By Jesse Schedeen Sept. 14, 2017
Venomverse is the sort of story that would probably go down much easier if it were merely an arc in the monthly Venom comic and not an entire crossover event unto itself. There's something to be said for the goofiness of the premise and way it gives so many iconic Marvel heroes a symbiote-flavored makeover. But its appeal is very shallow, and after two issues Venomverse still has done little to establish itself as something more than a pale imitation of 2014's Spider-Verse.
The lackluster plot remains the biggest sticking point in Venomverse #2. The series has little sense of urgency despite the post-apocalyptic setting and the losing battle Venom and his colleagues are currently waging. The more the series reveals about the "Poisons," the more these body-snatching villains feel like another riff on the Marvel Zombies. The end result is largely the same, just retooled to fit Venom's world in particular. The reveal of the secret mastermind behind the Poisons helps spice up the conflict slightly, but it's still just another example of throwing a familiar face into the mix. There's still no real sense of significance to the story.
For the most part, Cullen Bunn's script only stands out as it explores the dynamic between Eddie Brock and another universe's Peter Parker (now transformed into a Poison). This Peter is the only character among all the alternate universe Venoms who actually shows a unique personality and doesn't come across merely as a Venom-ized carbon copy of the regular hero in question. Now that this Peter has gone over to the Dark Side, Bunn is able to dig into the Eddie/Peter dynamic even more and highlight the lingering resentment between the two. With Marvel keeping the regular Peter's presence in the monthly Venom comic to a minimum for now, this series may be the next best thing.
If nothing else, Venomverse's art is a major selling point, especially with the monthly series struggling so much in the visual department. Iban Coello brings a very dynamic, cartoonish quality to the book, one that comes in very handy as Venom trades blows with his new enemy. Coello's crisp line-work and extreme angles heighten the intensity of that battle. Colorist Matt Yackey also does a fine job working with what must be a difficult project, given how much this series is dominated by black and white shades. Yackey ensures that each of these characters has proper depth and shading. As I've said before, this series sets higher visual standard for Venom that will hopefully carry over to his solo series going forward.
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