Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Luke Ross
Colors: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Release date November 18 2020
Review by D. Brown (WolfCypher)
Venom #30 marks the conclusion of the Venom Beyond arc, a story that felt like it offered something that I felt had been missing from the character and their story for a long, overdo amount of time. I was starved for a more fun story that got away from the three years worth of dread and dire gloom and to revisit something a little more bombastic and fun that could maybe end on a lighter note. I was notable high on the first three issues of this arc and I was very hopeful that the fifth act would really bring everything home. I had a lot of fun with this arc, and I was very happy to say I could finish this arc on a delighted high.
And still…I’m left with a lot of questions…even exploiting some plot holes, like…
…so apparently Codex cannot control any of the symbiotes lead by Anne, including hers. Why hadn’t her team attempted an attack on Codex before now? Also…why couldn’t Codex control those symbiotes? And when the good guys stopped Codex by merging his happy memories of his life with Anne with Dylan’s memories of his life with Eddie…since when did Dylan have so many happy times with Eddie? Eddie and Dylan have only been in each other’s life for months now (maybe, Marvel time is weird) and since, their time together has been hellish and nightmarish.
Also, why has literally no one questioned this world’s Anne’s birth of Dylan? In a timeline where Eddie died before even becoming Venom, Anne would (years later) conceive the same child we believe to be the son of 616 Eddie and Anne. Why is no one addressing her Eddie-less virgin childbirth of her world’s Dylan?
And why were there so many wasted characters? So we have a porn-stached Peter Parker, Andi Benton, Deadpool, and a reformed Cletus mofo Kasady as Agent Venoms and they never really felt like they had any essential use in this arc. This includes Mac Gargan, whose potential as Virus was squandered, and not once but twice is dispelled with in easy and short order.
But I’ll bring my positives to the table as I’m not at all negative on the whole arc and especially this issue. I mean…I pretty much opened up this review with a lot of praise for this book, I better get to those positives right about now.
Its great to have Eddie finally experience a real happy outcome out of this run. These Venom arcs have given Eddie many a ending where he comes out of things alive, but not well. Want some past examples? Okay…Sure, he beat Dark Carnage, but he doomed the Earth to Knull, and if he hadn’t, he’d lose Dylan and Knull would have still awakened…so he took the lesser evil route. Sure he freed himself from the Carnage symbiote on the Isle of Bones, though he had to lose a hand to do so. Sure he discovered he had a son…he also learned the symbiote had been lying to him, keeping secrets, and had been giving him cancer on purpose…
But no, for once, Eddie comes out of a big fight with a definite win and a happy outcome. He gets to live a full year as a family man with his wife (from another continuity), his son, and his symbiote. He gets a new hand*. He actually looks good with the long hair/beard combo. Cates gives us a conclusion to the Codex conflict with Eddie and Anne happy together, a conclusion where “Eddie’s Dylan” gets to live a normal (enough) life with the mom he never got to meet. And its just a good ending to this story. Sure, its not the REAL ending to the issue, but that’s more like a final page tease, a prologue to what we already knew what was coming anyway. Eddie gets respite from that for a whole year, and there’s no shocking twist or monkey’s paw effect behind it.
*(Edit: I’m glad he has a new hand…now we don’t have to worry about artists forgetting he’s missing one going forward…it was bound to happen :-p)
In addition to this, Anne finally gets some resolution with her sons, as her Dylan, Codex, is returned to his old self, free from the dark influence that overtook him and stole him away from her. In her case, its a bittersweet twist as Codex dives into a comatose state afterwards, but he’s alive. For the brief moment before he slipped into his catatonic state, he was her baby again, as she remembered him. And its through “Eddie’s Dylan” that she’s able to get another chance as a mother, happily doting over her son. She learns to bond with Dylan and sheds her mistrust of this son she felt wasn’t hers. The conflicted Anne that would once shed tears of joy over seeing a man that resembles her late ex-husband stand before her before then pointing a gun to his face, the same conflicted woman who wouldn’t dare let this other Dylan come near her without hesitation on her half, is changed into this new Anne that lets herself be happy with the man she loved and the child as she remembers him best. All for a full year.
There’s nothing cynical about this. I was very happy to see them all get a real win for once.
I’m thankful this arc was able to conclude with the talent of Luke Ross as the artist. When we started this story, personal favorite of mine Iban Coello was on those duties, before the art quickly changed hands to Juan Gedeon. Gedeon’s wasn’t exactly doing this story any favors in my opinion and for whatever that’s worth to you, and I felt the only crack in this solid armor was the artwork once he stepped in. I don’t know why the art handling was constantly changing hands, but getting Ross to at least finish the arc definitely made the difference, especially the last issue. This issue’s art is tighter than the previous one, Ross Luke being on both, and liked the visuals even more with issue 30. Not to say I didn’t like what Ross had done in the last issue, but he only went up from there. I would have liked to see him really go for broke with the rest of the book’s ensemble, but we really only get to see Eddie, Dylan, Anne, and Codex a majority of the time.
Here is a book (hell, really the whole arc) that left me with the questions that I had, while also handling Codex during the final stand against him in a non-spectacular way. And yet, I finished this book and this arc happy and satisfied. This issue makes me want to overlook its shortcomings because how can I be low on a issue that made me feel genuinely positive? I’m afraid that my score and my review may not exactly sync up, as I am really high on this arc (yes, issue 29 is the outlier, but the four other chapters make up for it) yet I don’t think even through my positive biases I should excuse, or at least ignore all the aforementioned flaws. But I don’t care. The pros outweighed the cons in the end. This is now my favorite arc in Donny Cates’s run.
Up next, the Knull-Coming.
Wait…we still have to get back to the matter of The Maker…
You’ll have to weigh some serious plotholes against the otherwise fine quality of this conclusive issue of Cate’s Beyond arc. Read as a whole arc in one sitting, this story in its entirety is a blast! The most satisfying moments of issue 30 probably makes this my favorite issue of the five-act arc.