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Review: King in Black #5

King in Black #5

King in Black #5 is the big finale to Marvel’s latest event as Venom finally faces off with Knull. In what felt like a bit of a one-sided affair, Venom mops the town up with Knull. Possessing the Enigma Force makes Eddie Brock Knull’s equal. Even more so, he’s equipped with a weapon made of the Silver Surfer’s board and Mjolnir. It all ends with everything being hunky-dory for everyone, save Eddie, who now appears to be the new King In Black.

You know…I wanted to dislike this so much. There’s something about Donny Cates’ writing that is so enjoyable and yet, some of his work seriously feels like a child who gets to do whatever with his action figures…and I mean that in a positive way. King in Black did really feel like all the power was with Venom, leaving Knull pretty weak, but it all just works. It’s not perfect. I’m not sure how I feel about Venom more-or-less wielding Mjolnir but for what it’s worth, this was a really fun read, spotlighting a character I normally care very little for and leaving me with a newfound appreciation for Venom. I thought the dialogue is great. Knull is one of those pompous characters that has never known defeat so seeing someone like that get taken down is pretty much a guaranteed enjoyable moment.

On the artistic side, Ryan Stegman really put a lot into every page. I felt the layouts stood out to me in a really unique way and the colors really pop. And if I can bring attention to one thing that I like about his art, I feel that he does a good job of conveying emotion on a character’s face. Knull looked really fierce and sinister. Venom just looked awesome.

King in Black #5 was a total package of fun and excitement, coupled with some really cool art. I’m not huge on Marvel or DC events but my overall feeling is that this one ended up being fun while also bringing a lot of stuff that Cates has worked on at Marvel to a head. As far as Venom goes, King in Black serves as a good exclamation point on a really great run for the character. Not sure if it’s worth the cost of admission but I think you’d like what you would read.

Story: Donny Cates Art: Ryan Stegman
Ink: JP Mayer, Ryan Stegman Color: Frank Martin, Jason Keith Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXology – Amazon – Kindle – Zeus Comics – TFAW

Review: King in Black #5

King in Black #5

I’ve generally enjoyed the King in Black series and event. It’s big popcorn blockbuster ideas in five issues with a bunch of tie-ins. I was gung-ho about the tie-ins but as the months went on I slowly stopped reading them. And, my gut says, that might have been a bad idea. Going into King in Black #5, I feel like I missed something. The opening and much of the comic feels like I had to walk out of a movie to go to the concession stand and returned having missed key moments. Still, it’s a comic to sit back and just enjoy the over-the-top nature of it all.

Donny Cates delivers a finale that has been built up for years. Eddie Brock, back with Venom and now the Enigma Force, square off against Knull for the fate of everything. The issue is one giant drag out fight between the two that’s not really a contest. Much like their first meeting, this is a one-sided fight that echoes that opening battle. Cates doesn’t even make this close. It’s Eddie beating the living daylights into Knull and the darkness. And seriously, that’s about it.

Cates focuses on these two’s battle so much that the rest of the heroes are generally and afterthought. They stand around and get one moment to look cool. But, beyond that, they don’t really do much and are a non-factor. For as much as various characters have been key in the main event, let alone the various tie-ins, they’re pretty much window dressing for this final issue. It’s an odd choice that takes some of the epic out of the nature of the battle.

Ryan Stegman does deliver solid art. Along with JP Mayer on ink and Frank Martin and Jason Keith on color, the visuals feel like fantasy heavy metal as Venom delivers a beat down with his giant axe. The battle itself looks good and there’s a cathartic aspect to seeing Eddie deliver punch after punch. But, there’s also something missing as well. There’s that truly awe-inspiring epic moment that’s just not there. Beyond one page of “Avengers Assemble” the comic never really goes for the metal aspect it teases. It looks good but isn’t memorable.

Clayton Cowles’ lettering continues to deserve mention for the series. The lettering really helps deliver and nail down Knull. With “normal” lettering, the character wouldn’t work as well. It’s a small detail and nice touch that really emphasizes the character and how “evil” he is.

King in Black #5 is a fine finale. It wraps up the event well and there’s some cathartic aspects to it. But, for an event that was so good, it’s a bit of a letdown. The comic lacks that memorable moment and the one it delivers feels like we’ve seen before. It’s the end sequence for a summer popcorn film that attempts to be full of ideas and visuals but lacks depth.

