If you’re planning on catching up with King in Black, this week might be a good time to start as Marvel is releasing three tie-in collections to the event including King in Black: Gwenom vs. Carnage. This collection includes the three-part Gwenom story, a Scream one-shot, and a Spider-Man one-shot. Essentially this is the Spider-Man corner of the event tie-in stories. That’s a lot of points of view on Marvel’s winter event. Somewhat conveniently, each story features a matchup between a hero and a major villain needing vanquishing.
This collection opens with Gwenom vs. Carnage by Seanan McGuire and Flavioano on art with Ig Guara for issue #2. Flaviano kills it on art with colors by Rico Renzi that are so good they startle. It’s safe to say the style and high-octane energy of Into the Spider-Verse movie permeates this book on some level. You can see it in the image below in how Flaviano frames Gwen’s face in her hood, or how the speed-lines rush on the surface of the building. Just look at that “Snap!” and you’ll see a colorful and cool vibe for this book. That’s important since Knull and his Symbiote goo has taken over most surfaces of New York, and yet this series offers a bright pop to the event.
Gwenom vs. Carnage is fast-moving and never skimps on the plot and progression of the story. McGuire doesn’t lose sight of the vitality and youthfulness of Gwen, either. That is an important part of the character, delivered well via captions. We also get a key scene with Gwen and her friends who she tries to save, but things don’t work out so well when a Symbiote dragon is chomping through the walls.
Following this is the Scream one-shot and it’s Scream versus the Demagoblin! Scream’s many talents are on full display here and Clay McLeod Chapman and Gerry Brown don’t let up. This issue serves as a great single issue to show anyone who doesn’t get Scream’s uniqueness as a Symbiote character, but also as a relentless hero who never gives up.
This story doesn’t hold back, either. For an event tie-in, this issue raises the stakes and increases the tension quite well. I won’t spoil a single thing, but it comes to a conclusion that’s at once fitting and a bit surprising given this is a one-shot. Chapman and Brown do a great job to supply plenty of action and event-level intrigue. You can read a lengthier review of this issue for more.
Closing out the collection is the King in Black: Spider-Man one-shot. 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 jaw may drop to the floor.
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.
King in Black: Gwenom vs. Carnage might have only one weakness, and that is the fact that the title hides the fact that there are two more stories outside of the Gwenom tale. This is one of the more action-focused tie-in collections you can pick up with great fights and one-on-one matchups to soak up.
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