Stuck in a spiritual plane for Symbiotes, Eddie Brock is face to face with a spirit form of Knull and has little chance of escape. Or does he? Venom #34 ends the King in Black tie-in story arc and leads directly into King in Black‘s finale, so it’s a must-read for fans who need to a full picture of this event. Can Donny Cates, Iban Coello, and Jesus Aburtov close out this story about a very dead Eddie Brock in a meaningful way, or is it a means to an end to get us to the finale of the event itself? How about both!
This issue opens with a dragon Flash Thompson fighting off one of Knull’s Symbiote dragons all taking place in a Symbiote hive mind. It’s a weird setup that effectively stretches suspension of disbelief to a point where anything goes. If anything, this issue serves as a love letter to Eddie and his Symbiote, not only because the Symbiote finds Eddie in the nick of time, but because it shows these two characters will find each other even in death. Cates continues to play around with how Symbiotes can continue on when they are dead and how a Codex — basically a living copy of each person who wears a Symbiote — plays a part in that.
This issue really isn’t about the finer details of how Eddie could be alive and dead at the same time, but more about the underdog rising up to punch Knull in the teeth. The narrative basically uses the, “Find another gear to win” method, which will satisfy fans who are here for the big blockbuster action. If you’re not a fan of deus ex machina, you will be disappointed with how Eddie finds the strength to fight back in this issue. For those intrigued by Cates’ use of Captain Universe (and count me one of them), this story will keep you satisfied with how it pans out. Boiled down to its essentials — which would mean removing a lot of Eddie/Venom banter via captions to one another — this is a very basic story about our hero finding a magical “elixir” to use on the villain for the final act. It doesn’t add much new to the hero’s journey so to speak, but it does enough with the elements it has to make something new. The cliffhanger speaks volumes to that.
The art by Coello and Aburtov continues to be of high quality. The hive mind spirit realm is cast in reds and moonlight which gives it a hellish look. Per usual for Coello on this story arc, the Symbiote’s goopy and stringy nature is well done defining the alien by its liquid nature. That stands out and helps convey the literal changeability required of Eddie throughout the story. Two scenes in particular showcase this issue’s incredible art — one being a graveyard covered in Symbiote goo which captures the macabre turn at the end of the story, and the other being the shining light used to show Eddie as a beacon of hope and virtue. Both help sell key points in the narrative.
Venom #34 is the kind of comic that is enjoyable, but also does what the mainline book could have done with fewer pages. It’s a tie-in to a larger story that doesn’t have a lot to delve into, but at least it looks great doing it. Since much of Eddie’s struggle in this issue is given to him, the hero doesn’t grow all that much and instead serves as a bystander in his own story. That said, it’s a story we’ve seen before as the hero is called to do something great, which leads into King in Black‘s finale well enough.
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