Story: Donny Cates Art: Ryan Stegman
Ink: JP Mayer, Ryan Stegman Color: Frank Martin, Jason Keith Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.75 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyAmazonKindle Zeus ComicsTFAW

Spider-Man’s Greatest Villains take on the Marvel Universe in Variant Covers

Doctor Octopus. Kraven the Hunter. Green Goblin. These iconic Spider-Man villains and many more belong to one of the most legendary rogues gallery in pop culture history, and this June, they’ll be getting the spotlight on 20 all-new variant covers by some of the industry’s leading artists. See explosive matchups like the Immortal Hulk taking down Rhino, Daredevil going head to head with Shocker, Miles facing off against Lady Octopus, and Shang-Chi caught in the grip of King Cobra on incredible artwork on the covers of your favorite ongoing Marvel series. Fans can collect all 20 pieces from a range of top artists. Here are some of the action-packed brawls you can expect from this collection:

  • Black Cat vs. Scorpia
  • Black Widow vs. Electro
  • Captain America vs. Kraven the Hunter
  • Captain Marvel vs. Vulture
  • Fantastic Four vs. Sandman
  • Iron Man vs. Boomerang
  • Jean Grey & Emma Frost vs. Beetle (Janice Lincoln)
  • Silk vs. White Rabbit
  • Spider-Man vs. Chameleon
  • Spider-Man vs. Doctor Octopus
  • Spider-Man vs. Taskmaster & Black Ant
  • Star-Lord vs. Trapster
  • Thor vs. Lizard
  • Wolverine vs. Stegron

Check out the first four now and stay tuned for more Spider-Man Villains Variant Cover reveals in the coming weeks!

  • AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #67 SPIDER-MAN VILLAINS VARIANT COVER by JAVIER GARRÓN
  • BLACK CAT #7 SPIDER-MAN VILLAINS VARIANT COVER by TERRY DODSON
  • FANTASTIC FOUR #33 SPIDER-MAN VILLAINS VARIANT COVER by DIKE RUAN
  • IMMORTAL HULK #47 SPIDER-MAN VILLAINS VARIANT COVER by DECLAN SHALVEY
  • AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #68 SPIDER-MAN VILLAINS VARIANT COVER by LEINIL FRANCIS YU
  • IRON MAN #9 SPIDER-MAN VILLAINS VARIANT COVER by DAN PANOSIAN
  • X-MEN #21 SPIDER-MAN VILLAINS VARIANT COVER by EMA LUPACCHINO
  • CAPTAIN AMERICA #30 SPIDER-MAN VILLAINS VARIANT COVER by TAURIN CLARKE
  • DAREDEVIL #31 SPIDER-MAN VILLAINS VARIANT COVER by GREG LAND
  • MILE MORALES: SPIDER-MAN #27 SPIDER-MAN VILLAINS VARIANT COVER by ROSE BESCH
  • THE MIGHTY VALKYRIES #3 SPIDER-MAN VILLAINS VARIANT COVER by TBA
  • AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #69 SPIDER-MAN VILLAINS VARIANT COVER by TBA
  • CAPTAIN MARVEL #29 SPIDER-MAN VILLAINS VARIANT COVER by DAVID LAFUENTE
  • GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #15 SPIDER-MAN VILLAINS VARIANT COVER by CARLOS PACHECO
  • SILK #4 SPIDER-MAN VILLAINS VARIANT COVER by BETSY COLA
  • THOR #15 SPIDER-MAN VILLAINS VARIANT COVER by TONY DANIEL
  • WOLVERINE #13 SPIDER-MAN VILLAINS VARIANT COVER by RYAN BENJAMIN
  • BLACK WIDOW #8 SPIDER-MAN VILLAINS VARIANT COVER by DAVI GO
  • GIANT-SIZE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: CHAMELEON CONSPIRACY #1 SPIDER-MAN VILLAINS VARIANT COVER by RYAN STEGMAN
  • SHANG-CHI #2 SPIDER-MAN VILLAINS VARIANT COVER by NATACHA BUSTOS

Review: King in Black #4

King in Black #4

There are moments in film, comics, television, and books where the hero discovers their inner power and the tide begins to turn against evil. In Transformers: The Movie it was Hot Rod opening the Matrix and turning into Rodimus Prime. Those moments can bring tingles and excitement as good begins to triumph over evil. King in Black #4 delivers that moment multiple times in the penultimate issue of the event.

Written by Donny Cates, things look dire as the issue begins. Knull has dominated the world, killed Eddie Brock, and subjugated most of the world’s heroes. But Cates has been hinting at another who might defeat Knull. If Knull represents darkness, someone, or something, must be the light. It’s been pretty obvious for a while that we’d eventually find out who the who or what is in this event and this is the issue where that all becomes clearer.

King in Black #4 features a showdown between Dylan and Knull with Dylan being the clearest current threat to the wannabe god. It’s a solid showdown as Dylan takes his stand showing all it takes is a single individual to make a change. It being a kid feels all the more symbolic as it is so many kids over recent years that are leading the way. But Dylan is just a catalyst. The comic is full of “fuck yeah” moments as heroes begin to free themselves and make their attacks against Knull. We don’t get one “Rodimus” moment, we get multiple resulting in a crescendo of excitement of “hells yes” beats. All building to the issue’s finale with the big reveal Cates has been hinted at.

Cates is helped by Ryan Stegman who nails every beat. Along with JP Mayer on ink, Frank Martin on color, and Clayton Cowles on lettering, the crescendo is clear in the art. The battle goes from what feels like a “psychic landscape” to the physical world and it just ups the awe with every opportunity. There’s so many moments that are memorable, the art brings home Cates’ concepts with a blast. Cowles lettering is key as he depicts Knull giving him his own font. It emphasizes the character’s evil stance and without it, the character wouldn’t work as well. It’s a perfect combination and team.

The issue also features our first look and Peach Momoko‘s Demon Days. The short backup comic features an English Adaptation by Zack Davisson, and lettering by Ariana Maher. Momoko takes the X-Men into a fantasy world rooted in Japan and its mythology. The result is a story that’s beautiful to look at but the story itself doesn’t feel quite unique enough. Taking characters and just making them samurai and animals isn’t new or different. So, this is one to wait and see. As a teaser for the first issue and series, it doesn’t excite and quite land.

King in Black #4 is a hell of a comic that’ll get you pumped and excited. There’s just one more issue left and this could leave us with a hell of a change to the Marvel landscape. Marvel has stumbled with events in recent years but King in Black #4 has delivered with every issue and is their best in a long time. It brings popcorn excitement and this issue helps lights our darkest hour.

Story: Donny Cates, Peach Momoko Art: Ryan Stegman, Peach Momoko
Ink: JP Mayer Color: Frank Martin Letterer: Clayton Cowles, Ariana Maher

English Adaptation: Zack Davisson
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyAmazonKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Review: King in Black #3

King in Black #3

King in Black #3 continues the entertaining Marvel event delivering hints as to what’s to come. Knull has taken over the world bringing darkness to everywhere. There’s a glimpse of hope though. Eddie Brock’s son, Dylan, is channeling an unknown power, the light to defeat the darkness of Knull.

This is the first stand as a small group of heroes need to band together and fight back. Writer Donny Cates delivers another solid issue as what the fight back begins. Though it’s realistically a losing battle, Cates infuses the fight with hope. The heroes feel like heroes doing battle against impossible odds.

Cates delivers that with an interesting narrative. The narrator is a mysterious character who doesn’t make their presence known until the end. But, what’s said is what’s really intriguing. There’s hints as to what’s to come. Dylan’s power is coming from something, someone. Knull is darkness which means there’s someone that’s the opposite. Who is that? Get your speculation going as it’s sure to be someone big and really shake things up post event.

The issue is also very cinematic with action sequences that deliver some emotional resonance. The arrival of Thor to battle, Iron Man’s actions, these are moments that deserve to be on the big screen. They’re larger than life and that’s due to the art of Ryan Stegman.

Stegman continues to be one of the most exciting artists out there. His work with Cates has been fantastic and the duo are just in sync with what they deliver on the page. The images are jaw dropping at times. The moments really deliver that punch as things begin to go south. Everything looks fantastic no matter how over the top it all is. Stegman is helped by the ink of JP Mayer, color of Frank Martin, and lettering by Clayton Cowles. In a story that involves a world engulfed in darkness, the team keeps things colorful. It never feels “dark” but definitely gives you the sense of that world. The lettering is fantastic with Cowles giving such personality to Knull and his controlled through the choice of lettering and styles.

King in Black #3 continues an epic story. While it foreshadows things a bit too much the end of the comic made me forgive that with a new player on the field. Things really feel epic but at the same time the issue and story stays focused on a small cast. There’s been a string of misses as far as major events in recent years but King in Black continues to impress and exceed expectations.

