Druid reports that he is.

Dane goes over to help Druid to his feet, and decides that when he knocked out the Last Knight, it must have broken the spell that brought him here. Druid remarks that the last thing he recalls was picking up a strange vibration from Dane's sword. Looking around at the damaged lab, Druid asks what happened here. Dane picks the Ebony Blade up and tells Druid that it was a long story. 'You might say I got a message from the future' Dane jokes. 'I take it the message wasn't good news!' Druid remarks. 'That's putting it lightly' Dane replies, announcing that he had to face his own mortality today. He knows that he won't live forever, and after he is gone, someone else will have the curse of the sword – unless he finds a way to neutralize the curse, or a way to destroy the sword – in his lifetime, but if he can't, thousands more may be doomed. Dane declares that until he finds that cure, he will have to totally revamp the way he fights, as long as the curse exists, the sword must never be drawn against another living foe!

Characters Involved: 

1st story:

Silver Sable II

Trick Shot

Sable's men

2nd story:
Black Knight IV, Dr Druid (both Avengers)

Last Knight / Ernst Wyythim

Story Notes: 

2nd story:
The Last Knight has not appeared outside of this story.

Written By: