Writer: Al Ewing
Color Artist: Frank D’Armata
Cover Artists: Bryan Hitch & Alex Sinclair
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Eddie Brock is back! After a transformative encounter with a power that dwells within the recesses of the King in Black, Eddie has emerged from the abyss rejuvenated in spirit and body. Now, Eddie Brock returns in Venom #20 with new strange powers that are all so familiar to someone who’s been bonded to symbiotes like Eddie has.
So after a couple of issues of Eddie getting a lecture full of overcomplicated cosmic babble and Dylan having a weird side adventure that didn’t affect the main plot in any way, we’re finally back with Eddie Brock and Al Ewing in the driver set. This time though, there’s no complicated cosmic babble here, just good ol’ fashioned, action comic book storytelling where Eddie Brock gets to feel like a strong anti-hero again. There will be SPOILERS here and there throughout this review.
So, the comic immediately picks up with Eddie Brock’s remains being examined in a mysterious lab at an unknown facility operated by the “Absent Throne” conspiracy organization. Or perhaps they’re just the Life Foundation operating under a different name. If you don’t remember who the Absent Throne is, don’t worry, it doesn’t matter in this comic either. All you need to know is that they directly serve Meridius, and this is a direct follow-up to the end of the very first issue of this run where Meridius had secured Eddie’s skeletal remains for the scientists in this same lab.
What we get is Eddie Brock reconstituting himself using symbiote and human matter to remake his body again. This time though, Eddie has virtually full control over his bodily matter and can manipulate it like, as he says in the comic, “A human symbiote.” Eddie is basically a superhuman symbiote style, everything the Life Foundation and other such groups have tried to accomplish in the past, and can control his body to an extreme extent as he displays in the comic. He uses his new abilities to escape, get some new clothes, a new ride, and make his way to an unknown destination.
The comic writing by Al Ewing is well done. It’s more in line with how he wrote the issue where Eddie Brock was Bedlam for a hot minute and had to fight a lesser known supervillain. Like there, the dialogue is good as Eddie sounds like himself, he’s confident, a little witty, ready to cack heads and break skulls, but he’s on a mission of vengeance. The story is well paced and doesn’t feel like it’s going too fast or too slow. Not to mention the big reveal of who Eddie is going after, and it’s none other than Bedlam. The art by Cafu is amazing. There’s a noticable difference between how Bryan Hitch’s art style and Cafu’s which is how the former’s feels a little static while Cafu’s art can provide a sense of energy and movement to at least create the illusion of momentum between the characters in the comic.
It also helps that Cafu’s art and Frank D’Armata’s colors go hand in hand here and allow everyone and everything to stand out, even the background characters. And this is shown best with Eddie Brock himself from start to finish, he looks like his old self but with a bit of uncanny valley due to his new “human symbiote” powers and status for the time being. Like a side characters said, he’s like the Terminator in this comic and it shows on all accounts from his entrance, how he gets clothes, and the calculated yet brutal fashion that Eddie fights in. Clearly, Al Ewing is showing his direct inspiration for this issue, and for once, that’s not a bad thing.
Venom #20 picks up Eddie Brock’s side of the story as he returns back to the land of the living in the present day. Of course, he’s not the same as he once was with a new level of control of his symbiote powers making him like the Terminator, as one side character puts it. And that’s a good thing for this issue. The dialogue is good, the story is well-paced, and the art from Cafu is impeccable as everything feels like a straightforward action issue for Venom. Looking forward to the big brawl teased at the end in the next issue.