Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Juan Gedeon
Colors: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Release date August 12 2020
Review by D. Brown (WolfCypher)
Warning: Some Spoilers Ahead
Venom, The Maker, Dylan, and Virus have all been sent through a large machine into foreign parallel universes. Eddie and Dylan find themselves together in what appears to be New York City, but vastly different. Virus, still seething with hatred towards Eddie, doesn’t give him or his son time to take in their situation, and their fighting continues.
Juan Gedeon returns to the book as the artist, having last visited this run back in Venom 16 (the last issue before Absolute Carnage kicked off). I was positive on his style with the one-and-done issue he pencilled, but fast-forward to our current twenty-seventh issue, and I can’t help but feel colder on his take here. He does a great job with the characters behind masks and helmets…hell, save for one big issue I have with his Venom, he draws a serviceable Venom…but a lot of his faces do not look good. There are instances with Eddie and Dyan where their facial features look bland, even when the characters look like they’re trying to convey emotion. Additionally, I felt the backgrounds left a lot to be desired. The world is presented to us on the first page as being an advanced, cyberpunk-ish setting, but to be honest I feel like the issue fails to really convey that past the first page. I do hope the rest of the story to come really showcases the changes to the setting better. I’d like to see more done with the visuals around the characters, besides neon colored skyscrapers. However, he knows how to draw fight sequences. Venom and Virus battle delivers a lot of weight and action, and that’s a big pro given how much their fighting carries most of the book. There’s so much going on during the conflict, where as Venom and Virus batter each other above the skylines of the city, Eddie and the symbiote are in constant chatter with each other.
The one big issue I mentioned earlier? Why is Venom so BLUE in this issue? This was a thing with the character during most of the 90s, and allegedly it had to do with shading and lighting. Venom is supposed to be black (black alien costume of Spider-Man…during his black costume days…) but blue highlighting was added to Venom’s black form for the purpose of shading. This isn’t that technique; we don’t have a black Venom with some blue touches, this is just a completely miscolored Venom. It became a even bigger point of contention with me when we get to a scene where our Venom is standing face-to-face with another Venom, one properly colored as they should be, both standing in a dark tunnel. I really don’t understand why when Juan gets to draw Venom in this run, the colorist goes for blue.
This issue debuts a power for our titular character. In retrospect, the opening page reads like its telling you we’re about to see a new feat Venom is now capable of doing. It reminds me of being a kid and playing “superheroes” with my neighbors’ kids; we’d each make up our own aliases and powers. You’d always had the one friend who would have the most powers, and half of them didn’t even make any sense thematically with their alias. “So, your name is Firebolt, and you have fire and electric powers…flight, superstrength…Flash’s speed? You can…your character can turn into animals? Teleportation now? AND psychic mind control powers?” Stop…just…stop. I don’t want to play anymore. It could be I’m such an old fuddy-duddy where back in my day, Venom was just bigger, more-badass Spider-Man, and seeing Venom firing mega lasers…we’ve kinda gotten away from the thread of Venom having spider-based powers, now haven’t we? It just…didn’t gel with me personally. And it opens up the thought of what powers doesn’t Venom have waiting to be revealed? Animal transformations? Teleportation? Psychic mind control? Its actually funny, rereading that 1st page of this book that lists a rundown of the symbiote can do…at no point are any of its spider-themed powers even mentioned.
You’d think up until this point of my review I’m pretty low on this book, but I came out pretty enthused.
I really liked the pacing in this issue. The issue is front loaded with a lot of action, but there is plenty of dialogue throughout the sequence. Given my critique of the art earlier in this review, I still must confess pages during this series of fighting is where Juan’s visuals shine the most. Its pretty cool how we know so little of Virus, and yet during his exchanges with Venom you really everything you need to take him as I’m sure he’s intended to be taken. He’s bitterly obsessed with killing Venom, and gives no regards with threatening his son. The anger Eddie shows every time Virus even brings up Dylan as a target nails really sells Eddie as the badass I want to follow.
We do get another issue where more new questions arise, and few answers are given, but it wasn’t a challenge to stay engaged in everything that was happening in this book. The mystery of Virus is still unresolved, as well as his motivations. We are in a world where it seems everyone either is a symbiote, or is bonded to one. Who is Codex? And how (if at all) does all of this fit into “the Knull agenda” this entire run has been dedicated towards?
And then there’s the issue of the Maker. Last issue, we saw him arriving in New York City of Earth 1610 (aka the Ultimate Universe). The Maker has returned to his native world, which is exactly what he’s been trying to achieve. Surely, his role in this run isn’t over, despite seemingly achieving what he wanted. There’s also the matter of 1610’s status. His native New York appeared to be in partial ruins. What happened before his return? There’s clearly more to play with, as far as the Maker’s side of the story goes, but the question becomes will we see it during this arc, or is this story going to come later?
Cates’ run has made it a tradition to end almost all of his issues with a big twist, and perhaps my favorite twist of the entire run so far comes at the end of this book. I want to remind you one last time that this has been a spoiler review, as I’m about to get into something that deserves to be experienced through reading the book, but if you’ve made it this far, well then…….
Venom 27 ends with Eddie and Dylan encountering several Agent Venoms in the sewers. Veteran Venom fans will be floored at the revelation of…awww, I can’t do it. Even in a spoiler review, I’m leaving this one out. If you haven’t picked up this book yet, you’ll find out soon enough, but I think this twist is too good to just come out and talk about here. I have a lot I want to discuss here, as its all exciting and has me anxious for what this might bring to or leave on the table, but…go read it for yourself. I’ll say this: we’ve yet to learn who Virus really is, and now that reveal will have its work cut out to compete with this issue’s last minute shocker.
Two issues in and I already feel like this has more than made up for the lackluster “Venom Island” arc preceding it. This book’s pros outweighed whatever personal cons I had with it, and even given those cons, they’re more pet peeves than out-right detriments (well, I do feel like the art wasn’t very polished, so I’ll argue that as a genuine criticism). Venom Beyond has me excited again for Cates’ Venom.