REVIEW: ‘King In Black,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 2 minutes

King in Black - But Why Tho?

King in Black #1 is written by Donny Cates, penciled by Ryan Stegman, inked by JP Mayer, colored by Frank Martin, and lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles. It is published by Marvel Comics. After a death march across the stars, Knull—the God of the Symbiotes—has arrived on Earth with a legion of symbiote dragons. Eddie Brock, aka Venom, joins the rest of the Marvel Universe in combatting Knull’s invasion while also protecting his son Dylan from the imminent apocalypse.

Crossover events have been a subject of much debate in comic book fandom. At their best they are massive, game-changing stories that leave an impact long after the event has concluded. At their worst, they are bloated and only achieve the illusion of change. King in Black falls into the former category, as it features an antagonist that requires the entirety of the Marvel Universe’s heroes to battle while continuing to upheave the Venom mythos. This is the beginning of the payoff of two years’ worth of stories, and so far, it is hitting every mark.

Cates continues to be one of the best writers in the business. As he did with Crossover #1, he oscillates between the apocalyptic and the personal, especially when it comes to Venom. Under Cates’ pen, Eddie Brock has morphed from villain to reluctant anti-hero-and even a father. It’s that last role that comes to the forefront, as Eddie fights to his last breath to protect Dylan from Knull’s wrath. Cates also successfully juggles dozens of characters in the space of 48 pages. Spider-Man, the Avengers, the X-Men—virtually every Marvel hero you can think of is in this book, and they all get a moment to shine.

Joining Cates is Stegman and Mayer on art duties. Stegman previously worked with Cates on Venom and Absolute Carnage, which helped set up the events of King in Black. This is probably his biggest work to date, and the images are nothing short of amazing. Half the book consists of splash pages, from the X-Men charging at a horde of symbiote dragons to Venom swinging through the New York skyline. But perhaps the character who shines the most is the titular antagonist. Knull is a Lovecraftian nightmare of a villain; clad in spiky ebony armor, with obsidian wells for eyes and a sinister smile stretching across his face. This villain lives up to the hype.

Rounding out the artistic team is Martin on colors. Martin sets most of the book at nighttime, with darkness playing a prominent role in the issue. Knull and his dragons are shown as a massive swath of darkness blotting out the light, while an early scene in the book features Eddie sitting in darkness staring at his sleeping son. In contrast, many of the heroes stand out with their brightly colored costumes, including Doctor Strange and Captain America.

King in Black #1 is the gold standard for event books, pitting the heroes of the Marvel Universe against an utterly terrifying force. Fans of Marvel’s heroes-Venom in particular-will want to read this series. Cates, Stegman, Mayer, and Martin are an immensely talented creative team, and I can’t wait to see what else they throw at the Lethal Protector.

King in Black #1 is available wherever comics are sold.

King in Black #1
5

TL;DR

King in Black #1 is the gold standard for event books, pitting the heroes of the Marvel Universe against an utterly terrifying force. Fans of Marvel’s heroes-Venom in particular-will want to read this series. Cates, Stegman, Mayer, and Martin are an immensely talented creative team, and I can’t wait to see what else they throw at the Lethal Protector.