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Darkness Shall Reign!
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King in Black is a Crisis Crossover Marvel event that ran from December 2020 to April 2021, written by Donny Cates with art by Ryan Stegman. Building off of Cates' Venom run and the events of Empyre and Absolute Carnage, Knull — the God of Symbiotes — invades Earth using a horde of Symbiote Dragons.

Announcement Trailer; ''King in Black'' #1 Trailer


Comics involved with King in Black:

    open/close all folders 

    Preludes 
  • Web of Venom: Wraith #1
  • Web of Venom: Empyre's End #1
  • Atlantis Attacks #5

    Main Title 
  • King in Black #1-5
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    Tie-Ins 

In the aftermath of the event, the Extreme Carnage miniseries will launch. It sees the Life Foundation symbiotes and a few guest symbiotes combating Carnage.


King in Black provides examples of:

  • Alien Invasion: King in Black revolves around Knull's Symbiote Hive attacking Earth.
  • Almost Dead Guy: In Web of Venom: Wraith, Zak-Del is stripped of his Exolon by Knull, leaving him dying. Using his malfunctioning teleporter, Wraith manages to teleport to Earth and warn Eddie Brock of the coming of Knull and that there is a God of Light that opposes him. Unfortunately, Eddie doesn't understand what Wraith is talking about, leaving him confused at the message.
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  • Amazon Brigade: The Swift Tide was a group of Atlantean women that protected Atlantis, and the only males that joined were Namor and Attuma, plus Dorma.
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas: The solicit for King in Black: Iron Man / Doctor Doom reveals that Knull's invasion happens at around Christmas time, with Iron Man and Doctor Doom having to team up to stop a symbiote-infected Santa Claus. The Immortal Hulk one-shot takes place on the night before Christmas.
  • An Axe to Grind: In #5 Eddie wields the Captain Universe power to combine Mjolnir and Surfer's board into a giant axe with a head shaped like the Venom insignia.
  • Appropriated Appellation: In Symbiote Spider-Man #5, as Spidey, Kang, Captain Marvel, Ulicia, Ulik and Rocket hop out to face a repowered Mr. E, Spidey declares themselves the "Guardians of the Galaxy" as a Badass Boast. Monica is sure that is a completely different team but Rocket likes the name.
  • Arch-Enemy: In Gwenom vs Carnage, with Gwen Stacy being a "Venom" naturally she needs her own version of Carnage to fight, in this case it's her world's version of Mary Jane Watson, bandmate and rival to Gwen.
  • Attack Animal: Lady Dorma has a giant goldfish named Ambrose. Ambrose is at least the size of a human adult and has been altered by Atlantean court wizards so that it can fire stunning sonic waves at enemies that threaten Dorma.
  • Atrocious Alias: Star and Batroc can't help but comment to the other that their respective codenames are kind of lame.
  • Back for the Dead:
    • Web of Venom: Empyre's End kicks things off with Av-Rom, Keeyah, and Virtue (Ethan Edwards) being taken over by symbiotes and seemingly blown up by a self-destructing space-ship; and M'lanz from Venom: First Host being impaled by Symbiote Virtue after refusing to join them.
    • In King in Black #1, the Sentry grabs Knull and tries to do to him what he once did to Carnage... only for Knull to easily turn the tables on the Sentry and rip him apart to extract the Void.
  • Behemoth Battle: Todd Ziller/American Kaiju versus a bunch of symbiote dragons.
  • Big Bad: Knull finally takes the central stage as the main antagonist, rather than acting through an avatar or proxy as he did in Donny Cates' Venom and Absolute Carnage.
  • The Big Guy: A few characters are labeled as such during the event.
    • For the Avengers, it's Thor, who almost turns the tide once he arrives.
    • For the X-Men, it's Storm, who does what Thor does, but, well, on time.
    • For the Thunderbolts, it's Star, who is their main person with actual superpowers.
  • Big "NO!": Knull screams one out when his ancient foe the Uni-Power breaches his barrier with the assistance of the Silver Surfer.
  • Black Comedy: While escaping Ravencroft on a bus, Mr. Fear accidentally runs over a symbiote-possessed deer, spraying Batroc with its blood.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In Deadpool #10, Wade complains about his series being Cut Short and spends a page lampshading having to shoehorn what he thinks is a messy, unsatisfactory conclusion that wraps up as many loose ends as possible into the King in Black tie-in.
  • Brought Down to Badass: The Return of the Valkyries tie-in has Jane Foster, Dani Moon, Hildegard, and a new unnamed Valkyrie strip Knull of a vast amount of his power by severing All-Black's connection to the Headless Celestial — the corrupted, undead remnants of the first Celestial killed by Knull. Despite this massive setback, Knull is able to manage a Curb Stomp Cushion fight against All-Father Thor in King in Black #3, and would have won more handily had Dylan Brock not distracted him.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • Wraith, who was last seen making a brief appearance in Cates' Guardians of the Galaxy run in 2018 after a decade long absence shows up in the prologue.
