It’s Spider-Man vs. a city overrun with Symbiote dragons this week in a King in Black special that features Reptil! In a slightly oversized one-shot, Spidey teams up with Reptil to save as many people as he can while reeling from the guilt of being a part of this invasion (he did bring the Symbiote to Earth the first time). In what is an entertaining mix of good Spidey dialogue and captions, unexpected team-ups, and a little bit of science, the creative team has captured nearly everything you want in a Spider-Man story.
The beauty of a superhero event is how tie-in stories can sometimes bring an even more entertaining story than the event itself. That’s thanks to events dropping characters into entirely new situations, but also because it allows new creative teams to take a crack at mainline characters. Case in point, King in Black: Spider-Man #1 written by Jed MacKay with art by Michele Bandini and Erick Arciniega.
MacKay has done a great job hitting all the elements that fans want and expect from Spider-Man, right down to the casual hate from New Yorkers who listened to J. Jonah Jameson too much. You’ve even got Spider-Man teaming up with a younger hero who could use some inspiration, plenty of banter, and insurmountable odds. Seriously, when you see what they face in the third act your mouth may fall agape.
The first issue opens on Spider-Man reeling with guilt, black Symbiote goo covering everything in sight. MacKay has Spider-Man think about Alfred Nobel, the man who invented dynamite and eventually created the Nobel prize to make up for the horrible creation that would end up killing many. It’s an apt thought since Spider-Man is somewhat to blame for the Symbiote god Knull even knowing or caring about Earth. This connection also reminds us of Spider-Man’s scientific mind, which comes to good use near the end of the book. Again, another solid element Spider-Man fans crave.
I’m not familiar with Reptil beyond his time in the Avengers: The Initiative, but Bandini will make you love this character. He’s bright-eyed and filled with positivity. His powers are, of course, cool and his transformation into dinosaurs works well against the monstrous Symbiotes the characters face in this issue. Bandini does well to capture scale and distance in this book, too. From giant monsters to our heroes zipping about 20 stories above the city streets, you get the feel for danger and excitement throughout. Props to color artist Erick Arciniega, who tends to cast the city and backgrounds a touch darker than our orange Reptil and bright red Spider-Man. it helps them stand out as the heroes they are. There is an epic full-page splash of the third act threat that utilizes a bright light to full dramatic effect you must see.
This issue also has a backup by MacKay, Alberto Alburquerque, Rachelle Rosenberg that focuses on Reptil and some continued adventures with Spider-Man. Reptil is texting a family member and these texts help give us a clear understanding of the joy Reptil has in helping others and being a hero. It’s also a nice story as it reminds us Spider-Man never quits and always does the right thing. Alburquerque’s lines are sharp and suit Spider-Man’s muscular body and unreal agility. Pair that with good details in the cityscapes and it’s fairly certain we could see Alburquerque drawing a mainline Spider-Man book one day. Rosenberg keeps the colors a bit muted and darker in a tone that helps remind us the city is in dire straights.
Spider-Man fans will dig the heck out of this, but per usual with events, the story doesn’t matter all that much to the event. This is an extra dish or appetizer to the main event to give us some idea of what Spider-Man is up to. Looking for key chapters in the event, or is Spider-Man not your bag? Then you can skip this one.
The self-pitying but never quitting Spider-Man is on full display in King in Black: Spider-Man and it’s a great depiction of the character. The creators give you everything you could ask for in a quick, action-focused outing, right down to a science-minded Peter figuring things out. Plus, if you weren’t down for the upcoming Reptil series this might make you a believer.
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!