Writer: Clay McLeod Chapman
Artist: Garry Brown
Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Release date March 24 2021
Review by D. Brown (WolfCypher)
Well, this is a far step up from her last appearance in King in Black: Planet of the Symbiotes #1. I said I wish her story in that issue was a full-issue worth of content. And I got what I asked for, as this was far from a short story.
Chapman tries his best to wrap up the unfinished story arc he started in Scream: Curse of Carnage, which saw the Demagoblin (Shriek transformed into the newest Demogoblin) collecting children. Too what end? Well, surely had Scream’s first ongoing been allowed to at least conclude its second arc, we would have learned that detail. I trust those details given here in this one-shot special are the same plot details intended for that story, but who knows what all had to be cut from the original intended story. Let’s not dwell in what was lost, and let’s be happy with what we’re getting here.
Scream has finally caught up with Demagoblin and her horde of brainwashed children which she had planned on turning into her followers. But no sooner do we get our Scream and Demagoblin showdown, a woman who represses her hell powers and one psychopath who has become a figure from hell, does the King in Black, Knull himself, show up. Suddenly, Demagoblin’s role demotes to that of a sub-boss, and the final boss takes his shot.
This wouldn’t be a King in Black book if Knull’s presence was nowhere in sight, but it definitely became a King in Black book proper when one particular scene happened…Knull pretty much causes Scream to fall several stories from a skyscrapper, and she lands onto the top of a car, with Andi badly injured.
NOW it’s a King in Black book!
Seriously, dropping symbiote hosts from skyscrappers should be Knull’s recurring “Break Batman” move with every future reappearance. I smiled when this happened. It’s nothing against Andi, it’s just funny how this has happened twice to two different symbiote characters in the same event.
I think at this point, Chapman and Garry Brown are aware that their readers expect to see symbiotic body horrors on at least once in these stories. Marvel has a penchant to flood their universe with several Earthbound human-hosted symbiote characters, and its good to have a niche, a specialty. While I’ll argue all symbiotes should be easily capable of body-morphing into all manner of shapes, weapons, bizarre forms, it’s become Scream’s signature. While Venom and, to a far more prominent extent, Carnage may use this ability to shift their limbs into bladed weapons, Scream, since being written by Chapman, has always gone past those self-restraints in every one of her appearances since Andi bonded with her newest, yellowist symbiote. She’s practically a Green Lantern with these forms she materializes out of herself.
Another niche we see on full display comes from her Hellmark abilities. This was a critical omission from her previous appearances, as we had yet to see her put those powers to use, or even acknowledge them within her Curse of Carnage run. We might be able to chalk it up to her book being cancelled, but since Scream’s been showing up within these KiB tie-ins, Chapman has been showcasing Scream using those powers with each of her appearances. On a downer note, her hell powers here are limited to her blasting flames from her body, specifically compared to the full range of insane and versatile powers and summoning abilities we saw her unleash during 2019’s Web of Venom: Funeral Pyre and. With her shape-shifting that puts even Carnage to shame and her Hell powers, she stands out among the other dozen past and current symbiote characters as more than just “the female symbiote”.
Andi reads like a character who has really grown since her very first exposure to the Scream symbiote. She and her other have earned an organic dynamic that grew from their separate and shared experiences and miseries, and the two have really cemented to readers by this issue that they are in perfect symbiosis…albeit after a shakeup from Knull that threatens this pairing. I guess I should appreciate how all three of the”main” symbiotes each having their own unique speech patterns. The Carnage symbiote speaks exactly like Cletus Kasady, while the Venom symbiote has this weird stilted speech pattern (which I’m not a fan of), while the Scream symbiote seems to speak in a natural style to Andi. I like it. It honestly communicates with Andi the way I wish the Venom symbiote would sound when it converses with Eddie.
I’m about to risk a hot take here: King in Black: Scream reads more like an Andi Benton/Scream book than it does a King in Black tie-in, and I say it’s better for it! A continuation of the previous Scream title, it serves to tie up that run’s last story arc while transitioning into the current Knull-Coming crisis that has been wrecking the Marvel Universe. But it’s not it’s connections to the Knull event that this issue prides itself; it’s the combined writing and art of Chapman and Brown that brings out this book’s titular character in high form. Scream, Andi or otherwise, has come exceeding far from her origins as that obscure nameless “female Venom character”, and has become a character that deserves another series of books!