King in Black #1

WebShooters- Spider-Man
Courtesy Marvel Comics


Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman, JP Mayer, Frank Martin, VCs Clayton Cowles


FInally, Knull has arrived. Cates began this journey back in issue 3, introducing Knull to the world. Since then, Venom and the gang have faced an onslaught of symbiotes, trips to other worlds and the burgeoning powers of Eddie’s son Dylan. Marvel’s heroes prepare for battle, but will it be enough to stop the King in Black?

Glenn: It was weird reading the back material in this issue and see how much build up this story has had. Not only has Cates been building this for roughly 30 odd issues of his Venom run, but there is also his various Web Of Venom one shots, Absolute Carnage and other books he’s written like Silver Surfer: Black. This event has a lot to live up to, and I think it delivered in spades. Things kick off right away and don’t let up for a second. The heroes of earth seem to think they’re ready and prepped, but they are soon taken completely off guard by the scale of the threat they are facing. This one issue packs more of a punch than some full length events and there’s a long way to go. The sheer scale of the events on offer here are crazy and things go from bad to worse very quickly. We’re already adding to the death toll and things are looking like the heroes have lost with no hope on how they might recover. I don’t want to get into too many specifics about the story here because a lot happened and it was all brilliant. This is one of the best kick off to an events I’ve read in a good long day and the feel and the scale and the threat is probably how the coming of Galactus would be treated if it was done today. The problem is I have a feeling Knull would eat Galactus for breakfast.

Steve: I must echo the sentiments of Mr. Matchett here. This event has most definitely started off with a bang. It is difficult to talk about this issue without spoiling certain events. One of the interesting choices that Cates made was the safeguard in place by the Avengers, their so-called ace in the hole. (think a certain World War Hulk battle here) However, we quickly find the level of threat that Earth is facing, and they clearly weren’t ready for the King in Black. 

Of more interest to me is how Cates is going to deal with Eddie Brock’s son Dylan. Over the course of his run, Cates has slowly developed Dylan’s character and relationship with Eddie. Further, as Dylan’s powers have increased, it’s obvious that he will play a major role in defeating Knull ( or so I think). So, this issue begins with Eddie hiding Dylan so he can’t be destroyed and/or used by Knull. (Feels a bit like the time Naruto was hidden so the Akatsuki couldn’t get their hands on him or it could spell doom for everyone- reference for my manga pals) Well, events unfold quickly with Knull and Eddie/Venom which should lead to a quick need for Dylan to rise to the challenge. 

My only concern with this event right now is a possible battle fatigue with the tie-ins. If all of the tie-ins handle the invasion as a huge battle scene, I will tire of the books quickly. Hopefully, there is a clear plan in place to develop characters and not simply throw them into an endless battle. I plan to read them all, so check back to find out. 


Glenn: Seeing Stegman’s art grow during his time at Marvel has been a real joy over the years. From Fantastic Four to Amazing to Renew Your Vows to Venom and Absolute Carnage, the guy has gotten better and better. Here he maybe delivers the best art of his career as every page, heck every panel is drop dead gorgeous. It’s clear that Stegman has been pouring everything he has into these pages which requires a lot of skill to pull off due to the scale on offer, but he delivers in spades. There are some stunning pages in here and Knull and his invading horde are hard to imagine as being more terrifying than how Stegman draws them. This team has been working together for a while and have worked together to not only deliver high quality, but seem to be that rare combination in comics that seems to bring out the best in each other. Stegman had already proven his worth as one of the top artists at Marvel, but here he now makes a play for being one of the best artists in the industry period.

Steve: I hate when I keep agreeing with Glenn, but he is spot on again. The relationship that Cates has with Stegman reminds me of Snyder/Capullo, Lee/Kirby, Bendis/Bagley, Morrison/Quitley, etc. There is a synergy between the two that turns each page to gold. I wonder how much direction Cates gives Stegman on the battle scenes. I would imagine that he lets Stegman go wild; artists seem to see things in a way a writer may not, and these pages are frenetic, tense and flow beautifully from panel to panel and page to page. His character work is especially strong, especially his designs on Knull. I can’t wait to see where this goes. 

Since I mentioned the tie-ins above, I will with the art as well. It will be interesting to see how other artists deal with the symbiotes. Stegman has set a high standard; it won’t be easy to follow those footsteps. 


Glenn: A+

Steve: A

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