    • Symbiote Spider-Man features the return of one-shot enemy Mister E, who is revealed to be a primordial symbiote who considers the not-yet-named Venom symbiote its brother.
    • Issue 1 features the return of the Sentry, who has been missing since Annihilation - Scourge, somehow returned to his original golden form.
    • The Black Cat tie-in features the return of Dr. Steve — Alchemax's chief astrobiology expert from Mike Costa's Venom.
    • Planet of the Symbiotes features the return of American Kaiju of all people. It also features the return of the Life Foundation Symbiotes, brought back to life by Knull's symbiote hive.
    • The Namor tie-in/prequel brings back Lady Dorma, Namor's childhood sweetheart, though only as a flashback to her younger years.
    • The Thunderbolts tie-in brings back Larry Cranston/Mister Fear III, after his last appearance in 2008.
    • Figment, a minor villain that appeared on She-Hulk in 2005, also returns for the Thunderbolts tie-in.
    • The Spider-Man tie-in features the return of Reptil, whose last appearance was a cameo in 2018.
  • Bystander Syndrome: By the time the Immortal Hulk tie-in takes place, it's shown that ordinary civilians seem to be content to act as though there isn't an alien invasion going on, setting up Christmas decorations and going shopping for presents as they would normally. However, this gets one unlucky schmuck eaten on his way home from a shopping run.
  • C-List Fodder: For King In Black: Thunderbolts, Kingpin assembles a team consisting of Taskmaster, Mr. Fear, Rhino, Batroc the Leaper, Star, Incendiary, Ampere and Snakehead. The last three, all new characters despite being treated as established ones, all die within the first issue. When Taskmaster decides to name the prisoners they rescued from Ravencroft (all of whom are C-list most of the time) Thunderbolts, the only one who gets taken over by symbiotes and killed is Foolkiller.
  • Call-Back:
    • When Taskmaster decides to make Man-Bull, Mr. Hyde, Grizzly, Figment, and Foolkiller impromptu Thunderbolts, Hyde answers he already was a Thunderbolt, which is true. Taskmaster answers with Sure, Let's Go with That.
    • The Enigma Force being revealed to be the light antithesis to Knull's darkness may allude to The Black Vortex. A single panel glimpse of Agent Venom, cosmically empowered by the eponymous artifact, had constellation patterns similar to Captain Universe. It would also somewhat explain the cosmic awareness that the Agents of the Cosmos were shown to have in Venom: Space Knight.
  • Callousness Towards Emergency:
    • In the first issue of her tie-in, Black Cat ignores the evacuation order because she assumes it's just another alien invasion and that the Avengers will be able to save the day like they always do. As such, she's horrified when she witnesses Knull casually Curb-Stomp Battle Earth's mightiest heroes and barely escapes with her life.
    • In King in Black #2, it's revealed that New York's supervillains have holed up in the Bar With no Name, content to sit out the war and take advantage of the anarchy once it ends. Blade also accuses the X-Men of this when they withdraw from the global defense effort to focus on fortifying and protecting Krakoa at the expense of the rest of the world.
    • The Daredevil tie-in reveals that Fisk was warned ahead of time by Iron Man, but deliberately refused to evacuate the city due to thinking it was a trick meant to discredit him. After he loses several of his bodyguards to Knull's symbiotes, Fisk takes it personally and sets out to recruit the Thunderbolts.
    • Lin Lie originally intends to leave the battle once he realizes that Knull's symbiote dragons are not creatures of Chiyou, who the Sword of Fu Xi was meant to fight. This causes the Sword to temporarily leave him and choose Dane Whitman as its wielder. The Sword of Fu Xi later returns to Lin Lie when it realizes how messed up Dane is — burning his hands with divine flame when he refuses to relinquish it — and Lin has a change of heart.
  • Canon Character All Along: The God of Light mentioned as the Arch-Enemy of Knull turns out to be Captain Universe, someone who has been around in Marvel comics since 1979.
  • Car Cushion:
    • In King in Black #2, Eddie Brock — having been stripped of the Venom symbiote and tossed off the roof of the Empire State Building by Knull — crash-lands on a parked car, breaking most of his bones and rupturing several organs. Spider-Man takes him to the Fantastic Four in the hope they can save him, but he succumbs to his injuries after a failed attempt to procure a new symbiote for him.
    • In the Iron Man/Doctor Doom tie-in, Iron Man and Doom wreck Santa's sleigh and send him plummeting into a parked car. He's more pissed-off than injured, and lets them know with some apparently vulgar Symbol Swearing.
  • Christmas Special:
    • The Iron Man/Doctor Doom one-shot is kind of one. It features Tony and Doom teaming up to stop a Knullified Santa. Except they learn nothing, Santa's — probably — not real and they go their separate ways with no happiness having occurred. But it's a Santa-themed thing that came out in December.
