The Poisons make a play in to grab the biggest powers available to them, while a mixed group of Earth’s heroes attempt to stop them and avoid adding to their ranks. Did you read Venomized #4? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Kevin Libranda
Inkers: Scott Hanna & Livesay
Colors: Matt Yackey
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover: Nick Bradshaw & Jim Campbell
Publisher: Marvel Comics
What You Need to Know:
A group of interplanetary pirates are harvesting the Symbiotes that originated Venom and inflicting them on superhuman hosts and have set their sights on Earth. The first wave of attacks was centered on the X-Mansion, and various other heroes have since become bonded to the parasites. Despite the attempts of a varied group of heroes led by Captain America, some have even completely subsumed their hosts. Already the young Jean Grey has fallen and joined the likes of the murderous Cletus Kasady. Hope comes from an unexpected source, however, as Venom and Spider-Man find when they encounter Anti-Venom. But the Poisons have upped their game. They are now targetting Kid Kaiju, knowing Kei’s Inhuman ability could ultimately be the key to ending the battle in their favor.
What You’ll Find Out:
Cletus, Thanos, Dr. Doom and Jean stand ready as they are told the next stage of the plan. After hearing that one of the anomalies is to be destroyed and the other brought into the fold, each is in turn ‘visited’ by those they love telling them the next stage of the plan. Death stands as a specter over Thanos’s shoulder instructing him to collect Kid Kaiju, Doom sees his mother telling him to stay to protect her and Jean sees her beloved Professor X in his chair telling her to stay and help enhance his power. Disturbingly Cletus is surrounded, supposedly by his many victims, who he calmly reassures they don’t need to tell him. He will do what he does best and stares at his razor-sharp talons. Jean calls out to Scott, using their psychic rapport.
Back in the city and Cap’s team land on the rooftops and attempt to strategize more effectively. He commends Kei for having saved them back at the bridge but something has to be done to stop the rampage of their attackers. Radioing to Nova for a sit-rep he finds the coast is clear, they’ve teleported away and wonders if they went home. Cap isn’t so sure and reminds him of what happened to D-Man and Rage. He surmises that clearly, their aim is to smoke out heroes and take them over and so decides it’s time to go on the offensive, instructing Kid Kaiju he needs to step up to the plate and use his abilities to gain the upper hand by tracking them and thus gaining the advantage.
Meanwhile Scott bursts in to tell his group that he knows where Jean is, she’s communicated with him from the Poison ship. Venom isn’t convinced she is free of influence and tries to remind him that she is most likely dead and it’s a psychic lure. Anti-Venom stops him short when he suggests his abilities should be used to kill, he is already haunted by the actions he was forced to take. When Venom disagrees, the hosts are already dead, Anti-Venom says this isn’t certain and points out that they are in the presence of those who could fix that. Venom asserts they don’t have time, if the Poisons get hold of someone like Lunella then it’s all over. Just then they hear a noise above and she says it may already be too late. Venom tells Scott it’s his fault, his talking to Jean has alerted them to where they are and as he and Moon Girl debate whether its the case, or even relevant he instructs them both to stay put while he and Anti-Venom go stop them from getting to those below, but they aren’t having any of it.
As the fight rages above Jimmy tries to hold of Cletus while Kitty gets the students to safety telling her to hurry, he can’t hold him back forever. As if to prove the point Cletus attacks Eye-Boy as Nightcrawler asks Magik where they should take them all. As she answers Jimmy falls under the influence and becomes part of the opposition. Magneto states his regret and Moon Girl looks on in shock as Devil Dinosaur makes lunch of him before inexplicably disappearing. All is not lost, however, as the cavalry arrives to lend a hand.
