Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Joshua Cassara
Colorist: Rain Beredo
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Artists: Ryan Stegman & Frank Martin
Variant Cover Artists: Ryan Stegman & Edgar Delgado
Summary: After all these years, after all the reunions and separations, Eddie and the symbiote find themselves at a crossroads neither of them might come back from. All the lies, deceptions, and mind games come crashing down as Eddie looks to free himself once and for all from his bond with the symbiote. After all, they’ve been through, is there any way they can repair the pieces of their broken relationship, or will Venom be no more?
I have incredibly mixed feelings on this as a conclusion to the Abyss arc, which has been incredibly emotional and character-driven more so than the Rex arc. It’s incredibly well-written and the art is top-notch, and its possible I’ll look back on this better given the future context, but for right now I can’t help but feel a bad taste in my mouth.
To start off, the art is incredibly well-done, and that’s saying something since Stegman took this issue off. Joshua Cassara manages to match the overall style and aesthetic of the art from the previous issues, while still having his own unique spin on it, and that’s incredibly impressive for someone taking over right at the end of a storyline. Whenever Stegman needs some time off in the future again, Cassara should absolutely be the one to take over the reins for a bit.
The story and characters are incredibly well-written, and Cates continues to make Eddie and the symbiote both such interesting and distinctive characters. Eddie’s father even gets some surprising character depth despite how vile of a person he is. The story leaves on an intriguing cliffhanger that would make anyone invested and excited to see where the characters go next, however, there’s just one problem standing in the way of all of this: War of the Realms.
While this issue is incredibly well-written, it feels like an incredibly anti-climactic conclusion given how the next three issues of Venom are tie-ins to War of the Realms. However, I don’t blame this on Cates at all, as it more-or-less feels like a company mandate. He and Stegman have both had a plan from day one, and with the announcement of Absolute Carnage coming this summer, I don’t think anyone can doubt that point. If the War of the Realms tie-in issues takes place at a different point in time, that would be understandable, but if it’s going to continue Cates’ storyline, it feels like things could get prematurely messy. Only time will tell, but for right now, this issue gives me sort of a bittersweet feeling.
Overall, the quality of this book is top-notch, but whatever comes next gives me anxiety. The conclusion of this storyline could go in many different and interesting directions, but the tie-in to War of the Realms could potentially stifle it. I’d say it’s probably my least favorite issue of Cates’ run so far, but to be fair I don’t dislike any of them at all. I’m looking forward to seeing what he and Stegman have cooked up for the summer, and hopefully, the tie-in will turn out for the best.