Venom #23 Review

by Nick Devonald on February 12, 2020

Writer: Donny Cates
Penciler: Mark Bagley
Inker: Andy Owens
Colors: Frank Martin
Letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles

There's spoilers ahead for the previous issue, if you haven’t read it what are you waiting for? Go read it already. Then read this review for #23.

What an ending to the previous issue. Eddie cutting off his hand to escape? Did not see that coming. And judging by the events of this issue this won’t be a simple fix when (if) Eddie is reunited with Venom. In the past Venom has healed all kinds of wounds, but I get the impression the damage here is lasting.

One of the biggest pitfalls of comics is the fact there are never really any consequences. So and so just died? They’ll be back within the year. Doesn’t matter what happens, as soon as the writer is bored/replaced then a work around is found to restore the status quo. I really hope they leave Eddie minus a hand to show that sometimes, just sometimes, there can be lasting effects in comics.

Each issue of Venom Island gets better and better and this is no exception. Eddie is a real glutton for punishment and we get a chance to see his determination and resilience here. Cast your mind back to the start of Cates’ run on Venom and he's hardly recognisable as the man we found in #1. We've had some incredible character growth for Brock over the previous 22 issues.

I’m enjoying the fact that the mystery of Dylan is still being explored. I expected him to be relegated to the side-lines during Venom Island but he’s featured in each issue. I know he’s going to be so important going forward but I don’t know how yet. And I can’t wait to find out either.

Mark Bagleys art has been great as well. I thought I would hate it after loving Ryan Stegmans art so much before, but actually he’s done a great job and I hardly even notice Stegmans absence. He really captures the struggles Eddie is going through. Previous issues have had symbiote controlled wildlife which has made for some crazy creature designs and this issue carries these designs on. Donny Cates knows how to get the most of the artists he works with and there is a fantastic double page spread which is the perfect demonstration of this skill. You’ll turn the page and find yourself awestruck when you come across it. And of course Mark Bagleys art is only as good as it is thanks to Andy Owens brilliant inks which make the most of Bagleys incredible art.

Frank Martin’s colors have been great throughout this run and there are a couple of moments in this issue where he really demonstrates why he’s the right person to be coloring this comic in. The double page spread I mentioned before is a great example. Or his symbiotes. Or fire. I could go on but I won’t, needless to say he’s the right man for the job.

One of Donny Cates greatest strengths as a writer is his cliff-hanger ending, he doesn’t just leave you wanting to read the next issue, he leaves you desperate for it. The wait between issues becomes excruciatingly painful. Is it even possible to top last issue where Eddie sacrifices his own hand? Surely not? Yet somehow Cates finds a way to do it. The way he manages to constantly up the stakes and tension in each issue it’s a wonder Eddie is still hanging in there.

Another incredible issue in an outstanding run. Cates consistently increases the tension, and here he shows us there can be consequences in comics. Bagley’s art makes the island feel real, and Martins colors make the most of the great art. Everyone needs to be reading Venom Island.

Our Score:


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