Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Mark Bagley
Colors: Frank Martin & Erick Arciniega
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Release date January 8 2020
Review by D. Brown (WolfCypher)
After reading the previous issue, I wasn’t as ga-ga over the book as I’d hoped I be. Its a lot to have to follow the roller-coaster that was Absolute Carnage. Still, I couldn’t wait to see where we were headed next. Venom Island part 1 was…a good enough start. While I enjoyed the previous issue, things didn’t really kick in for me until the very end of the issue, when Eddie arrives on the “Isle of Bones”. Venom Island part 2 however fulfills that excitement and eagerness I came into this arc with. By Part 2, we are deep within the Isle with Eddie, and I’m sure we’ll be here for a while. I’m not complaining, because now I’m having fun!
Eddie and his other lived on this island for months (see Amazing Spider-Man #347) and started a strange self-imposed Gilligan’s Island life for themselves. They used what resources left over from both when the island was a mining town and when it was military owned. What we get is an excuse to turn Eddie Brock into a 80’s movie action-star. I liken this story, so far, as a crossover between Rambo, Predator, and the finale of Zeb Wells’ Carnage USA, due to the island’s resident animals being “symbiotized” and sent rampaging after Eddie. Rambo-Eddie, decked in artillery and war-paint (all he’s missing is a headband) takes to the island to lure the Carnage-Venom symbiote to him, the amalgam of the two which happened after Venom absorbed all of Cletus Kasady’s codices (Absolute Carnage #5).
The art is handled by Mark Bagley, a personal, old favorite of mine. Bagley’s art, which I have always found to be fantastic, was a little down last issue. It didn’t feel like he was giving his A-game. But by this issue, there’s a nice jump in quality, as his pencils look very improved in comparison to issue 21. I wished we had gotten to see more of the island, as this would be a great chance to see Bagley do more with the landscape. This is an island with at least one abandoned village (confirmed from ASM 347), beaches lining up the isle, mines everywhere…I’d like to see Bagley let loose with his talent and give us an exotic Far Cry backdrop to look at while our favorite symbiote host struggles to fight against everything sent to kill him.
The comic is overall a fast read. A majority of the issue is Eddie fighting for his life on the island, and there is a B-plot interposed halfway through. If I’m not to spoil too much, its a scene that involves Dylan and, yes, Knull. Its a dream sequence, but its what we find Dylan doing after the dream that has me raising an eyebrow, and raising questions. Definitely bordering spoilerly territory here, but I’ll just say Dylan seems to be hiding something else from Eddie, besides his strange powers. Once we’re done with this intriguing cutaway and return to the Eddie plot, things get crazy, while also “reading” faster. There isn’t a ton of dialogue or narration here, so you’ll get a good time while on exploring the Island portion of the book, but it will feel done too soon; of course as things continue to heat up.
Donny Cates Venom title has had an absence of actual Venom (i.e. Eddie AS Venom, wearing the Venom symbiote) for a while now, but he manages to tell us fun action story nonetheless with just a powerless, resourceful Eddie going up against some crazy odds. We may be stranded on this island for a while, but if things continue to escalate like this, this story can only get wilder and wilder!