VenomVerse continues to barrel ahead, as we enter into the partitioning chapter of this event. Both sides have plans in motion, but is there someone in the mix who could screw up everything for one side?
VenomVerse #3: What’s Another Word for Massacre?
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Iban Coello
Colorist: Matt Yackey
Letterer: Joe Carmagna
C.Artists: Nick Bradshaw & Edgar Delgado
Editors: Nick Lowe & Devin Lewis & Allison Stock
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso
He Is Like Water Slipping Through My Fingers: Poison-Pool meets with Poison America and Doom to give them the location of the Venoms. On the other side of town, the Venoms are gathered in Our Lady of Saints, where Eddie Brock and Doctor Venom execute their plan. They manage to summon an Elseworld version of Cletus Kassidy, who immediately lashes out at the Venoms. The group are unable to subdue Carnage, but before he can escape they are attacked by the Poisons. Carnage joins the Venoms in the fight and proves super effective against the Poisons. The Poisons retreat, with Doctor Venom in tow. Strange is able to ward off the Poisons from consuming him, but Doom leads a group of Poisoned magicians against him. The issue ends with the Venoms realizing Doom plans to use Strange to summon all the Venoms across the Multiverse into a trap of Poisons.
No, Not Water… Blood: I find it interesting that Cullen Bunn has put plenty of work into both Flash Thompson and the Marvel Prime Carnage, and yet neither character is used in this event. I am sure everyone is shocked that Carnage joins the fray this issue; I mean what is a good Venom story without Carnage and Spider-Man to play off of? And yet Bunn uses a familiar trope to elevate this series. Carnage’s glee infectiously oozes off the page. He largely fills the same antagonistic role as Peter did last issue, but his humor is more disturbing than funny. There is a real tension between Eddie and Cletus, although Andi is doing everything in her power to wind up dead at Carnage’s hand. I find it a little contrived that only Andi and Doom seem to be familiar with the concept of Carnage when everyone in this comic has a Venom symbiote, but that is just nitpicking. Iban Coello does an excellent job of giving Carnage his own unique visual style. Strange refers to Carnage as blood dripping through his fingers and Coello realizes that perfectly; Carnage moves more fluidly than the Venoms and Poisons, with a less defined figure that contorts in unnatural ways. The facial work is especially strong, as black veins in differentiating patterns shift each time the camera focuses on Carnage. Even the backdrops evolve when Carnage enters the mix. Matt Yackey moves away from shadowy backdrops to vibrant oranges and violent reds.
This issue is remarkably well paced. Carnage is given a handful of pages to steal the show, showing why he is such a threat, before things escalate into a battle between the symbiotes and the Poisons. This escalation of events proceeds to show how Carnage is perhaps the best shot the Venoms have at turning the tide. The battle bounces back and forth between a large cast of characters but Coello does an excellent job of telling on-going events in the background before dedicating a panel to the climax of that thread. An example is Host-Rider’s Poisoning, which is proceeded by several Poisons stalking him in the background of panels. The issue also jumps back and forth between the Venoms and the Poisons, so that we can see how each side advances in their plan to defeat the other (and how Wade may just be the key in bringing a halt to one side’s plans.) The issue also juxtaposes little character moments, like how Poison America and Old Man Venom essentially fill the same role for different sides at different moments. The only part of the comic that did not work for me is the reveal that Strange has been basically feeding the Poison army with all of his Venom summons. First, no shit, and secondly, we see both sides come to this realization independently and it has less impact each time, so that the final page falls completely flat.
This is another phenomenal issue from the artistic team. While I feel Coello’s figures are weaker this issue than the previous two, he makes up with it with more creative panels and dramatic angles. Some of the Poisons designs are a little silly (America’s redesign literally has a big A on his face, and Bullseye’s face is just a target) but his Deadpool design is top notch. White is the most common color in the Poison redesign, so what does it mean that Wade’s Poison form has none (his is more grey, leaning towards black)? Is this a subtle indication that Wade is still in control, rather than the Poison? The magic scenes in this comic are probably the weakest pages of the event so far, since Coello’s style loses a lot of its detail and becomes overly fluid. He redeems himself by following them up with yet another unique battle sequence. Carnage adds new levels of viscera and fluidity to the fight, which helps distinguish Coello’s weaker figures. Perhaps my favorite part of the issue though is how linked the lettering has become to the story. How the speech bubbles and text show up indicate who is in control. Strange and Mary Jane clearly have a handle on their symbiotes because their text is normal (an interesting divergence from the Renew Your Vows Spinneret who is controlled by Venom), but it is Wade’s speech that interests me the most. While most Poisons speak with white bubbles and black text, Wade’s are yellow bubbles with thick black letters; yet another indication Wade is still in control.
List of Known Venoms: Eddie Brock, Mary Jane Watson, Logan, Doctor Strange, Ant-Man (Scott Lang), X-23, Black Panther (Ngozi), Mania, Rocket Raccoon, Deadpool (Poisoned), Robbie Reyes (Poisoned), Flash Thompson (deceased[Hulk]), Peter Parker (Poisoned), Captain America (Poisoned)
List of Known Poisons: Polaris, Nico Minrou, Daimon Hellstrom, Rhino, Deadpool, Hawkeye, Sabertooth, Scarlet Witch, Captain America, Spider-Man, Doom, Bullseye, Storm, Green Goblin, Host-Rider (deceased[Carnage]) Iron Fist (deceased[Carnage]), Hulk (deceased [Rocket]), Doctor Octopus (deceased [Eddie Brock])
Verdict: This event continues to be a fun ride, whether you just let it rip you around or you take the time to inspect beneath the surface. Carnage is a solid addition to the cast and it feels like the board is fully set for the back half of this event. I am excited to see both sides clash again and who the key players of the following battles will be; Rocket, Carnage, Spider-Poison, Venom, Strange, Doom, and Poison-Pool are all set for big roles coming up.
- Art used to tell unspoken parts of the story
- Weak final pages
- Weaker figures