"Venom #2" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Marvel Comics
Written by Donny Cates
Illustrated by Ryan Stegman
Inked by JP Mayer
Colored by Frank Martin
Lettered by VC's Clayton Cowles
2018, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on June 13th, 2018
The symbiote bonded with Eddie Brock to create Venom is not the first one that has arrived on Earth. Let that kick around in your head for a bit. Years ago, a soldier named Rex Strickland and others in his platoon were part of a pilot program from S.H.I.E.L.D. to bond pieces of an ancient symbiote to soldiers for warfare. Now Rex is the only surviving member of that squad and the others have all be disposed of by a strange monster that's somehow tied to these symbiotes. How does this thing relate to the visions Brock has been getting? And will he be able to pull himself together to fight this thing back?
I'll answer the second question first. Short answer: yes. The symbiote works to rebuild Eddie, who is lying on the ground with a giant hole in his chest. This is a gruesome scene, as this creature literally rebuilds the man's insides. Artist Ryan Stegman takes us into the wound itself to see how these tendrils weave new bones and tissue for its host. I don't remember this as part of its abilities, but I've been out of the loop for a bit. This is pretty cool and could make Brock practically indestructible.
|Click images to enlarge|
These images are interspersed with memories of Brock's life, filling in potential new readers on his background and how he got to this moment. The symbiote has a face here too, appearing as a concerned friend above its deceased hosts. This is a great effect and adds some humanity to the creature.
Venom is able to make his way back to Strickland and compare notes, but not without losing control. When Venom used to lose control, he'd eat people or break stuff. This time it's different. He's tapped into some kind of ancient energy that changes his appearance, becoming more monstrous. The smooth skin becomes bubbly and cracked with large pulsing veins spreading across it. The eyes are replaced with a jagged red spiral. It's menacing and all kinds of terrifying. This is saying something, as those are words that could describe Venom on a normal day, but it's amplified here.
Frank Martin's colors add to this, giving the red veins an unnatural quality, like they're roots of blood coming up through the creature's entire body. This is a being of darkness and blood.
|Click images to enlarge|
Once things get under control, Strickland fills us in on his background and his encounter with a symbiote. It's an interesting tale told from a unique perspective. Stegman's artwork is top notch throughout the entire issue, but these pages really stand out. Strickland is engulfed in this oily substance, coating his body and wrapping around his face in a suffocating nature. Ultimately, it changes and forms something that would make the Hounds of Gozer run and hide.
This pays off in an incredible double-page spread with a stunning monster. This thing is tearing through New York and Brock is probably the only one that can do something about it. Everything about this creature looks unnatural and frightening. This is an ancient evil that this world is not ready for.
Writer Donny Cates is building up the mythos behind Venom in big ways. This is some awesome stuff and it's already paying off with some excellent storytelling. This has elevated the character above its extreme '90s anti-hero origins into something much more.