Story: Donny Cates Art: Ryan Stegman
Ink: JP Mayer Color: Frank Martin Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.65 Art: 8.75 Overall: 8.65 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyAmazon KindleZeus Comics

Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman’s Run on Venom Arrives in April

The final issue of Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman’s hit run on Venom will arrive in April. The all-star creative team will be saying farewell to a character they helped redefine in a special milestone issue: Venom #200. With the revolutionary work on the symbiote mythology, the team’s incredible run will leave a lasting impact not only on the character of Venom but on the Marvel Universe as a whole.

The landmark issue will pick up after the events of King in Black. Over the years, Cates and Stegman have torn Eddie Brock’s life asunder while introducing new villains and uncovering long-hidden mysteries about the nature of symbiotes.

Throughout their run, they’ve explored Venom’s very nature as a Marvel hero. This issue will reveal what Venom’s future holds. But in Knull’s wake, what even remains of Marvel’s Lethal Protector?

Venom #200 will also feature a who’s who of artists who contributed to Cates and Stegman’s incredible run. Pick up this historic end of an era when Venom #200 hits stands in April.

Venom #200

Preview: King in Black #3 (of 5)

King in Black #3 (of 5)

(W) Donny Cates (A/CA) Ryan Stegman
Rated T+
In Shops: Jan 20, 2021
SRP: $4.99

After last issue’s shocking finale, the heroes of the Marvel Universe are reeling. Outgunned and outmanned, but never outdone, they unite and face KNULL, God of the Abyss, as he ensnares the planet in the darkness of his reign! Superstars DONNY CATES and RYAN STEGMAN continue to raise the game – and the stakes for the Marvel Universe in this Earth-shattering epic!

King in Black #3 (of 5)

King in Black Comes to an End in March With One-Shots and a Final Issue!

Earlier this month, KING IN BLACK #1 hit stands, and fans finally saw masterminds Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman plunge the Marvel Universe into darkness with the long-dreaded arrival of Knull. With four issues left and multiple exciting tie-in issues, things are just getting started. It’s all leading up to the final showdown in KING IN BLACK #5, which will bring this epic event to a close. Be there when the very fate of all symbiotes is decided, and the future of the saga of Venom is revealed. Check out the haunting cover by Ryan Stegman below and ask yourself: what is a god to a non-believer?

Also out in March will be essential one-shots starring some of your favorite Marvel heroes. Spidey is in for the fight of his life when the city around him erupts into chaos under Knull’s influence. Find out if he has what it takes to turn the tide in the action-packed KING IN BLACK: SPIDER-MAN by writer Jed MacKay and artist Michele Bandini. The war for Hell’s throne meets the war against the God of Symbiotes when Johnny Blaze gets caught in the madness of King in Black in KING IN BLACK: GHOST RIDER by writer Ed Brisson and artist Juan Frigeri. Scream makes her highly-anticipated return in KING IN BLACK: SCREAM by writer Clay McLeod Chapman and artist Garry Brown. Will her return be short-lived or does she hold the key to putting a dent in Knull’s symbiotic armor? And newlywed Young Avengers Wiccan and Hulkling’s honeymoon is taken over by symbiotes in KING IN BLACK: HULKLING AND WICCAN by writer Tini Howard and artist Luciano Vecchio. Also spinning out of KING BLACK, everyone’s favorite Korbinite finds a new destiny in BETA RAY BILL, a new series written and drawn by Daniel Warren Johnson.

Don’t miss the pulse-pounding final chapters of KING IN BLACK when they arrive this March.

KING IN BLACK #5 (OF 5)

Written by DONNY CATES
Art and Cover by RYAN STEGMAN

KING IN BLACK #5 (OF 5)

KING IN BLACK: GHOST RIDER #1

Written by ED BRISSON
Art by JUAN FRIGERI
Cover by WILL SLINEY

KING IN BLACK: GHOST RIDER #1

KING IN BLACK: SPIDER-MAN #1

Written by JED MACKAY
Art by MICHELE BANDINI
Cover by CARLOS GOMEZ

KING IN BLACK: SPIDER-MAN #1

KING IN BLACK: SCREAM #1

Written by CLAY MCLEOD CHAPMAN
Art by GARRY BROWN
Cover by INKHYUK LEE

KING IN BLACK: SCREAM #1

KING IN BLACK: WICCAN AND HULKLING #1

Written by TINI HOWARD
Art by LUCIANO VECCHIO
Cover by JIM CHEUNG

KING IN BLACK: WICCAN AND HULKLING #1

BETA RAY BILL #1 (OF 5)

Written by DANIEL WARREN JOHNSON
Art and Cover by DANIEL WARREN JOHNSON

BETA RAY BILL #1 (OF 5)
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