King In Black 2
Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman, JP Mayer, Frank Martin, VCs Clayton Cowles
King in Black, issue 2 picks up where Issue 1 and Venom 31 left off- Eddie crashing to earth and our heroes struggling to keep up. Will Eddie make it? Can Reed and Tony develop a plan? Where does Dylan fit in? And, Namor shows up.
Marvel’s most creative property keeps steamrolling on with issue #2. Knull has overwhelmed the heroes and they are already in desperation mode. We begin with Spider-Man trying to rescue Eddie after his fall. He gets an assist from Johnny Storm, and the two share a typical exchange between the two. As Johnny goes off to stall their adversaries long enough for Spidey to escape with Eddie, we learn that our other heroes weren’t killed by Knull, but converted to symbiote versions of themselves. Things have gone from bad to worse.
From there, Tony Stark breaks out Extremis (I haven’t read Iron Man for a while, so it was nice to see Extremis is still around) and attempts to grab a symbiote, break its connection to Knull and give it to Eddie to save him as he lay dying. It backfires and Eddie’s son Dylan must dispatch the symbiote before it kills Eddie.
Namor makes a nice entrance here in all his arrogance. He states that he is used to fighting in the dark. In fact, he will be calling on the Black Tide, a mysterious group from the deep. I really like this touch because I’m reading the King in Black Namor tie-in. I understand who this group is because they were introduced in issue 1 of Namor and turned “black” in issue 2. If I hadn’t been reading it, I’m not sure that it would have had the same impact.
What I love about this series is that Donny Cates finds a way to up the ante every issue. He throws crazy idea after crazy idea at the reader and they all seem to work. The focus right now has turned to Eddie and the need to reconnect him with Venom. Can’t wait to see how this happens and Dylan’s role in it.
Side note: the tie-ins Namor and Iron Man/Doom are both fantastic. Pick them up to fill in the rest of this story.
This is still exceptional stuff but is very much the ‘second issue’ after the bombastic start of the first; things slow down a little here as we get our bearings and catch up with the heroes now that everything has gone to pot. There is fantastic stuff here, don’t get me wrong, with great character moments, in particular a reverse ‘gotcha’ moment on Tony. The heroes are seriously on the ropes here, but we get a hint of possible hope perhaps? It again blows me away how great Cates writes Spider-Man and makes me cry when I read what we’re being offered in the characters own title. We obviously get a big cliffhanger/possible death at the end, but I’m not buying it quite yet. Steady stuff for the continuation.
Once again Ryan Stegman is putting out his best work, and he wasn’t exactly a slouch before. I love these big stories that lets him draw all these different characters because he draws them all SO WELL. As usual, we get some mind blowing visuals here and some epic moments mixed with smaller moments of drama that Stegman delivers on in both regards in spades.
I’m not sure what else there is to say about Ryan Stegman that we haven’t already said. He is doing the work of his career and his collaboration with Cates puts them up there with the greats. Stegman deftly handles huge fight scenes, creepy characters, acting and quiet moments equally well. The book is gorgeous every month. Once King in Black is over, I hope he stays on Venom for a long time!
Grade: King in Black
Symbiote Spider-Man 2
Peter David, Greg Land, Jay Leisten, Frank D’Armata, VCs Joe Sabino
Alistair Smythe has become a symbiote-like spectre called Mister E. Kang captured Uatu and tried to extract all of his knowledge. Uatu was too powerful and blew up Kang’s ship. A drifting-in-space Kang was picked up by Rocket Raccoon. And, if that wasn’t enough, the Black Knight shows up to save the day….and that was only the first issue. Read on for issue 2.
This series just seems like a fun Spider-Man story. I guess the only reason to tell this story in a Symbiote Spidey setting is because of his connection to the symbiotes while wearing the “black suit.” When I boil it down, I guess I really don’t care because we get Peter David writing Spider-Man which is miles ahead of the tragedy that is the Spencer Spider-Man run.
Anyway, we get two main stories here: Spider-Man dealing with Ned Leeds as a Symbiote spectre and Black Knight and “Merlin” dealing with the Mister E situation. David delivers quick, snappy dialog through Peter, J Jonah and Betty Brant while pushing an issue with real consequences. The lives of J Jonah and the Black Knight hang in the balance and the pace is at a fever pitch. Once the issue starts, it does not let up until a very fun ending in which Kang and Rocket Raccoon show up to save the day.
I’m not sure if this story will have any implications, or actually offer any clues, into the larger main story going on in the current 616 timeline, and I don’t really care. Peter David knows how to write Spider-Man. He understands motivation, humor, and the need for some stakes that are grounded in Spider-Man reality. (for the opposite, see the current Amazing run…..woof) Can’t wait to see what he has in store for us in issue 3- this series is bonkers.
This is a lot of fun and nice to see David cut loose like he seemed to be fully able to do on his under-appreciated Friendly Neighborhood book. This is Spidey fighting a symbiote invasion before he even knows what that really means and teaming up with the most random assortment of people ever. Of course the dialogue is great and the characters are fun because its Peter David, and you know you’re going to get solid writing. I particular liked the scenes with Jonah here, this is old school Jonah that we haven’t seen really since…well, Peter David’s Friendly run for one reason or another. Not a lot ‘happens’ this issue, but it seems Peter David is having a blast and that comes across so we are too.
Most of it is fine, but there are a few moments where I did spot some Greg Land trademark plastic sex doll females. This isn’t something I’ve noticed in the last few mini’s so hopefully that won’t be returning, but it was distracting. Otherwise the art was great and I particularly like how Land draws old school costume Rocket, he’s so little and furry! Still the slight blip in the art this issue detracted quite a bit of the quality in my view.
Not sure what else I can say about Greg Land art that I haven’t said already. While I didn’t love him in the past, he has really grown on me. Spider-Man is one of the more difficult heroes to draw; he is a character that needs to be nimble and move fluidly in odd contortions. Land has really grown here and Spidey looks great. As always, his art is clean and crisp, but the movement has gotten better each issue. There is also a page in which Ned Leeds tries to get the symbiote spectre out of his body. There are cool shadow techniques at play as well as facial expressions that show great anguish. Atop these four pages is a nice establishing shot. This was a really excellent page among many others. Land also handles the Black Knight very well, especially his fight with Mister E.
I think I can call myself a Greg Land fan now.
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