Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Ryan Stegman
Colors: Frank Martin
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Release date December 2 2020
Review by D. Brown (WolfCypher)
Let me just open this by stating that this will be a relatively spoiler-free review. I won’t give away any of the major twists or showstopper moments in this read. If you have been enjoying Cates’s Venom run, you will enjoy this issue. If you are a fan of Ryan Stegman’s art, you will enjoy this issue. You don’t need any review to validate that. This event is exactly what it promised to be. It is the totality of Cates’s entire run coming to its head.
King in Black doesn’t waste any time dialing the action up to eleven. The opening calm this issue starts with is brief. This book is paced at a setting of urgency and crisis that makes the first issue of Absolute Carnage seem slow in retrospect. After three years of nothing but building up to this, there’s nothing left to build up to. This is it, and it gets right into the thick of things. Finally, we get to see what Knull is capable of, and by merely the middle of the issue he brings a feeling of hopelessness to the situation. But our heroes are going to give it everything they’ve got. And there are casualties, something even Absolute Carnage failed to deliver on.
Venom has his role to play while the many heroes, ranging from the Avengers to even the X-Men, throw everything they’re worth at Knull’s forces. Captain America’s “big gun” is even deployed to take on the threat of Knull. This “secret weapon” of his was a nice moment to have in the book, but Captain America isn’t the only one bringing in some huge artillery, as Knull is dealing out some impossibly insane ammo of his own. We’ve seen Knull deploy his “dragons”, but wait until you’ve seen what Knull brings to this fight…its something that ties back to his “origins”, give or take. I’ll let you find out for yourselves, but really, what would an event be if the scale wasn’t Omega level? Everyone is bringing out their doomsday weapons, and I need to say this again, this is only the beginning of this event. It all really brings out just how apocalyptic this event is.
For those who have been reading Venom since (at least) the end of Absolute Carnage, you already know that Stegman hasn’t been on the Venom book for a while now, outside of some of the covers. For anyone starved for his talent, the wait was worth it. Stegman returns in spectacular form, and with quite the ensemble of characters to draw at that. There’s an overwhelming amount of heroes showing up for the fight against Knull’s army, some getting more face-time than others, and Stegman’s artists chops have not dulled since the last time we got to see him do a full comic featuring Venom. I’ve always been a little down on how he draws Venom in particular, while constantly praising literally every other asset he draws around the titular character. Yes, everyone else in this book still looks fantastic, and all the action (and there’s so much going on for him to draw) looks dynamic and sensational, and there’s never any instance of losing track of the art even when there’s so much going on in any given scene.
There’s much I would love to cover in intricate detail, going over very specific moments in excessive detail as I’ve done in past Venom-related reviews (as I’m such a Venom-nerd, it just can’t be helped), but without going into spoilers, I’ll refrain from that for now. For the opening act, I really want anyone who reads this review to have to pick up the book for themselves, if they come into this review before committing to the comic’s purchase. Marvel has a habit of releasing multiple events in a given year, and once again it looks like Donny Cates’s Venom-centric event will be the best of them. Welcome to the Knull-Coming!
This book explodes with chaos, and the art does not disappoint to sell on the catastrophe Knull’s arrival brings to Earth. We’re finally free to see Knull in action, and Cates writes him with all the menace and calamity a world-ending villain needs to deliver, especially after years of building towards his arrival. This event needs to be a blockbuster, and Cates’s is bringing out nukes.