Jean Grey has fallen under the sway of an evil alien force, leaving the X-Men–and specifically Cyclops–shattered. No, we’re not talking about the Dark Phoenix Saga, we’re talking about the plot of Venom #163, which somehow managed to feel like The Empire Strikes Back of Marvel’s Poison-X epic.
Yes, I just compared Venom #163 to two of science fiction’s greatest stories–but a story you’ll be talking about for years to come, Poison-X is not. At least this portion of the story, written by Cullen Bunn with art by Edgar Salazar and Ario Anindito, is finally over.
So, Jean’s gone bad again, but this time around, the Poisons are in control. The Poisons, an ancient enemy of the Klyntar (fancy name for symbiotes), have returned and they’re out to devour them and take control of their hosts.
Honestly, this would all make a lot more sense if I’d read Venomverse. But to understand that, I’d probably have to read Edge of Venomverse too, and that’s way too much money going toward a character who looks a lot cooler than he actually is (prove me wrong, Tom Hardy!).
Jean, Killer Thrill, uh… Kraven (still no idea if Poison-Kraven is a character I’m supposed to be aware of–he’s just… there) and an army of Poisons battle Venom, the symbiote-enhanced X-Men and the Starjammers. And much like pretty much every other part of Poison-X, that’s pretty much the story. There’s certainly a lot of emotion on display throughout this issue, but there are no real stakes here due to developments in recent issues of X-Men Blue.
In my review of X-Men Blue #20, I said establishing that the original team eventually returns to their timeline is either the best or worst thing to happen to these time-traveling X-Men. Well, Venom #163 is an example of how bad things can get from a story perspective. Throughout this issue, we’re told that Jean is gone. We all know that’s not true. In fact, Dennis Hopeless just teased the death of “Teen Jean” in his own series, only to reveal she was alive and well. Also alive and well after years of being dead: “Adult Jean!” If you’re going to make us think a member of the X-Men is dead, at least use someone other than Jean for a change.
And then there’s that Star Wars ending. Look, I’m not saying Bunn had The Empire Strikes Back going in the background while writing this one, but that’s all I could think about after finishing this issue. Jean is seemingly lost to the team (Han in carbonite), The X-Men and the Starjammers go their separate ways on different missions (“Good luck, Lando”), and there’s the all-around down note we end on as we prepare for the next chapter–Venomized. Aren’t you excited to read Venomized?
If you’ve been reading my Posion-X reviews (and bless you, if you have), then you know reviewing each part has been a chore. I did my best to approach each issue with an open mind, and there were certainly aspects of this story I liked (Salazar’s art, for instance). But it typically wasn’t long before I found some major flaws (hey look, this cover features Poisonized X-Men we never see). Ultimately, it all goes back to the fact that this story did not need to be told–especially when we now know that Donny Cates will be starting fresh with Eddie Brock in a few months. Now, more than ever, I feel like Poison-X and Venomized are just a way to kill time and make a few extra bucks. Even if that’s not the case, I’m not looking forward to Venomized, which I now have to read to discover Jean’s fate.
Let’s hope she isn’t actually dead.