Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Iban Coello
Colors: Rain Beredo
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Release date September 11 2019
Review by D. Brown (WolfCypher)
Ah, the actual, main Venom book. Out of all the Absolute Carnage tie-ins, this title is the closest to the main event’s orbit. Not only did the genesis of Absolute Carnage begin with the core Venom book, but both the event and this title are written by Donny Cates. If any readers are feeling fatigued by all these interconnecting side-episodes, and are maybe considering taking a step back from some of them, it may be risky putting Venom on the chopping block. Not only has this book’s current and previous issue hinted at circumstances that may matter going deeper into Absolute Carnage, these same circumstances tease as if they are going to matter going past Absolute Carnage, into the rest of this book’s run.
But where were we since issue 17? Eddie and Peter (Spider-Man) have left Dylan Brock (Eddie’s son but Dylan himself only believes he’s his brother) and Normie Osborn (Norman Osborn’s grandson who carries a codex) in the care of The Maker (evil Ultimate Reed Richards from Earth 1610). The Maker has readied his machine which will purge codexes/codices from humans who have ever hosted a symbiote. This is important, because Cletus Kasady is hunting down, and killing, everyone who carries a codex, so that he can basically awaken a Dark God. The city is in chaos and with Cletus’s minions running amok and four special symbiotes where sent after Normie. That’s when Sleeper, the most recent spawn of Venom, showed up to safeguard the boys.
Sleeper was off-planet when it found its way to the false Planet of the Symbiotes (which is in actuality a planet sized rubberband ball of symbiotes clustered together trapping Knull in the center). Sensing both the so-called “planet” trying to assimilate Sleeper and the influence of Knull, Sleeper “burns away” its connection to the “planet’s” hive and returns to Earth. While all the symbiotes on Earth are susceptible to Dark Carnage/Knull’s influence, Sleeper, like the Venom symbiote before it, has severed it’s hive-connection and is free to fight against the Carnage cult that’s taking over New York. Phew…
Sleeper hasn’t been around long, and has only been featured, really, in just one story, which while it did release at the very beginning of Donny Cates Venom run, was actually a Mike Costa-era Venom story. Symbiote fans and Venomaniacs have taken a liking to the character, and I wondered what Cates would do with it. Cates wastes no time getting the spawn of Venom and the son of Eddie in the same room together.
But lets explore the rest of the characters, such as the Maker, who blasts Sleeper, separating from his already dead host body, and containing. The Maker is a complicated character that Cates continues to write so well. He’s very self-serving, yet his actions does prove that he is genuinely all about keeping Dylan and Normie safe. Considering the Maker has no idea that Sleeper is on their side, and they were just attack by four other hostile symbiotes, attacking Sleeper in that context is understandable. Sleeper and the four hostile (Life Foundation) symbiotes are all sealed away.
Dylan still doesn’t trust the Maker, and the Maker has made it clear regardless of what anyone says that he is going to run Normie through his machine to rid him of his codex. There’s this contrast between Dylan and Normie that makes one look steadfastly brave…and the other is Normie. Its funny, because I expect children around their ages to be afraid and concerned under these circumstances, so Normie acting as he’s acting comes off more realistic than Dylan adamantly mouthing off and challenging the Maker every step of the way, yet ironically it also makes Dylan the more likable between them.
Dylan decides to flee with Normie, and he does so by breaking the containers housing the Life Foundation symbiotes. This plan backfires when the four aliens merge onto the Maker at once, and the collective symbiotes give chase. Just in the nick of time, Spider-Man, Captain America, Wolverine, and the Thing arrive to close us out on a cliffhanger. If you’ve read Absolute Carnage #2, as I’m sure you have, you’ll remember Spider-Man and Venom split up temporarily to gather (in Venom’s case) villains that might ally with them and (in Spidey’s case) other heroes. We get to see here in Venom exactly which heroes he round-up.
The actual ongoing Venom book is easily the better of all the Absolute Carnage side-chapters. When the writer of the event book is also the writer of one of its tie-ins, its safe to expect a good book that keeps its continuity in order. I do want to address how I’m not exactly thrilled to have no Venom in the Venom book, and I’m hoping that gets resolved soon. I worry that as this event continues, Eddie properly wont be in the Venom issues, having his appearances being reserved for the main event book, but it’s a crying shame to have Iban Coello being assigned on all these issues and not get Eddie/Venom to play a big role, with plenty of chances to be penciled by one of my favorite current artist. Still, Dylan and Maker alone can carry my interest, and the possibilities with Sleeper piques my curiosity and anticipation into the stratosphere.
Its no contest that the ongoing Venom book is the best companion book to the Absolute Carnage main issues.