King in Black #4 Review

Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Ryan Stegman
Colors: Frank Martin
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

Release date February 17 2021
Review by D. Brown (WolfCypher)

This issue is a series of comebacks for our heroes through a series of big show-stopping moments, something that Cates’ has always been good with. With the heroes being freed from Knull, they collectively make their last stand against the King in Black and Ryan Stegman lets loose on some of the most dizzying visuals I’ve ever seen. Every page is brimmed with action, and you honestly can’t go more than two pages without getting to a highlight moment. Namor flooding the city to wash out the symbiote dragons, Jean Grey psychically assaulting Knull and commanding all the heroes, Silver Surfer breaking through Knull’s planet-sized symbiote cocoon, If this was an anime, it would be akin to everyone spontaneously triggering their Super Sayian 2 forms all at once against the evil Cel—I mean Knull. This single issue resonates on the same vibe as a certain final act in the film Avengers: Endgame. This event really benefited from having a huge set piece issue like this.

Last issue ended with the Silver Surfer racing to Earth, and I thought that was where this whole God of Light business was going. In the context of symbiotes, that would have made sense. We actually have a story from the past (Amazing Spider-Man 430-431) that gives the Silver Surfer a lot of history with symbiotes. But the twist here is that its not the Silver Surfer who will be representing the Light to oppose Knull’s darkness, but instead its the Enigma Force, the source that makes one into Captain Universe. I have to give Cates’s points for bringing back the Captain Universe mechanic and tying it into the Knull event. The Marvel Universe is brimming with many overpowered and godlike concepts and objects, ranging from your Infinity Gems, Cosmic Cubes, the Phoenix Force, and the Enigma Force is one that very rarely gets any play in Marvel stories. I do wish that there were hints peppered in throughout Cates’ run that hinted at what/who the God of Light might have been, instead of only having it known to us in the eleventh hour.

This event has been sufficient when I think of it as an overall Marvel Universe story, but I really do wish this fell more in line as a “Venom” event. When I read this as an Avengers story, I find it easier to focus on the pros, but when I think of how little we’ve gotten with Venom, with Eddie, I’m disappointed. That doesn’t get fixed with this issue. Absolute Carnage still beats King in Black in this department, easily.

While he’s been dead weight in the event book, at least he’s had his moments over in the Venom title…but now KiB #4 has me wondering what even that was all for. Now that Eddie has been revived and amplified by the power of Captain Universe, the Enigma Force, it really proves that nothing “Codex Eddie” did in the Hive was even necessary. Eddie, the one trapped in the Hive afterlife, set out to find his symbiote in the Hive to try to fight Knull…he never did, and now it looks like he won’t need to. He’s Captain Universe, the God of Light, and we’ll likely see him take the fight to Knull and take back his symbiote in the “living world”. What did anything “Codex Eddie” even do up to this point? It wasn’t Eddie that weakened Knull, it was a combination of Dylan and Flash Thompson’s actions that freed the Marvel heroes from Knull’s control. Eddie can’t even be given credit for finding Flash to use Flash against Knull. If at the end of the day the story was always going to just take Eddie off the board until it was time to give him this MacGuffin power, then he really contributed nothing throughout this event, main book and otherwise. Even though I enjoyed this issue, I’m still a Venom fan reading what amounts to a Venom event free of Venom, so maybe you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

Overall, I feel like this issue is the perfect sum-up of the event so far…its great with the spectacular, shock and awe, and I’ve gotten some great moments from this. That said, I find this to be a good event book with amazing, AMAZING visuals. But…it feels like its mostly getting by on art and spectacle more than story. At the end of the day, Dylan hasn’t done much, Eddie hasn’t done much, and even Knull has been lackluster…he’s pretty much taken over Earth and done nothing since, except look menacing. Meanwhile, what remains of the Avengers carry my interest by having these big shock moments that entertain me, most apparent in this chapter, and now we await the conclusion, which I’m sure will have a lot of sparkle and sizzle. Its so weird to say an event book shouldn’t try to get by on only action, but I do wish there was more actual story taking place. Still, if you’re looking for a montage of epic moments one after the other, this issue is king.

7.4/10

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