Quick! What do Spider-Man, the Black Knight, Kang the Conquerer, the Watcher, and a weird new foe named Mister E have in common?
The answer is, somehow, they're all part of this King in Black prequel miniseries, and that means only one thing: KNULL! Get ready for some symbiote-god mayhem!
Writer Peter David, artists Greg Land and Jay Leisten, colorist Frank D’Armata, and letterer Joe Sabino return for their third Symbiote Spider-Man miniseries, this one serving as a prequel to the upcoming King in Black. Donny Cates has been seeding that yarn for awhile now over in Venom, and now that it’s showtime, let the requisite tie-ins fly!
If that sounds bitter, it isn’t meant to be. Peter David has woven himself a cool little corner of the Spidey mythos with the Symbiote minis, zeroing in on a very particular time and place in our hero’s history. Sure, each story strains continuity credibility a bit, but the exercise in and of itself is fun enough. David has developed a pretty good shorthand with his artists: Land and Leisten get lots of action shots and close-ups of beautiful (oh so beautiful) faces to embellish upon; D’Armata renders some stunningly beautiful colors; Sabino ties the whole thing together with well-placed and distinctive dialogue balloons. In short, the whole creative team just clicks without missing a beat.
The story, though, is a something of a mish-mesh. At least at the outset. That may be due to the fact that the full scope of things hasn’t been revealed yet, but at this point, it feels like a hodgepodge of disconnected characters (a lot of characters) thrown together for reasons that aren’t exactly clear. Kang is up to shenanigans and kidnaps the Watcher. Knull (unnamed but clearly omnipresent) sends a herald that takes the form of one “Mister E” in a previously-unseen bid at ruling Earth. Somehow or another Alistair Smythe figures into all this, as does the Black Knight (present for ’80s nostalgia?) and a pre-Guardians of the Galaxy Rocket Raccoon. Wha? At this point, readers are just going to have to trust Peter David that he has a plan for how all of these disparate characters will fit together in a cohesive narrative.
What does matter, though, is that there is the tacit understanding that this story functions as both a continuation of the Symbiote Spider-Man minis but also a piece of the King in Black puzzle. Readers torn and frayed by the near-constant onslaught of event books from the Big 2 and their many and sundry tie-in comics might feel understandably skeptical at the prospect of whether or not this story actually matters or is just a cheap cash grab. Given the collective creative team’s track record so far, though, I think some good will is earned. It may be too early to see the bigger picture here, but credit to David for creating enough of a mystery to gin up interest as to what happens next. There’s no reason not to put our trust in him, especially given his thirty-five year track record of crafting hit after hit. Buckle up, folks, this one’s about to get wild.
Symbiote Spider-Man: King in Black #1 gets Marvel's next big event rolling with a prequel series that brings a huge cast of disparate characters together, but makes the set-up intriguing enough that it's hard not to get sucked into the fun.
Symbiote Spider-Man: King in Black #1: Knull Desperandum
Writing - 8/108/10
Storyline - 6.5/106.5/10
Art - 7/107/10
Color - 8/108/10
Cover Art - 7.5/107.5/10
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