Venom #35 Review

by Nick Devonald on June 16, 2021

Writers: Donny Cates & Phillip Kennedy Johnson (pgs. 40 – 50)
Pencillers: Ryan Stegman, Kev Walker, Danilo S. Beyruth, Ron Lim, Guiu Vilanova, Gerardo Sandoval and Mark Bagley
Inkers: JP Mayer, Jay Leisten, Kev Walker, Danilo S. Beyruth, Scott Hanna, Guiu Vilanova, Gerardo Sandoval, Victor Nava and John Dell
Colours: Frank Martin, Chris O’Halloran, Jim Campbell, Matt Milla, Alex Sinclair, Chris Sotomayor and Richard Isanove
Letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles

Donny Cates and Ryan Stegmans epic run on Venom, undoubtably the best in the symbiotes history, has reached its conclusion. King in Black did a fantastic job of wrapping up all of the pieces of their ongoing storyline, and this oversized issue is the natural epilogue to their story. For readers wondering if this is the end for Eddie Brock and Venom, after all how do you continue a story after Brock becomes a literal God, don’t fear. This is just the start of a new chapter in their journey. While this issue may mark the end of Donny Cates on Venom it isn’t the end of Venom. Writing duties will move onto the equally talented Al Ewing later on this year, and Cates does a great job of passing the reigns to him and giving readers an idea of what to expect when Ewing takes over.

Most of the issue is written by Donny Cates, with a small section midway through written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson which is covered later in the review. Joining regular artist Ryan Stegman are a whole host of artists, inkers and colourers, far too numerous to discuss their contributions in any great detail. Needless to say the whole comic looks fantastic and each of the different art teams shine in their own right. A special mention needs to go out to Ryan Stegman though, he’s put his signature style on a large part of Cates run on Venom and it has been consistently stunning and a real draw for the book. With this issue he’s really pulled out all the stops. His sections are instantly recognisable and look fantastic, and it’s rewarding for readers to see the journey that Eddie has been on reach this point, where his whole look and demeanour have completely changed.

Most of the issue focuses on what the unbelievable revelations at the end of King in Black mean for Eddie, Dylan, and Venom going forward. But it’s also rewarding for those readers who have been on this journey from the start. Brock and Spider-man have a moment in this issue, it’s a throwback to Absolute Carnage and shows the journey that these two characters have been on across this series. Brocks new omnipresent powers allow Cates to feature cameos from all across the Marvel universe, a number of which he’s worked on and are all characters he has clear reverence for.

A large part of this run has involved the Maker. He played a large role early on in the series, through Absolute Carnage, and into the Venom Beyond storyline. Cates’ has teased an ongoing story with him which, while not tied up here, is certainly continued. It’s clear he has big plans for the character going forward, and it’s almost guaranteed to tie into an upcoming event.

There are some fantastic moments in this issue, a particular highlight is a throwback to a comment that Rex made early on in Cates’ run, about not even knowing the Venom symbiotes actual name. A little like the Doctors this is something that’s been hinted at but never divulged. It presents an interesting conundrum. How do you give a name to a creature like Venom which lives up to readers expectations? It's almost certain to disappoint. But Cates’ does it justice, in one of the true highlights of the series. Venom’s true name is so much better than anything readers could have guessed, and is handled so incredibly well. It’s moments like this which really cement Cates as one of THE best comic creators. Full stop.

Phillip Kennedy Johnson’s section of the story revolves around the newly resurrected Flash Thompson. He’s trying his best to find his place in the world again, figuring out his place as a dead man. But of course trouble is never far away, and this segment of the story is setting up the new status quo for symbiotes going forward. Following Knulls invasion there are now more symbiotes than ever on Earth, and the Guardsmen have a new directive to kill any symbiotes they find. It feels like this brief interlude from Eddie Brock is more about reminding readers that Flash is, once again, alive, as well as setting up new rules for symbiotes going forward which will no doubt play into the upcoming Extreme Carnage event. It’s entertaining enough but doesn’t necessarily feel like it needed to be included in this 200th issue.

This serves as a fantastic epilogue to Donny Cates stellar run on Venom. Without a doubt the best Venom series. Period. All the loose plot lines are tied up, with the exception of one ongoing storyline, and the future of Venom is set up for Ewings tenure on the character. A whole host of talented artists join Ryan Stegman to make this one of the best looking comics on the stands. All too often creators take over a project, appear to make big strides and shake up the status quo, before business returns to usual. Not so here. Cates has completely rewritten the symbiote mythology and made massive strides forward which mean nothing will ever be the same again. An incredible ending to an incredible series.

Our Score:


A Look Inside