(Another Take) King in Black: Thunderbolts #1

Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Artist & Colors: Juan Ferreyra
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino

Release date January 13 2021
Review by D. Brown (WolfCypher)

Well, well, what is this? Another Knull-Coming special? One that I liked? Or was this a really fun issue of Suicide Squad set in the Marvel Universe? Either way, I’ve already hinted towards my opinion on this book: its good! It’s surprising! So let’s just get into the review and I’ll explain why I was so entertained with this issue.

The premise of the book is very Suicide Squad, but with less micro-bombs. We still have a large, thick, no-nonsense authoritative figure who coerces villains into going on a suicidal mission. There’s someone that may be able to turn the tide on the Knull invasion, and its up to our…dare I say heroes, to retrieve them. The cast includes Ampere, the Rhino, Taskmaster, Mister Fear (neither Marvel nor DC’s Scarecrow was available), Snakehead, Batroc the Leaper, and Star. Personally, I was familiar with all but Snakehead and Ampere (is…is Snakehead actually her name or was Mister Fear being condescending?). Its definitely a mixed bag of heroes. Notables like Rhino and Taskmaster, the not-so-secret weapon in rising star…err, Star, longstanding C-tiers (while being fan-favorites at the same time) Batroc and Mister Fear…and I still don’t know who the other two are. Hey! This really IS a Suicide Squad roster! There’s ALWAYS at least two members that get recruited whom I haven’t the most remote clue who they are!

After the first few pages, four or so in fact, of exposition, our team is let loose out into the city, engulfed in symbiote matter. It takes one page of our team out into New York for things to turn sour. This book, being a tie-in and playing the role of a secondary role (maybe even tertiary) in the overall Knull event gives us actual life-and-death stakes which most of the event itself has lacked. There are casualties abound in this one issue. Hell, without getting into too deep of spoilers, this team does NOT function in any way that would suggest they can make it to the next block alive!

Watch our King in Black: Thunderbolts #1 Video Review

Matthew Rosenberg tries to write a book that essential takes a misfit, mismatch crew of super-criminals and put them into an impossible situati–okay, is this Suicide Squad, for real!? Anyway, he succeeds in telling a fun story. There’s laughs to be found in what should be a dire, dreadful situation. The entire world is coming to a black, sticky end, and if there is a specific person out there Mayor Fisk trusts can solve this crisis, its up to these dysfunctional heroes to secure them. When Rosenberg goes for a laugh, be it a line delivered from Mister Fear or Batroc (who I swear aren’t taking anything happening to and around them seriously…what even IS this book? Can I have the next issue now?) or just the team dealing with a symbiote dragon, the humor sticks the landing.

He also succeeds with the team’s dynamic. In true Thunderbolts fashion, like Moonstone and Mach IV (V, VI, etc.) before them, you have Star and Taskmasters trying to do what’s right, while the rest of the team stay true to their more villainous and self-interested ways. Star is genuinely trying to do the right thing during this crisis, while Taskmaster just decides to embrace the idea of being a celebrated hero, considering they make it out of this alive. Taskmaster is…you know, I’ll be honest…every time he shows up in a comic, he’s a different character. He never looks the same under the mask, and he never acts the same in any of the stories he appears in, from one writer to the next. So I’m just going to have fun with his depiction here. It works. They all bounce off of each other. Mister Fear is psycho, Batroc is having way too much fun considering, you know, all the death and destruction taking place around them all, even Rhino has a moment that made me chuckle. And seriously, is her alias really Snakehead? I…I don’t know her!

This was one book I had near the end of my to-get-around-to comic list when the review copies got assigned. In fact, this comic was volunteered to me as one of my reviews. I did intend to read it (eventually) but it wasn’t one I was planning on reviewing. Now I sit hear going over this review with a half-smile on my normally cemented face. This book surprised me. It really nailed everything it meant to do, it didn’t take itself too seriously even given the weight of the situation within the story, but it still had stakes. This is how you do a King in Black tie-in; you make a better Suicide Squad: The Movie and have it take place in a Venom event! Obviously.

Final Thoughts

So far, we’ve had so many King in Black tie-ins, and few of them have been as good as this one even had any right to be. King in Black #2 hinted towards Fisk putting together his own task force to deal with the Knull crisis, and I highly suggest you veer to this side-story while you wait for the next proper chapter to the Knull book.


Did you like this issue? Do you disagree with some of my points? Want another perspective? You can read another review which shares a totally different impression here.

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