King in Black: The Amazing Spider-Man (#1) – Jed MacKay

3 out of 5

I feel bad ragging on someone’s creation/s, but: Reptil is a pretty dumb character to me, and King in Black is a pretty dumb event. As to the former, he’s a dude who can, essentially, transform into any dinosaur (via magical crystal), which rather just seems like an idea dug out of some grade schooler’s crayon scribbles, and the latter – while maybe backed by some worthwhile symbiote lore – has boiled down into “let’s fight some goopy dragons” as the thing has stretched on.

…And one-shot crossovers are rarely all that great, because they just exist to fit benchmarks for the series; I’ve rarely known one to be all that relevant or inventive.

Uphill climb for this King in Black one-shot crossover, co-starring Reptil. For the most part, though, Jed MacKay does alright: he finds the narrative throughline he wants – Spider-Man is ragging on himself for ever having brought the symbiote to Earth; Reptil is just trying to help the lil’ folk, while the big heroes do the big fighting; and the youth hero inspires the elder one – and just tries to deliver a solid adventure along the way. There’s not much of an attempt to “deepen” things, or find any unique hook or insight into the event, and because Peter Parker is somewhat stuck with that initial sobering feeling of fault, it prevents MacKay from writing him too overly quippy, which has been a problem in some of his other Marvel one-shots. (That quippiness is the de facto Marvel “tone,” reducing any sense of character personality when it’s applied non-stop.) I even felt like MacKay found a unique way to apply dumb dino powers.

Michelle Bandini’s art is very interesting. There’s a roundness and openness to it that reminds of Michael Downling, but that might be something that comes later, with the inking (from Bandini and Elisabetta D’Amico), as some closeups have a looseness of line that actually reminded me of Romita Jr…. It’s a really interesting mash-up, and worked well with MacKay’s pacing.

I’m not sure the Reptil backup (arted by Alerto Alburquerque) was needed – it’s just like a coda, with Spidey and Reptil teaming up some more – but if that was a page-saving way of keeping the core story stronger, so be it. Also, MacKay kinda flubbed the “moral,” as Spidey’s inner monologue wavers in terms of logic, but he fakes it being sensical well enough to fill out a makework issue.