*obligatory George Berryman Stegron reference*
Writer: Mike Costa
Artist: Gerardo Sandoval
Colorist: Dono Sanchez Almara
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
C. Artists: Francisco Herrera & Fernanda Rizo
Editors: Nick Lowe & Devin Lewis & Allison Stock
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso
There Are Monsters In The Tunnels: Our story starts with a group of post-secondary students filming a horror movie down in the sewers. Something ends up killing two of the students and maiming a third. He is brought to a hospital, where Eddie Brock has taken the priest from #150, who did not die of the wounds Venom inflicted on him. Eddie fears Venom may be responsible for what happened to these kids as well, so he goes to investigate. In the sewer, he finds a dinosaur-esqe creature that Venom is quickly able to defeat. The creature is branded with the Alchemax logo and Venom brings him back to them. He unmasks in front of CEO Liz Allan, who says he wants her help with the symbiote as thanks for returning her dinosaur. Liz has one of her scientists, an obese man named Steven, take a sample of the symbiote but she tells Flash he has to help her properly solve the dinosaur problem before he will get any aid. The dinosaurs are a result of the military working with Alchemax to develop a new version of Curt Connors’ serum but since they were unable to get ahold of Connors or his research, they brought in Vincent Stegron to help. Stegron had managed to reproduce Connors’ Lizard formula in the past, turning himself into a dinosaur. Stegron was being held prisoner, forced to work for Alchemax and the military, until he escaped. And Liz wants Venom to bring him in. Eddie tracks down Stegron, but is caught off guard by his dinosaur army and separated from the symbiote as the issue comes to a close.
We Cannot Be Separated: While I feel like this was an improvement from the last issue, it still has a lot of problems. I think the strongest aspect of this issue is the humour in it. Eddie Brock is a very blunt person and having him call out the nurse for thinking someone maimed by a dinosaur might be on drugs, when crazy stuff exists in the Marvel Universe, made me chuckle. There is also a moment during Venom’s fight with the dinosaur where he does his typical wagging tongue shtick and nearly gets his tongue bitten off by the dinosaur.
That’s about all the positives I have for the story here. Eddie Brock acts like a chump, getting taken down the same way as Mac Gargan took him down in 150. Liz Allan is next level hostile and is a walking form of exposition rather than a character here. Steven is a joke of a character who is clearly going to break bad at some point (I would say providing the series lasts that long, but Venom #6 sold around 60k… how is this garbage fire selling over 50k?) Steven is also supposed to fix Venom when his own alien race couldn’t cleanse of his rage? Yeah, as if. And Stegron is just a knock off Lizard, speaking of, did we not already see this whole ‘army of reptilian creatures’ story line already done with the Lizard?
Thankfully, the art team is strong. Gerardo Sandoval is an excellent choice of artist for a Venom series. I would compare him to Humberto Ramos, except Sandoval has a better understanding of the page and panelling. He draws a mean Venom and his sketchy lines work really well for the symbiote. I also rather enjoy his exaggerated characters, Steven in particular; he is a large man in a wheelchair with a sinister look to him. His fights are not as great as Tradd Moore’s, but they are solid. Dono Sanchez is my favourite colorist for Sandoval. Sanchez avoids monochromatic colours and gives us a stylized take on realistic colours when the panel isn’t coloured for dramatic effect. He also tends to make character’s clothing more faded than the backdrop colours, allowing them to fade into the background. I am not sure why, but I like this effect in the book.
The art team does have some hiccups though. Most of the scene between Eddie and Liz is rendered pretty poorly. The lettering makes it seem like Liz Allan, CEO, has an office in the middle floor instead of higher up. We also never see Venom enter the Alchemax building, which leaves us to assume that he did so through an open window. And yet, when we see the windows in this scene, they are all closed. And then Venom manages to somehow throw a dinosaur in through these closed windows, in a way that would make absolutely no sense if there were floors above him, which we are lead to believe there is. It is little world breaking things like this that really drag down an otherwise solid artistic team.
Conclusion: While still not on board with this new Venom story, I think we are on more solid ground than we were for 150. The story is just largely unremarkable, with unremarkable characters, and plot points that we have seen in other series, including the most recent Venom series. I think Eddie Brock is both a chump but an entertaining protagonist while I hate every word that comes out of Venom’s mouth. Hopefully things pick up soon, Venom: Spaceknight started off pretty rocky too.
- Sandoval & Sanchez
- World-breaking details in the art
- Generic characters
- Plot points from other creators’ runs