Up to this point, Venom has been a book full of massive storytelling, immeasurable stakes, and bombastic imagery that has made each issue feel like its own event level story. It has changed not only what we thought we knew about Venom but the Marvel universe in general. Donny Cates’s scripts have melded perfectly with the drop-dead gorgeous Ryan Stegman art. All of this has caused Venom to be one of Marvel’s most popular and acclaimed books over these last few months. Now as we shift into the second story arc the question becomes if the momentum will remain.
Venom #7 is a drastic variation for a number of reasons. First, Iban Coello has taken over art duties to give Stegman a well-deserved break. How does his art stack up against Stegman’s? Coelle does not necessarily have the fine detail of Stegman, however, he is given a much different type of story to write. Here the pace of the story slows as most of it takes place in one single room with the occasional flashback to provide context and keep things exciting. It is the type of story that can really test an artist. It is one thing to make an action sequence look appealing it is another when all you are drawing are two people talking to one another.
What makes it work here is Coello’s panel design. He uses an extensive variety of different types of panels on each page to keep the pace moving. Especially love a moment that sees a panel of Eddie Brock literally in-between the sadistic gaze of the person interrogating him. It allows you to observe the room from both perspectives simultaneously as if you are in the room with them. Choices like that help amp up the intensity and make what could otherwise be mundane visceral to read.
Based on this issue it appears this next arc will be less about the secret history of the symbiotes and more on who Eddie Brock is as a person. What has been lacking in this story so far has been the building of the character of Brock. He has been more of a passenger strapped to this dragon ride only reacting to the insanity around him. Now he has discovered he is in full control, and that discovery comes with some major sides effects. Side effects that allow his subconscious to take hold and bring him back to a world he long ago tried to forget.
It is your classic breadcrumb issue that lays out an entirely new set of questions and mysteries to be explored. Instead of being about the building blocks of the Marvel universe these questions are more personal and tragic. This may not be as immediately exciting, but it could lead to a much more complete story than the first arc. Donny Cates has indicated he has years of stories planned for the character of Venom. With this issue that seems much more plausible as there is a good chance elements hinted at in this issue may not be fully resolved for some time.
As a series Venom has been big, bold, and unrelenting. Since page one of the relaunch, it simply refused to slow down. Now as we shift into that second arc we get a more character-centric story that may lack the thrilling nature of previous installments but what is being established could lead to a much more fulfilling story. Despite the art change the visceral nature of the book remains.
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Iban Coello
Colorist: Andres Mossa
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles