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"King in Black #1" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by Marvel Comics

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Written by Donny Cates
Illustrated by Ryan Stegman
Inked by JP Mayer
Colored by Frank Martin
Lettered by Clayton Cowles
2020, 48 Pages, $5.99
Comic released on December 2nd, 2020

Review:

After months of waiting, Knull, the god of symbiotes, has made his way to Earth. We knew it was going to be big and bad, but we were not prepared for this all-out assault. Seemingly within minutes, this fearsome villain has circled the entire planet with a horde of monstrous dragons. The combined forces of the Avengers, X-Men, and more are not enough to put down this threat. Eddie Brock is at the center of this, but how far is he willing to go to stop this threat? How far can he go?

King in Black has been built up for what feels like ages, so needless to say I was eagerly awaiting this debut issue and damn, does it deliver in spades. We've had some cursory idea of Knull's raw power, but it was nothing compared to what we see in this book. It's oppressive in just how strong and swift this attack is. One minute he's out in space and the Avengers think they have this in the bag and the next, the entire planet is covered in darkness. There's almost no in between.

Colorist Frank Martin turns in an epic performance in King in Black #1. The dark colors are suffocating, so you really feel the hope getting snuffed out further with each turn of the page. The skies look like they're on fire, so Earth has essentially turned into a hellscape. At this point in 2020, it's not that far off from reality.

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The design for Knull is just as frightening as ever. He towers over his opposition, looking down at them as a human looks at ants. These are minor pests to him. While still on the skinny side, Knull has bulked up a little. He's not literally skin and bones anymore and that makes him even scarier. Artist Ryan Stegman debuts the god in style with an impressive splash page that instantly showcases how powerful this entity is.

Letterer Clayton Cowles makes Knull's voice appear even creepier than Carnage's. The font looks like it was scratched into the page, surrounded by blood-red word balloons with an equally sinister tone. This is an ancient and powerful voice that will strike fear into the hearts of even the strongest among us.

Much of King in Black #1 consists of a worldwide fight as Earth's heroes try futilely to fight back against Knull's forces. Stegman goes all out with so many great character shots. Storm really shines, literally bringing the lightning down on the dragons. Who needs Thor when you've got her? It's made clear pretty quickly that the heroes are prepared for an onslaught, but nothing like this. Inker JP Mayer brings some great texture work to these characters, especially Captain America.

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Venom is central to this fight, yet he's moving in the background for the bulk of this debut issue. He's got a few ideas to put this down fast, but all of them involve holding back. Writer Donny Cates starts this chapter with some heartbreaking moments between Eddie and his son, Dylan, that instantly lay out the stakes for this event. Sure, the entire world is on the line, but at the heart of it is this man's quest to keep his son safe and do right by him, even if that means hiding him away from all of this.

I was predisposed to like King in Black, as I've been a huge fan of Venom and all of its tie-ins since this creative team took over the title a couple years ago. This book has exceeded my expectations in every way. More importantly, this is an event that surprised me. We've seen huge attacks on the planet before, but there was always a way out. The stakes were never all that high to begin with because it was clear the heroes had a path to victory. That doesn't exist in King in Black. This is a decisive and swift attack that has decimated every hero, big and small, across the entire planet. If this is the opening salvo, where can this possibly go next?

Grades:

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Overall: 5 Star Rating

About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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