King in Black #3 Review

by Nick Devonald on January 20, 2021

Writer: Donny Cates
Pencils: Ryan Stegman
Inks: JP Mayer
Colours: Frank Martin
Letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles

We’re now at the midpoint in the King in Black event, and the start of the issue really feels like Knull has already won. While the main series and all the tie-ins have done a great job of showing readers just how bad the invasion of Earth is, this issue also takes a moment to remind us of all the other planets that Knull has assimilated and laid waste to as he’s approached the Earth. This truly is a universe shattering event, and the stakes have never been higher. The majority of Earths heroes have been overwhelmed or turned into symbiotes, and there is only a small band of heroes resisting, who are still reeling from the events of the past few issues. This issue marks a turning point of sorts, with Earths heroes pulling out the last of their big guns and taking the fight to Knull. Luckily they have a few reinforcements showing up to help them.

Donny Cates has always been great at inserting fantastic scenes which absolutely delight the fans, moments like Venom choosing Hulk in Absolute Carnage, or Silver Surfer being worthy of Mjolnir in Thanos. He manages to craft the stories so well that it has fans punching the air and cheering. Being familiar with Cates’ work means that fans have come to expect these little gems in his story, and with King in Black being the big event that he’s worked up to since he took over the reigns to Venom we knew that the event would be littered with them. And sure enough there’s more than a few in this issue. As well as a few unexpected twists. This is one of those comics which will have the fans talking about their favourite moments. And we still have two more issues to go, along with countless tie ins.

This is one of those issues that is incredibly hard to review without going into any spoilers. Dylans story, which has been one of the biggest mysteries during Cates’ Venom, is now reaching a point where answers are forthcoming. Little snippets of info are starting to paint a picture for the reader. And this issue shows Cates has been laying the seeds for this event in far more than just his run of Venom, as several other characters he’s written show up here, and it’s clear just how much foresight and planning have gone into this event. Not only that but little threads from the Web of Venom storylines, in particular the recent Wraith, are all coming together now to prove that Cates is producing an incredibly large and detailed tapestry which has spanned his entire time at Marvel.

Ryan Stegman’s art is always incredible, and he’s produced some of the best work of his career while working on Venom/Absolute Carnage/King in Black. One of the joys of reading a massive event like this is seeing Stegman bring tons of fan favourite superheroes to life, especially those characters who wouldn’t normally have an excuse to show up in the main Venom storyline. The main fight which takes up a large chunk of the issue looks incredible. Stegman knows just when to go into incredible detail, or when a silhouetted fight looks even better. And without going into spoilers he gets to do some incredible new symbiote designs which will have fans pouring over the stunning detail. Long time collaborator JP Mayer continues to use his inks to make the most of Stegmans art. Frank Martin does an amazing job with the colours, really utilising the reds and blacks which have come to symbolise Knull, and this event in particular, giving the whole comic a real apocalyptic, end of the road vibe. The art and the storyline show a creative team at the top of their game telling a story that has been ages in the making. It's clear just how much love the entire team has for this event, and it makes an already incredible story even better.

With only two issues left the stakes have never been higher, there are some incredible battles here and real fan pleasing moments in this issue. It’s clear how long this event has been in the planning, and fans of Cates’ work in general will be rewarded for having read all his Marvel work. Answers to the mysteries surrounding Dylan feel close by, and however this event ends it’s guaranteed to change Venom forever. If you're a fan of Marvel, Cates and/or Stegman, you owe it to yourself to pick this comic up.

Our Score:


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