VenomVerse #5 Review (Spoilers) (+Event Review)


Here we are, at the end of a weekly event that managed to retain the same creative team and miss no deadlines. That in and of itself is impressive, but does the creative team stick the landing? And how does this event shape up as a whole in the aftermath? And does it leave the door open for them to return back to the VenomVerse?

VenomVerse #5: The Home Stretch

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

Valuing Life Does Not Make You Incapable Of Taking It When Survival Is At Stake: Deadpool and Carnage distract the majority of the Poisons while Rocket, Eddie, Laura, Scott, Ngozi, Andi, Logan, and Mary Jane sneak into Poison HQ. Leaving Scott, Logan, and Mary Jane behind to guard Rocket while he rigs the Poison HQ to blow, Eddie takes Logan, Ngozi, and Andi to find Doctor Strange.  They are able to free him, but he seems close to death. They try to take him to the others, but are stopped by Peter Poison; Eddie sends the others on while he stays back to fight him. At the same time, Scott is turned into a Poison but Laura kills him before the others return. Eddie is able to best Peter and rejoins the others. Strange is able to send the others home, but sacrifices himself in the process. Rocket’s bomb eradicates the Poisons (along with Carnage and Wade), although Doctor Doom escapes. In the epilogue, Doom is shown reporting to a Poisoned Thanos who has a massive armada of Poisoned cosmic heroes ready to invade new dimensions. 

If I Die Beating The Snot Out Of This Guy It Will Be Worth It: After three months of set-up and five weekly installments, here we stand at the end of the line. A surprising amount of the Venoms made it through the event; six, possibly seven of them (Logan’s fate is uncertain but it is likely he perished). There is no real surprise causalities here nor is the epilogue surprising. That being said, I am so game for a more cosmic take on VenomVerse which seems to be where a potential sequel will head. Perhaps in this sequel we will get to see why Eddie Brock is the best Venom, as I never felt like that praise is earned; nor is his turn as leader but he handles the role well. This finale is action packed, but to his credit, Cullen Bunn does not neglect any of the central plot lines. He also makes the best of his Venoms by pairing them up: Logan and Laura are his heavy hitters, Deadpool and Carnage provide some farce and ferocity, and Scott Lang and Rocket provide a surprising amount of emotion. Even the epilogue moments pair up the Venoms in a way, as both Eddie’s and Rocket’s return are punctuated by the joke of how much money they owe others. Sadly, the women do not fare particularly well: Mania is barely used, Black Panther continues to be recognized as T’Challa, and Mary Jane is the one Venom survivor not given an epilogue moment. 

After a couple issues of weaker art, Iban Coello brings back his A game for the finale. The Carnage/Deadpool fights give Carnage back his unique fluidity as he fights against bulky enemies with rigid shapes. Even when Carnage slams an appendage through someone’s chest, it feels like he is in flux. Coello’s viscera is as captivating as ever and he packs a ton of it in the finale. He makes use of a lot of shadowy figures fighting in the backgrounds, but he always gives them distinct figures so you know who is fighting who. He uses light reflection a lot, to draw the eye to details in the battle like falling debris or the eye of a particular Venom. His storytelling prowess is visible in the dramatic poses he will leave heroes in before jumping to a different set of characters; the camera is often behind the heroes casting them in a larger than life way for their heroic moments. There are three standout moments for me in the comic. First, Coello finally nails magic which is something he has struggled with all event; the blending of explosions and magic (two of his earlier weaknesses) in the finale is breath-taking. Second, the viciousness of Eddie and Peter’s fight from the second issue returns in their rematch. Panels literally seem to break apart on the page, which makes it such a shame that most of the fight occurs off panel. And finally, we see our first real Poison transformation when Scott Lang is turned. It looks unbelievably painful and Coello really captures the troubled determination of Rocket as he is forced to complete the bomb while his friend is mutilated behind him.

Matt Yackey continues to be the perfect partner for Coello. His use of filters over the art (such as a gritty layer characterized by black marks) enhances the scene and he introduces a new filter in the form of sonic technology, which warps the art in circular patterns and lightens the page. He does a great job of distinguishing several different light sources in this issue: explosions are given a warm orange, magic a glaring green, and technology a purple hue (which ties it to the color of Rocket who works primarily with tech this issue). I find the magical lighting to be a little extreme, but it is used sparingly and contrasts well against the other sources of light.

Joe Carmagna continues to be, for me, the MVP of the artistic team. Never before has lettering stood out as vividly to me. Every letter he puts on the page enhances the scene, either through mood (like how the letters of characters crying out in pain break the borders of their speech bubbles) or design (the sound effects of the sonic technology rides along the circular patterns Coello gives). His sound effects also build off one another, as a subtle snikt is then proceeded by a bloody slash as characters are decapitated. This event has featured just some really spectacular work from Carmagna. 

