Y’know who is one character I have a strong dislike for? Lunella Lafayette, the Moon Girl. I have a bone to pick with any young girl calling herself the smartest character in the Marvel Universe unless her name is Valeria Richards. So how does a supporting role for one of my least favourite Marvel characters work out for a series I actively dislike? Surprisingly well actually.
Venom #152: Eddie Spaghetti
Writer: Mike Costa
Artist: Gerardo Sandoval
Colorist: Dono Sanchez Almara
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Editors: Nick Lowe & Devin Lewis & Allison Stock
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso
What Else Are You Doing: After last issue’s cliffhanger, Venom is brought before Stegron. They argue over the semantics of what Stegron has done to those living in the sewers; Stegron sees himself as a God giving purpose to the lost and the damned, while Eddie & Venom see him as just another Spider-Man villain. Venom is able to escape by flooding Stegron’s sewer chamber. Eddie ends up washed out of the sewers, where Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur find him. Venom tells them to stay away from the sewers, before running off to meet up with Liz. He updates her on the Stegron situation and she give him updates on his condition. Since he was pumping himself full of drugs to control Toxin (back in the Carnage ongoing by Gerry Conway), his body has altered itself to reject alien life-forms. Venom is slowly being poisoned by Eddie’s body and is in the process of losing its physical form, causing it to seep out of Eddie’s pores. This is also having a negative effect of Eddie’s brain. Liz’s science department is able to whip up a temporary cure, but withholds all but one dose from Eddie until he brings in Stegron. Eddie re-enters the sewers, after arming up. He runs into Moon Girl, just in time for Stegron to warp the mind of Devil Dinosaur and turn him against them.
How About ‘Not Going To War With An Army Of Dinosaurs’: Like much of Mike DeCosta’s work, this was a fairly straight forward chapter, in the ongoing adventure of Venom. There are some interesting developments with Venom which includes an interesting inversion of the typical ‘Symbiote is killing its host’ by having Eddie being the one who is poisoning Venom this time. Bizarre there is no mention of his time as Anti-Venom. Something that works well is the inclusion of Lunella and Devil Dinosaur; makes sense to include the preeminent dinosaur superhero in a story with a dinosaur super villain. Lunella’s snark also works well in tandem with Eddie’s brooding voice, especially when she calls him on his crap.
One thing that does not work well at all is Venom’s voice. He is a mixture of a child and a clingy girlfriend and how did anyone at Marvel think this was the return to form that people were asking for Venom? What good is it making him a killing machine and villainious again when he’s the most annoying he has ever been? It makes me miss the days where Venom was a silent partner that altered your mood. Given how much praise I gave Robbie Thompson for moving away from that, this makes me sad.
Gerardo Sandoval and Dono Almara once again carry this book. I love how they draw Venom forming on Eddie, because it looks painful as hell and fits with what is being sold in the story. They use perspective in interesting ways, especially when Venom and Lunella are on the page together. My favourite example of this is how Lunella struggles to drag a dino-fish head which Venom tosses aside with ease with one hand. Sandoval has a very manga style of art, with his reactions and interactions given physical presence, similar to how we see the Spider-Sense in most Spider-Man books. Sandoval also makes the dinosaurs in this book super diverse in design. Their general outlines are made up of angles and points, rather than soft lines and ovals which gives them a unique presence on the page. The only dinosaur design I am not a fan of is Stegron’s; he looks both ancient and youthful at times in this series and the dino mohawk definitely does not do him any favours.
Dono Almara gives most of this book an earthy colour with more shades of brown than I knew existed. It fits the series really well and allows him to make things that could be mundane, like water, stand out on the page. It also gives the special effects of the book a supernatural feel, which has me hoping that the next threat Venom faces is supernatural in nature; what is Morbius up to these days? He also has a colour palette for reactions, similar to Ian Herring’s colors on Silk; blue indicates shock, yellow indicates power.
Liz Allan looks like she walked out of Netflix’s new Castlevania series (which is excellent and written by Warren Ellis, who did some work with Venom when he wrote Thunderbolts during the first Civil War era) and Lunella looks so different from her usual appearance that I would not know it was her without Devil Dinosaur’s presence. Despite this, I rather like Sandoval’s redesign. While we are on the note of weird things, apparently Venom now has some sort of camouflage mode, because he was drawn as being transparent under water.
Verdict: While I still have issues with the series, and its handling of Venom in particular, this is my favourite issue so far. It is a visual treat and makes strong use of my least favourite Marvel characters. The artistic team is strong as hell and I hope Sandoval does not plan to leave Venom anytime soon, because I feel like this is the character he was born to draw.
- Artistic team
- Fun inversion of symbiote-host relationship
- Good use of Devil Dinosaur & Moon Girl
- Venom’s voice