Manuel King in Black # 1 is an encyclopedia-style comic book by Marvel Comics. Editors and coordinators are Mike O’Sullivan and Carl Farmer, Farmer also doing the image refurbishment, with several other editors involved.
Marvel textbooks have been around for decades, providing fact sheets on the many characters seen in the comics. There are several editions containing biographical and power details regarding the major and minor figures who have appeared. This release focuses specifically on the King in Black event, a crossover centered around the Symbiotes and the Symbiotes god, Knull. Within these pages are entries on many of the symbiotic characters in the Marvel Universe, explaining who they are and what they do.
The choice of characters is varied, but with a specific mission. All of them have been host to a symbiote at some point. The only objections to the rule are the abstract entities or the gods themselves. There are those that are more known to fans, like Venom and Carnage. But there are also those who haven’t been seen in the comics for a long time, like Wraith, a symbiotic mercenary from Annihilation: Conquest. There are also elements and aspects of King in Black that are explained more than in the actual dialogue of the crossover. Even if the reader thinks they know everything there is to know about these characters, they may still learn more or get clues as to what to read after King in Black.
The content of entries in King in Black Manual # 1 are similar to the webpages seen in the character database on the official Marvel site. There is biographical information, such as real name, height and weight, team affiliations, etc. Most of each chapter is the story, providing a summary of the character’s origin and the actions leading up to King in Black. Towards the end there is the Powers and Abilities section, explaining what each item or character is capable of, or what powerful possessions they have in their stuff.
Each piece ends with notes of power (strength, intelligence and other categories) and first appearances. This provides the reader with a full understanding of each character at the end of the chapter.
The story summaries are very well written. The specific author filled in each area is unknown, but there are slight differences in each without standing out. The tone is informative but fills the stories with excitement. The descriptions of what is happening are brief but expressive, preventing the reader from getting bored. Entries are very helpful in connection with King in Black. You can see how long the threads have untied before the crossing even begins. There are notes in most of the pages that indicate references and callbacks to the characters, along with a few theories about the powers and effect each symbiote has on each other. Other notes clarify the differences where there may be confusion, for example if there are characters with similar names.
As with the story segments, the powers and abilities sections are written fantastically. There are some very powerful adjectives used by writers, such as “immense” or “almost invulnerable”. As a result, the explanations look less like a dictionary snippet, which reinforces the images that accompany each page. However, some words can be overused, seen over and over as powers are described.
While the content of Manuel King in Black # 1 are captivating, the layout itself can be confusing. The font of the text is fine, large enough to be readable. But in many pages, the words are presented in three columns running down the page. Editors expect readers to read one column before moving on to the next, but their spacing and design make that difficult. These columns are huge pillars of text, not divided into paragraphs. They are too thin and too close together. This forces a jumble of words, difficult for the eyes to assimilate. On other occasions, the text is awkwardly crushed between two images.
Each page contains images of the specific character being profiled. These have been removed from existing comics. It’s great to see the variety of artistic styles on display, as well as revealing how long some of these characters have instilled terror in readers. For characters like Flash Thompson, it takes readers back to the very first Spider-Man comics in 1962.
Another negative aspect is in the rated power box. Each category is marked out of ten, with colored symbols indicating each number. Next to the red symbols there are sometimes purple dots to indicate if there is a mitigating factor involved in the scoring. For example, some characters are much more powerful when possessed by a symbiote. And for others, they had several extraterrestrial inhabitants. Flash Thompson has a red mark for his stats as a human and purple for when he is Anti-Venom.
The choice of design begins to confuse the small box. The symbol used as a number is a spiral with thin lines, red or purple. But the white background they are placed on makes them difficult to see properly.
King in Black Manual # 1 could be a useful item for Marvel fans who need to know all about the characters that inhabit the comics they read. But he also serves as a useful link to an event that has a lot of history and hidden details accumulated before it. Everything you want to know about Symbiotes and their history can be found in these pages. So new readers might want to take it for a preview. The written content of the comic is descriptive, well researched, and informative, and the panels contain beautiful art. Unfortunately, the poor layout of the text on some rooms can be detrimental to the information one is trying to address.
Manuel King in Black # 1 is available now wherever comics are sold.
King in Black Manual # 1
King in Black Manual # 1 could be a useful item for Marvel fans who need to know all about the characters that inhabit the comics they read. But he also serves as a useful link to an event that has a lot of history and hidden details built before it. Everything you want to know about Symbiotes and their history can be found in these pages. So new readers might want to take it for a preview.
Writer passionate about comics and cinema. Formerly called Wuthering Heights as “the one with the rabbits”.