Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Mark Bagley
Colors: Frank Martin & Erick Arciniega
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Release date December 25, 2019
Review by D. Brown (WolfCypher)
Venom #21 is, in my eyes, the start of this book’s season two run. After over a year building everything up toward Absolute Carnage, and with that event finished, there’s no rest for the wicked, and even with Carnage dead, Knull is barrelling down onto Earth. Speaking of Carnage, even after his death, there seems to be consequences that Eddie is soon to realize. All this, and he still has to safeguard his son.
Mark Bagley takes on the artist’s duties with this arc. Fans will be more than familiar with his talents, being a long time Venom penciler since the early 90s. As the issue lacks an actual “in costume” appearance of Eddie Brock as Venom, and for the most part lacks any action until the very last few pages, I was able to appreciate the smaller details in Bagley’s art, such as the range of emotion Eddie shows when trying to talk to Dylan, or the panic felt when he rushes home to down some pills…there’s a reason Eddie has returned to pills, a vice we haven’t seen him tap into since issue 1.
The issue takes its time getting our protagonist to the titular “Venom Island”. Eddie is first whisked away to meet with the Avengers. At first I was very skeptical on the idea that the Avengers ever considering membership of Eddie, but then I’m reminded that these are the same guys that have employed Wolverine and Sandman, and even offered membership once to Hobgoblin. This may be all towards Donny Cates’s plans to have Venom more front-and-center in the Marvel Universe, but I prefer my Eddie-as-Venom to stay violent and lethal; you can’t really have Venom feel like Venom if he has to play by Captain America’s “no kill” rulebook.
The surprise conflict of the book is actually a consequence of the finale of Absolute Carnage. To beat Dark Carnage, Venom not only had to kill Cletus, he absorbed all of Cletus’s codices, including the Carnage codex. Now, Eddie has the Carnage symbiote reforming inside him, and its made itself very clear how its willingly to try and kill Eddie and everyone around him. This is a conflict I’m pretty interested in reading, as in all the different Venom stories I’ve read there hasn’t been anything like this done with the character. Eddie borrows a small plane (new fact…Eddie can pilot planes) and heads to “The Isle of Bones” to deal with his inner problems.
It was a enjoyable read, I found it. The need to get things in place is understandable. There wasn’t a lot to wet my whistle this issue. The nightmare sequence Eddie has is visually cool, but it doesn’t show us anything we haven’t been told a dozen times already; Knull is scary, God is Coming. Yeah, okay. Eddie’s meeting with the Avengers at least gave Bagley a chance to show off his take on these current Avengers members, including the All-New All-Different She-Hulk and Ghost Rider. I found myself way more excited the closer we got Eddie towards the island, but by then the book was ending. I’m still excited, but more for what’s to come next chapter.
The next phase in the Venom title revisits a very old location from Amazing Spider-Man #347. Venom Island looks to be a lot of fun, especially now that the set-up seems to be out of the way. Hopefully, things only intensifies from here.