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Venomverse #4 – REVIEW

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We are almost at the end of Marvel’s “Venomverse” event, and for the first time in a while, it’s one that I’ve actually enjoyed. Given the limits of a five-issue event that lacks ten different tie-ins, there is a lot of story throughout Venomverse and each issue is a tightly crafted work with little fluff to drag it down. That’s more than I can say for most of the recent events I’ve read, and certainly more than I can say for “Spider-Verse,” which still sticks out in bad ways. Focusing on plot and laying the groundwork for the final issue, Cullen Bunn, Iban Coello, and Matt Yackey establish a satisfying story throughout Venomverse #4.

Less heavy on the action, #4 provides a lot of plot movement and seems to set the stage perfectly for a final throw down in #5. Although we have known the Poisons are the perfect hosts to take over the symbiote, we didn’t know enough about them before this issue. Weak and unmemorable before finding the symbiote and its hosts, these Poisons are now intent on claiming power and working as a hive to do so. Doom may be their leader, but they are so tied together that loyalty and the desire to improve their race weighs most heavily in their minds. This is evident when Gwenpool states her intent to die before she even considers going against the pack. However, as they grow stronger there are inevitably weaknesses among them. Strange, even in his feeble state, is able to see that the whole foundation for this takeover is shaky at best. Yes, he has lead more heroes to their demise, but as he rightly points out, how long is it until the Poisons are at one another’s throats arguing over power, hierarchy, and any decisions they must make?

In addition to these comments, Deadpool highlights the weaknesses that Strange so confidently points out. They think of themselves as superior, and in doing so, have let Deadpool slip through the cracks. Per what we saw with Peter, Deadpool retains some of his humanity after he has bonded with the Poison, and this potentially leads to even more help for our heroes than the unpredictable Carnage. He’s his own brand of crazy and gives over all the information he has gleaned during his time with them. As he goads Carnage into tying him up, he also lends a bit of cheeky humor to the otherwise heavy issue. With these new revelations, it’s unclear what will happen in Venomverse #5, but with Carnage, Deadpool, and everyone else in the mix, it’s bound to be explosive.

Of course, while plot development is what makes an event memorable, there is action to be had as well. Bunn loves to depict the Venom hosts coming into contact with their oldest enemies. In issue #2 we saw Peter and Eddie trade barbs, and here it’s Wolverine and X-23 pitted against Creed. Creed is a formidable foe for these two, and with the personal issues between him and Wolverine, the fight becomes more personal. He knows where to hit without getting worked up by any of Wolverine’s jabs back, giving him the upper hand in this balanced match. While everyone here is powerful and the personal elements add a level of intrigue, Carnage swallows up every panel he is in. His level of violence results in surprising deaths, quick movement, and enough madness to keep readers guessing. Bunn takes us on an even more interesting ride with this wildcard than issues #1 and #2 that focused more on Eddie, and that gives us the much needed action for this event.

As with every issue, the art here takes everything a step further. One of my favorite panels is the very simple red background that depicts Creed’s arm in shadow getting cut off. It’s violent and full of action without the gore. Iban Coello plays up this violence throughout many of the panels, with another gem being Creed’s head bouncing along the ground. These stark images contain a ton of power and with Matt Yackey’s precise coloring, they are all the more memorable. While I like the story, the art is the most compelling aspect of this comic, and Coello and Yackey form a harmonious team that continues to knock it out of the park.

At this point, even though this is a classic Marvel event and I can assume the Venom hosts will defeat the Poisons, I’m rooting for the other team. This resilient issue that highlights the logic and power of the Poisons cements that feeling. No matter what your feelings are about Venom or event fatigue, the work this team puts into Venomverse is evident, and if you haven’t already, it’s time to pick this series up and enjoy the ride yourself.

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