Marvel Masterworks: Atlas Era Black Night/Yellow Claw - Volume 1 collects all the issues from two short-lived series Martin Goodman published under his Atlas banner, which was the precursor to Marvel Comics: Black Knight #1 - 5 (May 1955 - April 1956) and Yellow Claw #1 - 4 (Oct. 1956 - April 1957). Both are highly entertaining and have an impact on later series published by Marvel Comics. The hero in the five-issue Black Knight series, Sir Percy of Scandia, is a 6th century knight who serves at the court of King Arthur Pendragon. Sir Percy plays a foppish coward in Arthur's court in order to foil the evil plans of Arthur's nephew Mordred and his wife Morgan le Fay. (Morgan le Fay's spirit would later become a major thorn in the side of the Avengers as well as Jessica Drew's Spider-Woman identity.) Wearing the armor of the Black Knight created by Arthur's trusted sorcerer Merlin, the Black Knight wields the Ebony Blade which Merlin forged from a meteorite. Centuries later, Dane Whitman, a direct descendent of Sir Percy, was introduced in "The Black Knight Reborn!" story from Marvel Super-Heroes (1966 - 1982 1st Series) #17 (Nov. 1968). Sir Percy's spirit also appeared to Dane in Black Knight #1 - 4 (June - Sept. 1990) to offer him guidance in handling the Ebony Blade. Dane Whitman was also a major player in the Marvel/Malibu crossovers of 1996, and was later seen in the Captain Britain and MI: 13 series that ran for fifteen issues from July 2008 to September 2009.
The Yellow Claw, his niece Suwan and F.B.I. agent Jimmy Woo introduced in the four-issue Yellow Claw series would later appear in the Nick Fury stories in Marvel's Strange Tales (1951 - 1976 1st Series) #161 - 162 (October - November 1967). Agent Woo would later join the counterespionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D. in Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #2 (July 1968), and also reappear in Agents of Atlas (2006) #1 - 6 (Oct. 2006 - March 2007) and Agents of Atlas (2009) #1 - 5 (April - November 2009).
These issues from the '50's were jam-packed with good stories and art, and each of the nine issues in this collection also had a two-page text story. The color-reproduction is top-notch as are all the Marvel Masterworks collections, and I highly enjoyed this book.