It’s all come down to this, as Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman’s epic story of the Venom character wraps up in Venom #200. It’s a beloved character that was elevated by the ideas and visuals of these two creators, and to celebrate Marvel is giving them an 81-page extra-sized issue. All told, it’s one long narrative with a side story written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson that details another evolution of the character.
For that reason alone, this book offers a lot of content and is well worth the $9.99 price tag. Whether or not Ram V. and Al Ewing use this iteration of the character or something slightly different remains to be seen, but it’s fascinating to see Cates deliver one last big idea for the character in his last issue in the run.
SPOILERS AHEAD for Venom #200!
This book opens with a few words written by Eddie Brock from his newspaper days, dated 1996. It then cuts to a double-page montage of all the events that lead to this issue drawn by Ryan Stegman. In three pages, Cates and Stegman reveal how far this character has come from his original iteration and it’s a smart way to hammer home all that they’ve done.
From here, Kev Walker takes over on art and reveals the incredible burden Eddie Brock is under now that he’s the god of Symbiotes. Though he’s told all the Symbiotes it’s their choice to be controlled or told what to do by him, most allow him to enter their minds across the galaxy. Brock connects to the hive in the basement of his home — though later it seems he can control Symbiotes without his special room — and he’s aiding heroes across the galaxy to help clean up the mess Knull created.
This part of the story is a clever new turn on the character, as he’s been reduced to an older father figure as Dylan is going to school. Eddie is also looking much older as it appears controlling Symbiotes across the galaxy is aging him. Soon, the sci-fi cosmic elements dissipate as we see Eddie and his Symbiote give Dylan some parenting as if they’re a married couple. It’s a fun and somewhat funny idea that could easily have spanned an entire story arc. There’s even a cat and dog element that further spins Venom into a kind of domestic superhero story.
The story touches on other parts of Venom’s life, like his relationship to Spider-Man and the ongoing story of the Maker, and his plot to fight our heroes with Ultimate universe resources. As a concluding chapter, Cates does a good job bringing Venom’s relationship with Spider-Man to a new place as well as set up a future event-level attack on Earth.
It’s hard to tell, but these scenes are drawn by Danilo S. Beyruth, Ron Lim, and Guiu Vilanova. The art varies in detail and style, but keeps the story moving along and interesting. The Spider-Man and Venom diner scene is plotted well visually with closeups on each character and establishing shots to make the drama of their conversation come alive.
Gerardo Sandoval draws the Flash Thompson chapter, which is the least connected to the main story. This is likely written by Johnson as it ties into Flash’s ongoing story that will continue in Extreme Carnage. Seeing as Flash was brought back from the dead in King in Black, this is an important chapter for him. It also reveals a major plot that’ll likely be followed up in Extreme Carnage. This chunk does a good job establishing Flash’s inability to blend back into normal life since most people think he’s dead.
Mark Bagley gets to draw a key scene with Dylan that was referenced earlier in the tale. It’s all about Dylan’s anger issues at school and how some pretty violent thoughts are on the verge of going from imagination to acted out. It’s very clear at this point Dylan isn’t going away and his anger will be a key element for the character.
The final chunk of the story is drawn by Ryan Stegman and reveals the next evolution for the Venom character. It’s an interesting concept that blends the Venom Symbiote and Dylan. It’s definitely not Venom as we know him with Eddie driving the Symbiote, but it seems like a natural progression for the Symbiote that clearly watches over Dylan like a mother. Stegman gets to create one final new look for Venom, too, which is a great nod to ’90s comics fans in their 30s and 40s will love.
Venom #200 delivers a major new direction for the character that could have been another story arc entirely. Instead, Cates and Stegman get to put their final touches on the character in a comic that earns its extra price tag and page length. If you haven’t been reading this run, this is not a great place to start, but it’s an intriguing new twist on the character that’s well worth investigating.
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