Donny Cates has done a lot of work to make Venom and the symbiotes a major thing in the Marvel Universe. But it’s easy to forget that Eddie Brock, the human half of the Venom entity, knows a thing or two himself.
To explore that a little bit, there’s the story in the fourth volume of the current series, subtitled Venom Island.
Eddie Brock gets an offer he wasn’t expecting at any point in his life after helping to defeat Carnage in the Absolute Carnage crossover: he is invited to join the Avengers. Eddie is flattered, and Captain America among others would be happy to see him join. Small problem: Eddie ended the story with his Other essentially “eating” the Carnage symbiote, and that particular symbiote is still in there causing trouble. Eddie needs to deal with that before he can deal with anything else, so with a little help from Cap, Eddie moves to the secluded island he once called home during a period when he erroneously believed he had killed Spider-Man and could live in peace.
By the by, there’s a bonus story here by Venom co-created David Michelinie and artist Ron Lim showing Venom dealing with some unwanted intruders during that period. Nice story, but little more than a quick and forgettable Venom adventure.
But there are some other things going on. For one, Eddie’s recently discovered son Dylan has some sort of connection to the symbiotes that give the boy some power of his own. For another, if the Venom symbiote is infected, that means Eddie needs to get by on the island without it. That is the more interesting aspect of the story as Eddie, shedding the symbiote, has to fend for himself using only his own knowledge of the island and skills of his own. And Eddie, well, he will do what it takes to stop the Carnage symbiote once and for all.
If I have any objections to Cates’s work here, it is how many times the series seems to go into big crossover stories, and this one seems to be acting as a bridge between the aforementioned Absolute Carnage and the King in Black story where Knull came to Earth. I have mixed feelings on Knull as a mover and shaker in the larger Marvel Universe, this all-powerful being that even if Thor knows who he is, he still seems to come out of nowhere to do…whatever it is he does. Regardless, I generally trust Cates, and stories like this go a long way to justify that trust. He’s probably done more with Eddie Brock as a character on his own and his relationship with his “other” than many writers have, and as an added bonus, this story was drawn by classic Venom artist Mark Bagley. Bagley knows his way around the Marvel Universe, and I will always be glad to see his work.
That doesn’t mean I am really looking forward to Knull, but it does mean I enjoyed this one quite a bit.
9 out of 10 symbiote-infused animals.