If you’re catching up on King in Black comics, you can now pick up the Planet of the Symbiotes tie-in miniseries. It also comes with Si Spurrier’s King in Black: Black Knight one-shot, which makes this trade paperback a great way to experience the event on all sorts of sides. Outside of the Black Knight, this book reveals what Scream, Cloak & Dagger, American Kaiju, and The Hornet are up to. It’s an eclectic mix that offers quite a lot.
This first issue features a Scream story by Guiu Vilanova (Web of Venom: Wraith), writer Clay McLeod Chapman (Scream: Curse of Carnage), and a story picking up where writer Frank Tieri left off with Ravencroft drawn by Danilo Beyruth. In an event where the entire planet has been affected, this series aims to reveal so much more than the main event can.
And it does just that with a high success rate. This comic opens with the Scream story Symbiote fans cannot miss. Full stop. There are all sorts of colorful Symbiotes for Scream to fight and it’s a nice reminder Scream is a very unique Symbiote indeed. If you dig monsters you’ll love the designs Vilanova comes up with, and colors by Dean White add to the insanity of what is on the page.
Given the shortness of the story, we’re only given an action scene, but readers are in for a satisfying one with some clever ideas — a chain of teeth is just one of them — and a reminder that Scream is a hero. This is the kind of wild chaos many of us have come to expect from this event and it delivers big time.
Next is the Ravencroft story, picking up where the titular series left off. That’s a good thing, as the final few pages were an exciting twist that had a lot of promise. The long and the short of it is that there’s a body buried in Ravencroft and it belongs to a key figure in Tieri’s run. This story adds a satisfying new twist to Knull’s arsenal of weapons. It also adds an almost spiritual nature to the Symbiotes, which ties well into what Venom is up to in his series.
The art maximizes the weird spiritual nature of the new threat thanks to colors by Rachelle Rosenberg. The use of purples makes things look weird and unreal. Again, it’s a short scene, but the art does well to make the weirdness run high. Seriously, you haven’t seen Knull like this.
The second issue in the Planet of the Symbiotes features American Kaiju and The Hornet, which are both heavy on action and excessive violence. The Hornet story by Geoffrey Thorne and Jan Bazaldua helps catch us up on Hornet and features a cool final reveal. Marc Bernardin and Kyle Hotz deliver a big action frenzy with American Kaiju that uses the character in an interesting way.
Wrapping up the Planet of the Symbiotes three-issue long series is a Toxin story and a Cloak & Dagger story. Rodney Barnes, Danilo Beyruth, and Rachelle Rosenberg show us how Cloak and Dagger are doing their best to keep people safe. Or that’s what Dagger is up to, at least. The story quickly becomes about Cloak succumbing to the darkness of Knull and his Symbiote evil. The preview gets into that a bit, but while the book looks good, it doesn’t do much with the characters.
Next is a Toxin tale by Steve Orlando, Gerardo Sandoval, and Erick Ariniega. It’s nice to see some of the other mainline Symbiotes that live on Earth, and this story has great energy. Orlando infuses the story with Toxin the Symbiote’s manic nature with that of the host. Who is that host? I won’t spoil the host’s identity, but it’s a wild concept that may just make folks demand Marvel continue this story. It’s not only a clever take on Toxin, but on Symbiote-wearing heroes too. This story isn’t much more than an action scene and a cool surprise reveal, but given the lower page count, that makes sense.
Black Knight finishes the collection, dropping readers into some heavy action. This one-shot serves as a kind of lead in for Spurrier’s five-issue series and is a promising start. Black Knight feels a bit more modern, complex and interesting. Throw in newer characters like Aero and it has an international feel too.
If you’re looking for a bit more about what happened to non-main characters in this event, this is the place to start. More importantly, the weird, gross, and frightening elements of the event shine through throughout. This is a Marvel event that’s about darkness rising and heroes trying to fight against it even though their chances are slim. For that reason, this trade paperback succeeds quite well.
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