Venom #20 Review

by Harlan Ivester on November 27, 2019

Writer: Donny Cates
Artists: Iban Coello & Ze Carlos
Colorist: Rain Beredo
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

            I really hope you’re not one of the people who thought they could get by in Venom while skipping Absolute Carnage. If so, good luck making sense of anything, and I’m sorry you missed out on so much awesome story telling. Indeed, this epilogue / tie-in for Absolute Carnage is just as important as any issue of the main event, if not more.

            Venom #20 takes place immediately after the finale of Absolute Carnage, so it’s obviously focused on resolving plot threads and character moments instead of action. What surprised me, though, is how well this issue did those things while also setting up some obviously really important stuff in a way that feels totally organic. It would be easy for this to feel rushed and make me think, “oh, here we go. Already working on the next event.” But Cates pulls it off, while developing symbiote rules further, too. It’s quite impressive how well he makes everything past and present fit together, and you just know the groundwork laid by this issue is going to really pay off, too. As for those character moments I mentioned, I think all I really need to say is a certain scene is sure to have many fans in tears.

            Iban Coello’s work is always great and I consider him to be a major contributor to this book (duh), but we have Ze Carlos on board as well now. In some instances, you wouldn’t notice. In others, the faces feel a little more “simplified”. It looks great, but I sort of prefer seeing Coello lean into his cartoonish kind of style a bit more. Regardless, the acting in this issue is damn good. Like I said, one scene in particular will bring readers to tears, and that is thanks in no small part to the way they depict the delivery in each line. You can hear how exasperated and heartbroken, yet relieved, these characters are in each sentence. There are some smart perspective choices to play up the similarities between Eddie and Dylan; it’s subtle but clever.
            Rain Beredo takes up coloring duties this time around. Everything looks superb; smooth gradients and logical, accurate lighting and shadows make each scene feel very real and keeps you engaged in the story. This Venom run has almost exclusively taken place at night in the rain, so it was nice to see a pleasant (yet restrained) sunset following a temporarily happy ending for the wicked web-slinger and his kid. On the other hand, the mood changes back to more familiar ground any time the Maker is center stage. It’s mysterious with some delightfully creepy aspects.

            The only things I could find wrong with this book involved the lettering. A typo here or there. On one page, the Maker is giving some exposition off panel, but his text box is just gray with black text and no quotation marks, so it looks like these are Eddie’s thoughts at first. It’s even all caps. Cowles had it right earlier in the issue using quotes, upper and lower case font, in a white box with a blue bar on the side to clearly indicate that it was in fact Reed speaking.

            If Absolute Carnage felt a little too focused on style for your liking, then Venom #20 is what you need. It’s satisfying to see how these events directly impact Eddie and Dylan as people. Have some tissues handy, because the art is really going to sell you on these reactions. Not to mention, this issue is absolutely going to be a key player down the road. Don’t miss out.

Our Score:


A Look Inside