The first issue of Venom from Al Ewing, Ram V, and Bryan Hitch punched readers in the face with a devastating (but thrilling) left hook, upending everything we thought we knew about where Venom and his family were heading. In this issue, writer Ram V brings some of the supporting players into sharper focus, allowing readers to get their bearings and providing a solid stepping stone into the new era.
In a dramatic and war-torn spread from Bryan Hitch, we rejoin Dylan, Venom, and Sleeper standing in the wreckage of the previous issue’s climactic confrontation. The battle is revisited a few times in quick flashes throughout the story, but the majority of this issue is focused on Dylan’s next steps. The opening of the book is carried by a somber voicemail narration from Eddie Brock that shows just how badly he wanted things to be different. Dylan’s facial expressions through this sequence are excellent, with an awkward grin hiding much of the pain he’s feeling. These sequences give us a better feel for the ragtag team that is rising from the ashes. They don’t quite know what they’re doing, but they’re determined to see it through together.
The character-centric moments are the strongest part of this second issue. For a story that follows a teenage boy and his two alien pals, there’s a real feeling of human connection here. The creative team offers a few glimpses at how vulnerable they all feel, with the Symbiote doing its best to live up to Eddie’s example and Dylan trying to keep a strong face as he heads into the world without his dad for the second time.
Meanwhile, this issue also signals the return of some intriguing villains and deadly organizations from Venom’s past. With so much of the Symbiotes’ recent history skewing towards more cosmic matters, it’s interesting to see a more grounded threat rising from the ashes for Dylan to deal with. These sequences feel a bit static in terms of blocking, but the promise of new twists on the horizon is still enough to pull the reader in.
Even when things kick up a notch, the action still works in service of the story and its characters. The fight sequence that closes out the issue shows that the character still has a lot to learn. Even after bonding with the Symbiote and taking on the mantle of Venom, there’s an awkwardness to the way Dylan fights, all sweeping kicks and flailing punches (and tendrils). Because of this, the tension in the battle comes from something other than a desire to see Venom win. There’s a sense that he doesn’t quite know what he’s doing, which makes him a danger to himself and others. Of course, there are also a few very fun action beats, with Sleeper also getting a chance to cut loose.
After a jam-packed introductory issue, the second installment of Venom thankfully slows down a bit and does a great amount of table-setting. It’s exciting to see the new supporting cast fill out, and the final page sets up a brand new path for Dylan to follow.
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