Comic Book Review – King in Black #1

Writer – Donny Cates

Artist – Ryan Stegman

Chapter One – Reign

The Symbiote god Knull has made his way to Earth and it will take the combined might of Venom, Spider-Man, and the Avengers to stop him and his army of dragon symbiotes from laying waste to New York City and the entire Marvel Universe.

Knull’s arrival has been teased since the end of Absolute Carnage, and for me, it has been worth the wait. I haven’t been keeping up with new releases lately, but I hurried to the local comic shop on Friday to grab the first issue of this miniseries.

If you haven’t been keeping up on the regular Venom series, you can pick up this first issue and read it and understand what’s going on fairly quickly. There is also a handy timeline at the end of the issue to get caught up to speed if you need to, but make sure you read the main story first.

There are a few surprises that I can’t divulge right now, but we can discuss them in the comments section after you have read the first issue. I count at least four or five jaw-dropping moments in total. My favorite part that I can discuss with you is that with all the Avengers assembled to help repel Knull’s forces, the Living Lightning is seen standing alongside Captain America fighting tooth and nail with the Living Legend. Living Lightning played a major role in Avengers: No Surrender and I’m glad to see him back in this mega-event storyline. He might be my favorite underrated Avenger of all time.

Although Knull has been the main focal point in Venom over the past few months, the recent reunion of Eddie Brock and his son, Dylan, has played a major role in Eddie’s character development and a point of contention between Eddie and Venom. Eddie has been doing what he can to protect Dylan since he learned about his son and with the threat of Knull looming large, Eddie will do whatever it takes to ensure Dylan stays safe, even if it costs him his own life.

I have enjoyed the way Cates has infused horror elements into this run of Venom and the designs of the creatures and monsters Stegman has brought to life. They are all beautifully rendered and send a few shivers up and down your spine. The layouts of this issue make it cinematic in scope and the double page spreads are used for full dramatic effect. It’s all-out action in the Mighty Marvel manner to quote Stan Lee. There is at least one sequence that isn’t for the faint of heart or squeamish that earns the comic its 12+ rating. There is one trope/plot device that has been used multiple times and almost done to death during Cates’ run that is seen yet once again. Your hint is two words: separation anxiety. If you need another hint, it was revealed on one of the variant covers of this issue.

I’m giving King in Black #1 a solid 4.5. Knull’s arrival in the Marvel Universe will be one of the major moments comic book readers will talk about for years to come. I could see him becoming a future big bad in the Spiderverse or MCU movies. This miniseries was released at the right time because I feel it will help cure the winter doldrums we normally get during January and February.

The solicitation for the next issue is simply HAIL TO THE KING! Issue two will be released on December 23, 2020, just in time for Christmas.