There were only three things I knew about Edge of Venomverse #4 before picking it up the other day. The first was that Wolverine was going to be involved. The second was that Ryan Key of Yellowcard, the band I jammed out to in middle school, wrote it. The third was that I was significantly behind in purchasing and reviewing this book. Maybe the latter had less to do with the comic itself, but either way, that’s all the knowledge I went in with.
I’ve been all over the place with this tie-in to “Venomverse.” Some issues are fun, others miss the mark, and none of them have totally hit it out of the park. Additionally, even though we are towards the end of this series, I still don’t have a grasp of what the purpose of this is. Is there any point to these stories that shed no light on the event itself? “Spider-Verse” played with characterization much in the same way; however, with that event, there was a lot more concrete knowledge introduced before the main event. There was also much more characterization. These stories in Edge of Venomverse have been quick glimpses into worlds where Venom generally has little impact until the moment when Captain America appears at the end with a call to arms. Issue #4 is no exception. Edge of Venomverse #4 offers little Venom and a lot of ‘what if?’ for Old Man Logan lovers, resulting in a middling book that provides minimal satisfaction for those reading for “Venomverse.”
If there is one way to start an Old Man Logan book, it’s with a fight. Opening in media res with Logan’s adopted son discovering he is actually Bruce Banner’s child, this initial fight sets the tense tone for the issue. There are bloody hands, angry words, and a Logan who looks like a baby next to Banner Jr. Key emphasizes the very human anger within the first few panels, and continues this thread as Logan meets people he has supposedly wronged in his past. If you don’t know much about Old Man Logan, there are enough bits and pieces dropped here to piece together his history, but it can still get confusing, especially when references to the Hulk Gang come up.
So far throughout Edge of Venomverse, we have seen violent superheroes, looney superheroes, and superheroes accommodating one too many parasites, but a dinosaur host is one that’s off the beaten track. Instead of warring with the desire to kill, the T-Rex fully embraces the monstrous sides of Venom. It’s clear that this animal will go after anyone, and when he swallows Logan in one fell swoop, the book finally portrays its take on how Old Man Logan is impacted by Venom. We see a Logan who clearly wants to give into the symbiote and go after those who have crossed him, but we also see that he has much more control than X-23 when we saw her in issue #1. He’s a killing machine who has a heart. While I enjoy the panels where the dino is going berserk on anyone around him, this is where the real action and characterization starts to happen. It’s only a shame that it happens so close to the end of the comic and prevents us from truly exploring Venom’s impact here.
Although there is death littering these pages, it’s not nearly as violent or gory as the other issues. What Key does here, unlike the previous “Venomverse” authors, is constantly have an unbalanced playing field. At any one time, none of these super-powered beings is given a fair fight. We open with a downtrodden Logan being bloodied by someone he considers a son before we move to a vengeful Angel utilizing the element of surprise and then a Venom impacted dinosaur chomping down on human food without a blink of an eye. It’s all unbalanced, which probably takes away the shock factor, yet also manages to keep the script from falling into normal superhero territory where there is a clear good guy who usually wins in the end. These scenes are the most interesting part of the issue and give it a fresh feel.
Bringing life to Key’s script is Andre Araujo, a no frills artist who seems to thrive during the panels where someone is being beaten up. While he doesn’t necessarily depict a lot of motion, he does highlight the hard blows when they hit. When Logan goes for the T-Rex’s eye, you can feel it and it cements the important action of a Venom-focused book. Araujo also fleshes out the characters here to make them more realistic. Old Man Logan quite literally looks like an old man when he hunches over and cowers beneath his adopted son and with every bat of his wings Angel’s fury is present. The art here isn’t flashy or smooth, it’s fairly rough around the edges, which fits this book perfectly.
I’ve felt very strongly about the previous installments of this series, but this issue is solidly mediocre. There’s nothing within the pages that makes me shout for joy or crinkle my nose up in irritation, which is sadly better than the feelings with which some of the other issues have left me. Yet I still I guess I’ll take it, but I’m still advising you all to hold out for the trade. I think that’s where the value in this series lies, unfortunately.
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