    • The Immortal Hulk tie-in is set on the night before Christmas, and features a civilian getting eaten by a symbiote while on his way home from last-minute shopping and the Savage Hulk wanting to play at Macy's toy department.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Earlier in Cates' Venom run, one symbiote dragon was enough to cause major problems. Now that Knull has an army of them, they're suddenly much easier to take down... sometimes.
  • Continuity Snarl: Venom #30, a prelude to King in Black, ends with Venom and Dylan returning to their (prime) Earth only to see the entire sky already covered in darkness, implying Knull already invaded. King in Black #1 has Eddie and Dylan still on their own world when Knull invades and encases the world in darkness.
  • Costume Evolution: Knull sports a less-armored look than he did when he first appeared, with a straight-tailed dragon emblem and spikes on his pauldrons.
  • Covers Always Lie: The original cover of the first issue shows Bruce Banner as the Hulk, but a revised cover replaces him with the Thing. Bruce Banner as the Hulk doesn't appear in the issue due to the events in his own series having killed off the Devil Hulk, trapped Bruce in the Below-Place, and severely weakened Savage Hulk.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Abigail Brand always tries to conceive a back-up plan for when the super heroes fail to stop an alien invasion. This time it's "Protocol V".
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • In King in Black #1, Knull easily overpowers the Sentry, rips him in half, and subjugates the Void. Assuming that's the best Earth has to offer, he gets bored and simply takes over the other heroes present using symbiotes.
    • In King in Black #5, Eddie — now Captain Universe — delivers one to Knull, effortlessly shredding his most-powerful monsters, disintegrating his Necrosword, ripping off his symbiote, and finally vaporizing him after plunging him into the Sun.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: In King in Black #3, Knull faces off against Thor Odinson, who is now the All-Father of Asgard. Knull initially overpowers Thor and slashes him with his claws, but Thor rips Knull's lower jaw off with Mjolnir. Getting serious, Knull has his symbiote-Celestials start razing the city and then impales Thor with his Necrosword.
  • Death by Irony: One of the Sentry's most iconic moments was ripping Carnage in half, and after years of struggling to become a true hero he gets split in half by Carnage's progenitor Knull. To add further irony to it, the panel of that moment is framed exactly like how the Void-possessed Sentry killed Ares in Siege.
  • Deity of Human Origin:
    • In Black Cat's tie-in, Felicia temporarily becomes a goddess in her tie-in after using Doctor Stange's Yggdrasill Staff, with the divine magic's avatar attempting to seduce her into making the arrangement permanent.
    • In King in Black #5, Eddie Brock bonds with the Uni-Power to become a cosmic version of Venom, and after killing Knull he becomes the new God of the Symbiotes.
  • Depending on the Artist: The appearance and size of the symbiote dragons varies depending on who's drawing them. The appearance of Knull's mooks also varies, with The Union and Gwenom vs. Carnage showing them with translucent red visors over the hosts' faces while Thunderbolts shows them having red spirals and fanged jaws.
  • Depending on the Writer: The threat posed by the symbiote-dragons and Knull's minions varies wildly across the tie-ins. Donny Cates had previously established the symbiote-dragons as being magnitudes more powerful than regular symbiotes — with Dylan pointing out that being bonded to a mere piece of one had made Carnage nigh-invincible — and being capable of devastating whole civilizations and devouring gods. While some of the tie-ins — like the one for Guardians of the Galaxy — live up to this, others — like the Marauders tie-in — show them being slain in droves by relatively mundane attacks. Scream is able to immolate several symbiote-dragons using hellfire in her tie-in, while Ghost Rider — who at the time was the King of Hell — barely singed just one with hellfire in his tie-in.
  • Determinator: Even with the whole "being dead" thing, Eddie Brock refuses to roll over and let Knull take over.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In issue 3 of the main series, Knull's response to Thor ripping off his jaw (which he can easily repair with symbiote biomass) is to order his forces to raze Manhattan to the ground.
  • Downer Beginning: The entire first issue is this. The Avengers' Plan A — using Kree and Skrull warships left over from Empyre as a minefield — only takes out a few hundred symbiote dragons out of a force numbering in the hundred-thousands. Plan B was to use mystical, cosmic, and divine powerhouses like Doctor Strange, Thor, Storm, and the Sentry to exploit Knull's weakness to lightning, cosmic energy and to a lesser degree - magic, in order to sever his control over the dragons, which Venom would then control using Dark Carnage's throne. This immediately goes sour as Thor is MIA, Doctor Strange and Storm are taken over by symbiotes, and the Sentry shows up late and gets unceremoniously torn apart. Knull then takes over most of the remaining heroes and covers the Earth in a Dyson Sphere of living abyss. Venom's last-ditch attempt to get Knull to spare Earth and buy time for the remaining heroes to escape — volunteering to serve him — backfires horribly when Knull rips the symbiote off him and throws Eddie from the top of the Empire State Building.
