After trying to expand his abilities, Eddie Brock’s mind became dislodged from his body, and he awoke within a symbiotic form in the Garden of Time. Horrified, Eddie escaped the garden and wound up in Limbo, where he met its ruler, Madelyne Pryor—A.K.A. the Goblin Queen, a clone of Jean Grey, Marvel Girl—and her ally, Ben Reilly—A.K.A. Chasm, a clone of Peter Parker, Spider-Man. Both promised to help Eddie get back home to his son, Dylan—but not without a cost.
Venom #14 comes packaged with the typical narrative dissonance readers have come to expect from an event tie-in issue. Eddie Brock remains where we last left him, in the court of Madelyne Pryor, the Goblin Queen, who has joined forces with Ben Reilly in some form of clone solidarity to seek vengeance against the X-Men, Spider-Man, and other mutual enemies. Or at least, that’s my educated guess as to what is happening, as I have not been following the events of Dark Web at all. This lack of context is a hurdle that all readers will have to overcome to enjoy this issue, and, for many, the surplus of exposition being dumped onto them in the first few pages will be a major turn-off.
Al Ewing is no stranger to juggling the various plotlines of larger crossover events, having penned and coordinated a few of his own in recent years. In his capable hands, Pryor and Reilly’s presence feels a lot less intrusive and confusing than it could have. For example, the Ben Reilly I was familiar with went by the name Scarlet Spider, and was a grittier, brooding foil to the wholesome and upbeat Peter Parker. Imagine my surprise to be greeted with a goofy and unstable character akin to Deadpool. Ewing provides concise context for Ben’s current personality and behavior, using few words to say as much as possible. No doubt about it, #14 is still a filler issue, but Ewing does his best to ensure that the following 24 pages leave Venom fans with some sense of fulfillment.
Eddie Brock makes a deal with the villainous duo, agreeing to help them in exchange for passage home. Ben uses newfound psychic abilities to revert Eddie to his younger, villainous form, making him the ideal muscle for an ambitious heist job. The action sequence that follows is decently executed, pitting Venom against Synch in duel I did not know I wanted until now. Penciler Bryan Hitch and inker Andrew Currie do the versatility of Synch’s powers justice, but overall, I feel that their style does not grant the x-men’s central park treehouse the same sense of grandeur as the surreal interdimensional locations they’ve conjured up in earlier comics. The Krakoan floral technology, typically rendered in beautiful vibrant colors, doesn’t shine as brightly in Alex Sinclair’s more muted, moody hues.
Viewing this issue for the stealth advert that it is, it admittedly does a solid job of creating intrigue for the ongoing Dark Web saga. As a pre-established X-Men fan though, I can’t help but feel a little biased, since I’m a sucker for anything that puts mutants in the spotlight.
Venom #14 drafts Eddie Brock into the conflict of Dark Web, making for a light read with few contributions the the book's main narrative. However, it does deliver on an entertaining confrontation between Venom and X-Men powerhouse Synch, which makes up for most of its shortcomings.
Venom #14: Who’s Dylan?
- Writing - 8/108/10
- Storyline - 7/107/10
- Art - 8/108/10
- Color - 8/108/10
- Cover Art - 10/1010/10
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