The dust has settled after the months-long Absolute Carnage event and it’s Venom that’ll take the responsibility in taking Eddie, his son Dylan, and Knull forward. Before Knull can get to Earth and kill us all (or die trying), Donny Cates is pushing Eddie to an island literally and figuratively as he tries to sort out some stuff going on internally. Get ready for more of that quintessential Cates Venom who can’t get out of his, and the Symbiotes, head.
This issue balances two major elements quite well, the first being Dylan and the complicated nature of his relationship with Eddie now that he knows he’s his son. There’s a lot to suss out here and Dylan likely isn’t going to start calling Eddie dad overnight. Meanwhile, Eddie is reeling from the complicated nature of his relationship with Dylan, which has yet to really manifest into something real. They thought they were brothers and there’s a love there, but now it’s much more complicated. The second involves a meeting Eddie is taking, which you can see he’s getting ready for in the preview. This leads to said meeting and it’s a bold turn in the story. A character like Eddie Brock, who once ate people’s brains and was a hardcore villain, is becoming more of a hero than ever and this is proof of that. Likely this scene won’t amount to much for a while–especially since Venom Island is kicking into gear where Eddie will be fighting Symbiotes–but it’s a tantalizing prospect to dangle for readers in 2020. As you might have guessed, I’m not spoiling a thing since this issue lives and dies by these reveals.
The best part of this issue is the internal monologuing between Venom and the Symbiote. Cates adds another layer to this dynamic that’s incredible and changes things up nicely. I have no idea if it will continue, but it’s like taking the relationship to another complex level. There’s a disturbing psychological violence at work here and it’s easy to relate to Eddie with all that is going on internally for him. It’s also nice to see there’s a callback to a specific location that ties into the island of “Venom Island” that should get fans hype.
The art is by Mark Bagley with inks by Andy Owens and colors by Frank Martin and Erick Arciniega. If you’ve read a Spider-Man comic in the last 30 years, you know who Mark Bagley is and will love what he does here. This issue is actually void of the classic Venom costume and it’s light on the action too. There’s a reason Ultimate Spider-Man worked so well with Brian Michael Bendis’ dialogue-heavy style and that’s great character acting. Bagley does a great job capturing Eddie’s inner turmoil over Dylan, the stress he goes through in the meeting, and the eventual drastic acts in the final pages to keep himself alive. There’s also a great dream sequence that captures the darkness Eddie fears which blends well as Symbiote tendrils. There is also a revelation moment later in the issue with Eddie shirtless that’ll have you gasping. The gory nature of Venom is still strong with this one folks.
Overall this is a good first issue in the “Venom Island” storyline. Cates sets up two major elements that will change Eddie’s life before whisking him off to the island to find some inner peace. Absolute Carnage upended Eddie’s life and brought him closer to the Symbiote and it looks like this new series will be about Eddie getting closer to himself. This is an example of how violence is always emotional and psychological.
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