  • Draconic Abomination: Knull attacks Earth with a massive horde of symbiote dragons, when Venom struggled to put down just one — the Grendel. However, the threat level they pose varies significantly Depending on the Writer, as some tie-ins have them being slain in droves while others have them decimating entire cities — if not planets.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: The Black Knight tie-in reveals Dane Whitman is still salty about being known as "the Avenger that went crazy", even though he was a member for years while managing to control the Ebony Blade's influence.
  • Dwindling Party: Of Talos' Squad during Web of Venom: Empyre's End, only Talos himself and Tarna manage to escape Knull's symbiotes, and Wiccan and Hulkling's tie-in reveals that Tarna was captured and taken over by a symbiote.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Besides Knull and his dragons there some other icky things from beyond. In the Namor stories it turned out Atlantis fought and defeated a more powerful undersea kingdom, R'lyeh. The inhabitants were godlike aliens from the outer dark — the Great Old Ones, and the Swift Tide with Namor and friends end up defeating one of them who was working with nomad raiders. It was a Great Old One artifact, "the Unforgotten Stone", that corrupted the Swift Tide into the Black Tide, and also infected Namor, Attuma, and Dorma to a lesser degree.
  • Enemy Mine: When Eddie Brock is mortally wounded and the first line of defences fail, T'Challa reaches out to the Squadron Supreme of America (created by Mephisto to oppose the Avengers), the Invisible Woman reaches out to Namor (who is sent to recruit the Black Tide, a squad of Atlantean warriors corrupted by dark magic), and Iron Man sends Blade to recruit Dracula and convinces the Kingpin to get New York's supervillains involved in the fight.
  • Failsafe Failure: Poor Kang — in King in Black: Symbiote Spider-Man #1 he tries to get the Watcher out of his ship before it goes up and all of his safeties decide to need reset at just that time!
  • Fallen Hero: The Namor tie-ins delve into the backstory of the Black Tide — who were once the Swift Tide, a squad of elite warrior-women who were celebrated for their combat prowess and served as a symbol of peace between traditional rival factions such as the Imperial Atlanteans and Chasm People. Corrupted into bloodthirsty monsters by dark magic, they were Unpersoned and banished to the depths of the Mariana Trench, but vowed to return and seek revenge.
  • Fauxshadow: Several of the tie-ins end with the main characters deciding to take the fight directly to Knull, but none of them have any impact whatsoever on the final issue.
  • Fighting a Shadow: Due to Knull's complete control over the symbiote hive, he literally can be anywhere he wants and fight whoever catches his fancy without really endangering his true body. However, King in Black #3 reveals that injuries sustained by the symbiotes he remotely pilots are inflicted on his real body: Thor blasting a hole through the giant hand Knull manifested to grab Dylan punched a matching hole through Knull's own hand.
  • Fighting Your Friend: Ghost Spider (Gwen Stacy) is forced to fight the Mary Jane Watson from Earth-65 after she's accidentally teleported to Earth-616 and bonded to one of Knull's symbiotes, becoming the new Carnage.
    • Miles Morales is forced to fight a symbiote-possessed Kamala Khan during his tie-in.
  • Foreshadowing: The antagonist of the Symbiote Spider-Man tie-ins is Mister E, a villain whose only previous appearance was fighting Captain Universe in 1980. Issue 4 reveals the opposite of Knull, the god of Light glimpsed by Wraith, is the Enigma Force.
  • Forgot About His Powers:
    • Matthew Rosenberg seems to have been under the impression that Star's powers are akin to Carol Danvers. In actuality, she's a reality warper who gave herself powers like Carol's, and later fully came into her reality warping abilities. While she can sometimes accidentally mess up, such as making someone physically incapable of hitting her when she tells them to stop or something, she can actually use her powers with a degree of accuracy. The entirety of the Thunderbolts' mission should be as simple as Star wanting to find their target and thereby teleporting herself near the target, or any other number of ways she could help — especially given she genuinely wants to.
    • Knull could easily conquer the Earth by simply bonding symbiotes to all the heroes or destroying the planet like he has countless others, but many of the tie-ins show him not doing so.
    • Iceman only starts going all out against the Symbiote Dragons after he is bluntly told to by Conan.
  • Godzilla Threshold: The situation is dire enough in Wakanda that T'Challa orders Okoye to unveil the superweapon they've been developing to combat the Phoenix — a giant panther made of energy, controlled by motion capture — against a symbiote dragon.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: When the first waves fall, other heroes push for recruitments — Namor gets the Black Wave, Blade forces Dracula for help, and Mayor Fisk recruits a bunch of villains to a form new iteration of the Thunderbolts.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: In King in Black #2, Iron Man infects a symbiote dragon with Extremis in an attempt to sever its connection to Knull's hive-mind so that they can bond it to Eddie and save his life. He seemingly succeeds at this, getting infected with a symbiote and nearly taken over by it for his trouble, but it turns out he failed to sever its connection to the Hive and it kills Eddie when he tries to bond it to him.
  • Gonna Need More X: When Carol Danvers sees the upcoming horde of symbiote dragons, she says they're going to need bigger bombs.
