Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman since the start of their Venom series in 2018 have taken the character and mythos to new heights that have been previously unseen. Now they are wrapping up their time with the character and going out with a bang in King in Black. After a campaign of terror across the galaxy, Knull’s death march reaches Earth — and he hasn’t come alone! With an army of hundreds of thousands of symbiote dragons at his command, the King in Black is a force unlike any Earth’s heroes have ever faced. Eddie Brock, a.k.a. Venom has seen firsthand the chaos that even one of Knull’s monsters can wreak. Can anyone possibly survive this onslaught? Earth’s heroes are reeling, outgunned and outmanned. It will take everything they’ve got to face the God of the Abyss — as he ensnares the planet in everlasting darkness!
Following on from the epic Absolute Carnage, this is an equally epic event in the Venom series. There is obviously a big spectacle that will draw readers in with a massive symbiote battle which sees many of Marvel’s top heroes including Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Avengers and X-Men fighting or getting possessed by symbiotes. All the characters are on top form, with Cate having a great grasp on all of them. But this also the culmination of about three years’ worth of storylines. Knull the symbiote god has been built up across Cates work on Venom, Absolute Carnage and Silver Surfer, along with the general symbiote mythology. It’s definitely far harder for new villains to make a mark in this day and age with so many established classics, but Knull has definitely cemented himself as a classic villain. In addition to symbiote lore, Cates brings back several classic cosmic staples including Captain Universe and The Celestials.
But the best development of this series comes from Eddie Brock. He has been around for a while, but in the time Cates has been writing him, he has become a far more layered character. Whilst in the past, he was mainly an anti-hero as his popularity necessitated it, across his Venom series, Cates has developed Venom into a truly heroic character in his own right. No longer just the “Lethal Protector,” Eddie now has something to fight for, with his son Dylan playing a pivotal part in this development and leads to key moment in the series where Eddie makes a big sacrifice.
Stegman has already cemented himself as on one of the best Spider-Man artists of the modern era, but his work on Venom and Absolute Carnage has shown he is the definitive symbiote artist. King in Black allows him to take his work to a whole other level. The action is some of the best you’ll see in superhero comics and his visual storytelling is a key factor in Eddie Brock’s growth as a character.
This is a winner for fans of event comics, symbiotes and Marvel. A more than satisfying conclusion to Cates and Stegman’s seminal work with the Venom character.
King in Black is out now from Marvel (9781302925468, p/b, £20.99)
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