Venom #5 Review

by Harlan Ivester on August 22, 2018

Writer: Donny Cates
Penciler: Ryan Stegman
Inks: JP Mayer
Colorist: Frank Martin
Publisher: Marvel Comics
     Surely this cover means big changes for Venom in at least one way, but what do those changes mean for the quality of the book now? If you guessed that Venom #5 is just as wild and engaging as ever, then congratulations, you’ve guessed correctly and must be seeing a pattern. This has to be one of the most consistently successful creative teams I’ve seen in a long time. I never want it to end.

      No spoilers here. In fact, I don’t think I’m ever going to talk spoilers on Donny Cates’ Venom because it’s just too good to spoil.

      This week’s story is essentially the big pep talk before the big confrontation. Unfortunately, Knull is absent this time, but the intrigue of new symbiote powers is fun enough to carry the book in his absence. If I can nitpick for a moment, some inconsistent thought boxes and word bubbles add to the confusion that the symbiote’s choice of pronouns sometimes brings, but it’s not something that I think most readers will notice. It could just be written off as new rules due to the events of the #4 anyway. This issue’s most important moment is the reveal in the last few pages that addresses my biggest concern with Venom so far: Rex. It had only actually been two issues since we’d seen him, but I was beginning to fear that his introduction was unnecessary. I’m sorry I ever doubted you, Donny. This chapter has proved me wrong. Said reveal brings him back into the action while also tying up some loose ends, and even setting up more questions to hopefully be answered in Ve’Nam. These developments make this chapter especially important to the bigger picture being painted – i.e., you don’t want to miss this one.

       This issue does more than just that to address my concerns. Look, I love Ryan Stegman as much as the next guy, but I prefer my Venom with some bigger teeth, and his is usually pretty tame. But once again, the events of #4 mean that he and JP Mayer get to do some really gnarly stuff here. The splash pages in this book truly deserve to take up the space they do. The stars, the tendrils, the freakin’ WINGS, the other things that I’m not going to spoil…. Genuinely jaw dropping content. They go above and beyond by giving attention the weight of lines to add so much detail to the textures and movements. Speaking of movements, some spectacular use of motion blur makes the action feel so much more realistic than it would otherwise. Frank Martin is of course still a huge part of what makes this book feel so serious and… I want to say gloomy, but that makes it sound like his colors suck the fun out of the book. They do not in any way. Venom just has an air of finality and consequence to it. Whether it’s the intensity of a confrontation with blood flying everywhere or the despair when all the odds are stacked against our hero, Martin always puts the project up another level.

        Needless to say, Venom #5 is pretty important. If the cover didn’t already convince you, I hope you’ll take my advice when I say that this book is worth every penny and every second of your time. It’s clearly a big moment for the Venom mythos, and one that makes me so glad to see in the November solicits that Donny Cates is continuing his work in the Venom corner. His run is one of Marvel’s best books on the shelves – top three for sure (and one of the other two is another Cates book.) Great progression for a character that’s been in a rut for so long, brought to life by an art team that always seals the deal; Venom #5 has absolutely got to be in your stack this week.

Our Score:


A Look Inside