  • A Good Name for a Rock Band:
    • When images of Knull and his invasion force are shown to those present at the Galactic Summit, Nova, who was still taking therapy sessions to help cope with his PTSD from the Annihilation Wars and the three Cancerverse invasions, jokes that the images look like a heavy metal album cover he had to try to lighten the mood. He quickly apologizes for sounding insensitive.
    • Similarly, while fighting Knull's hordes, Pyro notes, "These dragons are delightfully metal. Maybe I'll make one my next tat."
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: In Savage Avengers #17, Conan uses Deadpool's healing factor to his advantage, shoving the Merc with a Mouth through the bars so they can escape.
  • The Hero Dies: While obviously not the case for TOO long, Eddie succumbs to his wounds in King in Black #2.
  • Heroic Willpower: Even after being Knullified, Daredevil resists Knull's influence and helps the authorities fight the rest of Knull's minions. He manages to hold out long enough for a fellow inmate to purge the symbiote he's bonded to using an electric chair.
  • He's Back:
    • Venom #32 ends with Rex and Eddie meeting up with Flash Thompson's codex memory, still in his "Agent Anti-Venom" design, #33 ends with Agent Anti-Venom hijacking a downed symbiote-dragon and being reborn in the living world, and #34 ends with both Flash and Eddie coming Back from the Dead.
    • Savage Avengers #17 reveals that the symbiote Conan was bonded to has been revived thanks to Knull's arrival.
    • King in Black #4 ends with Eddie becoming the next Captain Universe.
  • Hive Mind: After Eddie Brock is killed by Knull in the second issue, the Venom comics shows the inner workings of Knull's hive-mind — a void-like purgatory where the consciousnesses of hosts taken over by symbiotes are trapped, doubling as an afterlife for codices; and the God-Hive, an Eldritch Location at the centre of the Hive-Mind.
  • Holding Back the Phlebotinum: The Immortal Hulk spends his one-shot in a mall as Devil Hulk is dead, Bruce Banner is MIA thanks to the Leader, thus leaving the child-like Savage Hulk and Joe Fixit left and Joe decides to let Savage play in a toy store.
  • I Fell for Hours: Venom #31 consists almost entirely of Eddie being in freefall after being thrown from the top of the Empire State Building by Knull.
  • Immediate Sequel: Knull's invasion happens very shortly in the aftermath of Empyre. Many of the destroyed Kree and Skrull warships are still orbiting around Earth and the Galactic Summit which was called to discuss the state of the powers and governments in the galaxy in the immediate wake of Empyre was interrupted because several of the present representatives received word that Knull was attacking their territories.
  • I'm Standing Right Here: During a video call, Kingpin calls the Thunderbolts a bunch of idiots, and when Taskmaster points out they're in the room and can hear him, Fisk only says "good".
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: Tony Stark uses leftover Kree and Skrull ships from Empyre as an improvised minefield. As soon as he thinks it worked, he realizes the horde barely even slowed down.
  • It's All My Fault: In Iron Man/Doctor Doom, Tony takes accidentally killing Eddie Brock very hard.
  • Jawbreaker: In King in Black #3, Thor smashes Knull's lower jaw off with Mjolnir, though the dark god simply forms a new one out of living abyss.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The Ghost Rider one-shot is not subtle about being more focused on tying up loose ends for Ed Brisson's Ghost Rider run. There's even a page where Danny Ketch laments that "Johnny" didn't want things to go down this way and that it's messy, but they need to take what they can get. It's supposedly about Johnny having to relinquish the throne of Hell to Mephisto, but it's clearly more about how Brisson's Ghost Rider run has been forced to abruptly shuffle things back into place with the one-shot.
  • Locked Out of the Loop:
    • Turns out nobody had told Batroc the Leaper about who Venom is and what the symbiotes are, leaving him horrified and disgusted when he finds out.
    • Captain Kate Pryde has a similar reaction before groaning that Spider-Man needs to keep a better eye on his rogues gallery.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!":
    • This is every hero's reaction on issue 1 when they see Knull has Symbiote Celestials as part of his forces. On the same issue, everyone has this reaction when they see Knull casually rip the Sentry in half and absorb the Void.
    • S.W.O.R.D. #2, this is Krakoa's reaction at the arrival of a symbiote-possessed Cable.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Iron Man/Doctor Doom leaves it open-ended if the Santa they rescued from Knull is just a normal man made powerful by Knull or actually the real Santa infected by symbiotes. Even Tony and Doom discuss this briefly.
  • Me's a Crowd: In the Black Panther tie-in, Shuri combines science and alchemy to multiply herself into an army of "spirit dolls" to shore up Wakanda's numbers against the symbiote hordes. Unfortunately this gets turned against her when these copies begin getting assimilated.
  • More Than Mind Control: In the Union tie-in, Choir ends up being taken over by one of Knull's symbiotes...and willingly embraces her connection to the dark god, pleading for Knull not to leave her when the symbiote is destroyed.
