This week, an Avenger returns to the spotlight as Black Knight Dane Whitman once again wields the Ebony Blade against the King in Black! What hope does one man with a sword have against an invading legion of symbiotes and an Earth that’s been plunged into darkness?
We’ve got a review of King in Black: Black Knight #1, as well as your regular Rapid Rundown of other new Marvel Comics releases, all ahead in this week’s installment of The Marvel Rundown!
King in Black: Black Knight #1
Written by Simon Spurrier
Illustrated by Jesús Saiz
Lettered by VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Art by Dan Mora & Tamra Bonvillain
Reviewed by Zoe Tunnell
I’ve always had a soft spot for Black Knight. I honestly couldn’t explain it to you, but I love the armor-clad, sword-wielding Avenger. So when Si Spurrier, a writer whose work I adore, was announced as taking Dane out for a spin in a King in Black one-shot (and later miniseries), I was overjoyed. Now, after reading the Jesús Saiz-drawn special, I am happy to report my excitement was well-founded. King in Black: Black Knight is a fun, hilarious romp through the goop covered event that reinvents the character for a new era while remaining constantly aware of the most important aspect of Black Knight: Dane Whitman is a giant dweeb.
I was honestly shocked at how funny the issue is, from the contrast between the Ye Olde epic narrations and Dane’s bumbling heroics, the two surprising guest stars’, Sword Master and Aero, reaction to meeting a less-than-prestigious Avengers-adjacent hero. Black Knight has never been a particularly comedy-forward character, so taking such an aggressively goofy take for the first half of the story is a really bold choice that pays off well. Saiz’s art, which I usually find well structured but a bit stiff, even helps the gags land with some genuinely great expressions.
Following the laughs, Black Knight utilizes its King in Black tie-in about as well as any of the other tie-ins and manages to add a new angle on Dane’s character without tying the Black Knight legacy to the increasingly crowded goop-filled Knull corner of the Marvel Universe, while still using Knull and his oozing hordes as the impetus for the revelation. Instead, without spoiling the specific reveal, the retcon manages to feel like a natural development for the legacy and something that will finally boot Black Knight out of the cycle of self-loathing he has been caught in for the past few decades. An impressive feat for a one-shot special, by any measure.
The action set-pieces work well, from Dane’s clash with one of Knull’s dragons to a team-up to take out a kaiju-sized avatar of the symbiote God. The use of Aero and Sword Master works both as a spotlight for the still-new characters and a fun foil for Dane to bounce against. It turns out, when Black Knight’s entire heroic career is reduced to “that old Avenger that is totally crazy sometimes” by a couple of young superheroes, it might shake the ole’ confidence a little bit, to great effect. A dynamic that pays off in a big way once Dane’s time to shine arrives near the issue’s end.
Really, the issue excels at nearly everything it sets out to do. The laughs (barring a few moments where Spurrier tries just a bit too hard) land, the art is reliably gorgeous, and the whole package makes brilliant use of lesser-known Marvel heroes both new and old while managing to provide an entertaining tie-in to a mediocre crossover event. My only real complaint would be that it sets up an exciting premise only to conclude it’s story in a single issue, but with the follow-up miniseries, Curse of the Ebony Blade, on the way in the near future it is clear that Spurrier is getting room to tell his tale. Jump on board now because if KiB: Black Knight is an indication, it’s going to be a hell of a ride.
- Avengers #42
- After being pretty positive about the first part of the “Enter the Phoenix” storyline, I’m ready for some stuff to happen. Jason Aaron, guest-artist Luca Maresca, David Curiel, and Cory Petit put forth an entertaining comic that’s dragged down by the fact that it’s basically the same as what we’ve already seen in the first two installments of the storyline. That said, there’s some movement towards the end of the issue that appears somewhat promising, and a twist involving Thor that could be very interesting if it’s something that actually sticks. Fingers crossed. —JG
- Hellions #9
- Hellions continues to be one of the most capital-f Fun books in Marvel’s entire line. The latest issue by Zeb Wells, Stephen Segovia, David Curiel, and Ariana Maher is a real mind-bender, as just about anything involving Mastermind tends to be. It’s disorienting without ever being confusing or unclear what’s going on, though, the reactions from the team members are spot-on and extremely entertaining. Though also, to be honest, if this book was just twenty pages of the team sitting around and bickering, it’d still be pretty great. —JG
- King in Black: Marauders #1
- This is easily the best King in Black-related story that has come out of the event… including the event itself. Kate and the Marauders are on their way to New York to free the likes of Cyclops and Storm from the clutches of Knull, when they hear a distress signal coming from a human vessel. Things aren’t exactly what they seem, and it was bloody fun. Gerry Duggan juggles a whole lot, from the King in Black event and its associated dragons, Krakoan politics, as well as the various interpersonal relationships of the crew. Broadly, it also feels like a seminal chapter in the overall Krakoa saga, as something goes down here that we haven’t seen before that may or may not play a role in the story going forward. Luke Ross’ art is really good and certainly gets the job done, but definitely gets better as the issue goes along. You can easily read this without having read the series before; sample it if you’re curious. —HW
- Star Wars #11
- I’m on a serious Star Wars kick right now. With the Light of the Jedi novel introducing us to a new era of the franchise, and The Mandalorian tapping into a nostalgia for the film franchise still on my thoughts, I had a blast with this arc, and this issue in particular, which ended the “Operation Starlight” storyline. There’s nothing wrong with a good old X-Wing space battle, and Charles Soule and Jan Bazaldua delivered with a neat twist on the idea of the tractor beam and how the Rebels can actually take advantage of such a seemingly-impossible situation. Bazaldua’s artwork is a little uneven, with the occasional odd-looking face, but mostly gets the job done with really breezy scenes and fun action scenes. While enjoyable, I do feel like this is a filler arc until the next big story starts soon, which looks all the more likely since April is apparently a skip month. —HW
Next week, Morbius returns in a new blood-soaked one-shot!