This week Marvel’s latest event series comes to your friendly neighborhood as Spider-Man takes on The King in Black! How will the original symbiote wearer fare against the god of all symbiotes?
We’ve got a review of the King in Black: Spider-Man one-shot, as well as a Rapid Rundown of other new books for the week, all ahead in this week’s installment of The Marvel Rundown!
King in Black: Spider-Man #1
Writer: Jed MacKay
Pencillers: Michele Bandini and Alberto Alburquerque
Inkers: Michele Bandini & Elisabetta D’Amico and Alberto Alburquerque
Colorists: Erick Arciniega and Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Carlos Gómez & Jesus Aburtov
Reviewed by Zoe Tunnell
It feels good to read a good Spider-Man comic, y’all. Having not been a big fan of the mainline Marvel Universe Spidey titles since Chip Zdarsky‘s final issue of Spectacular Spider-Man, it’s been a long three years for me. Thankfully, the drought has ended because Jed MacKay and Michele Bandini (as well as Alberto Alburquerque on the delightful Reptil back-up) have delivered an absolutely fantastic one-off in King in Black: Amazing Spider-Man.
I’ve written several King in Black tie-in reviews at this point, a good chunk of them right here at The Beat, and ASM continues the streak of tie-ins far outshining the event itself. Starring a pitch-perfect anxiety riddled, far out of his weight class Peter Parker, the issue manages to hit all the classic Spider-Man notes while remaining fresh and a blast to read.
A lot of that is thanks to the story’s surprising guest star: Reptil. Seldom seen since the deeply traumatic events of Avengers Arena, the teen hero provides a nice foil for Peter to bounce off of while in the middle of all the goop-filled cosmic chaos of King in Black. And once he takes the lead in the back-up feature, Reptil proves just as entertaining to follow as Peter Parker, and a woefully underused member of Marvel’s teen hero roster. Hopefully the upcoming Reptil miniseries will solve that oversight.
MacKay has proven a dozen times over that he’s one of the most talented scripters in the superhero game right now, and it doesn’t really come as a surprise that ASM is a strong showcase for his skills. Genuinely funny quips fly left and right, but they remain consistently grounded in a balancing act with Spidey’s ever-present sense of duty and overwhelming guilt over not doing enough as a hero. It’s, honestly, an impressive feat to be able to pull off character beats that we’ve seen the wall-crawler hit for nearly 60 years now and still have them feel just as entertaining and compelling as the first time I ran into them reading Ultimate Spider-Man as a teenager. Equally impressive is the ease with which MacKay tackles a teenage lead with an authentic voice, somehow dodging writing Reptil in the stilted, out-of-touch way many writers struggle with when it comes to younger leads.
Bandini and Alburquerque prove to be a perfect artistic duo to tackle the issue’s two stories, hitting similar artistic niches while maintaining their own distinct vibes. Bandini’s work on the Spider-Man feature is just rock-solid superhero fundamentals. The action pops, the expressions are just effective enough to land the emotional beats and all the big impact splashes feel cool as all hell. Alburquerque’s linework with Reptil, in comparison, is a bit more stylized and kinetic. It fits Humberto as a younger lead, and is really amplified by Rachelle Rosenberg‘s colors. I’ve had mixed feelings on Rosenberg’s work in the past, but she is an excellent fit for Alburquerque and helps sell Reptil’s dinosaur based powers as just the raddest thing in the world.
Really, King in Black: Amazing Spider-Man is close to the platonic ideal of a Spider-Man story for me.
Final Verdict: BUY.
- Captain America Anniversary Tribute #1
- Marvel’s anniversary tributes, in which modern artists redraw classic comics using the story’s original script as a guide, are an interesting experiment, and this week’s Cap tribute feels like an unqualified success. Much less disjointed than the Giant-Size X-Men tribute that came out last year, Captain America recreates three complete stories — two from Captain America Comics #1, plus his Silver Age revival in Avengers #4 — and makes them feel as fresh as ever, which is truly a testament to the scripting of Joe Simon and Stan Lee. It’s hard to say how closely the modern artists hewed to original artist Jack Kirby‘s page layouts and storytelling, which is probably the only drawback of this book. Please, Marvel, the next time you do one of these, include the original version of the story in some form as well; after all, isn’t comparing the original to the new art the main draw of these? —JG
- Champions #5
- Eve L. Ewing and Bob Quinn‘s run on Champions comes to an end with an issue that, not entirely tidily, wraps up much of the ‘Outlawed’ storyline. Ewing’s script is as solid as ever, and the energy of Quinn’s artwork matches that of the script perfectly. I’m glad to see that Kamala’s Law will be sticking around beyond Ewing and Quinn’s time on the series, at least for a little while, and a teaser by Danny Lore and Luciano Vecchio at the end of the issue sets up how their incoming five-issue run will continue what the previous team started. I’m looking forward to seeing where this series goes next. —JG
- Iron Man #7
- This series might’ve quickly abandoned its grounded beginnings for more cosmic pastures, but it hasn’t missed a step along the journey. Tony begins to finally understand Korvac’s insane plan and just what it will take to see fruition, as well as discovering Korvac’s real problem: he’s got an ego the size of the universe, which is an attitude that Tony would know something about. Seven issues in, all drawn by the wonderful Cafu in his signature detailed style, and you really might have a fun, accessible Iron Man story that you can just… hand to somebody. What a thought, eh? —HW
- S.W.O.R.D. #4
- Here’s a proposal: how about a crossover event that’s nothing but tie-ins? No main series, just the ancillary stories. The consensus among us here at the Rundown has been that the tie-ins to The King in Black have consistently been more entertaining than the event’s main series, and S.W.O.R.D. #4 is no exception to that unofficial rule. Al Ewing, Valerio Schiti, and Marte Gracia conclude Knull’s incursion into Krakoa in spectacular fashion, with a thrilling teleport battle between Manifold and a Knullified Cable, and an absolutely delightful big hero moment for Wiz-Kid. Even when incorporating generic space big bads, this book is absolutely perfect. —JG
Next week: Alien!