Writer: Donny Cates
Art: Ryan Stegman, Frank Martin, JP Mayer, and VC’s Clayton Cowles
Publisher: MARVEL COMICS
Release Date: December 23rd, 2020
I’m calling shenanigans on this event. Something just isn’t sitting right. KING IN BLACK feels like an epic event on a universal scale. However, Eddie Brock is its savior. Really?! That’s the spin. Now, I could buy it all if the process seemed more organic… but that’s not the case at all. Donny Cates force-feeds readers the greatness of Eddie Brock down their throats throughout this entire issue. Keep in mind, the most important person in the fight against the first Being ever created from the Void is the guy who had his symbiote ripped out in less than three seconds and fell for an entire issue of VENOM. Plus, he’s more important than the Sentry, the entire Avenger team, and the X-Men combined. And readers are supposed to buy that? Again, I’m calling shenanigans.
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Truthfully, KING IN BLACK #2 feels like Cates has cast himself as VENOM, placed himself as the only staring role, and elevated himself to the literal Messiah of the event. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it. The AVENGERS have recently fought Celestials, Space Wars, and even Multiverses crashing into each other. The X-MEN recently (like yesterday) went toe to toe with ancient mutants surrounded in death for thousands of years. I feel like Tony, Reed, Xavier, and the others could develop a better solution than Eddie Brock. Granted, as the issue ends, the heroes do discover something else that will be very useful in their fight against Knull. But, anyone who’s been following VENOM could easily take a wild guess and figure out the surprising twist (sarcasm).
Furthermore, there is an aspect of the issue that promotes Blade as an ambassador of sorts from the perspective of the AVENGERS towards Krakoa. Blade is many things but a negotiator doesn’t seem to be in his wheelhouse. Nevertheless, Cates does get very creative on his strategy for tangling with Knull, namely in the form of IRON MAN. Readers should pay closer attention to some of the aspects of the issue focused on Tony. They are very unique and imaginative. However, whether it’s due to a lack of explanation or not, they just didn’t make a ton of sense.
Likewise, there were some touching moments and a few pretty ingenious plot threads sprinkled throughout KING IN BLACK #2. Additionally, Ryan Stegman’s art was masterful and set the tone of the issue moving forward. Nevertheless, I just can’t shake this nagging feeling centered around the event. Was the purpose of this line-wide event merely to exalt the importance of VENOM throughout the Marvel Universe? Moreover, was the creation of Dylan simply a McGuffin?
Heck, we just left a huge event in X OF SWORDS, which moved at a snail pace. Then, we immediately jump into KING IN BLACK #1 where Cates blazes through the issue only to have this creative team pump the brakes and slow it all down. I loved the fact that Cates plowed through the first issue skipping over the invasion aspect of the event that both EMPYRE and X OF SWORDS took so much more time explaining since April. And now, where’s the impact? Where’s the power? Where’s the importance? KING IN BLACK #1 instantly threw us into the deep end with dragon infested waters only to call a time out and send in a lifeguard. We went from world-ending to what feels like inner monologuing faster than Han Solo can do the Kessel Run. Really?!?
Readers, Knull is barely in the issue nor is any of the symbiotes that are taking over the world. The most amazing facets of the story surrounding our heroes being taken over are merely touched on, as well as some of their sacrifices. Why? Readers won’t mind a fast-paced story as long as you don’t leave out the best parts. Instead, the purpose of the issue is to place Eddie Brock at the center of the Marvel landscape and make him the most important linchpin to the 616 Universe. And fans, that’s just a hard pill to swallow. Cates is forcing Eddie to be something he’s not… something that’s never really been apart of the character before. It feels like a square peg in a round hole. Maybe if the lead up in VENOM concentrated more on boosting Eddie instead of taking him on a magical mystery tour to islands and alternate realities, we could buy that. But right now, I can’t. I absolutely loved KING IN BLACK #1 … but what happened?
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