Warning: contains spoilers for King in Black #4, Black Cat #3, and King in Black: Namor #4!
While many fans are complaining of event fatigue as Marvel and DC continue to stall individual series in order to serve larger crossover stories, every event can also be trusted to come with some high-quality tie-ins fans might otherwise have missed, and King in Black is no exception. Series like the excellent Black Cat and King in Black: Namor have used the clout of King in Black to bring fun, thoughtful, ambitious stories to Marvel’s readers… which is why it’s such a shame the event spoiled how they’d end.
As Earth’s heroes battle to take down Knull, many have taken on individual missions, from Black Cat’s attempts to free and empower Doctor Strange, to Namor literally diving back into his past and his own experiences with Knull’s corruption. But before either series could reveal its heart-stopping conclusion, King in Black #4 released on February 17, 2021 – ahead of Black Cat #3 (the end of the series’ tie-in story arc) and King in Black: Namor #4 on February 24 – and showed how their big conclusions would play out.
With the way that releases for the core issues were planned alongside the tie-ins, spoilers have now become inevitable to fans reading the core storyline alongside Black Cat and King in Black: Namor – something that’s all the more frustrating given that the main series has now been delayed, meaning there was always more than enough time for these tie-ins to tell their own stories. Just as Black Cat was poised to face down the King in Black’s dragons, with the question of whether she would pass her Asgardian power-up over to Doctor Strange, and before Namor had even made contact with the corrupted Atlantean heroes of his childhood, King in Black #4 depicted the heroes at the ends of their adventures, objectives achieved.
Tie-in series like Black Cat and King in Black: Namor were already a risk for Marvel, focusing on characters whose individual fame makes them a dicey pitch to readers. Because of this, spoilers aren’t just a risk that will affect the most ardent fans, but an undercutting of the key factor that was helping each series find a wider readership. Namor’s story in particular has been a slow-burn told mostly through flashback, making the ultimate alliance depicted in King in Black a real shock. With the hindsight that fans will be waiting for the end of the series anyway, it’s especially disappointing Marvel couldn’t better arrange its release dates so these stories could land with the impact their creators likely expected.
Yes, there are a lot of titles for Marvel to organize, but with the downside of event comics monopolizing individual series for weeks or months on end, the upside of using them to tell interesting stories that might otherwise struggle should be a priority, not something to casually cast aside halfway through the event. While Black Cat and King in Black: Namor continue to be enjoyable reads, King in Black #4 stole their thunder and, in both cases, the narrative high points of their association with the event. Hopefully, fans won’t abandon Namor and Black Cat due to this oversight, even if they are stuck thinking about how these series could have had plenty of time to conclude unspoiled while they wait for King in Black‘s delayed finale to arrive.