Isn’t this where we came in? Last month’s issue tossed a new, if esoteric, conflict into Venom’s lap, while also hinting that there may be more than just domestic disharmony between Eddie and the alien. This issue moves us forward on that subplot, but the main conflict seems to maintain a holding pattern that results in essentially repeating the same cliffhanger as before. I’m as eager for Venom to fight dinosaurs as the next guy, but that actually needs to start happening for me to totally back the concept.
There are two big takeaways from this issue, the first being the cause of the symbiote’s more erratic behavior of late. It’s hypothesized by Alchemax’s scientist that the drugs pumped into Eddie’s body by the government to help control Toxin back in the Carnage series are having a negative reaction to the Venom symbiote, causing degenerative mental and physical reactions.
On the one hand, this plays wonderfully into the dysfunctional relationship approach to Venom’s existence that’s been embraced by the new series; their union is being torn apart by baggage Eddie is bringing from a relationship he had when they were separated. The alien even treats this revelation with an amusing degree of cynicism. (“[I] know about Toxin, Eddie.”)
On the other hand, this contradicts the timeline of the alien’s degeneration as established by this series. Lee Price noticed that the alien was getting less intelligent back in issue #4, and at the time I speculated that may be side effect of the costume bonding to a host for a significant period of time. However, if the cause of the degeneration is the change in Eddie’s body chemistry, then it makes no sense for it to have begun prior to the two of them reuniting.
In other words, I enjoy this development as it’s being presented, but how it’s being presented doesn’t mesh with the story as told. Then again, I may just be too much of a continuity freak; the Lee Price scene was all the way back in issue #4, and now we’re up to issue #152.
The other big development this issue is the introduction of Devil Dinosaur and Moon Girl into the story. I’ll admit that I’ve not read anything of these two, so I can’t speak to how they’re presented here. There’s a few moments of dark comedy to their interactions with Venom, (Eddie is completely unphased by a young girl and her pet dinosaur, because why would that be at all unusual?), but so far their contribution to the story has been minimal. I’m hoping there’s a payoff for them beyond Devil Dinosaur having to be freed from Stegron’s thrall, as revealed in the cliffhanger.
Bringing us back to the cliffhanger returns to the heart of the issue’s flaw, however: the story is moving in circles. Last issue ended with Venom being discovered by Stegron and his forces while he was trying to spy on them; this issue ends with Venom and Moon Girl being discovered by Stegron and his forces, which now include Devil Dinosaur, while they spied on them. Two pages total are devoted to Stegron explaining how his Science Goo turns animals into dinosaurs, each on a separate occasion to a separate audience. Eddie spends a page and a half telling Liz Allen what the reader has seen this issue. There’s an overabundance of discussing events the reader already knows, and no new revelations or insights flow from these discussions. This is particularly frustrating because we still don’t know where Venom fits in the larger Marvel Universe since his return, and this is space that could have been devoted to establishing that. I guess he’s the violent anti-hero this time around, but I have to guess because the book hasn’t actually told us.
Ultimately, there’s not much point in having a high-concept pitch like “Venom versus dinosaurs” if the story doesn’t take advantage of the absurdity and have fun with the premise. There’s still another chapter of this arc to go, so while I’m still optimistic for the conclusion, this issue didn’t move the conflict forward, and contradicted what this series had already established about the character’s situation.
Still, Eddie does get one thing absolutely right: no way does a spinosaurus beat a T-rex. “Jurassic Park III” was garbage.