Donny Cates, Iban Coelho
After landing with a hoard of symbiote dragons, Knull rips Eddie from Venom leaving him in free fall as issue 31 begins.
The issue is titled 32 Seconds which is exactly the length of the issue. For real, the entire issue is built around Eddie free-falling after being dropped by Knull. Interesting idea for sure- reminds me of the Ultimate Spider-Man issue that Bendis wrote with no dialogue. Sadly, that Ultimate Spidey issue was done better. Don’t get me wrong, the art was strong, the concept cool, but the story was not moved forward at all.
I suppose if you hadn’t been reading Venom all along, you might enjoy this issue more. There is an exposition dump that runs alongside the visuals of Eddie in flight. It brings the reader up to speed with how Eddie got to where he is. I would argue that the blurb at the beginning of the issue on the inside of the cover is enough to do that. Reading it here, as someone who has been reading, is overkill and slows the pace of the event. Seriously, the issue begins as Eddie is tossed from Knull and ends with Eddie nearly hitting the ground. I can assume that Dylan has picked up on this through his attachment to the symbiotes and will somehow save the day; there was a midpoint scene with Dylan in his bunker where he became aware of the happenings.
Having said all that, I do like when writers take clever risks like this; however, a large event was not the place for this. Let the blurb handle the backstory details and move the story forward.
So it seems that while the main King In Black mini will deal with the larger Knull story, Venom, in the meantime, will be dealing with Eddie personally and how this whole mess is affecting him. This tie-in is narrated by a character from early on in Cates’ run who was one of the first people to introduce the concept that everything we knew about Symbiote’s being wrong. His narration covers his opinion of Eddie while our protagonist falls a sizable distance while New York falls apart around him. Having an entire issue take place over a couple of seconds is an interesting idea and can underline how such an experience that Eddie is undertaking can feel like an eternity. It’s a good look into Eddie’s mindset and how someone on the outside of the story would view him. Not a lot happens this issue apart from maybe the hint that Dylan might have given his hiding location away, but it’s a good character driven issue that explores who Eddie Brock is, was and could be. Interestingly enough the issue ends without concluding the cliffhanger Eddie was left in at the end of King In Black. So again, this is more of a character piece than anything that significantly moves the larger story along. All eyes now on the second King In Black issue for what happens to Eddie and the rest of the Marvel universe next.
Glenn: Iban Coello has been drawing Venom now off and on for a good period of time. Somewhat unfairly I’ve always thought of the artist as a fill-in guy in-between arcs drawn by Ryan Stegman, when in truth, he’s probably drawn just as many if not more issues of the series. He’s a great artist who Marvel clearly has a lot of faith in by highlighting him as one of their ‘stormbreakers’. Since so little time passes in this issue, it’s a hard task to keep the reader engaged visually, but Coello does a great job doing just that. There’s some great spreads of New York fully corrupted by the symbiote invasion that are suitably dark and disturbing so he’s got the scale down, but he also delivers on the introspection in regards to Eddie’s mind as he falls for both too long and too short a time. I’m not sure how many issues Coelle has left in Venom as he’s supposed to be drawing the MIA Tom Taylor vehicle, Dark Ages, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he continues to draw a large portion of this title post King In Black in the meantime. Drawing what has become Marvel’s biggest ongoing isn’t a bad gig, and it seems that Coello has proved himself more than up for the task.
I agree with Glenn here. Coello is an outstanding artist. He makes a 32 second fall seem interesting for what it is. His background work is strong, but his movement really shines here. After all, he puts Eddie through the ringer to make the issue interesting for what it is. This is probably the first time where the art completely outshines the story. In a partially failed effort by Cates, Coello nearly brings it home.
Namor #1 (KIB)
Kurt Busiek, Benjamin Dewey, Triona Ferrell, Joe Caramagna
The story is a tie-in to the King in Black storyline, but under the clever pen of Kurt Busiek. This is a sneak peek into the early life of Prince Namor. Gone is the arrogant prince. Enter a prince who is less assured, yet eager to succeed. It’s not clear how the Knull invasion fits in here, but it doesn’t matter. This is a cool story that takes place prior to the events we all know of Namor in Marvel’s timeline.
The story begins with a current time framing device, yet most of the issue takes place in the past. Prince Namor is a young man. His friendly rivals are the Lady Dorma and Attuma, both of which have huge impacts on his future. It’s fun to see them as kids prior to the history set before them. Much of this story revolves around the politics of Atlantis- different factions coming together for the betterment of society. Of course an unruly faction among the Chasm folk is bent on breaking up the peace. Our heroes join the Swift Tide to fend them off. Following the attack, the group leaves on an important mission.
The best part of this tie-in is that it doesn’t feel like a tie-in. My fear with tie-ins to an event like King in Black was that they would all be crazy, invasion issues with the heroes fighting off dragons and symbiotes. Not the case here. This issue is filled with politics and intrigue. Can’t wait to see how the story unfolds and ties to the main story.
The art was handled masterfully by Ben Dewey. I was not familiar with his work, but will definitely seek him out in the future. He draws the intimate moments as well as the action, and his facial expressions are emotive. He totally compliments Busiek’s script.
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