Approximately one year after Absolute Carnage and a full two years into the Donny Cates / Ryan Stegman era of Venom, the symbiote saga builds to another crossover event in 2020’s King in Black.
King in Black promises to deliver on the coming of Knull, the God of Symbiotes introduced to the Marvel Universe way back in Cates/Stegman first Venom story arc that launched the series into must-read status. We’ll see how the event shakes out, but in theory this promises to deliver on the cosmic symbiote promise the creative team have been building towards since the start of Marvel Fresh Start.
Admittedly, Venom’s momentum has felt relatively stalled since the strong kickoff of Absolute Carnage, and for my money hasn’t really picked up steam again until the “Venom Beyond” arc setting the stage for King in Black. Regardless, the creative team has earned some Marvel Universe goodwill, and I’m invested in seeing how Venom vs. Knull finally shakes out.
Below you’ll find a guide on the comics that set the stage for the King in Black event, as well as a complete list of comics and tie-ins involved in the crossover as they’re announced and released.
Related Reading Orders:
Road to King in Black
Technically, the origins of Knull extend back to Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic’s highly recommended Thor: God of Thunder, which more fully unravels the history and mystery of All-Black the Necrosword (a cosmic weapon of immense power, created by our G Knull).
This is optional reading for understanding the King in Black, but honestly 1) This run is fantastic, and highly recommended on its own terms and 2) Aaron’s work here inspires a lot of Donny Cates larger cosmic vision for the Marvel Universe.
Unsurprisingly, reading the full Cates/Stegman era Venom run is the best way to prepare for King in Black.
The first collected hardcover (linked above) collects Venom #1 to #12, which serves as the absolute most essential information setting the stage for this event. If you’re digging it (or just want the Web of Venom one-shots integrated into your read chronologically), you’ll want to proceed forward with the full Venom reading order, but if you’re on more of a fast track kick, I’d just jump ahead here to Absolute Carnage and keep on rolling!
The five main issues of 2019’s Absolute Carnage event get us to the arrival of the titular King in Black, and it’s a gorgeous looking event comic from artists Ryan Stegman and JP Meyer.
You can check out the full event via Comic Book Herald’s Absolute Carnage reading order, in which I ranked how worthwhile every tie-in issue was as issues came out.
Outside of the Donny Cates written Venom suite, his five issue cosmic mini with the jaw droppingly incredible visuals of Tradd Moore, is heavily connected to the coming of Knull in the pages of King in Black. If you only read one part of Cates’ Marvel Cosmic universe, it should be Silver Surfer: Black.
Following Jason Aaron’s heralded run on various Thor titles from 2012 to 2019, Donny Cates and Nic Klein took over in 2020 with a new series launch. It’s very early in the run, but expect Thor to integrate into the saga of Knull. Like I stated up front with Thor: God of Thunder, the Venom and Thor verses have been connected in unexpected ways for much of this story!
King in Black Comics Checklist
Web of Venom: Empyre’s End
King in Black: Symbiote Spider-Man #1 to #5
King in Black #1
Black Cat #1
King in Black: Iron Man/ Doctor Doom #1
King in Black: Immortal Hulk #1
King in Black: Namor #1 to #5
Atlantis Attacks #5
The Union #1 to #5
King in Black Handbook #1