Don Cates continues the Venom Island arc after the events that took place in Absolute Carnage. The stakes are high and all hope seems lost as Eddie Brock is on the verge of death after cutting off his own arm to escape from Carnage’s rampage. No longer paired with his other, Venom, Eddie is pinned into a corner.
Cates continues the high adrenaline pumping action in this issue by perfectly illustrating the tone of all hope is lost in such a way that does not feel heavy handed and forced. While a comic medium differs greatly from a movie one, this arc of Venom plays out like an MCU adaptation both visually and thematically.
While a lot of Cates’ other issues and series have all been great and respectable works, this entry into the Venom franchise comes off rather lackluster. The writing is top notch but the overall story feels short lived. The Venom Island arc ended up spanning only a total of three comic issues with the only key moments being revealed is that Eddie’s son now has powers and Eddie was successful in separating Carnage from Venom.
Overall the story felt very quick in its pacing since issue #21 when the arc started but to see it end so abruptly made the arc overall feel a bit hollow in terms of story. Eddie Brock was successful in his mission but before he could merge with Venom he ends of blacking out and then waking up on a helicopter with Captain America who received his distress call and came to rescue him. From there we are led to believe that Eddie is now forever without Venom as the Avengers send a bomb towards the island, incinerating everything on it. It is very unclear what has happened as it seems like the arc ended sooner than originally planned.
Despite the abrupt ending that had a lackluster impact on the story, the visuals from Mark Bagley and Frank Martin helped make the scenes as we see blurred panels that help capture the moment of Eddie Brock struggling to remain conscious as he cauterizes his wound. Cate’s writing was easily amplified in these scenes by Bagley’s amazing work.
My one complaint about this issue though comes from the dialogue box coloring and lettering from Sleeper, the symbiote cat, being very difficult to read due to its lettering format and the coloring of his dialogue box.
Overall, Venom #23 is a good popcorn read but compared to prior works, this arc is easily forgettable with its lack of fleshed out story and character development. It does truly feel like it ended too quickly. Going forward I definitely want to see a more developed arc with Cates, Martin and Bagley teaming up again to make a Venom storyline that will be remembered for a long time to come.