Writer: Donny Cates
Penciller and Inker: Iban Coello
Colorist: Andres Mossa
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Artists: Ryan Stegman, JP Mayer, & Frank Martin
Variant Cover Artists: Frank Cho; Sujin Jo
Knull has been defeated, taking Rex and the symbiote dragon with him, and leaving Eddie and his symbiote in a broken near-death state. Weeks later, Eddie finds himself being interrogated by a mysterious man, claiming to be a part of an organization called “Project Oversight,” who want whatever samples of the dragon they can find. What happened to Eddie in the timespan? And importantly, what happened to the symbiote?
What I’ve loved about Cates’s Venom run so far is how etherial he’s made the characters and the world surrounding them, as well as connecting them to unexpected elements of the larger Marvel universe. In this issue, he fully continues demonstrating that idea, by bringing in a new player to Eddie’s story, yet one who is very familiar to Marvel as a whole. I won’t dare spoil who it is, because the reveal is incredibly well done and sets up a multitude of directions this plot could go.
The tragedy of Eddie Brock is something that will never not fascinate me, and the little touches that Cates puts in here are brilliantly executed. I won’t spoil what the specifics are, but there’s a scene where he finds himself on a certain someone’s lawn, and it is just emotionally brutal and subtly gut-wrenching. It’s a reminder of something he can never have again, and it’s absolutely heartbreaking. While this issue is mostly exposition as to what happened after the last one, as well as what’s going on currently, Cates knows how to make it interesting and compelling, and that’s what makes him one of the best comic writers today.
If there was anything that I did find underwhelming, however, I would say it was the art. Ryan Stegman took a break from this issue (as well as the next one), and handed over the reigns to Iban Coello. The art was in no way bad at all, it was quite good, in fact, but Stegman’s atmospheric and metal-inspired designs are sorely missed here. It’s hard for me to feel as invested as I was before when there is clearly a different driver behind the wheel, especially since the last one excelled with flying colors. The art was good, but I will be anxiously waiting for Stegman to come back.
Aside from art that was a bit underwhelming, I absolutely loved this issue. It digs deeper into the tragedy of Eddie, as well as why his relationship and love for the symbiote are so important. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what this new arc brings, and I can’t wait to see where Cates takes things from here.