X-Men Blue Annual #1 Review (Venom Crossover) (Spoilers)


We literally just came out of a Venom/Amazing Spider-Man crossover called Venom Inc last week, which came out on the heels of the VenomVerse, which is the event that this X-Men/Venom crossover is a direct sequel to, which will be followed by another event called Venomized which serves as the grand finale to the Poison story-line. VenomVerse was also preceded by Edge of VenomVerse and followed by a brief prelude in Monsters Unleashed #8 (the series, not the event). Confused? One gets the sense Cullen Bunn is tying all of his Marvel series into one big finale and that Marvel is exploiting the hell out of Venom.

X-Men Blue Annual #1 (2017): Poison X Part 1

Writer: Cullen Bunn

Artist: Edgar Salazar

Colorist: Matt Milla

Letters: Joe Carmagna 

C.Artist: Nick Bradshaw & Federico Blee

Editors: Nick Lowe & Devin Lewis & Mark Paniccia & Allison Stock & Christina Harrington

Editor-In-Chief: CB Cebulski


We… I Want To Help The X-Men: The event kicks off with a bounty hunter capturing a small family of five Klyn’tars for unrevealed purposes. This scene is followed by Corsair Summers and the Star-Jammers being attacked by a group of five paired Klyn’tars; his time-displaced son Scott watches from Earth and is given his father’s location. He recruits his fellow time-displaced X-Men and they turn to the symbiote expert, Venom for help. Eddie Brock is very reluctant to help them, but his Klyn’tar partner forces him to aid the X-Men. They take to space, where they quickly encounter the same group who attacked the Star-Jammers.

I Am Going To Have To Watch Over These Damn Kids, Aren’t I: Reviewing Venom for this site is exhausting. It never really stops and I thought 2017 was going to be the peak exposure, but Marvel’s efforts to exploit Venom have only intensified in the new year; someone really needs to tell them that exposure kills. That being said, I thought VenomVerse was one of the better Marvel products in 2017; not without problems but a lot of fun. And one of those problems is tackled head on; the characterization of Venom. He was a silent partner before, but here Venom has the best lines and Bunn characterizes the character better than Venom scribe Mike Costa does. I also support the idea of Bunn tying his multiple series into one grand story. The biggest problems right now are the story lacks a grand scope, moves slowly and is really bland. I do not care for any of the time displaced X-Men outside of Cyclops (thanks to Greg Rucka and Russel Daunterman’s stellar Cyclops run) but he fails to engage as the lead of this story, which is emphasizing weak characterization and poorly delivered exposition over plot. I appreciate Bunn naming all the important members of the story and giving them a moment to shine, but there is literally nothing here to make you think this is a continuation of VenomVerse, lacking even an explicit mention of the Poisons. Corsair is probably the MVP right now, next to Venom, so he is totally a goner by the event’s end; I just hope Bunn and crew can nail the emotional impact. 

The art here is nothing incredible, but still really solid work. Edgar Salazar does a great job of making the Klyn’tar expressive, even when they are nothing but goo. He fills his pages with a lot of lines and details that make his worlds feel gritty but also ages his teenagers like thirty years too much. His character frames impress me with how muscular his heroes are without looking like Liefield clones; there are clear cut lines and muscle definitions to be seen under the skintight costumes and symbiotes. His Venom is a solid hybrid of humane and alien but his new Klyn’tar look more hilarious than traumatizing as the dialogue would have you believe. His action and team shots are great with heavy hits that impact, especially when Venom kicks the collective ass of the Original 5 X-Men. Salazar’s paneling has creative moments, like webbing for frames and his minimization of details is great, especially during the scene where Scott watches his father get attacked on a tablet. 

Matt Milla blows his fellow creators away with his colors. My favorite touch is how he colors the translucent Klyn’tar, having colors transfer between family members in cool ways. On Earth, he uses a muted palette that does not really work for Venom, but makes the X-Men pop. Thankfully, his space palette is much more robust and creates a warmth over even the most gritty looking planets. He also distinguishes light sources so that even guns do not fire the same way. And he does a great job of casting shadows over body parts that most comic art misses, such as the shading of palms. 

My favorite Marvel letterer, Joe Carmagna, is also along for the ride and he enhances every scene he letters over. The scene between Corsair and Scott is given comedic tones just by the effects of Carmagna’s letters. My favorite scene of the issue involves Corsair escaping with a micro-robot hidden in his lip and every beat of that scene is made strong by Carmagna and Milla working perfectly in tangent over Salazar’s pencils. 

Verdict: I should love this event; it has strong creators working on a sequel to an event I enjoyed, costarring my favorite of the O5 X-Men. And maybe I will come to love it in the end, but the script really hampered this issue. Now that the introductions are out of the way, lets get to some space-faring X-Men shenanigans and resume Venom’s war against the Poisons. 

Pros: 

  • Milla and Carmagna
  • Venom’s characterization 

Cons:

  • Weak pacing
  • Awful exposition 
  • Fails to capitalize on VenomVerse
  • Geriatric Teenagers
  • Generic tone

B-

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