Every time I start a new Marvel event, I begin it with some trepidation. Many of the events from years ago were fun and put new spins on our favorite characters, but recently I’ve felt underwhelmed and exhausted from the sheer number of big events that have been rolled out. Even “Venomverse”, one that is more or less confined to its own world, worried me because of what a majority of us thought about “Spider-Verse.” Luckily for me and the $4.99 that I spent on this comic, I was so wrong. Venomverse #1 is a confident introduction to this new event and successfully creates a universe where many varied Venom hosts must team up to defeat an enemy.
Starting off with a Jack-O-Lantern appearance over a Venom one, Cullen Bunn quickly shifts and introduces us to Eddie Brock’s Venom, who conveniently has some beef with this other villain. I never enjoy seeing Jack-O-Lantern’s decrepit face, but when Brock smashes in his pumpkin face, Bunn manages to underscore Brock’s personality, the viciousness he craves, as well as break up what is sure to be Venom overload with another bad guy. Although I’m sure anyone reading these comics is familiar with Brock, these first few panels allow us to glimpse into this world and establish the characteristics of one of the “Venomverse” main players.
While Edge of Venomverse always ended with the titular character disappearing, this main event starts that way. Though it is something we’ve seen before, the kids who see this occur lighten up the tone of the comic. This clearly takes place in our twenty-first century, and Bunn underscores that with humor. As a writer gets into the thick of an event, usually the laughs are few and far between, so it’s refreshing to see something fun before it all changes.
The opening scene brings us into the main event with just about as much knowledge of what is going on as Brock. We’re able to see things through his perspective as we finally learn why all of these Venoms have been brought together. As Captain America swings through the city, which is a sight to behold, we finally get some answers to what “Venomverse” is all about. Somehow, magic is involved, and although Cap exudes his usual authority, he is not from this world either. He’s also not the leader of that pack. Doctor Strange is the mastermind here and seems to have more knowledge than any of the other Venom hosts littering the hideout. As the event moves on, we’ll probably get more answers from him. Throwing out words like monster, referring to poison, and all the black makes this feel like the perfect event for around Halloween.
As we get some answers, the confrontations between Eddie and Peter are some of the best parts of the issue. Although Venom is never a benevolent influence on any one of his hosts, Peter pegs Eddie as the worst person that could have the symbiote. It creates the main tension throughout this issue, as Eddie fights against the idea that he is psychotic and unhinged. While Peter and Eddie butt heads, others see Eddie as an asset. Rocket Raccoon, one hero I would have loved to see featured on Edge of Venomverse, thinks Brock is the perfect candidate to help them if they to send someone out on a suicide mission against these monsters. As we learn these different opinions of Brock’s ability to hinder or be an asset to this fight, more facets of this complicated character appear. With the final panels, as he and Peter are torn away from the rest of the group and fight for their lives, Brock almost seems like a good guy, so there will clearly be more to explore with him as “Venomverse” continues. Oftentimes characterization falls wayside to big blowout fights during events, but Bunn appears determined to give us battles and characters, which makes this first issue all the tougher.
Even though there are very strong aspects of this issue, the motives of these monsters are still unclear. I still have questions. How does the symbiote make them stronger? Is Venom dead when they bond with them, or still alive in there? From where did they come? Is there any way to save the heroes who have already been infected by these monsters? As we move past the first issue, I have confidence that these questions will be answered over the next few, but until then, they will still pop up as I make my way through this event.
Questions aside, Iban Coello is a great choice of artist to work with Bunn and Matt Yackey is the perfect selection to add color to Coello’s depictions. It’s generally colorful, and begins with a rather playful feel for a Venom book. Yackey also smoothly transitions his color palette from the more enthusiastic colors of Brock’s home world to the grim set up of the world where these Venoms have converged. The panel where X-23 is appealing to Brock’s sense of preservation is nothing short of stunning. Coello perfects the fluidity of a symbiote host, but manages X-23’s essence at the same time. It’s mesmerizing in a creepy way, and Yackey utilizes darker colors to enhance that. The art here enhances the great script, and this is clearly one mighty team on the book.
I went into Venomverse #1 with low expectations. I was disappointed with the way Venom seemed to have little impact on the characters in Edge of Venomverse, and while the secondary characters have not been featured enough in this first issue to see if that’s still a problem, Cullen Bunn, Iban Coello, and Matt Yackey craft a confident first issue to “Venomverse.” Even with the nearly five dollar price tag, this comic is worth it and I cannot wait for issue #2 to see where this team takes us.
Venomverse #1 is a solid introduction to the "Venomverse" event that gives us just enough to want more. Cullen Bunn, Matt Yackey, and Iban Coello form a cohesive team that knows where they want to take this story and how want to do so.