  • Morph Weapon: In #5 the Surfer, about to confront Knull, transform his board into a sword.
  • Mundane Solution: It takes a while, but Xavier and Bishop do bring up a very, very easy way to free the X-Men from Knull's influence — kill them. As in, kill them and then resurrect them on Krakoa. They make it a last resort because they don't want to go offing their people, but it is the most straightforward and effective solution when the Avengers didn't really have any.
  • Narrator All Along: Issue #3's narrator seems concerned, but only manages to join the battle at the end of the issue. He is the Silver Surfer.
  • No-Dialogue Episode: With the exception of the title and the quote at the end the Immortal Hulk One-Shot is completely silent.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: In Symbiote Spider-Man: King in Black #1, Kang captures the Watcher and attempts to steal his knowledge. Uatu attempts to reverse the flow and take what Kang's knowledge, witnessing a vision of a future where Knull wins and getting a Poke in the Third Eye from the King in Black. Uatu's powers then go haywire, causing him to overload Kang's ship and causing it to self-destruct.
  • Off-Model: Some series, namely Symbiote Spider-Man, miscolour Knull as having white armour. Despite the whole King in Black thing.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: In the Thunderbolts tie-in, Wilson Fisk tells the supervillains he assembled that they can either join his Thunderbolts team or go to prison. When Incendiary picks the latter, Fisk makes it clear that by "go to prison" he meant "be summarily executed" — which prompts the other villains to immediately sign on.
  • Only the Pure of Heart: Turned on its head in King in Black: Black Knight. It turns out the Ebony Blade requires a wielder with an impure heart to wield, and Merlin lied to Dane and those before him.
  • Opportunistic Bastard: One issue of the S.W.O.R.D. tie-in has Eden Fesi seeking aid from an heir to the Snark empire. He's denied because this particular heir doesn't have a planet and is happily taking advantage of the fact that Knull is literally obliterating his competition by destroying their worlds.
  • Plan B Resolution: With the failure of the Sentry's attack on Knull and the world engulfed in darkness, Abigail Brand of S.W.O.R.D has "Protocol V" to safeguard humanity from extinction. She sends Mentallo and his Think Tank to take the Five (mutants who can resurrect others when they work together) offplanet.
  • Plot Hole:
    • In King in Black #3, the Silver Surfer states that Knull's symbiote barrier is preventing the God of Light from intervening, but in the Black Panther tie-in T'Challa punches a hole through said barrier.
    • Todd Ziller is shown eating symbiote-dragons in his American Kaiju form with no ill effects, despite others who've tried to do so getting infected and taken over.
  • Prequel:
    • Symbiote Spider-Man: King in Black is set during the time-period where Spider-Man was the unwitting host of the soon-to-be Venom symbiote, with Spider-Man encountering Mister E from Marvel Spotlight #9 - who is revealed to be a primordial proto-symbiote attempting to prematurely facilitate Knull's victory.
    • King in Black: Namor is partly set during the King of Atlantis' youth, showing how the Swift Tide became the Black Tide.
  • Recruiting the Criminal: Tony Stark calls up Mayor and not-so-former Kingpin of Crime Wilson Fisk and asks him to use his mob connections to rally New York's supervillains. Fisk proceeds to "recruit" Taskmaster, Star, Mister Fear, Batroc the Leaper, Rhino, and newcomers Ampere, Snakehead, and Incendiary.note  Of the group, Star takes their Hazy Feel Turn the most seriously, with Taskmaster just wanting to get the mission over with, Batroc treating the mission as a joke, and Mister Fear being the Token Evil Teammate of the bunch.
  • Red Skies Crossover: Atlantis Attacks #5 is billed as a tie-in to this event and has the King in Black branding on the cover, but most of issue (itself the conclusion of the series, long-delayed because of the COVID-19 Pandemic) is set before Knull's invasion. The extent of the issue's connection to King in Black is a two-page coda that serves as a sequel hook for the Namor tie-in series.
  • Reforged into a Minion: King in Black #2 reveals that the heroes who were seemingly killed by Knull at the end of the first issue were infected by symbiotes and "Knullified".
  • The Reveal: Issue #4 reveals the the identity of the God of Light and it turns out to be someone who has helped the heroes for a long time: Captain Universe.
  • Revenant Zombie: Knull reanimates Cortland Kasady as one of these in the first Planet of the Symbiotes tie-in, bonding him to a symbiote and dubbing him Plague.
  • Rule of Cool: Why Mister Fear looks like a gothic supervillain. It's acknowledged that he just looks cooler that way, so they did it.
  • Safe Zone Hope Spot: Krakoa had so far been safe from the invasion and Blade hoped it could be used to evacuate civilians. But after a powered-up Sunfire burns a dragon on Krakoa, they hear Knull's voice coming out of one of the gates mentioning that he sees them through the dragon's eyes and he looks forward to taking so many useful subjects as a possessed Kid Cable emerges from the gate.
