As the War of the Realms tie-in trade paperbacks trickle in, it’s becoming obvious some may be stronger than others, either because they’re doing their own thing or because the three issue tie-in format works under the parameters the creators set. Case in point, Cullen Bunn and Iban Coello taking over the Venom series. Without a Symbiote, Eddie Brock still fights for humanity, but how? Magic, baby!
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Venom enters the fray in the War of the Realms! The Marvel Comics event of the year makes landfall in the world of the wicked web-slinger, as Venom gets swept up in Malekith’s campaign to take over the Ten Realms! But Malekith has designs for the sinister symbiote too…and they may prove fatal! Plus, in the depths of space, evil stirs – and a new terror has risen on the fringes of the Marvel Universe. But that’s nothing compared to the evil happening on Earth…as a twisted cult takes life after life, claiming their victims in the name of the killer called Carnage!
Why does this matter?
This collection fits nicely into the reading order to be read before Absolute Carnage, but stands alone as well. Without the Symbiote, Bunn and Coello effectively explore Eddie’s anger and the idea that maybe he’s been infected the Symbiote and not the other way around.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Right off the bat, this collection does something many of the War of the Realms tie-ins haven’t, which shows some truly horrific things in the streets. A flaming beast that looks a bit like a giant insect is roaming the streets and it might just haunt my nightmares. It’s just one of a couple of great designs by Coello that stuck with me, the other being a cool slight change to the Venom look. As the story progresses Bunn does a good job getting Dylan out of the picture so Eddie can do his dirty work but also gives Venom a suit of sorts for this battle. As you may know the Symbiote is no longer with Venom, but the suit he does get is an excellent replacement for the battle at hand.
The suit ends up being quite a cool concept as the story progresses. The Dreamstone allows him to think up anything for the suit and because Eddie’s imagination isn’t the greatest it has taken on a Symbiote look. Midway through the story, creative additions are added, giving it a nice fantasy feel with cool looking armor. Eventually, it’s the idea of using your imagination to augment the suit that wins the day which is a nice win for Eddie.
The villains in play with this tie-in are suitable for a hero like Venom. They’re elves who basically want to play with their food and have a little sport. Venom, of course, fights for those who can’t fight for themselves, which equals some incredible mayhem two thirds through the first issue. For the last two issues, Jack O’Lantern is the main villain and he too seems to want to play in battle.
The art as a whole is dark, twisted, and suitable for a war comic like this. Venom knocks a guy’s head off in a graphic gory scene and the cliffhanger full-page splash is gorgeous in its twisted horror way. The designs of the elves are quite cool too. Jack O’Lantern gives the book a decidedly Halloween feel which suits this time of year. He too has an upgrade of sorts and it’s cool to see how Coello designs him.
Also collected here is Web of Venom: Cult of Carnage #1 which was an extra-sized lead in to Absolute Carnage. It’s completely different from the main event with little action and more of a procedural mystery. When Carnage does rear his head it gets quite graphic with the violence and there’s a lot of doom in there to get ones fear up for the main event.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
I wasn’t much of a fan of Cult of Carnage as it’s a slow, somewhat uninteresting look at the cult that has helped Carnage rise up. Donny Cates’ Carnage Born one-shot pretty much does the same thing this is trying to achieve by adding context to the cult, but it connected better with the horror element. I suppose this one-shot was intended to bring Misty Knight into the narrative and explain what John Jameson was up to before he was turned. Sadly they’re both sort of mulling about in a town at a bad time.
Is it good?
I had a blast with Bunn and Coello’s three-issue Venom tie-in exploring Eddie’s rage and what he’s capable of with a little imagination. The Absolute Carnage tie-in was just alright and doesn’t really jive with the overall package though.