I’m of two minds on the finale to “Predators”, which segues directly into the much-anticipated “Gwenom” arc. On the one hand, a number of plot threads are seemingly introduced and dropped within the span of this single issue, which does nothing but push back the inevitable merging of Spider-Woman and the Venom parasite. This is in the context of a great deal of promotion of the Gwenom storyline; it’s the banner issue of the much-ballyhooed “Marvel: Legacy” rebranding for this particular title, and the creators have been releasing images of the badass black costume design for some time on social media. This is a Big Story for the title, is what I’m saying.
Yet so much of what happens in this issue seems to do nothing but delay that development even further. Logan is bonded with Venom only to lose it within the same issue. There’s no additional character growth to be found during this development; he and Shadowcat had reached a satisfactory conclusion to their development back in issue 22, and in fact he’s freed from Venom ooze using much the same trick used to stop the Lizard in that same issue. The plot point simply rolls through a cul-de-sac and moves on. Same for the introduction of the black suit’s famous weakness to high-pitched sounds, which in this universe is logistically explained as a means to disrupt the slime’s ability to bond with a host, not a way to disarm it generally.
So, a large part of this issue seemed to spin its wheels, which is a complaint I’ve had about “Predators” generally. But then there’s the other hand, which acknowledges the answer to that earlier compliant: this book has a history of taking plot points I felt at the time were superfluous and bringing them back into play when I least expected, paying them off in a satisfying manner. If Logan’s brief time with the symbiote leads to a future development in the “Gwenom” storyline, for example, then the apparent diversion will have served a larger purpose after all. As it stands right now, this issue feels like it’s been delaying Gwenom’s debut another two-thirds of an issue, after it was already delayed for a fill-in issue last month. This storyline has been promised both in and out of the title itself for some time, and the teasing is beginning to grate.
That’s not to say there’s nothing praiseworthy in this book; on the contrary, it’s at the very least a scenic diversion. Robbi Rodriguez is in fine form, and the short-lived Venom/Wolverine hybrid is a nice break from traditional designs for Venomized characters, invoking a demonic samurai. (Or at least an anime-influenced take on the concept.) The visualization of how the Venom moves absent a host is also delightfully creepy as well, and speaking of creeps, Matt Murdock is equally slimey. There’s some particularly nice attention to detail when Gwen attacks him and his glasses are knocked aside; he looks straight ahead instead of at the woman throttling him because why would he? And yes, the Gwenom design is pretty great, but I’m withholding a more complete analysis until we have a full issue to see it in action. Naturally, when Gwenom finally does arrive, the transformation is appropriately tense and horrific.
At the conclusion of “Sitting In A Tree”, I remarked that the last issue was so over-the-top that it was actually a poor representation of the storyline as a whole; I’d have been much happier had “SiaT” been as zany throughout as it was in its final chapter. “Predators” presents the opposite problem: the final issue is a perfect microcosm of the entire story. The parts that worked really hit home, but at the same time, there was enough padding to make me feel impatient for the next part of the story. The pressure is on “Gwenom” to be worth the wait.
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"Predators" comes to a fairly satisfying conclusion, but you can't help but wonder if the anticipation for "Gwenom" is overshadowing this entire arc.