Dylan and Sleeper have been betrayed and taken captive. Determined save Eddie Brock’s son, Venom begins a dangerous trek to find the pair of kidnapped heroes before running afoul of the Life Foundation’s newest agent: Spearhead!
Thanks to Ram V’s breakneck script and Bryan Hitch’s fluid artwork, the action that makes up the first chunk of this book is exciting and fast-paced, but it’s definitely not the focus of the issue. Although the latest weapons in the war against the Symbiotes are nothing to sneeze at, what makes this confrontation so interesting is how Venom looks at it: Nothing more than an obstacle in the path to saving Dylan. It’s a perfunctory clash that’s punctuated by a gooey and painful-looking escape, so the biggest surprise for me was seeing Venom stick to the plan and beat a fast retreat. “Good for you, dude,” I said to myself.
Letterer Clayton Cowles is clearly having a lot of fun with the changing POVs in the issue. A great deal of the story is seen from Venom’s perspective, giving Cowles the opportunity to treat us to some dark caption boxes and jagged lettering that works as a nice contrast to the heartfelt narration written by Ram V. A great deal of the story deals with the titular Symbiote’s inner conflict, and seeing the juxtaposition between its eerie speech patterns and its almost paternal instinct and sense of duty is a fascinating and appreciated touch.
Venom’s not the only one questioning themselves. Liz Allan finally gets a few quiet moments in the spotlight, showing the readers that she’s not entirely okay with how the her team’s plans are shaking out. In keeping with her previous appearances, Liz is trying her best to stay steadfast and strong, but Hitch’s knack for facial expressions hammers home the fact that these experiments are weighing on her. This small sequence is so compelling that I couldn’t help but feel reminded that Dylan, who spends much of the issue sedated, is the only character being underserved by the narrative here.
More than anything else, I find myself so on board for every big swing this creative team is taking with Venom and his unorthodox family. Without getting into too many details, this issue features yet another wild twist regarding the scope of the King in Black’s abilities. This sequence features some of the gnarliest visuals of the series so far, bringing forth a pulsating, toothy beast that is likely to leave an immediate impression on readers. It’s yet another reminder that this series is not screwing around. This new volume of Venom kicked off with the promise that everything would change for the Klyntar and Eddie’s family and not only has it delivered on that, but it keeps pushing the characters and the narrative into new and exciting territory.
At one point in this issue, a prominent character says, quite matter-of-factly, “Everything’s changed. None of the rules apply anymore.” It feels like a statement of intent from both the character and the creative team — and I fully believe them.
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