I’ve made a resolution to avoid comic spoilers at all costs. My goal in doing so is to open up new series with clear eyes and no preconceived notions about what the comic should be. So with that mentality, I began Edge of Venomverse #1 completely blind. This probably worked out for the best because if I had any expectations for the issue going in, I would have had an even worse perception of it.
Anytime I pick up a new comic, I can’t wait to see how it will bring me into the worlds I’ve come to love. When I opened up #1 and saw that it brings together the tough yet conflicted X-23 and Venom, I was intrigued. X-23 has always been as multifaceted as Wolverine with her tragic past, her struggle with her identity, and her attempts at trying to fit in with the more mainstream X-Men. Taking that alongside her often brutal fighting style, pairing her with Venom seems like a recipe for an intriguing disaster. Matthew Rosenberg attempts to craft a compelling, guttural story, but unfortunately he doesn’t knock it out of the park. Maybe if he had more pages or maybe if he chose to delve deeper into the complexity of the relationship between Venom and X-23, he could have done something more engaging. However, I could throw a dozen other theories out there and the fact would remain that this isn’t a gripping issue.
This premier issue of Edge of Venomverse throws out interesting threads without fleshing any of them out enough to really engross readers. One of those threads is the Nyx kids, who encounter X-23 and become closer to Venom as a result.. For those unfamiliar with these runaways, and I will admit that my own knowledge of them is weak, they just appear as some random street kids who somehow calm X-23’s rough exterior. Within these pages, I don’t get a sense of why X-23 takes to them or why the symbiote protects them either. While the fact that these kids are on their own and X-23 is emotionally lost might be enough to satisfy the casual comic reader as to how they all become friends, I don’t get it. A disconnect exists between their apparent level of importance and what we actually read in the comic. There is a lot of effect without any explanation, and that leaves me cold toward the characters.
Even when I push the kids out of my mind, there isn’t enough meat to the relationship between X-23 and Venom to excite me. Venom is consistently a wildcard, and every time he links up with someone new, I don’t know what to expect. With someone like X-23, who is a lot of id, the pairing could be explosive or fun or crazy or all of the above. However, there is none of that. She already has great power, and mixing that with Venom leaves a lot of levels to explore. Yet it is all one-note. X-23 may go a little crazier from one panel to the next and Venom may be integral in saving her life, but there isn’t much more to it than that. Here, it just reads like this is X-23 who happens to look like she’s dripping in ink. I don’t get any sense of how Venom has really impacted her, and that’s the one thing I really needed from this issue. That’s the one thing the issue should have done above all else.
Although there is a lot to unpack with Rosenberg’s script, the artistic elements merit some attention. The art is gritty and mimics the hardnosed style of X-23. This isn’t a sweet, fun, light book, but rather one that warrants a tenser and rougher take. It’s not the kind of art that I usually gravitate towards, but the fit is right here. Occasionally, faces appear abnormally elongated, especially when Roland Boschi draws the children in profile. However, these instances don’t damage the work as a whole. Additionally, Daniel Brown’s color work is harmonious with Boschi’s firm pencils, creating cohesive panels which underscore the street level vibe of this issue. The art is the strongest part of this befuddling start to Edge of Venomverse, and I won’t complain about that.
This issue is a little bit too boring and doesn’t push the boundaries enough to keep me coming back for more. Instead of opening up “Venomverse” with a bang, issue #1 is more of a whimper, promising little for the main event to come. Even if you are a diehard Venom fan, this comic offers little to satisfy that itch. At this point, I’m saying wait for the trade and pick it up then. Read some of your favorite older Venom stories in the meantime and bask in that for a couple of months. You’ll probably appreciate that more. I promise.
Edge of Venomverse #1 is a weak beginning to "Venomverse." With shaky characterization and little excitement, the solid art is not enough to save this first issue.