I’m not a Venom fan, I don’t enjoy X-Men-in-space adventures, and I’m beyond exhausted with having to buy comics I don’t read just to get the full story during crossover events. So, you’d probably expect me to hate Poison-X, the event that’s currently strangling X-Men Blue like an alien symbiote. But, as Poison-X spreads its tentacles across several upcoming comics on my pull list, I’m going to do my best to enjoy it.
And to my surprise, I mostly enjoyed X-Men Blue #21, which is the second part of Poison-X.
On the whole, writer Cullen Bunn and artist Jacopo Camagni deliver a solid fish-out-of-water story, with the time-displaced X-Men and Venom on a mission to find Cyclops’ father Corsair and his Starjammers on a Star Wars planet. Okay, maybe it isn’t an actual planet from the Star Wars universe, but Marvel does publish official Star Wars comics, so it’s not a stretch. All I’m saying is, don’t make Cyclops tell us about all the blasters, droids and alien-filled cantinas if you don’t want me to make the connection!
Anyway, it looks like a bunch of symbiote-wearing bounty hunters captured Corsair, and now the same baddies are taking on the X-Men and Venom. During the battle, Cyclops gets some symbiote tentacles through the stomach (the worst), and that raises the stakes for Scott and the team for the rest of the issue. And, it gives Venom a chance to run off on his own and be all lethal, which I assume is what Venom fans are reading an X-Men comic to see.That brings me to my first complaint about this issue. I realize this is a Venom team-up, so it’s only fair that we spend some quality time with Eddie and the symbiote, but, I buy X-Men Blue for Jean and the gang. Comics are already short enough, and now I have to give up my precious page count to a character I don’t really care about? Again, I get it, I’ve read comics before, I just felt like that two-page Venom interrogation scene could have included an X-Man or two.
With that said, Bunn does give us some great Cyclops moments. Young Scott may not be the hardened warrior his older counterpart became, but in these pages you’ll agree with Venom: “Kid’s got moxie.” It’s also sweet to see Jean using her powers to support Scott in his time of need, after all that Bloodstorm drama. Maybe while the X-Men are in space, Bloodstorm can like, I dunno, go back to her own dimension.
And even though I’m not a Venom fan, Bunn is doing a good job of making me appreciate him through his interactions with the teenage X-Men. He provides a good foil for the more idealistic mutants and his explanation for how he tracked them down midway through the issue – “One of you leaves a vapor trail like an F-16” – is pretty great.
Also great is how Venom looks. I’ve come to realize every artist has their own take on Venom. While Camagni’s Venom is a bit more alien-looking than McFarlane, you realize why the lethal protector has become one of comics’ most iconic characters. He just looks cool.
Jesus… am I becoming a Venom fan? Curse you, Bunn, this is your master plan, isn’t it?
One other complaint before we go–if you’ve seen the promotional materials for upcoming installments of Poison-X, you pretty much know how this issue ends. That’s definitely something that keeps happening in X-Men Blue, but that’s more of an overarching Marvel marketing issue these days.
Still, part two of Poison-X managed to keep enough of the focus on the characters I love to make it feel like a regular issue of X-Men Blue, just in a very different setting. And, it didn’t make me cringe, despite being a part of a larger event. So, I’m a little less nervous to read the issues to come. As far as victories go, I’ll take it.