Out this week is the second volume in Al Ewing, Ram V, and Bryan Hitch’s evolving take on Venom. Titled “Deviation,” the sci-fi trippiness of the first volume is expanded upon and further explored. Who is Meridius, is Dylan Brock safe, and why is Bedlam after him? A lot of questions and a lot of answers await when you pick up this trade paperback.
Collecting Venom #6-10, Ram V writes the first two issues, with Al Ewing finishing off this collection. Not coincidentally, Ram V focuses on Dylan Brock’s ongoing story, while Al Ewing reveals what Eddie has been up to since his body was destroyed in the first issue. It becomes much clearer after reading this volume. Ram V focuses on Dylan and his struggles to understand his uniqueness in the Symbiote world while Ewing is evolving the abilities of Venom, involving time jumping.
What happens in the first two issues should satisfy fight-comic fans. Hitch draws Venom kicking ass, making his arms into spikes, and fighting motorcycle gang goons. We also get some big monster fights, as Bedlam–seen on the cover–comes calling. As Venom slices and dices to full effect, Hitch makes you feel for Dylan’s semi-father figure Jake. There’s a gang war going on, and Jake must face off against another guy one on one. It’s sort of comical that there’s a gang fight loosely related to Venom, but the impact is clear, as Dylan has already lost a father. Can he lose another one? Meanwhile, Bedlam acts as a good bookend to this volume, whose identity is revealed by the end of the collection.
Venom #8 opens with Venom in the far future trying to connect with something to help his son. He knows Dylan is in danger, but his options are limited after losing his body and not knowing how he’s alive. Ewing does an expert job connecting Eddie’s consciousness to this new form, complete with a nod to the day he became Venom. It serves as a good opening for casual readers while keeping the reader asking questions.
Soon, the story whisks off to another time and place. Bryan Hitch does an excellent job proving for the thousandth time he’s very good at the super weird stuff. The dripping upside-down Venom to open the book is quite cool, with nice touches of flora behind him. Much of the book is packed with details with new and familiar character designs. There’s also a new badass-looking Venom symbiote design to take in as well.
Things get very strange in a sci-fi sense which juxtaposes quite well with the street brawling in the first two issues. Plus, there are space swords! If you ever needed proof Venom is a space knight, this is the start of a story going in that direction.
Closing out the collection, fans should delight in knowing there are big reveals and even bigger changes to what we know about Venom. To say this issue is a mystery box of delights is an understatement. Ewing reveals a major whopper regarding who the Symbiotes are at the Garden of Time, and it’s trippy as heck. Not only that, but it recontextualizes who Venom is for the second or third time in this story arc alone. Again, it’s rare to see this kind of big-swing character development for a mainline hero. Sure, a legacy character like Spider-Man can get away with it, but a somewhat younger character like Venom, who is super popular, usually maintains a status quo to avoid rubbing fans the wrong way. Here though, Venom’s identity itself is challenged. That’s a cool thing.
That identity fights his other identities (trying to avoid spoilers here), and Hitch draws a mean Bedlam. He’s huge, big, and red – thanks to colors by Alex Sinclair and inks by Andrew Currie – as well as an absolute monster. I’d argue Hitch gets to show off a variety of monster types, from the sniveling pathetic Symbiote that pops up later in the issue that’s like Gollum from Lord of the Rings, to the hulking super strong Bedlam and the godlike confident narcissist that is Meridius. Its wide variety makes for an interesting palette once you realize who they are.
Venom has gone through many changes in the last decade, so many that it’s bold to see Ram V, Al Ewing, and Bryan Hitch continue that trend. Once a visually cool-looking character and not much more, this collection cements the fact that Venom is as complex and weird as any superhero in Marvel Comics.
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