VENOM #14 BY CULLEN BUNN AND IBAN COELLO
Art
Characterization
Story
Summary
VENOM #14 improves upon the first issue of the arc in a few ways, including Cullen Bunn’s fantastic characterization of Eddie Brock. However, it’s still plagued with pacing issues. Iban Coello’s art, though, continues to shine.
93 %
Getting Better

VENOM #14 continues the book’s WAR OF THE REALMS tie-in. In this issue, Eddie uses his newfound Dark Elf-powered Venom suit to fight Malekith’s forces and a supercharged Jack-O-Lantern. Cullen Bunn writes this issue, and it’s a bit more solid than the last installment. What struck me the most about this issue was the scene where Eddie thinks back on past trauma in order to power up his rage-fueled suit. It’s both a great way to tie in the earlier events of the series with these crossover issues, and also a fascinating character moment for Eddie. He realizes that he seems to relish his pain, anger, and torment. Bunn’s characterization is definitely on-point. However, I still find that the pacing could use a bit more tightening. Iban Coello’s art continues to be downright stunning.

Meet the New Venom… Same as the Old Venom?

In the last issue, a newly symbiote-less Eddie found himself in the middle of the WAR OF THE REALMS with his son, Dylan. He brought Dylan to a safe house, while wishing that he could have powers again to protect both the civilians and Dylan. His wish comes true in the form of a mysterious Dark Elf sorceress, who gifts Eddie with an object that could make any wish come true. Eddie’s wish materializes in the form of an Asgardian-themed Venom suit. However, after the witch is spurned by Eddie when she tells him he must work for Malekith, she seeks another, more pliable minion: Jack-O-Lantern. In VENOM #14, Eddie goes out to fight the rampaging hordes. He takes down some Roxxon tanks, and realizes that his powers are based on his anger.

VENOM #14
VENOM #14 page 10. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

In order to stay angry, he thinks back on traumatic experiences, like fighting Spider-Man and his drunk driving accident as a teenager. Suddenly, a Dark Elf-powered Jack-O-Lantern shows up, seeking revenge for his brutal beat down in the first issue of the series. For some reason, Eddie made the suit have a vulnerability to fire, since his symbiote had that same weakness, and Jack exploits this. A group of Frost Giants then ambush the weary Venom. Eddie regains his composure after thinking of the horrible year he had and grows to Frost Giant height. However, after Venom takes down the giants, Jack returns and hits Eddie with even more fire.

Will Eddie’s suit survive? Will Eddie? Read VENOM #14 to find out!

Enjoyable Highs in VENOM #14

I have both praises and criticisms for VENOM #14. I’ll start with the good. Cullen Bunn does a fantastic job writing Eddie this issue. From the beginning, Eddie has always been dangerously angry. He’s let his anger get the better of him many times, and it’s only served to hurt him. For a while, it seemed like it was the Venom symbiote that made him so much of a crappy person. However, Bunn posits that it was Eddie all along who enjoyed being so angry. Bunn has Eddie say that he doesn’t seem to mind the fact that he has to stay angry to power the suit. In the beginning of the issue, he expresses a bit of concern about pushing too far, but that gets brushed away later.

Eddie taps into his deep well of anger to grow giant. After growing, he realizes that he loves the feeling of angrily inflicting pain on his adversaries. He sees it as putting all his past hang-ups to good use. I love how flawed Bunn makes Eddie. He doesn’t realize how dangerous it is to run on pure anger. I hope this carries over when Donny Cates returns to the book. It adds another layer to Eddie’s flawed character.

Not-So-Enjoyable Lows in VENOM #14

Here’s where the issue isn’t quite as strong. Bunn, once again, paces the issue very strangely. Most of the issue is just showing Eddie fighting Jack-O-Lantern without much else happening. It gets more exciting about halfway through when Eddie literally grows, but the story itself isn’t all too meaty.

I do like the emphasis on Eddie tapping into his anger throughout the issue, but I wish we could have gotten more than him just fighting Frost Giants and Jack-O-Lantern. There is a feeling that this is all leading to something interesting, but Bunn is taking his time getting there. I know Bunn is quite the talented writer, judging by many of his prior books, including the Flash Thompson VENOM series. I’m not sure what went wrong these past two issues, but I hope they’re resolved soon.

Amazing Page Design

Iban Coello’s art has been one of the best parts of the entire series. Between Coello and Ryan Stegman, this book is blessed with ultra-talented artists. In VENOM #14, Coello shows his talents with some great action pages, where Venom fights a variety of bad guys. However, my favorite page of the issue is when Eddie remembers all his pain throughout the series so far. The way the panels with his father, the Maker, and Knull tilt more severely with each one is brilliant. It’s a great way of showing the slow descent into a borderline berserker rage. The culmination, with Venom looking stricken with pure rage, surrounded by a scratchy border, is simply beautiful. Coello does it again!

VENOM #14
VENOM #14 page 15. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Final Thoughts: VENOM #14

VENOM #14 features quite a few enjoyable moments, but the pacing issues mar those moments a bit. I’m holding out hope that it’s all worth it as the arc continues, but it’s getting harder with each issue.

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