  • Santa Claus: Averted. Santa apparently shows up in Iron Man/Doctor Doom and gets Knullified... but it turns out it wasn't really Santa, even if Doom wanted it to be.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
    • In King in Black #2, the X-Men nope out of assisting the global defense after several members are taken over by Knull's symbiotes, with Xavier saying the best they can do is help concoct plans and Magneto being enraged at the idea of risking symbiotes infiltrating Krakoa.
    • During the Thunderbolts tie-in, Rhino decides to just walk away from the mission, and Taskmaster allows him to go since he doesn't have the strength to force him to stay. Incendiary tries this at the beginning of the issue and is shot by Kingpin's guards to make a point to the others, and when Ampere nopes out midway through he's promptly murdered by Mister Fear.
  • Series Continuity Error:
    • In King in Black #1, Cable was drawn as his adult self and the Sentry was drawn in his golden form — which Ryan Stegman acknowledged were mistakes on his Stegman and Friends podcast.
    • In the Marauders tie-in, numerous symbiote dragons are shown being vanquished with ease by Lockheed's flame-breath, despite the symbiote dragons having been stated to be all-but immune to fire and sonic attacks.
    • In the Miles Morales tie-in, Miles zaps a symbiote-dragon... to reveal a flesh-and-blood dragon underneath, when prior comics established that they have no hosts. The dragons are entirely composed of symbiote substance.
    • In that same issue one comes up with something it itself establishes. To free Kamala from Knull, Miles mentions having to use his Venom Blast at an extremely high setting that she'll have trouble recovering from. She walks it off like she got hit by an okay punch and he's the one unconscious afterwards.
    • In the Savage Avengers tie-in, Conan's symbiote says it came to Earth during the Hyborian Age, well over 10,000 years ago. This contradicts King in Black #1's editorial appendix that Knull created the symbiotes only 3000 years ago.
    • Ghost Rider's tie-in implies that the conclusion of Ghost Rider Vol. 9 happened shortly before the beginning of King in Black when it was previously indicated to have concluded before the events of Incoming #1, which was set several weeks-to-months prior to King in Black. Furthermore, Mephisto is shown being restored to the throne of Hell in Ghost Rider's tie-in, which means King in Black has to be set before the Age of Khonshu arc (Avengers Vol. 8 #33-28), but Avengers #45 is the King in Black tie-in issue.
    • Ghost Rider has a symbiote dragon and its offshoots unsuccessfully try to infect him, and speculates that it can't due to him being the host of a Spirit of Vengeance. The Circle of Four arc of Remender And Bunn's Venom, Host-Rider from Venomverse, andAbsolute Carnage: Symbiote of Vengeance all show it is possible — even beneficial — for a symbiote and Spirit of Vengeance to bond to the same host.
  • Ship Tease: The Ghost-Spider (2019) tie-in continues that series' unsubtle teasing that Mary Jane has an unrequited crush on Gwen — with Carnage simultaniously hitting on and hitting Gwenom, all the while delivering a scathing "The Reason You Suck" Speech that comes across entirely like Gwen is her girlfriend who abandoned her.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!:
    • When Knull attempts to give a Breaking Speech to the Guardians of the Galaxy as they attempt to stop his assault on Spartax, Star-Lord ends up shutting him up and destroying Knull's avatar with his element gun.
      Star-Lord: I heard you the first time (...) You say you're the Master of the Dark? The Void? Well I'm the Master of the Sun.
    • Ghost-Spider is unimpressed by Knull's declaration that Mary Jane is his after he turns her into the latest iteration of Carnage, and refuses to be intimidated when he declares his intent to corrupt her too.
    • Thor also cuts off Knull while the dark god is reciting his titles, snapping that he is the last person Knull will impress or intimidate.
  • The Stars Are Going Out: The first thing that Eddie and Dylan notice when they return to Earth-616 at the end of Venom #30 is that the sky is now pitch black because all of the stars are gone.
  • Surrender Backfire: In King in Black #1, Knull demands to be given the "human called Brock" in exchange for making the destruction of Earth as quick and painless as possible. Venom surrenders and offers to serve Knull in exchange for Earth being spared, but Knull flatly refuses — recognizing Eddie as the one who killed the Grendel. Clarifying that he was talking about Dylan Brock, Knull rips the Venom symbiote off Eddie before tossing him off the Empire State Building.
  • Superman Stays Out of Gotham: Star-Lord's element gun ends up being one of the few things which could take on Knull head-on. Unfortunately, Peter refuses to head to Earth to confront him since he is currently the target of a very pissed off Olympian Pantheon and is fully aware that if Zeus follows him to Earth while its currently being decimated by Knull, it's very unlikely that the planet would survive a second extinction-level disaster on top of that.
    • Most of the other major civilizations in outer space were also focusing their attention on the Olympians while Knull was focused on Earth. According to Kl’rt, every galactic superpower was watching the Olympian gods’ fight with the Guardians of the Galaxy, prepared to send in their entire military might to finish the gods off if the Guardians failed. Assuming this plan was successful, they planned to send the surviving forces to combat Knull.
