When we think about 1950s comic books, we often think about a decade initially dominated by crime, science fiction, and horror, then crushed by the Comics Code, and finally reborn as an industry with superheroes again ascendant by the end of the decade. But it didn't go quite like that. The Comics Code had been in operation for a couple of months when Black Knight #1 hit the newsstands, and Marvel would actually increase its average monthly output for two full years after that moment vs the end of the pre-Code era (ultimately, distribution issues would complicate matters for Marvel and the rest of the industry by 1957, a story for another time). But the mid-1950s were a time of experimentation for Marvel at a near-frantic pace, and the short-lived Black Knight series is an example of that. With the current incarnation of the character set to play a role in the Eternals film, interest in Marvel's original Black Knight has never been higher. There's a Black Knight #1 (Atlas, 1955) CGC GD/VG 3.0 Off-white pages available at the 2021 October 17-18 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122142 at Heritage Auctions.
Marvel's experiments in trying to find its footing in the Comics Code era seem to be heavily inspired by the television and film of the period. For example, Meet Miss Bliss, which started at the same time as Black Knight, is a pretty straightforward swipe of the previous St. John's Joe Kubert comic book series Meet Miss Pepper — which was itself inspired by the popular television series Our Miss Brooks. Della Vision with its fictional tv series Pringle Pretzel Hour was a lampoon of sorts of tv variety shows like the Colgate Comedy Hour. The return of Marvel's Annie Oakley comic book series at this time was likely prompted by the success of the Annie Oakley tv series which had debuted in early 1954. As for the Marvel Black Knight series itself, issue #1 was on sale beginning around January 14, 1955 — which makes it a perfect fit to have been inspired by the Alan Ladd film The Black Knight — in production throughout 1954 and released in October that year. Unsurprisingly, the first Marvel Black Knight's set-up is generally similar to the film version: an unlikely individual secretly takes on the identity of the Black Knight in order to protect King Arthur from forces who would overthrow him. By way of contrast, the Black Knight of Arthurian legend has various historical origins.
An important character who has had several versions throughout history and at Marvel itself, There's a Black Knight #1 (Atlas, 1955) CGC GD/VG 3.0 Off-white pages available at the 2021 October 17-18 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122142 at Heritage Auctions.
#1 (Atlas, 1955) CGC GD/VG 3.0 Off-white pages. Origin and first appearance of the original Black Knight. Joe Maneely cover and art. Overstreet 2021 GD 2.0 value = $300; VG 4.0 value = $600. CGC census 10/21: 7 in 3.0, 55 higher.