Event Comic Review: King in Black by Donny Cates (Marvel 2020-21)

King in Black

by Donny Cates

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Good fun!

Suitably crazy and entertaining as a follow-up to Absolute Carnage with unexpected tie-ins and a solid enough focus on Eddie and Dylan, the two focal points of Donny’s run on Venom.

Could it have been darker? More violent/brutal? Sure.
Were there a few weak points and things that could have been better? Probably.
BUT, I will admit that as events in comics go and big crossovers go (of which we’ve had far too many in the past two decades), this was one I actually enjoyed binge-reading.


1. The tie-ins oscillated between “damned good!” (Black Cat, Venom, Wiccan/Hulkling, Valkyries, Thunderbolts) and largely meh and “would-have-been-fine-without” (Captain America, Namor, Iron Man/Doctor Doom, Scream). So the good ones, for sure, READ THEM!

2. There were some weird tie-ins that you can read or not but I recommend for the entertainment value and cos they were decent: Immortal Hulk, Ghost Rider, The Union, Black Knight, Gwenom v Carnage (this last one being just the wierdest out-of-nowhere comic to be part of this series with no consequence for the main series really.

3. The main series has highs and lows but by far the highs outweigh the lows and though it feels like there was a kind of stale-mating partway in despite things moving at a brisk clip and a kind of marking-time happening when things slowed a tad, overall the short nature of the main series (confined to a tight 5 issues only!) really helped it from becoming a bloated mess as many events have and by the end it all tied together nicely with more than a couple of well crafted surprises in there.

4. The series showed how well Cates knows and has a fondness for writing these characters on whom he focusses + there was more than a little nostalgia thrown into the mix. It was overall a decent balance.

5. While it was a pretty straight-forward and simplistic series with a healthy amount of bombast thrown in the mix (like Iron Mans efforts in the latter half of the series which should really put Tony’s brain in a different place hereafter, I mean c’mon!), I liked that literally no one could fix the problem in any of the conventional ways and the normal Marvel go-to of Reed Richards, Stark, Strange, etc were all basically useless. It was a Venom/symbiote event through and through. AND I did not see that ending coming, seriously.

I don’t doubt people will have complaints and what-n0t but overall I read it, enjoyed the crap out of it and would recommend it to fans of crazy, quirky comics and Venom/Eddie Brock in particular.
Compared to 90% of “events” Ive read in the last several years, this ranks amongst the better ones by far – though awkardly it doesn’t necessarily beat out Absolute Carnage which was just a heavy-metal mind-freak out of nowhere.
If Im honest, for me it’s like the battles for Helms Deep vs the battle of Minas Tirith. The latter was without question, the bigger, the more badass and with the bigger stakes and space to really be crazy-cool to watch, but somehow the smaller, dirtier more close-up madness of the former is almost as good and in brief moments maybe better.

Bottom line: Read it. It’s good.

View all my GoodReads reviews

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