Venom #23 Review

Venom (2021) #23

Writer: Torunn Gronbekk

Artists: Ken Lashley & Ramon F. Bachs

Color Artist: Frank D’Armata

Cover Artists: Bryan Hitch & Alex Sinclair

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Reviewer: StoryBabbler

Venom and its hosts have been through a lot as they were caught up in the machinations of the villain Merdidius and still are. But while Eddie Brock has been separated from his son Dylan and the Venom symbtiote across time and space, Dylan and the symbiote have bonded as the new Venom. During this time, Dylan has worked to put together a team of symbiotes to help fight whatever monster version of Eddie Brock shows up, and that means recruiting some familiar faces. See the reunion of Venom and Toxin in Venom #23!

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Okay, so this issue isn’t too bad and is actually a solid Venom standalone story, or it could be at least. If this were just another side story to help build things toward the bigger storyline with Eddie, Dylan, Venom and Meridius, than great. But I have my doubts that it is, like this issue was a back door pilot for another series or something, but I’ll get into further details. Fair warning: this review will have SPOILERS when it comes to a couple of major reveals and developments in the comic.

The comic starts well enough with the Venom symbiote alerting Dylan to the fact they’re being tracked by none other than its grandchild, Toxin, the spawn of Carnage. Now, Toxin had been in limbo for a long while after his debut, but now the symbiote has bonded to a young teenage boy called Bren Waters, the son of a guardsman at Alchemax. There’s a brief scuffle but Toxin, or rather Bren, tells Venom that he tracked him to ask for his help with something involving his father.

From there, the plot is well-paced, the threat isn’t too big and seems small and isolated enough that it fits within the realm of what’s been happening with Dylan and the Venom symbiote. It’s a kidnapping where Bren is worried that his father might be next and he want’s Dylan and Venom to help stop the kidnapper. Now, the kidnapper himself isn’t a big threat and his true identity isn’t revealed even after he somehow survives what happens in the comic. The bigger takeaway is that the comic dropped a couple of appearances of a strange woman investigating the kidnapping, only for her third and final appearance in the comic reveal her to be Black Widow herself. And the comic hints that she’s investigating something bigger going on but it never alludes to whether this is actually tied to the main storyline in this Venom run, or is just something Black Widow is involved in and Venom and Toxin just happened to get roped into it somehow without even knowing it.

She even gets, what appears to be, a symbiote of some kind to attach to her and tag along with her, wherever she’s going. Again, this is why I said that this part of the comic felt like a backdoor pilot to another Marvel Comic series involving Black Widow and the new symbiote she has now. As for this comic, it’s not bad but it’s not great either, it’s just full of trade-offs. There’s not a lot of action, but there’s a lot of cool images of Venom and Toxin looking menacing. The characters are written well, but there’s not much interaction between the actual main characters and this comic really spotlights Toxin and Bren for the most part while Dylan barely shows up, making me wonder why he was even there since Toxin could’ve easily handled the kidnapper who had no powers, henchmen, super-tech, fighting skills, nothing. Venom just feels redundant here, weirdly enough. Hopefully the next issue brings things back up.

Final Thoughts:

Venom #23 brings together a couple of symbiotes who haven’t seen each other in a while – Venom and Toxin. Now, despite the cool cover, there’s not that much action in the comic. Bren, the current host of Toxin, asks Dylan for help, they find the threat and take ’em down without much trouble. It’s not a thrilling story, but the characters are well-written as they currently are, and the art compliments the symbiotes’ designs.


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