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Venom #23
Marvel Comics

Comic Books

‘Venom’ #23 review: The return of Toxin is a strange change of pace

Venom and Toxin, together again.

Venom continues to be a series with a rather puzzling narrative structure. Of course there are the many different iterations of Eddie Brock spread throughout time, as well as the concept that “our” Eddie isn’t necessarily experiencing his own lifetime in a linear path. That on its own is a timeline well worth exploring in whatever order this creative team likes, as each issue with Eddie feels like an integral piece of a larger whole. But after a few issues of Eddie learning to harness his new “Human Symbiote” abilities and rallying troops against his nest nemesis, the last two installments have felt like superficially unconnected side stories involving Dylan Brock. 

Last month saw Dylan’s efforts to reason with the robotic Klyntar known as Flexo, all the while unaware that the poor thing has already been swayed in some way by Eddie and Doctor Doom, setting up another big battle to come. This latest issue — from the team of Torunn Grønbekk, Ken Lashley, and Ramón F. Bachs — seems to take yet another detour, picking up “one week ago” and detailing a team-up between Venom and Toxin as they try to save a bunch of children and foil Alchemax’s latest machinations.

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The resulting issue certainly isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, but I unfortunately kept wondering, “What are we doing here, again?” I don’t think this is the fault of this issue’s writer, mind you, but I couldn’t help but have that thought in the back of my mind as the story proceeded.

Venom #23
Marvel Comics

As I’ve said, I’ve enjoyed the twisty narrative in Venom for the most part, but this issue felt like an odd jaunt, giving us a solid bit of heroics while not quite gelling for me in terms of the larger story. Nevertheless, this issue explores many of the themes that have become hallmarks of this series, including the debt one owes to their family and the unfortunately accurate idea of the sins of the father being visited upon their sons.

One of the most impactful moments of the issue arrives in a seemingly simple dialogue panel. We see Dylan and Bren talking on a rooftop about their mission and the evil they have to face, but their heads are outside of their suits. Seeing the kids’ faces atop these hulking bodies is always an eerie sight, but  the fact that they’re discussing kidnapped kids and lost fathers that makes it a heartbreaking image this time around. Neither of them would have chosen this life for themselves at the start, but they’ve been pulled into a war started by those who came before them.

It’s moments like these that keep me invested in Dylan’s story, and why I’m not excited to see what Grønbekk does with future stories — particularly considering the exciting guest character looming in the shadows this issue.

Venom #23
‘Venom’ #23 review: The return of Toxin is a strange change of pace
Venom #23
'Venom' continues to be an oddly paced book, but there are some solid character moments and action here. The hints toward Grønbekk's upcoming run on the book are very exciting and feel appropriately moody.
Reader Rating1 Votes
8.2
Smart exploration of the series' themes through the eyes of a 'new' character
It's always fun to read the banter between Venom and Dylan -- adding a third Symbiote to the mix ratchets that up a good bit
Tantalizing hints at what's next for Dylan and the next Venom host
The pacing of this series is starting to really throw me off
Dylan feels almost like a tagalong in someone else's story, and that's kind of unfortunate, since we haven't checked in on him much lately
6.5
Good
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