King in Black #4 Review

by Nick Devonald on February 17, 2021

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

As King in Black nears its end it’s becoming increasingly obvious that this is Donny Cates Swansong on Venom, seeds he’s been planting throughout his time with Marvel are all coming to fruition, and it’s glorious. This issue is filled with answers, mysteries that have plagued readers are being answered, and Cates’ is clearly wrapping the storyline up. There are elements taken from his time on Doctor Strange and Silver Surfer: Black here, but most of the story is focused on his Venom run.

In a similar fashion to the way that Cates’ has put his own spin on the larger Venom mythology, respecting everything which has come before, but expanding it, the God of Light he’s been teasing for a while now will also be familiar to readers, but with a classic Cates spin. It’s so successful because he treats all the stories which have come before with the reverence they deserve, while also bringing the story together in a clever way which will manage to simultaneously shock readers while also making them wonder why they hadn’t previously put all the pieces together.

One of the strengths of King in Black over the previous Absolute Carnage event is the way the stakes feel truly apocalyptic, it’s not just isolated pockets on Earth it really does feel like the entire universe is at stake, and Earth is battling just to survive. The sheer number of characters who’ve appeared in the main series has been fantastic, and the tie-in issues have managed to really build up that sense of an entire world under siege. One of Marvels best events, period, and of course the real highlight has been the main series.

Ryan Stegman’s art has been a real delight, both here and during Venom, and this issue gives him a chance to really show off his talents. His symbiotes are filled with threat and malice. His take on the wide range of Marvel characters who’ve made appearances have been incredible. The action scenes are stunning. It's a constant battle while reading this comic between racing through the incredible story with all its twists and revelations, and savouring each page because of the incredible art that Stegman fills each panel with.

J.P. Mayer, long time collaborater with Stegman, does an equally stunning job with the inks, bringing the page to life. Then the final piece of the puzzle is Frank Martin’s colours. Each issue has been infused with the instantly recognisable reds and blacks which have come to represent Knull, but he gets a chance to bring a wealth of other colours to the table with this issue as various heroes battle back against Knull.

As Marvel events go this has been one of the best in years, the tie-ins have been well thought out and contribute to the overall storyline. The main King in Black comic has, of course, been the true highlight, and watching Cates’ and Stegman bring their venom Swansong together is a real delight. Fantastic story, unbelievable art, truly epic event storytelling, this will appeal to all Marvel fans.

Our Score:


A Look Inside