Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Iban Coello
Colors: Andres Mossa
Cover: Ryan Stegman
Letterer:VC’s Clayton Cowles
Release Date April 24 2019
Review by WolfCypher
Eddie Brock no longer has his symbiote, but has gained a son, even if he’s unwillingly to share that fact with him. Eddie and Dylan return to New York just as soon as Malekith has declared war with our realm. Even with any alien-supported superpowers, Eddie defends civilians from the Dark Elf’s army, as a trio of Dark Elf witches watch.
Hiding his son Dylan in a warehouse/weapons cache for his own safety, the witch appears before Eddie and offers him a weapon: a Dreamstone that will grant any desire for Eddie, as long as he fights for Malekith’s army. Eddie accepts the offer and is transformed into an Asgardian-esque Venom. Immediately, Eddie attacks the witch, having no intention to fight for her, or Malekith’s, army, and the witch vanishes.
The new Asgardian-Venom takes to the streets to slaughter Malekith’s followers. Eddie reflects on the fact that he’s giving into his own violent impulses…there’s no symbiote driving him to lash out, he has no other voice in his head. Everything he’s doing now is purely him, and he’s driving himself into a bloodlust. While this is happening, the witch has found a new candidate to offer a Dreamstone, under the circumstance this candidate helps her either convert Venom to their side, or kill him. She offers a Dreamstone to Jack-O-Lantern, and he accepts.
Mainstay artist and writing duo Ryan Stegman and Donny Cates take an absence from their book and in their stead are two fellows familiar with the titular character. Iban Coello’s artwork is an asset, it seems no matter what book he’s assigned to, his art will always stand out. He delivers on kinetic visuals that are complemented with great coloring. I have always been a fan of Coello’s art, be it in Venom comics or otherwise, and I’m happy that continues to stay the case here. If I am to be a little negative, personally I wasn’t a fan of this new Asgardian-Venom; he’s long, lanky, and skinny with a visible cage and crazy clawed feet & exaggerated claws, along the rune sigils and cystal-spikes running all along his back and limbs. Not sure how a big guy like Eddie even shrinks into a scrawny “symbiote”. Funnily, my review of Web of Venom: Cult of Carnage brought up how the traditionally lean Carnage was portrayed as hulking and brawny looking in his appearance, and now we get a traditionally brawny and bulked Eddie transformed into a skinner Venom, but I know (err…I hope) its only a temporary form, so honestly I won’t hold it against anything here. Just my two cents.
As for the story, Bunn delivers a pace that I’m afraid has been lacking in Cates run since the end of his very 1st arc. I was expecting a War of the Realms tie-in, an event that brings a super-powered conflict down on top of the Marvel Universe, to offer a Venom (or at least an Eddie) kicking some ass, going up against the odds physically, etc. While Cates run has been driven forward with a lot of Eddie (of Venom) discovering new truths and secrets, even retcons, necessary or otherwise, Bunn simply gives us the first Venom chapter of would-be protector jumping into the seize on New York. With this guest writer taking the reigns of the book temporarily, we move away from “Eddie is chained to a chair/held by a cosmic elder/contained by the Maker/put in a coma while an ally/cosmic god/the Maker/his “subconscious other” explain the story beats and plot twists to him. For the first time in too long, this book see’s Eddie in the action, and not having another character (sometimes even an ancillary one) pour exposition onto us. Eddie gets fitted with a runic “suit” and goes to town doing what he does best. Hell, even before he gets his Dreamstone-crafted “mock symbiote”, we get to see a powerless Eddie jumping into the fray the best he can. I praise both the art and change in this run’s tempo, but I do have some criticisms.
As starved as I was for this shift in tempo, the need for Eddie to loose some lethal violence and flex some muscle, our last story arc ended on a big revelation: Eddie has a son. That Eddie’s estranged little brother is actual his estranged son, is huge, and the implications as to how Dylan may have been conceived have left readers eager for more follow-up. But this War of the Realms tie-in isn’t the time for any of this to be touched on. In fact, as much as I liked this book, I found myself in a strange way of thinking. If you’re following Jason Aaron’s War of the Realms, this issue doesn’t really provide anything substantial to the overall event, and feels like a filler issue; likewise if you’ve been reading Cates Venom since the beginning (okay, at least since the Abyss arc), this arc does not continue or add to anything Cates has been building to, and becomes filler. I really want to stress that I enjoyed this book, but you have to come into issue 13 ready for action and art, if only action and art. We’ve moved Eddie and Dylan from San Francisco to New York, but Cates story isn’t advancing here, and Aaron’s story doesn’t seem to require you to read this at all. But its a quality 1st parter to a WotR tie-in so you have nothing to lose if you pick this issue up. At worst, its harmless, and at best, it could actually tie into upcoming WotR affairs later in the event.
Coello and Bunn deliver their first chapter of a three part War of the Realms companion story that cranks up the pace of the ongoing, but leaves the most recent life-changing reveals and new questions Cates dropped on readers untouched. You’ll have to wait until Cates returns if you’re hoping for more in the way of the status quo his last arc left Eddie in, and its anyone’s guess just how deep this three parter will weigh-in on the core event Jason Aaron has unleashed unto Midgar, but with what Bunn and Coello gave us, it was visually refreshing seeing Eddie do what he hasn’t in so long…be Venom (well…a mock “Asgard” Venom…)