Edge of VenomVerse War Stories #1

VenomVerse kicks off today, but before we can get into the event proper, we have one final issue of Edge of VenomVerse to deal with. The Edge of VenomVerse titles have showcased some strong work from creators who do not get work often from Marvel, a trait which continues in this book. Will these creators be able to shine brightly when their stories are only given five to nine pages to attract readers? Lets find out.

Edge of VenomVerse: War Stories

Writers: Cullen Bunn & Nnedi Okorafor & Declan Shalvey & Magdalene Visaggio & Aaron Covington

Artists: AnnaPaola Martello & Tana Ford & Declan Shalvey & Alex Arizmendi & Khary Randolph

Colorists: Java Tartaglia & Ian Herring & Chris O’Halloran & Lee Loughridge & Emilio Lopez

C.Artist: Francesco Mattina 

Letterer: Clayton Cowles (possibly, no letterer listed for the issue)

Editors: Nick Lowe & Devin Lewis & Allison Stock (possibly, no editors listed for the issue)

Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso

Tales From The Front-Line (Doctor Strange): A Venomized Doctor Strange is revealed to be the mastermind pulling the Venoms together. Captain Venom tells Doctor Venom that their last batch of recruits were killed by the Poisons before asking Strange if he is ready to summon a new group of recruits. Strange warns Captain that if he grabs a new bunch of Venoms, he’ll lose his ability to walk but they proceed anyways.

Thoughts: This three page story from Cullen Bunn, AnnaPaola Martello & Java Tartaglia is basically a set-up for the anthology style of stories in this issue. There is very little to this story, but it is mildly irritating to have Doctor Venom revealed to be the grand mastermind when its been Captain Venom showing up in all the Edge of VenomVerse issues. On the artistic side, I am happy to report that Martello has improved since her brief stint on Silk, back in the first volume. Her facial work is off at times, but her backgrounds are vivid and full of detail. The symbiotes slither across the panels and over objects like Captain Venom’s shield. Tartaglia brings the magic to the forefront of the scene with some strong colours.

MVP: Java Tartaglia

Grade: C-

Blessing in Disguise (Black Panther): After T’Challa is killed in Lagos trying to prevent Rhino from getting the Venom symbiote, it bonds with a paraplegic girl named Ngozi. She is able to best Rhino and impresses the Dora Milaje enough that they help her bond properly with the symbiote, before declaring her the new Black Panther.

Thoughts: A couple more Silk alumni grace the pages of this issue when Tana Ford and Ian Herring illustrate a story from award winning author, Nnedi Okorafor. This story is solid (despite making T’Challa a next level chump) but we barely get to know Ngozi before this nine page story is over. But it has a heroic sentient symbiote and uses the most of Venom’s shape shifting abilities, something we do not see put into play very often. Ford does an excellent job of throwing details about Ngozi’s story and personality into the background of her panels, which is where we get most of the development for Ngozi. Ford also works the sound effects into her art and they really pop because of it. Herring gives the story a warm palette, which makes it stand out amongst these dark gloomy stories. Ford/Herring have always been a solid team and they are better than ever in this issue.

MVP: Tana Ford/Ian Herring

Grade: B

Deal With The Devil (Punisher): Frank Castle turns to the Venom symbiote to help end his war on crime. After taking out Kingpin and the other mobsters of New York City, Venom asks Frank to kill Spider-Man. Frank refuses and tries to fight him, but the symbiote wins. Before they can kill Peter, they are summoned by Doctor Venom. 

Thoughts: I really like Declan Shalvey’s art, but this is not his finest work. His human figures look off (except for Frank, whose face is deformed and beaten) and his Punishom design is a like a poor man’s Agent Venom; basically a jacket with the Venom insignia and a gun with a face. This story is probably the grittiest of the bunch and that is where Shalvey’s pencils shine; he makes the night scary. Chris O’Halloran’s colours are also strong, making the violence pop with vibrant reds. This nine page story does nothing except go through the beats of the story, but there is a fun twist about halfway through when you think Frank is cutting a deal with Kingpin but in reality has cut a deal with Venom. 

MVP: Chris O’Halloran

Grade: C

3 2 1 (Rocket Raccoon): A Venom bonded Rocket Raccoon attacks Captain America (Carol Danvers) in her home in hopes of collecting the bounty the Kree put on her head. Before either can emerge victorious, Rocket is summoned away by Doctor Venom.

Thoughts: This is my favourite story in the issue and it runs a page shorter than the others. The banter between Rocket and Carol is solid, as is the banter between Rocket and Venom. I am not familiar with Magdalene Vissaggio’s work, but I would like to see her get a full issue from Marvel at some point. Alex Arizmendi delivers the best facial work in this comic, with a variety of human, alien, and animal faces that look proper. He also does a really good job designing Rocket Vencoon and the various weapons he employs (which is a running gag in the story.) Lee Loughridge fills the story with bright vibrant colours and he sneaks various shades of purple into nearly everything. 

MVP: Alex Arizmendi

Grade: B+ 

Force Majeure (Doctor Doom): Doom fights the symbiote for control of its powers while the Avengers dick around in the background. Before literally anything can happen, they discover the presence of other Venoms out there and leave to gather an army. 

Thoughts: Aaron Covington’s story is the most frustrating of the bunch (except maybe for Bunn’s big reveal that Captain Venom is useless) because it has the most potential. Seeing Doom and Venom battle it out for control is a fun concept and it seems like Doctor Doom could be the Superior Spider-Man of this story, but it ends after five pages of teasing with no payoff. Will Doom play a big part in VenomVerse proper? I am not holding my breath. Far too much time is devoted to a weird-ass Avengers line up (that includes a Luke Cage Iron Man, two Spider-Men, and the Yelena Belova Black Widow) which is a mistake when you only have five pages to tell a story. We do not even get to find out who wins between Venom and Doom (although it is implied it is Venom, which is bull if true.) Thankfully, Khary Randolph’s art is strong and full of little details that the other stories are missing; like characters properly interacting with their world, rather than on top of it. 

MVP: Khary Randolph

Grade: C

Verdict: Unless you are a fan of any of these creators, this is a book you can easily skip. Nothing interesting or important happens in this book and it is just full of Venom-bonded heroes who act exactly like their original selves with a new coat of paint slapped on. Also annoying is the fact they seem to have forgotten to make a credits page, so who knows who lettered or edited this comic. There is also a reference to Gwenpool’s Venom being alive in Doom’s story, when we know this is not the case (thanks to VenomVerse #1). Nor is any answers given about the nature of the threat these Venoms face. Sloppy job on Marvel’s part, even if these creators did decent work with the limited space they were given. 

Final Grade: D

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