List of Known Venoms: Eddie Brock, Mary Jane Watson, X-23, Black Panther (Ngozi), Mania, Rocket Raccoon, Logan (deceased?), Doctor Strange (deceased[Self-Sacrifice]), Ant-Man (Scott Lang) (Poisoned), Deadpool (Poisoned), Robbie Reyes (Poisoned), Flash Thompson (deceased[Hulk]), Peter Parker (Poisoned), Captain America (Poisoned)

List of known Poisons: Doctor Doom, Thanos, Thane, Gladiator, Warbird, Super-Skrull, Groot, Starlord, Gamora, Rhino (deceased[Rocket]), Hawkeye (deceased[Rocket]), Bullseye (deceased[Rocket]), Storm (deceased[Rocket]), Polaris (deceased[Rocket]), Silver Samurai (deceased[Rocket]), Spiral (deceased[Rocket]), Gorgon (deceased[Rocket]), Scarlet Witch (deceased[Rocket]), Silver Surfer (deceased[Rocket]), Hulk (deceased [Rocket]), Spider-Man (deceased[Eddie Brock]), Daimon Hellstrom (deceased[Eddie Brock]), Doctor Octopus (deceased[Eddie Brock]), Host-Rider (deceased[Carnage]) Iron Fist (deceased[Carnage]), , Green Goblin (deceased[Carnage]), Daredevil (deceased[Panther]), Enchantress (deceased[Black Panther]), Nico Minrou (deceased[X-23]), Ant-Man (Scott Lang) (deceased[X-23]), Captain America (deceased[Deadpool]), Gwenpool (deceased[Deadpool]) Sabertooth (deceased[Old Man Logan])

VenomVerse MVPS: Thanks to his mega-bomb in the finale, Rocket leaps from not even on the board to the top with at least 11 kills, given who we know to still be alive in the Poison headquarters. Unsurprisingly, Eddie Brock and Carnage are both tied for second place with three kills each (although the Spider-Man kill by Eddie happens off panel and could possibly be attributed to Rocket as well.) Carnage is easily the most visceral team member on panel, as we see all three of his kills. X-23, Deadpool, and Panther all have two kills each, although only Deadpool has both kills on panel (X-23 has one confirmed kill, while both of Panther’s kills are off-panel and could be possibly attributed to Rocket as well.) Prior to the finale, I would have hazarded either Wade or Cletus getting the top spot, so kudos to Rocket for stealing it out from under their noses. I imagine Rocket will be killed off at the start of the next event, given his kill count here and the cosmic nature the epilogue hints at for the sequel. 

Verdict: While not the strongest issue of the event, this finale is indicative of the event’s overall quality. It is an action packed spectacle with a surprising amount of character moments and some spectacular art. The fact that Bunn does not neglect any of the story-lines is impressive, even if they are not given the room to breathe they need. Unsurprisingly, it sets up a sequel but it also earns the right to have a sequel series. Here’s hoping we see more of this rag-tag team of Venoms sooner rather than later. 

Pros: 

  • Surprisingly adaquete wrapup
  • Pairing up of Venoms to great effect
  • Coello’s art
  • Yackey’s colors
  • Carmagna’s letters
  • No missed deadlines

Cons: 

  • Continuity errors
  • Not enough room for everything to breath
  • Neglect of female cast members

B+

Event Verdict: Some part of me really wanted to dislike VenomVerse if I am being honest; the opening issue shat on my Venom (Flash Thompson) and every Bunn interview hailed this event as a tribute to Eddie Brock, who he claimed is the greatest Venom ever. If that was the intent of this event, then it fell a little short of achieving it. But what it did deliver was well thought out spectacle and a palpable love of not just Eddie Brock but also Cletus Kassidy, Wade Wilson, Rocket Raccoon, and Peter Parker. The story suffered from pacing and continuity issues at times, but great character moments, strong humor, and viscera galore more than made up for it. The symbiotes were silent in this event, but nearly every host acknowledged the importance of its Venom. The biggest weakness of the series was the Poisons themselves. The lack of a true leader (Peter Parker was poised for this before being sidelined) and the unclear nature of their powers (until the fourth issue which is far too late to drop that crucial exposition) made them unremarkable when our Venoms shone so brightly. Anytime the script faltered though, the art team was there to pick up the slack. Iban Coello is a monster of an artist, with some crazy character redesigns and spectacular storytelling. His action scenes are diverse and range from panel shattering to extremely fluid. Matt Yackey was the right choice to color his pages, adding plenty of exciting filters over the art that altered the pages in interesting ways. Characters were given core colors that were mixed into their dialogue and Venom designs, as well as their backdrops in fight sequences. And even when Coello and Yackey struggled with things, such as magic and flames, by the end of the event their art had overcome these shortcomings. Joe Carmagna was the true MVP for me though, as he enhanced the story with letters that had both story purpose and some eye-drawing designs. 

If you love Venom, pick this series up. If you loved Spider-Verse, pick this event up. If you love Cletus Kassidy or Wade Wilson, pick this comic up. If you enjoy spectacle that is not mindless, pick this event up. Let’s get that sequel series greenlit, because this event was dope. 

B+ 

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