  • Symbol Swearing: Played for Laughs in the Iron Man/Doctor Doom tie-in, where the duo battles a Knullified Santa Claus and sends him falling into a car. When Santa emerges, he is pissed and starts swearing with Christmas Symbols — bells, snowmen, snowflakes and candy canes.
    Doctor Doom: That was extraordinarily profane.
  • Synchronization:
    • The soul bands that mark Johnny and Sky as soul mates also allows her to empathically feel that Johnny is still alive, as well as assimilate her when Johnny gets assimilated by Knull.
    • When Knull creates a giant hand out of living abyss to grab Dylan in the third issue, Thor blasts a hole in it with a bolt of lightning. The next panel shows Knull glaring at a matching hole in his own hand, though it quickly regenerates.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: It's quite obvious the newly reformed Thunderbolts don't like each other, especially Mr. Fear.
  • Token Good Teammate: For the Thunderbolts, Star is the only one there to actually save people, and she goes out of her way to do it several times. Everyone else can barely be fucked enough to save their teammates.
  • Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth:
    • Spider-Woman's physiology being warped by her slowly dying coupled with her being hopped up on a dangerous Psycho Serum prevents her from being assimilated by a symbiote dragon, which notes that she "tastes bad" while outright referring to her as "poison."
    • In The Union #2, Kelpie notes that her and Snakes' nonhuman physiology made it so that the attacking symbiotes couldn't bond to them — despite this having never posed an issue for symbiotes in the past because they're engineered to bond to all kinds of life, even gods.
    • Ghost Rider has a symbiote dragon unsuccessfully try to infect him, and speculates that it can't due to him being the host of a Spirit of Vengeance. He narrowly avoids being taken over by one of its offshoots when Danny Ketch — now going by Death Rider — impales it with his Blight Blade.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Many of the artists involved have been posting artwork from their respective tie-ins on Twitter, which has spoiled several relatively minor details, like what Knull's minions will look like.
  • A True Hero: The King in Black tie-in explores what it means to be a hero, with both Sword Master and the Black Knight getting some advice from Aero.
  • Two Girls to a Team:
    • Inverted with the Swift Tide in King In Black: Namor, since the only two males were Namor and Attuma, who joined the group temporarily.
    • Star and Snakehead are the only female members of the new Thunderbolts, though the latter dies almost immediately, leaving Star as the Token Girl, at least until the team recruits Figment.
  • There Was a Door: Ulicia the troll says this to her brother Ulik when he breaks the wall of her workshop next to the door.
  • Undead Abomination: In the Valkyrie tie-in it's revealed that the corpse of the first Celestial slain by Knull has become one through its connection to the symbiote-god, which has turned it into a twisted afterlife for those slain by the Necrosword... and those unfortunate to come across it in the Realm Between.
  • Villain Takes an Interest: In Gwenom vs Carnage, Knull expresses interest in Gwen Stacy and her artificial symbiote, which is outside of his control and which he desires to possess.
  • We Used to Be Friends: King In Black: Namor shows that Namor — under advice from Warlord Krang — made an effort to get along with his eventual enemy Attuma, despite their mutual attraction to Lady Dorma.
  • Wham Episode: The first issue starts with a bang when Knull begins his invasion of Earth by killing The Sentry and assimilating The Void, covering Earth with a cloak of darkness, and when Venom tries to face him, he assimilates the Venom symbiote before letting Eddie fall from the Empire State Building.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In issue #2, Blade chews out Professor X and Magneto when they keep with their isolationist attitude concerning Krakoa when there's an invasion going on.
  • Whole Plot Reference: Thunderbolts mini-series is very obviously this to the Suicide Squad (2016) movie. Lampshaded in the final issue:
    Mister Fear: The whole squad... It's suicide... We're a Suicide Team!
  • The Worf Effect:
    • After Knull arrives on Earth with a horde of symbiote dragons, it's revealed that Knull made a pit-stop en-route to Earth and took over the Celestials with symbiotes.
    • In the first issue, the Sentry, one of Earth's most powerful and broken heroes gets easily taken down by Knull, who kills him and assimilates the Void into himself.
    • In the third issue, Thor, despite wielding his own divine power — which has already been shown to be one of Knull's few weaknesses, the Power of the All-Father, and possibly the Power Cosmic,note  gets a single immediately-regenerated hit in before being easily stabbed from behind and seemingly killed while distracted by violence elsewhere, in a fight that Knull seems to treat as easy, the one strike notwithstanding.
    • The symbiote dragons are subjected to this in several of the tie-ins, being beaten relatively easily by various heroes — including street-level ones — even though Venom and Miles Morales nearly died taking down just one, and Absolute Carnage showed that even a mere piece of one was more than most heroes could handle.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It: Killing Knull makes Eddie the new center of the symbiote hive.

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