Marvel Comics is officially back with new releases appearing in comic shops this week. Possibly the biggest issue released by Marvel this week is Venom #25, an extra-sized anniversary issue that not only wraps up the “Venom Island” story arc but sets up the year ahead. This was my pick of the week on the AIPT Comics podcast, and for good reason. We’re talking Eddie coming to grips with who he now is, strong sentiments about family and never being alone, and more.
By and large, this issue is the final word on the Absolute Carnage event, serving as an epilogue to wrap things up. Eddie is trying to put the Carnage Symbiote to bed for good on the island where he once fought Spider-Man, and actually lived years earlier. Meanwhile, Eddie’s son Dylan continues to express powers he barely understands, and Eddie comes clean with the Avengers with what is really going on behind the whole Absolute Carnage attack.
The strongest element of this issue is how writer Donny Cates frames Eddie Brock’s state of mind. It opens with a close up of Eddie a bit battered physically and emotionally. He says things that are important for somebody who once loved eating brains and trying to kill Spider-Man to say. Cates makes you believe Eddie has changed and through his words I think many will connect with the sentiments. We’ve all made mistakes and a big part of growing is learning and admitting to them.
Thanks to this focus on Eddie in a dark room — which seems to reflect his own sorrow over his past actions — the book carries a lot of weight. Cates makes this issue feel like an important marker in Eddie’s journey. This calm and measured approach makes for a great smash cut to a double-page splash of a Venom T-Rex fighting Carnage, which is a nice reminder this is also big dumb comic book fun.
Bagley draws the main story and does a heck of a job with the action scenes. You’ll be brought back to your inner kiddo when Bagley was drawing the Carnage vs. Spidey vs. Venom comics we all know and love. The nightmarish scenes continue to look disturbing and freaky further embellished by Andy Owens’ inks and Frank Martin’s colors.
The book also contains a backup explaining where the weapons came from on the island written by David Michelinie with art by Ron Lim. That’s about as classic as comic creatives collaborations come and it’s a fun reminder of how Venom was once at peace, but also still extremely violent dubbing himself Vengeance.
This issue is a great reminder that Donny Cates has huge plans for Venom and has also taken the character leaps and bounds forward. No longer is he the drooling brain-eating monster, but a man who has deep regrets, hopes for the future as a father, and a huge responsibility as the next biggest-bad in Marvel Comics makes his way to Earth. Venom tells a complex human story with clarity, compassion and considerable visceral fantasy action.