Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Iban Coello
Colors: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Release date February 3 2021
Review by D. Brown (WolfCypher)
The issue opens with Spider-Man consoling Dylan, who in turns is ready to take the fight to Knull himself. These pages bridge this issue with King in Black #3. Meanwhile, in the Hive afterlife, Eddie and Rex, now joined by the Codex-ghost(?) of Flash Thompson (as Agent Anti-Venom), discuss their next move now that Knull (in the real world) has been weakened by Dylan.
It’s here that I had a hard time denying the fact that this issue feels mostly the same as the last one. The previous issue was entirely Eddie and Rex, or their remains or Codex forms, exploring the Hive and brainstorming a plan to maybe get Eddie back to his symbiote. I am very curious, should this Eddie in this metaphysical world succeed in retaining his other, what effects will that have on the dead Eddie lying in bed at an Avengers safehouse, and the Venom symbiote we last saw absorbed into Knull?
But I digress, like the last issue, this book has plenty of Eddie & Rex, plus Flash, deciding to take action. As the events of KiB #3 are happening at the exact same time, Dylan’s assault on Knull and the possessed heroes he controls are taking their toll and our three Hive-bound heroes see the effects for themselves. As Dylan frees more heroes from Knull, their Codex forms vanish from the Hive and leave behind “open wounds” in the Hive space. It’s there Eddie believes he’ll be able to reunite with his symbiote.
It was nice to see Flash “come back” and to see Cates make use of the character. Again. It was also nice to have Flash and Eddie show their respective respect for each other (“respective respect”? This writing, I swear…) That, and the art, make up the book’s pros. There isn’t anywhere this issue falls flat, and as the issue approaches its end, we see our heroes in the “God Hive” score a win for themselves…but it is primarily just Eddie and company conversing between themselves (until near the end, where Flash out of the three of them actually does something) while the events of King in Black #3 are taking their toll. The Coello art and Flash fan-service help out a lot as we wait to get to the end of the issue, where they make their big push against Knull.
Yes, the book feels padded, but once again, before the comic ends the Venom tie-ins to King in Black feel like they’re the most essential companion pieces to the overall event story, where most of the other tie-ins are failing in that regard hard. With Eddie being removed from the actually event book for now, Cates managed to actually tell a story using three characters that have all been removed from the board (two for quite some time). While neither the event book or the main titular Venom book have any Venom in it at all, at least we get to see Eddie get his screen time here. And both this issue and the last Venom issue were a much needed step up from our initial Venom/King in Black tie-in where Eddie just fell for 22 pages.
Iban’s art combined with all the screen time Eddie Brock and Flash Thompson share together are the highlights of this chapter in the King in Black saga. This issue co-exists perfectly with the happenings that have unfolded over in the main King in Black book, giving this issue a lot of merit as an essential tie-in. However, expect quite a bit of inaction from our main heroes for most of the book before they finally take the fight to Knull.