Web of Venom: Venom Unleashed #1 Review

by Harlan Ivester on January 09, 2019

Writer: Ryan Stegman
Pencilers: Kyle Hotz & Juan Gedeon
Inkers: Marc Deering, Scott Hanna, Livesay, Roberto Poggi, Victor Olazaba, & Juan Gedeon
Colorists: Dan Brown, Matt Yackey, Andrew Crossley, & Carlos Cabrera
Publisher: Marvel Comics

            I was a big fan of Ryan Stegman’s writing when he was wrapping up his Renew Your Vows story with Gerry Conway, so obviously this one was going to be big on my radar. The other Web of Venom issues have expanded upon the groundwork well and only raised my hopes for future spin-offs higher, but this one is unfortunately the weakest of the three.

            Upon rereading recent issues of Venom, I was a little confused as to what the symbiote’s actual functionality is now. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this one’s recap page kind of immediately addressed that concern, but the following pages still made me feel like the symbiote is a little too independent for what they’ve described. Rather than it being brain dead and essentially just a tool for Eddie, it’s more like they just hit the mute button on the remote. But let’s roll with it. The symbiote, disguised as an absolute unit of a pit bull, tracks down the scent of Carnage in San Francisco. This also adds to one of my problems with a previous Venom book. Carnage Born tried to tell us that Carnage kills people because he thinks it’s ultimately a good thing to do. This confused me, and I tried to explain to myself that it wasn’t Carnage himself saying it so it might not be true, but this issue doubles down on it. And I just don’t buy it. If I remember correctly, wasn’t there like half a page from Conway’s run with the character only two years ago, where Cletus explains very bluntly that there’s nothing noble about his motives? Cates and Stegman will surely still give us some great moments with the character, but I just don’t buy what they’re trying to change him into. It feels like a fundamental misunderstanding of the villain when there’s really not much to him in the first place. Aside from that, most of this chapter is spent catching up the main character on what we the audience already know. The only thing about it that really piqued my interest was both halves of Venom’s blatant fear when they realize what’s coming, but it’s short lived.

            What most people will take away from the art is the gore. Vomitting giant piles of brain slugs, tearing off heads, etc. It’s where the visuals are strongest. All in all, it does a good job selling the terror and scale of what Carnage is doing, and the book would fail otherwise. The first half of the issue is almost completely silent, and unfortunately, if you’re not a fan of those stories, this won’t be an exception. Some sequences just left me puzzled and unsure of what to take from them.  The last couple pages featuring Carnage are dry and visceral, really pushing the stomach-churning visuals again. Horror fans will get the most here, but those like me who want cleaner presentation may be left wanting.

            That’s a bummer. Stegman’s shown he can write before, and most of my problems with the story actually start with issues that Cates wrote, but the events of this issue still don’t do enough to make this story as enjoyable as it could be. Fans of symbiote/tentacle horror will get a few good auuughhhhs out, but I don’t think there’s much here for people to share anyway. My least favorite Web of Venom issue. Only the most die-hard symbiote fans will want to pick this up.

Our Score:


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