The new era of Venom continues with an issue that is solid in respect to character development and moments, even if artistically it leans a bit too far into the dark and gloomy side of things. There is a ton of potential in this book and what concepts it is trying to deal with, and hopefully it can achieve the levels it wants to reach.
The new age of Venom started off with a literal explosive bang with its first issue from the new creative team. The second is a lot less explosive but does continue to move a lot of things forward.
When it was first announced that the plan for this book was for Al Ewing and Ram V to switch off at times, with Ewing handling Eddie stuff and V doing Dylan stuff, there was a bit of wonder at how it would work out. At the same time, both are stellar writers that should make such an arrangement quite interesting to behold. Time will tell though if it’s the best choice in the long run.
Overall, this issue is very solidly put together as we see the aftermath of the first issue’s events from Dylan’s side, seeing that Eddie had a plan in place for such a moment. This is a really neat plot point that after all that has gone down the last few years, Eddie is thinking ahead because the likelihood that he would meet an early demise was high. Especially once he became the new King in Black/Leader of the symbiotes. The message that he left for Dylan was really nice in many ways, highlighting how much Eddie took to being a father in some respects after so many years of being a loner.
That being said, it did feel a bit too wordy and lengthy for someone like Eddie, who despite being a writer by trade never came off as the overly verbally verbose type. Then again parenthood and godhood can change a person in pretty significant ways.
This moment and some of the similar ones to it come from the fact that character development and emotional beats are very much something V has mastered in writing. Just glancing at any of his other works over in the past and currently shows that. So, writing about a young man dealing with the legacy of his father, including the symbiote that was bonded to his father for so many years, while being on the run and trying to figure out his place in the world seems right in his wheelhouse.
The fallout politically from the almost continuous issues from symbiotes is a nice bit of an overarching foil for Dylan to deal with, as is the return of the Life Foundation and Carlton Drake. The politician with a vendetta against symbiotes Arthur Krane is intriguing as well, especially considering a lot of the real-life issues/attitudes he’s somewhat mirroring. It was a bit jarring that the issue assumes that one read the recent Extreme Carnage mini-event where Krane first appeared, as it makes references to stuff from that story without full context in a few places.
Visually this issue is fine, but nothing is really remarkable or stands out. Bryan Hitch is a name that is very well known in comics and at Marvel especially. He’s drawn some pretty huge comics for them, and even for DC during his brief stint there. The man has a very distinctive style, which is very common of course for many artists out there.
This style though at times can be a little on the uninspired side in some regards. The fight scenes come off a little clunky in some respects, and the way that Venom looks when bonded with Dylan just feels plain. Especially since we saw a Venom that looked far different at the end of Donny Cates & Ryan Stegman’s run, taking on aspects from Dylan’s personality. Here it just looks like classic Venom but toned down, and sadly with far less of that trademark Venom tongue action. Andrew Currie’s inks do add some depth and definition in many spots where it might not have been otherwise.
Symbiotes are dark and this is a dark story, but it doesn’t have to actually be so so dark. Alex Sinclair does great coloring work for sure, but the feeling we’re getting in this book feels like it leans towards the dark and gloomy a bit too much. It makes New York as well as the areas of California later in the story come off as looking pretty drab. I’ve seen imagery of New York and it seems a pretty vibrant place, and I have lived in Sacramento my entire life, and the city, and the surrounding areas are definitely pretty lively and colorful especially since this is known as the city of trees.
Clayton Cowles keeps doing what he does best, making the large amount of dialogue and words in the book not only fit and flow well but look good along the way. I always appreciate the work done to keep up with colors and font changes that really differentiate character dialogue, which we get a lot here with the symbiotic characters.
There is a lot of promise and solid bits to this series so far, but there are also some growing pains for sure that perhaps might keep it back from reaching the heights it should be.
Venom #2 is now on sale in print and digitally from Marvel Comics.