Writer: Donny Cates
Pencils & Cover: Ryan Stegman
Inker & Cover: JP Mayer
Colorist & Cover: Frank Martin
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Price: $3.99
Review by: WolfCypher
Eddie Brock and his newly-discovered younger half-brother Dylan catch up together at a diner, where Eddie reveals why his (or their) father hates Eddie so much. When an accident that a teen Eddie caused sees a little boy left dead, Eddie is left mortified. We see both Eddie and Carl taken to a police interrogation room. Eddie, guilt-ridden, is ready to plead guilty. Before the situation is able to get further out of control, the well connected Carl Brock coerces Eddie into pleading not guilty, or rather “Innocent” by beating him repeatedly. Eddie wants to pay for his crimes, but with each admission of guilty comes another blow to his face from his father until he conditions himself to the lie. “I’m Innocent.” “I’m Innocent.” “I’m Innocent.”
Leaving the diner, Dylan follows Eddie back to his lodgings while sharing with his big brother why he wants Carl dead; simply put, Carl beats Dylan, too. The kid states its not often that it happens, and Eddie promises he’ll take care of the situation. When Eddie asks Dylan about Eddie’s sister/Dylan’s aunt, Mary, Dylan tells him there is no such woman. Eddie realizes the symbiote has messed with his memories too much and begins coughing violently. In what appears to be a hallucination, Knull appears from Dylan and Eddie, transforming into Venom, attacks, only to soon afterwards find no Knull and Dylan on the receiving end, moments before Eddie hacks up more blood and passes out.
Dylan gets Eddie to a hospital and while waiting, men in suits bring the boy into a now guarded wing of the hospital. Dylan has questions as the suits draw blood from his arm, and after delivering him into Eddie’s room, we are presented with a scene of Eddie laid out on an examination tabled, blanketed by his symbiote and the Maker running tests on him. His diagnosis? “…he has quite a lot of cancer.”
While this may be my first review posted for Weird Science’s comic sites, I’ve been reading this run since the beginning, and I’m not thrilled with Cates decision to constantly take so much time to retcon (what feels like) as much as possible while he can. Almost every issue so far has made sure to re-establish, retcon, or just revisit everything from the Venom symbiote’s history, the symbiote species, their origins, how the symbiote works, and now even Eddie’s pre-Venom teen years and soon his cancer. Anyone who’s been following Venom for years knows that recently a lot of writers have been doing this, putting their own mark on the canon by forcing square pegs into round holes. While I will admit Cates is, out of all the past writers who have also played dangerously with the canon, clearly the better of the writers and has equally frustated me as much as he’s owned my interest in what’s to come next (when most writers before have only frustrated me). But still, comparing to Rick Rememnder, a guy whose entire run on 2011’s Agent Venom which didn’t need to keep detouring to the “untold tales” of the Venom symbiote and the “ever changing” history of Flash Thompson, and he wrote one fantastic run on his character. I’m not a fan of “everything you thought you knew about Venom, Eddie, their race is WRONG” for the umptenth time, and especially when a writer has been allotted time on a book for almost a year and we’re still going back to these wells.
And even with that said, this was a very good issue. One I enjoyed reading multiple times.
Venom: Dark Origins by Zeb Wells already established that Eddie’s intentions to protect innocents was actually born of his desire to become a journalist (learning about the Watergate Scandal in his youth, Eddie would want to be a reporter to deliver the truth to civilians and help the guilty get exposed to justice…), and David Michilinie’s Venom: Lethal Protector both shows us an elderly Carl Brock who still has much fortune left (he owns a large, beautiful estate and has a personal house-keeper in his employ, and there’s no mention of a new son), as well as explores the story that Carl simply hated Eddie not due to any car accident, but simply because of his being birthed complicating the health of Carl’s wife. Its a problematic read in the way of trying to establish what Cates is completely erasing, what he may have just forgotten when writing the script, and what all may be lies and tricks, waiting for a plot twist, an “ah HA!” moment where we’re revealed to the true truths of what happened in Eddie’s life.
Knowing that these new “past” developments don’t line-up at all, I just took them at face-value, and its not bad. Cates really knows how to voice his characters, and he has a supreme talent for keeping you both interested and guessing. As early as his second issue of this run he’s teased readers with the flashback of a young blond kid running in front of a speeding car, hinting that this was an adolescent Eddie getting hit by the driver and starting the domino effect of his and Carl’s bitter relationship; yet the big twist revealed took me by pleasant surprise. Also, I think I rather like this Dylan kid. I’m curious if this was Cates’ intentions, but I almost read Dylan as if he’s supposed to be us, the fans of Eddie. He can see the flaws and blood-stained darkness there is to Eddie, yet he still agrees that overall Eddie is a good guy and wants to see him come out a hero. I assume like most Eddie fans, he’s a little bit in awe of this guy, and has a lot of questions.
Ryan Stegman has been nothing but an asset to this book. The moodiness that this run sells is only complimented by Stegman’s pencils. I am much happier to have him back on the art duties than on as a one-shot writer (ie: Web of Venom).
I feel like the less experienced you are with this character (or the less aware of Eddie’s past continuity) the more you’ll like this issue. Even on the other hand, people who are familiar with Eddie’s San Fransico backstory and his turbulent history with Carl will still walk away from this chapter on a pretty interested note. Developments continue to spiral out of control for our “hero”, and now he may have brought a newfound innocent into the thick of the storm. The book continues along, taking frequent stops to rewrite past canon (for better or worse), to tell a Venom story we’ve never had before…granted, it is retelling stories I HAVE read before and changing those rules as it goes. This time, I just happned to like the results quite a bit.