Now is the time to catch up on King in Black as both the main event and all of the tie-in stories have been collected. That includes Matthew Rosenberg and Juan E. Ferreyra’s three-part Thunderbolts story, collected with Gerry Duggan and Luke Ross’ Marauders one-shot. These stories may have nothing to do with each other, but for completists, you’ll need both to get the full King in Black story.
And that’s only because King in Black is in the name. These tie-in stories don’t tie into the event in an important way, but do contain fun self-contained stories. That makes this collection an easy reading experience since they roughly stand alone. The Thunderbolts more so, since it introduces a new Thunderbolts team put together by the Kingpin with a good setup. Marauders get the job done but expect to know who these characters are and why they’re manning a ship on the literal high seas.
Rosenberg and Ferreyra supply ample humor, big epic moments, and enough attitude from its characters to tide any reader for a year. For a team that’s been put together with a high chance to die, the characters sure have a fast and loose demeanor. It’s a well-crafted introduction at that. Taskmaster is the leader, but characters like Star and Mister Fear steal the show numerous times. The plot keeps them on their toes weaving in Sentry — possibly the most direct link to the main event — numerous action scenes, and a clever use of Kingpin in the end.
The art by Ferreyra is what we’ve come to expect from him these days. Its painted look is great at capturing expressions, giant dragons in full scale, and lots of great fight choreography. Layouts mix things up nicely too, with good use of double-page layouts to stretch action like Star’s energy blasts. A slight tilt to the action can also make things feel a little more dangerous. It comes together nicely and is colored well too, even with a darker tone and the sun blotted out.
The Marauders one-shot brings a different kind of ensemble together compared to the Thunderbolts tale since these mutants are more family than foes. Duggan gives every character a moment to shine while reminding us they’re a team that’s more pirate than superhero team. That said, there’s a wholesome ending to the book that reminds us mutants aren’t isolated enough to let innocent humans die.
Similar to the Thunderbolts story that proceeds it, the giant flying Symbiote dragons are more of a nondescript villain for the heroes to tussle with more than anything else. This story doesn’t even take place near the epicenter of the action. It doesn’t aid the main event that these heroes have little trouble with the threat at hand.
Luke Ross captures the energy and positivity of the team well. These characters trust each other and work well together with little worry they won’t accomplish the problems at hand. The rolling seas look good too with little details to show how rocky the seas are. Carlos Lopez colors the detailed oceans well, but there’s also some impressive fire and ice thrown in which lift off the page well.
Pick up King in Black: Thunderbolts for the big-action and fun characters you’ll love, and love to hate. These stories aren’t necessary to enjoy the event, but the nondescript enemies give the creators enough to work with to let the characters come out to play.
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