Cap instructs them to hold the enemy back to give everyone a chance to clear the building and for Kid Kaiju to do his part. This brings Kei to the attention of the enemy, just in time for him to introduce his friends. Then Team Venom arrive to boost the ranks and Anti-Venom brings Cap up to speed, even while Venom argues the point and Kei sends Lunella to be with Devil. Spider-Man asks him if maybe he should go too and he declines. As they make an exit Cap hopes Cyclops is right and they aren’t just heading for a trap. Meanwhile Beast checks if Danger is capable of traveling back to space and she assures them that even though she almost died last time she will cope. Watching them leave Cletus demands they go back and stop them, despite the orders the others have been given to stay and boost the ranks. The argument may be moot, however, as Thanos arrives and careens past Danger causing damage to the Quinjet accompanying them.
Spidey wants to help but Venom says they have to stop the Poisons. Luckily Ms. Marvel creates a cushion and Kei isn’t appreciative of the method, despite the fact they survived…which Cap believes was the plan all along when he spies Thanos. Anti-Venom has suddenly no compunctions about fighting to kill, but despite his immunity, he still takes a blast from Thanos who goes on to launch a full-on attack. As Kid Kaiju makes a quick sketch, drawing forth some much-needed defenses, he is interrupted by the presence of Thanos looming over him. But a rather large shadow, in turn, looms over him and tells him not so fast.
What Just Happened?
One thing in particular I noticed is the lack of location status each scene shift the last two issues. Those not paying attention would be unsure where things take place, each time the drama switches from one location to another. It was a trait present in the first two issues but stopped last issue. Either do it all the way through or don’t do it at all. A small gripe I know, but it niggles me. And speaking of location setting…the misspelling of Alchemax? Come on guys!!! “Yeeeaaargh!!!” is right.
One thing that didn’t make a dent in the drama, however, was the change of artist from Iban Coello the last three issues, to Kevin Libranda this issue and the art itself….despite the spelling problem. As before, it comes into its own whenever a new Symbiote is revealed. Even the depiction of Venom is seamless between the two issues. Comparing the two artists they are very similar in style and a perfect transition. Although I’m sure it’s also possibly down to Scott Hanna on inks. However in the melee that ensues each time there is a confrontation, it’s sometimes still a struggle to identify who’s who and even then, whose side they are on and it can be a little headache inducing. Especially with so many Wolverines thrown into the mix. But it’s still fun to see the individual way each person transforms when they become ‘Symbioted’ as well as both Blue and Gold X-Men teaming up again.
Also, little thought was given to the struggle (if any) Jean is having with her symbiosis. A telepath who has already come back from the dead after her battle with the Phoenix and now again after Poison X. Not even a hint as to what’s going on with her or an explanation as to how this happened? Speaking of change, Venom has changed his tack quite quickly from last issue. Going from not wanting to kill the Klyntar, just because of seeing one as an empty shell, to deciding all is lost and they should be taken out with no qualms. Though Venom is not typically seen as being a very altruistic person, this U-turn is a slight departure from his portrayal in Poison X. Similar case with Spidey. Last issue he was all for killing the Klyntar and argued against Venom for trying to find a way to save them, but this issue when Cap asks his opinion he just says he doesn’t believe there’s a choice. Like it was Venom that swayed him, not the other way round? Only Anti-Venom seems to have any morals on the subject.
As when Jimmy glories in his change and of no longer being alone there is no inner battle, it’s about the shift in power toward the Poisons and not the struggle of the hero against symbiosis. It’s all downplayed in favor of the shock value of the war against the Poisons. Which kind of comes off as just an excuse for the whole story and it seems just for the fun of having each hero turn. Cullen Bunn shows no sympathy for the victims themselves or the slightest empathy for their plight. The true dilemma of the symbiote takeover is not as dramatic as it once was. It’s still a really fun, shlocky ride, don’t get me wrong. But all the same it will be a relief to have the drama played out and when the dust settles, to see everyone revert to their true state and get back to the ongoing sagas they each face besides this one. Halfway score for a halfhearted effort.
Final Thought: Too many Symbiotes, not enough Sympathy. Must dig deeper!
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