Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Iban Coello
Colors: Jesus Aburtov
Lettere: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Release date December 9 2020
Review by D. Brown (WolfCypher)
You know one benefit to waiting until later in the day to upload your review here on the Weird Science is that if you wait much later to share your review, you are more inclined to be able to speak more freely about the issue’s contents and not dance around details to keep your normally early review spoiler-free. There were definitely details I couldn’t dive into with last week’s first issue of King in Black, but this Venom title tie-in’s review doesn’t have the luxury of staying non-spoiled.
Too bad there’s really nothing to spoil here.
I’ll open with the pro. This issue features the amazing work of Iban Coello. Coello has been on and off the title but his art has been anything but on and off. He uses a dynamic style that is always done justice thanks to having the right colorists on the job, this time the colors being handled by Jesus Aburtov. One highlight visual in this book is an incredible two-page spread that shows the city streets of Manhattan deluged in symbiote material for miles. The book also opens with scenes that took place in the very first issue of this run, originally pencilled by Ryan Stegman, and Coello does the imagery justice, showcasing those brief events with his own flair.
Honestly, the art is really what this entire issue rides on. As for the story itself…okay, I’ve used the word “filler” a lot in the past, and I may have devalued any impact that word is worth when trying to describe what I feel is such a “non-issue” issue, but GOOD LORD, is this such an inconsequential issue. As of the last event to take place in KiB, Knull stripped Eddie of the Venom symbiote…
…of course he did. This wouldn’t be a Donny Cates Venom story if Eddie doesn’t have the symbiote separated from him. That was my one con of that issue, by the way, but, you know…”spoiler-free” and all that…
Knull throws the symbioteless, non-Venomed Eddie from the skyscrapper they’re standing and Eddie falls. And save for the flashback to issue one at the beginning of the book and a brief cutaway to Dylan hiding out in the bunker…nothing else happens. Eddie prays for the safety of his son, there’s a bit where a helicopter is destroyed…there’s not anything to this issue. I’m not even sure how much longer I can drag this review out, this story is so nothing. Its a lot of great art for a nothing story.
I guess I can share my thoughts on the Dylan bit. Dylan, worried about Eddie, tries to link up with his symbiote, which unbeknownst to him has been separated from Eddie (Cates Venom story, par for the course…Venom Beyond being not the exception, but the anomaly) and absorbed into the Bat Who La…DAMMIT, I mean KNULL. Before Dylan can really get any information, the Venom symbiote severs Dylan’s connection to it…it “hangs up” on him, basically. Dylan tries to call Iron Man directly…this got a smile out of me, truth be told. Iron Man is not happy that this kid thinks he can compromise this secure network for ten-minute updates. Dylan does see exactly what happened to his father when he just happens to look up at the TV and sees footage of Knull splitting Venom into Eddie and the symbiote.
Really? This crisis is taking place all over the planet, and there could have been footage from China, Ukraine, Glasgow, San Fransisco, and conveniently there just so happens to be close-up footage on the roof of a skyscrapper in the middle of this all of Knull separating Venom in two at that exact moment for Dylan to see? I suspect Dylan being aware of what’s happened to Venom will play into Eddie and/or the Venom symbiote getting some sort of reversal of their situations, but I just find the exact way he happens to find out laughable. It would have played better if he just got a glimpse of that event via his psychic-symbiote powers.
Siiiigh…I feel like almost every time Iban Coello visits this book, he never (Venom #7-8) gets to (Venom #13-15) draw Eddie AS VENOM for more than a few pages, if at all (Venom #16-20…with issue 20 being a lot of Eddie as Venom just talking to Dylan).
Compared to the Venom issues that tied into Absolute Carnage, this first Knull-Coming Venom tie-in issue was a dud. I remember Cates telling fans that you could read only Absolute Carnage (the event book itself) and skip even his own Venom issues and still be able to follow the story and pick up on the most important plot points. And I remember (in my reviews) strongly advising against skipping the Venom issues. I couldn’t make that claim now. Maybe Venom #32 will be a complete one-eighty, but this was nothing, outside of the art. When you see my numbered score, consider I rated it “higher” than what I would have because of the art.
By the way, this issue is called “Thirty-Two Seconds”. It took twice as long to read the whole thing.