Ever since Donny Cates took over on Venom with Ryan Stegman, the series has been made more exciting and complex. For many, Venom was a cool costume on a rather basic villain save for a saving grace story or two. Now it seems like Venom is as complex as any vigilante hero in Marvel’s pantheon. The latest story arc, drawn by legendary Spider-Man artist Mark Bagley, continues the trend of making this series a horror spectacular. Issue #24 is about as scary as it can get.
This issue opens with Eddie in the hospital with his arm cut off. He lost to it the Carnage Symbiote even though Cletus is dead. Soon the Avengers are nearby, which is a nice call back to the first issue in the arc. But wait, wasn’t Eddie on an island trapped by the Carnage Symbiote without his Venom Symbiote!? The answer will freak you out. Bagley does a fantastic job making the visuals come alive and strike you as you turn the pages. The series as a whole has a haunting quality to it and this issue is gripping in that regard. That scary nature permeates the entire issue all the way up to the final page which is without a doubt a badass and seriously metal moment. Leave it to Cates to wow us with another memorable cliffhanger.
Frank Martin’s colors and Andy Owen’s inks are a big reason why the horror works so well. Carnage’s Symbiote eyes glow as if he’s a demon or some otherworldly thing. It’s hard to believe a Symbiote can become normal and not so scary, but little touches like the glow of the eyes or the ribbing in its body add a creepy nature to the monster.
Another quality of this issue is the continued development of Dylan. I’ll say no more to avoid spoilers, but a major reveal hints at how he may play a part in the eventual war Knull is bringing to Earth. This character is still finding his bearings and abilities, adding an air of mystery to the narrative that’s fun to navigate and understand.
Donny Cates continues to show us how if you cast your heroes in utter darkness with the only hope to draw on in its hero — and in this case, the hero’s son — good things will come. Your interest is always up and you’ll be thirsty for more unnerving imagery as the horrors of the Symbiote story continue to flesh out.