A forgotten enemy returns and confirms Kang the Conqueror’s worst fears: Knull is closing in and Spider-Man is caught right in the middle.
Donny Cates’ Venom saga is nearing its crescendo with King in black. Cates’ career with the popular antihero and ex Spiderman antagonist expands the lore of symbiotes (aka Klyntar) and introduces a new villain in Knull: the dark god creator of symbiotes. Cates and several other writers have created an ecosystem around the story of the resurrection and invasion of the Land of Knull. A notable entry is that of Peter David Symbiote Spider-Man: King in Black.
Like the other recent David Spider-Man symbiote titles, this story takes place in the past when Peter Parker was still wearing the alien costume that became Venom. David’s other titles in the series featured Spider-Man battling his classic foes Mysterio and Hobgoblin. That changes with the King in black tie-in where none other than Alistair Smythe, Kingpin’s former crony and current paraplegic mental patient, encounters a mysterious entity within the Ravencroft Institute. The being calls himself Mister E and is a servant of Knull. Mister E originally appeared on Marvel Spotlight # 9 and sought to transform earthlings into “slaves of the shadows” after killing half the planet by turning the sun into a black star. Unfortunately for Mister E, a Uni-Power wielder named Steve Coffin apparently managed to kill the shadowy villain by sending him into the sun. But the reports of Mister E’s disappearance were greatly exaggerated. Has returned in the pages of Symbiote Spider-Man: King in Black, and after tricking Smythe into bonding, Mister E launches a new plan to usher in Knull’s return. Enter our hero Peter Parker, who, accompanied by Ned Leeds, is conveniently invited to interview Smythe. But it is all a ploy to infect Leeds with Knull’s living abyss, thus leading Spider-Man into the fray.
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Symbiote Spider-Man: King in Black takes place during the heyday of the Alien Costume Saga: Peter is still unaware of the true nature of the symbiote. Spider-Man is confused when Mr. E refers to him as his “brother” and tries to hug him as such. Being an alien servant of a Dark God did nothing to beautify Mr. E, as Spider-Man is only interested in defeating the villain. After finally giving up on his idea of family reconciliation, Mister E launches an assault on Spidey, who was saved just in time by Dane Whitman, the Black Knight. Black Knight adds a mystical element to the story, explaining that Merlin (yes, that Merlin) appeared to him in a dream, warning him of the approaching great darkness. Black Knight wields the Ebony Blade, a cursed and extraordinarily powerful sword of mystical origin. Mister E manages to escape after being stabbed by Black Knight’s Ebony Blade, but not before uttering a cryptic message: “Creation advances. Un-creation runs backwards. “
As our heroes scratch their heads, the plot thickens elsewhere. In space, Kang the Conqueror appears and kidnaps Uatu the Watcher to deflect his knowledge. As a time-traveling despot, there is not much that Kang cannot decipher, and the Watchers dedicate their lives to recording all of history, only seeming to warn of events of such magnitude that the fabric of existence itself is hanging by a thread. Kang is aware that there is a great destructive force at work, but needs additional information from Uatu to complete the puzzle. But when the Watcher tries to turn the tables through his psionic power, everything falls apart. Kang is stranded in space until Rocket Raccoon finds him.
Back on Earth, Mister E’s Shadow Minions scatter and Spider-Man leaves to pull J. Jonah Jameson’s butt out of the fire. Merlin urges the Black Knight to return to Avenger’s Mansion, who reveals Knull’s imminent threat. Citing Knull’s threat, Merlin asks the Black Knight to entrust him with the Ebony Blade in his care, claiming that it will magnify the power of the sword to such an extent that it can defeat Knull. However, Black Knight sees through this deception and discovers that this “Merlin” was Mr. E in disguise. Whitman is stabbed by his sword only to be rescued by Kang and Rocket just in time. The two seize a Quinjet and make way into space with a wounded Black Knight in tow.
Spider-Man interrupts the party and assumes that Kang is up to his typical antics of taking over the world. After a brief confrontation, Kang manages to subdue Spidey and takes it upon himself to dispose of a captured Shadow Minion in the process, revealing that his host is Monica Rambeau. Rambeau is currently Spectrum in the comics, but he was Captain Marvel at this point. After revealing that the creature transformed her into a Shadow Minion, Rambeau guesses that Mister E intends to bring the Ebony Blade to the only person he thinks can destroy it: a weapons smith in Knowhere named Ulicia who cares so much about the metallurgy like magic. It seems that his hunch was correct, since Mr. E arrives at Ulicia’s store. Spider-Man and Rambeau reluctantly agree to work with Kang to thwart Mister E’s plans and retrieve the Ebony Blade.
Symbiote Spider-Man: King in Black is one of the strongest links with the King in black history. Not only does Peter David do a masterful job of balancing an early Peter Parker with a plethora of other characters, but he plants several seeds that not only align with current continuity, but spread across the entire Knull myth. Kang, for example, knows what the future holds for Spider-Man’s black costume. Peter is puzzled regarding Mr. E’s strange behavior towards him, and very much in a fish-out-of-water role. Kang is a villain who wishes to rule, but knows there is no point in ruling a universe ravaged by the darkness that Knull’s return will bring.
This brings things back to the aforementioned message from Mister E: “Creation advances. Un-creation runs backwards. “The implications of such a message are fascinating because they offer two explanations. One possibility is that these events already occurred in the past, with only Kang and the Watcher being aware of what Knull’s resurgence may have in the universe. The other is more. terrifying – implies that Knull’s power is so great that his arrival on Earth in the present is having an effect on the stream of time and altering the past itself. If the latter is true, the very fabric of time is deformed with the mere presence of Knull.
Symbiote Spider-Man: King in Black features several fascinating theories that fans can explore. Will Kang interfere in the present to stop Knull? Will Black Knight arrive with the Ebony Blade, or will the heroes find other mystical means to defeat Knull? From this article Symbiote Spider-Man: King in Black he’s only at number 3, so the fate of Kang, Ebony Blade, and the rest is unknown. If you read only one King in black tie, David’s story is a key offering. Not only does it deepen Knull’s cosmic scale as a villain, it tells a classic Spiderman story on the way.
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