As we near the beginning of the end of summer, we also are now more than halfway done with Edge of Venomverse. Similar to a roller coaster, each one of these “Venomverse” tie-ins has had its ups and downs. Issue #1 provided some art worthy of X-23 and #2 was full of character. With #3, there’s humor and violence that are both grittier than what we saw with the preceding issue. Still, needing a touch more focus, Edge of Venomverse #3 serves little purpose and gives us few glimpses into how Venom would really impact Ghost Rider. Like issue #1 before it, this most recent addition to “Venomverse” serves as filler and doesn’t generate enough excitement to pick up the main event in a few months, which is a shame because Marvel has had Venom take over some really cool and unexpected heroes with these past few issues.
Instead of starting with Venom, writer Simon Spurrier crafts a lengthy scene involving the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and a prisoner about to be transported somewhere else. The conversation between the sergeant and the prisoner Zabo is interestingly quippy at times, with mentions to an Octosquatchpool and eggplant experiments gone wrong. These are villains who will most likely never see the light of day besides a one-off issue and add some levity to the decidedly dark book. I didn’t pick this up planning to see flying chimps, but I am glad they are here all the same. They are a nice break from all the murder and cascades of bodies that seem to follow Venom everywhere. These are panels written by someone who enjoys dry humor and sarcasm, which I definitely appreciate. It’s one of the brightest spots of the book and kicks it off on the right foot.
While there is a slow start on getting to the Venom aspect, once we do get some glimpses at Ghost Rider, a newbie to this character like myself gets lost. If you asked me a month ago to name three things about Robbie Reyes, I would have nothing for you. If you asked me today, all I could say is apparently he hosts another mysterious parasite and apparently he’s not strong enough to hold his own against these two. That’s it. Also, the symbiote and parasite have some sort of powerful truce, even though the blazes of Ghost Rider aren’t really conducive to a being that hates the heat. Although that doesn’t really tell me anything about Reyes. There are attempts at providing a bit of backstory for this good guy tormented by the violence his body is hosting, but it’s not enough for me to connect with the story. I put it down feeling cold despite all the flames.
As the script doesn’t always lend itself to a clear story, Tigh Walker’s art is also chaotic. To an extent vibrant and kinetic art makes sense for Venom, but Walker takes it a little bit too far for me at times. I can’t tell who is attacking whom, which becomes especially confusing when there are apparently dozens of other monsters out there creating chaos for S.H.I.E.L.D. It’s hard to decipher the images, especially towards the end of the issue, as Host Rider tosses Capitan Zabo around and becomes increasingly violent. At that point, it’s just down to the two of them duking it out. In theory, it should be easier to follow the battle there than when Venom fights off the hordes in the beginning, but there is so much movement that it’s tough to follow. When the art is at its cleanest as the transport of Zabo begins, there’s a lot of promise that definitely highlights Walker’s ability as an artist, yet it loses me at the end. With Venom comes bedlam, but when the visuals fully give in to that, it’s like watching a TV with a bad signal. Sometimes the images are clear and moving, and at other times you need to squint just a bit too hard.
Edge of Venomverse has tossed me around like one of Venom’s victims so far. One issue is okay, the next is fun enough, and who knows what comes next? If you love Ghost Rider, maybe you should pick this up, but I don’t think that’s the target audience for these “Venomverse” books. I think this series is meant to pump every reader up for a new event, no matter who their favorite character is, and with only one entirely solid issue so far, Marvel is missing the mark. I am half into it right now, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the next issues will deliver and I’ll pick up the first real issue of “Venomverse” looking for answers about this possessed Captain America and all of the Venom-influenced heroes that have been abducted at the end of each issue. That’s all I can hope for right now.
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With issue #3 of Edge of Venomverse, Simon Spurrier and Tigh Walker create a dynamic if at times confusing glimpse into Host Rider that doesn't provide much insight into Robbie Reyes, yet does explore some of the more violent aspects of Venom.