King In Black #2 hits your local comic book shop this week, just in time to spread the holiday cheer!
I purposely did not read any of the King In Black tie-ins before issue two because I wanted to see if the big Marvel Comics event could stand on its own. Without spoiling anything, the second issue reads as a direct continuation of the first, which is great for new readers.
We have the same creative staff for King In Black #2 – writer Donny Cates, penciler Ryan Stegman, inker JP Mayer, color artist Frank Martin, and letterer Clayton Cowles – but the book somehow feels a bit different. It felt brighter and not as grungy as the first issue. Also, with the main character sidelined, the book’s pace was brought to a standstill as the remaining Marvel heroes talk about the problem at hand (Knull).
The main issue is that King In Black #1 is amazing. I gave it a perfect score, and if you know me, that’s like pigs flying. Cates works at an insane storytelling pace in the first issue, with Stegman punching you in the face with breathtaking splash pages over and over again until you are dumbfounded by the end of the issue with a giant smile on your face. As the story turns toward, “How do we defeat Knull?” the pace slows way down, and Cates falls into a few tropes that are repetitive and possibly annoying. Cates’ tone of Namor comes off as a parody of the character, and apparently Namor, Sue Storm, and Reed Richards are still in a love triangle. There are six pages in the book where the lines coming out the heroes are very token and genric. With this generic conversation, it desensitizes you and lifts you away from the story by the time the cliff-hanger hits, and then that final page lacks weight, which is a solid bummer.
The first six pages of King In Black #2 continue the pace of the first issue, and Stegman has an epic Spider-Man full-page that I wish a double-page spread. As I mentioned earlier, Martin’s colors felt brighter and took away from our heroes’ desperation. The generic lines led to some stiff and awkward poses as well (I’m looking at you, Blade and Magneto). There is a moment in the book where Cates and company create something new, and they don’t take advantage of it, which is the biggest miss of the issue. It’s something so new and refreshing that we would all buy the Marvel Legends action figure immediately, BUT… we only get three small panels, and it’s gone. If Stegman were given a full page for this new creation, this would be the conversation of the week and the standout moment of the series. I would put this new creation up there with The Batman Who Laughs when it comes to potential. Cowles does a fine job with the lettering in this issue. He was not given much to work with to spread his artist wings, as most of the characters involved spoke genric English and the action sequences were minimal. The Michael Bay over-the-top nature of the first issue, which I loved, was missing this time around.
Overall, the story didn’t progress a lot, and the big moments didn’t feel like they had much weight. With three issues left, Cates is still building toward a climax with the possibilities of more twists and turns ahead, so I’m still on board for the ride.
Come back here after you read King In Black #2 and let me know what you think.