Absolute Carnage introduced Marvel fans to Knull, king of the Symbiotes, and by the end of that series, the powerful villain had been awakened and started his journey towards Earth. It's taken a while but the power-hungry villain is finally here, and the heroes will have to pull out all the stops to not only keep him from power but also simply survive. Writer Donny Cates and artist Ryan Stegman will team-up once again for his arrival in King in Black #1, and ComicBook.com had the chance to talk to Stegman all about the issue, starting with the reaction the series got from fans and what he took from that series into King in Black.
"Yeah, I was super pleased. I mean, who wouldn't be?! I felt like I couldn't have possibly put any more effort into it so it was really great to have people react positively," Stegman said. "As for what I learned...I learned that drawing books with tons of characters is super hard! Haha. And then I was like...Sure, let's do it again right away with King in Black. Oops! But yeah, I think I got better during that series at drawing massive scenes of characters fighting and so I have a much better process for that. Which helps a tiny bit on King in Black. But it's still super hard to do!"
As you can see in the preview on the next slide, King in Black features a stunning splash page with Venom front and center, and Stegman had one thought in his mind when creating it.
"Honestly, all I thought when drawing that piece was...I want to draw one of the most iconic images of Venom EVER," Stegman said. "It's kind of the same mentality I take into doing an issue #1 cover for a series. I just want people to remember it. As to whether or not I achieved my goal...I'll leave that up to the fans. But that was my goal!"
We also see Knull's army in this preview, and Stegman wanted to make sure these dragon-like beings were a bit on the creepy side.
"For me it's mostly about feel. And I just wanted them to feel horrific and scary," Stegman said. "So I took some elements from Knull's appearance and tried to incorporate those. Then on top of that just make 'em look scary."
We also see the Avengers pop up in the preview, and while they were a part of Absolute Carnage, they are featured quite a bit more heavily here, and for Stegman that meant getting to work with a character he'd been dying to tackle.
"Oh, this is an easy answer: THOR! I've always loved Thor and I think of Thor as one of the great characters in comics history for artists that draw great figures," Stegman said. "I aspire to be one of those artists that draw really great figures. So I've always wanted to get a crack at him. And as soon as I started drawing him I felt like I was home. Like, "Yeah, I know how to do this." Always a nice feeling to have."
Speaking of the Avengers, there is a fantastic meme-worthy moment with Tony Stark here, and Stegman is down for seeing every Avenger get their meme-worthy moment. "Haha. Meme away! I'd love to see that. Tony's a lot of fun too. His personality is so expressive," Stegman said.
The heartbeat of recent Venom stories has been the dynamic between Eddie and Dylan, and that isn't changing in King in Black. We asked if there was a major moment between the two he could tease, and while he was vague, he did say there are some big moments coming.
"Oh man...We are treading on thin ice here with spoilers! There are a lot of great moments, I'll say that. I think the father-son aspect of this series has been a major, major part of our run and we will only be adding to that here," Stegman said. "There are definitely scenes I can't wait for you to see but anything I say will get me put in spoiler prison!"
King in Black will feature the arrival of Knull, and Stegman did upgrade him a bit from the last time we saw him.
"We started out by just trying to amp his look up a bit. I just took his original look and added some knick knacks to it. But one cool thing that happens throughout this story is his look changes as we go," Stegman said. "Things happen to him that make his look slightly alter on multiple occasions. So by the end you'll have a new look for Knull that is different from the very beginning!"
You can check out the full preview starting on the next slide, and you can read the full issue when it hits comic stores on December 2nd. Let us know what you thought of the preview in the comments or as always feel free to talk about anything Marvel with me on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!