That’s right, True Believers–this week you get two X-Men Blue comics! But X-Men Blue Annual #1 isn’t just any old comic, it’s the first part of the Venom crossover “Poison-X!” Do I have thoughts on this? Oh, you better believe it, so let’s dig in.
OK, so, before we get into my thoughts on this annual, we need to go over my thoughts on this whole “Poison-X” thing. First of all, I don’t read Venom, but I had to pick up the last few issues, which crossed over with Amazing Spider-Man for the “Venom Inc.” crossover. That story was not good and did not have to run however many issues it ran. But it’s finally over… and now I have to continue to buy Venom because of this X-Men Blue crossover. Didn’t Marvel say it was going to go easy on the events in the “Legacy” era? Finally, the icing on the cake is that, come April, I apparently need to buy five issues of Venomized, which will co-star–you guessed it–the X-Men Blue team! Like, I love comics, but I’m only going to buy so many titles each month. If I cared about Venom as a character, I would buy Eddie Brock’s monthly series when it doesn’t feature guest stars I do follow regularly. Now, I don’t know anything about Venom’s monthly sales, but if you need to cross it over with other series every month, maybe it shouldn’t exist at all.
Harsh, but we’re talking about a character who eats brains. Or did. Either way, he can take it.
Now that my “annoyed consumer” rant is out of the way, I actually enjoyed this annual more than I thought I would. My positive reaction was largely due to the fact that this is very much just another issue of X-Men Blue by that series’ regular writer Cullen Bunn. Had this been a throwaway annual with another writer, I probably wouldn’t be so kind.
But we’re treated to many of the tropes that make me love this X-Men book–character development, fun interactions and nods to the mutant franchise’s long and colorful history. In this issue’s case, that’s the inclusion of Corsair, Cyclops’ space pirate father, and his Starjammers. I had totally forgotten about teenage Scott’s short-lived space series, but Bunn didn’t, and he provides some nice follow-up here.
While Cyclops is space-Skyping his dad, the Starjammers are attacked by symbiote-wearing aliens. This prompts the X-Men to go to space and find out what happened to Corsair and his crew, but not without a symbiote expert.
Sure, it might make more sense to ask Spider-Man for help, but Venom’s a good second option. A nice, second option that could possibly eat your brains. Right, right, he doesn’t do that anymore.Venom and the original X-Men: It sure does sound like a bizarre team-up, doesn’t it? I’m talking Punisher-Archie bizarre. But you know what? It’s pretty fun to watch. Cyclops is determined to see if his dad’s still alive and Venom could care less. The interactions are nice and Bunn is quite skilled at giving Brock and his alien better half an engaging voice. Or voices.
The writing is matched by the visuals, which are provided by artist Edgar Salazar, who draws a pretty slick Venom. I’ll always be a fan of Venom with a smaller mouth. In a post Todd McFarlane Marvel Universe, far too many artists became obsessed with giving the anti-hero more teeth than could possible fit in his mouth, or a tongue so long it’d be impossible for him to talk about eating brains. Salazar’s Venom doesn’t have that problem, and actually reminds me a bit of the Venom we saw in Spider-Man 3. I know a lot of people hated the look of the cinematic version of the popular character, but I loved it.
Now, no matter how much this comic surprised me, I can’t say I’m super excited for what comes next. The idea of all these symbiotes just seems so ’90s. Not to mention the fact that we just finished another symbiote-heavy crossover on Spidey’s side of the Marvel Universe. Also, I feel like the original X-Men have been to space a few times now. I’ve never been the biggest X-Men-in-space fan, so hopefully Bunn will continue to mix in some nice character moments to keep me engaged. At least the covers for X-Men Blue #22 and Venom #163 are classified, which ensures we’re in for some sort of surprises in the weeks ahead.
But who knows–this entire event could continue to surprise me and in a few months, I’ll be singing the praises of Venomized. Or, by April, the amount of money I’ve sunk into this event could make me say to Venomized what Venom told the X-Men twice in this comic: “Pass.”