Venom #27 was a mind-bending experience, both for readers and Eddie Brock. Not only does he seem to be getting more powers, but he met someone he thought long dead. Stuck in an alternate reality where Knull has taken over, can Eddie get out, and more importantly, can he keep his son Dylan safe? In Venom #28, he has a little help from some familiar friends.
This issue is a lot stronger than the last, building on a very important origin moment for Eddie Brock and showing us what could have happened to Earth if he didn’t go on to become Venom. I’ll say no more to avoid spoilers, but Donny Cates has crafted an interesting story off this moment. It allows the chaotic action that takes up much of the book to percolate because you’ll be thinking about what else could have changed in the Marvel universe if Eddie didn’t become Venom.
As we learn new details about Venom’s new friends — which include some major heroes with Symbiote powers — we get a closer look at this dimension’s Knull. You may see the cliffhanger coming, I certainly did, but it’s fun to see a villain less inclined to give speeches. It also reflects on Eddie’s current role as a father and how this may play into King in Black.
These scenes also tie directly into the new villain Virus, so stay tuned to this issue to find out more about him. In fact, his identity is revealed…but it’s not that exciting, unfortunately. You might expect a momentous reveal, but here it’s matter-of-factly announced and it’ll elicit a shrug. Blame the hype machine of the internet, but it will leave you wanting.
Unfortunately, this book is too goofy for its own good. From a chaotic and hard to follow action sequence midway through to the odd nature of Knull and his cartoonish facial expressions, it’s hard to take any of this seriously. The book is handling suicide, but also revealing a cross-eyed Mr. Fantastic on the good-guy side. The art doesn’t really gel with the story or plot, either. It’s a cartoony look and feel that handles darker ideas well enough, but then splashes Knull’s laboratory in pinks and bright colorful tones. In many ways, this story and the art itself reads like the creators didn’t have enough time to make it work, or got off to creating it without doing any work to rejigger or redirect the conflicting atmospheric art and more serious themes.
This is a better direction for the story arc, but it still doesn’t mesh with the attitude and mature themes of the main series. Something isn’t quite clicking here, which is a shame, as there are sound ideas at work.