Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Iban Coello
Colors: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Release date January 6 2021
Review by D. Brown (WolfCypher)
This is the second Venom issue to focus on the events on K̶n̶u̶l̶l̶-̶C̶o̶m̶i̶n̶g̶ King in Black, and its a stark improvement over #31. Absent from the run since the very first arc, the symbiote character Rex has returned to help Eddie survive and accept his fate as a new addition to the Hive. Eddie isn’t keen at all with staying in this strange limbo, and argues with Rex about taking back his Venom symbiote. Rex may not be able to have any substantial effect on the Hive, but Eddie knows he can if he finds his symbiote.
Iban Coello delivers great art that I never get tired of. Its a shame we don’t get any semblance of Eddie as Venom (…sigh…) in this book, because all I ever want is to see this man go for broke drawing our titular character kick ass when he gets the chance to visit this book as the artist, but more often than not, his pencils are rarely used to do a full issue where Eddie, as Venom, is front and center. His Eddie looks good in this book (despite being in only his trunks…or maybe thanks to only being in his trunks?), and his Rex is visually the best take we’ve gotten of the character yet (okay, okay, Rex hasn’t been featured in a lot of stories, but it still counts as a compliment). The two characters show several ranges of expressiveness that I thought Coello did a marvelous job drawing. The limbo they exist in is visualized as New York City as it currently looks during Knull’s takeover, so we get to see the city engulfed in symbiotic biomass and, despite being on a separate plane, Eddie can still witness the terror and panic on the streets, including civilians running for their lives and symbiote-dragons running amok. We only get a glimpse of the ongoing chaos, and I wish we could have seen more. The issue relies heavily on Rex and Eddie assessing their situations; Rex catching Eddie up on his status and Eddie asserting that there must be a way out of their situation.
Outside of the most recent Black Cat book, I’ve found most of the K̶n̶u̶l̶l̶-̶C̶o̶m̶i̶n̶g̶ King in Black tie-ins to be weak, having shallow referencing to the actual event. A quick mention of Knull here, throw in some symbiote-dragons that I’ve already grown tired of seeing ad nauseam (not too dissimilar to the “Dopplegangers” from the last Venom event, Absolute Carnage), and our Namor, Symbiote Spider-Man, Union, etc. tie-ins have so far been KiB related in the most bare minimal sense. Even the actual Venom title, written by the same talent behind the event itself, hadn’t been able to justify itself as an essential read for those following the event book. Venom #32 takes far better strides in the right direction, though.
I wish I could say that about all the other supposed add-on books in conjunction with K̶n̶u̶l̶l̶-̶C̶o̶m̶i̶n̶g̶ King in Black. As a tie-in for this event, yes it does fix a lot of problems I had with with all the other tie-ins up until now. But it still continues to draw ire from me as a Venom title in general. Another Venom story without Venom, where Eddie has to stay in a state of “symbiotelessness” because 90% of this run has seen Eddie and the symbiote being separated for the umpteenth time. I keep complaining about it because it keeps happening. And yes, I know Eddie’s current separation is integral to the story right now, its a “big moment that adds conflict and tension for our hero”, a card Cates plays a lot, but since its happened so many times in the past, I’m too heated about that fact not to criticize. You can’t call something your trump card when you’ve played multiples of that card already.
This is turning out to be some event, huh? After years of waiting and building-up for Knull throughout the Venom title, we get to the big event and I find very little Knull and Venom in the books. While I try to remain positive on this issue, and of course it looks great, there’s not much that happens in here at all. The cool twist at the end of the book should have me excited for the next issue, but overall as this event continues, it’s losing its heat. From the 8.5 and 7.9 I gave to KiB #1 & #2 respectively, the score I give this issue is showing a steady decline between these chapters (but hey, what I give this issue is still a upswing compared to the 5.9 I gave Venom #31). Meanwhile the other tie-ins aren’t helping at all. I’m hoping there’s a big upswing on the way, as this issue looked great and all, but when is something going to happen?
One of the few tie-ins of King in Black I actually liked, yet still it just doesn’t really take us anywhere in the overall grand story. We get to see what our “dead” hero is experiencing out-of-body, and several pages of amazing art later, our hero may have a plan. A much better tie-in than the previous Venom issue, but still not enough “oomph” for what should be the most important book orbiting the Knull event.