Like any nineties kid, Venom is a villain of whom I have always known. He doesn’t break my top ten for favorite rogues with whom Spider-Man goes toe to toe, but whenever I see a black suit, creeping tendrils, and a dead body or two, I know what I’m getting myself into. I can’t say anything with Venom is something I generally seek out; however, I don’t run in the other direction either. So when the “Venomverse” event was initially announced, I wasn’t swayed in one way or the other to go pick it up. It wasn’t until I agreed to review these issues that I even thought of buying them, and while Edge of Venomverse left me wary, I’m glad I got this series. Cullen Bunn, Iban Coello, and Matt Yackey come together again to craft Venomverse #3, which has action and revelations for both the Poisons and our heroes.
No matter what else happens in this story, the biggest change to the dynamic of this group of heroes is the inclusion of Carnage. Bringing Carnage into this crazy cluster admittedly makes me scratch my head a bit. Carnage is a total wildcard, which is evident when he goes right for “Daddy” Brock when he enters this world. His thought process includes attacking first and thinking never. It’s a smart inclusion to shake things up on Cullen Bunn’s part, yet I also wonder how the heroes let this happen. Did no one question what would happen if the Poisons got ahold of him before Strange agreed to pull him through the portal?
He might be their ringer right now, but the Poisons have already gotten ahold of powerful heroes like the Hulk and mentally strong heroes like Captain America, so the possibility of Carnage switching sides shouldn’t be forgotten. Though Strange has a bit of an air of desperation around him as he struggles against this threat, Mary Jane has an intuitive head on her shoulders and the other less bloodthirsty Venom hosts can think quick. If nothing else, at least they all are smart enough to agree that letting Eddie Brock come up with the ideas is a risk and that this decision could be the end of them all if it goes south. We still have two issues to see how this move will impact the playing field, but from the way Carnage takes charge and thrives on the deaths of the Poison-possessed hosts, he’s definitely a factor in the favor of our heroes right now.
At this halfway point, the issue isn’t quite as strong as the previous ones. Whereas the first two issues contained real surprises, many of the things exposed within these pages, especially the fact that Doctor Strange has been leading his team to doom, seem as obvious as that Doom pun I just made. Of course bringing all of the symbiote enhanced heroes to one spot in the same world as the Poisons is a terrible idea, and of course this has only aided the Poisons so far while making the heroes weaker. For such a smart man, the shock in Strange’s eyes as he realizes this is surprising.
Additionally, when the team is caught off guard as Deadpool leads the other Poisons right to them shouldn’t generate as much shock as it did either. To a certain extent, they admit that the Poisons always find them. Still, after the last issue where it became clear that when hosts are initially taken over they have access to their memories, the heroes should have anticipated moving when Deadpool left them. If Peter Parker could take over the Poison enough to not attack MJ in #2, they shouldn’t have even let this attack now that Cap and Deadpool have joined the other side to happen. The big surprises on the part of the Poisons are the most disappointing part of the issue as none of them truly shock, yet it isn’t enough to totally undermine my faith in this event.
As this story moves along, Iban Coello and Matt Yackey shine in #3 through Carnage’s kinetic energy. While this issue features a number of characters, it’s all about Carnage, and this team plays that up. Coello gets the active, violent quality of a Carnage who is bonded with the symbiote, and Yackey continues to create a fun color scheme where black is often the dominate color of any book featuring Venom. The movements Coello depicts amaze as they move from one death to another. He still has a fluid quality to his work, but he also plays up the chaotic, jerky movements of an unleased Carnage. The art continues to be one of the strongest parts of every issue, and I flip through every page anticipating what wonders I’ll see next.
Although Venomverse #3 has a lot of moments where I want to say ‘duh!,’ it manages to shake things up and change the playing field a bit before we get into the final issues of this event. With a pleasing pace, lively art, and a story that doesn’t fall victim to superfluous panels, the midway point for “Venomverse” is a solid lead-in to the final two issues. I can’t say this often with Marvel events, but I have faith at this point that this event won’t leave readers disappointed when issue #5 drops, and that’s all thanks to the confident team behind the scenes.
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