VENOM #4 BY DONNY CATES, RYAN STEGMAN, JP MAYER, AND FRANK MARTIN
Story
Art
Characterization
Summary
VENOM #4 tells the previously unrevealed true backstory of the Klyntar race. It’s a fantastic read from start to finish. Donny Cates writes a superb script and Ryan Stegman, once again, blows me away with his phenomenal artwork.
95 %
Brutal Backstory

VENOM #4 slows down the plot a bit to tell the origins of Knull and the Symbiotes. In this issue, we learn that Knull was a being older than the universe itself. He created the first Symbiote as a sword to be used to kill Celestials and all other types of Gods. Donny Cates spins an epic tale with this issue, forever leaving his mark on Venom and Symbiotes as a whole. It’s a bold story he tells, finally giving a definitive origin to where Symbiotes come from and why they bond with hosts. I’m not sure if it’s a story that necessarily needed to be told, but it was told in the best way possible. Ryan Stegman delivers breathtaking artwork of Knull’s exploits.

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The Symbiotes’ Origins in VENOM #4

After Venom finally came face-to-face with the God of all Symbiotes, Knull, last issue, he’s now at his mercy. As Knull holds Eddie down, he regales him with his origin. He was born in a lifeless void before the creation of the Marvel Universe. He was awoken by traveling Celestials who sought to remake his little corner of nothingness into their own creation. Knull objected and beheaded a Celestial. They then banished him to his void. It was there that he began forging a powerful weapon. He called it the All-Black, the Godslayer, and it was the first Symbiote. He used it to kill any gods who hoped to invade his void. Avid readers of Jason Aaron’s THOR run may recognize the All-Black as the sword Gorr the God Butcher used. Well, eventually, Knull fell to a near-barren planet, where Gorr found the sword and took it for himself.

VENOM #4
VENOM #4 page 11. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

In this wasteland, Knull, who still retained some of the excess Symbiote residue from the sword, learned that he could bond this residue with lower life forms, creating minions he could control. Thus began the Symbiote-Host relationship. Eventually, in the Middle Ages, Knull arrived on Earth to conquer it but was fought off by Thor. The God of Thunder severed Knull’s connections with his Symbiotes, and when they gained sentience, they rebelled against him and created their own planet, Klyntar. But why did they rebel? Pick up VENOM #4 for the rest of this story.

A Necessary Story in VENOM #4?

Donny Cates did a tremendous job detailing the definitive origins of the Klyntar race in VENOM #4. I, personally, believe that we didn’t really need to know where the race came from. I was content knowing that it was a race of Symbiotes who bonded with hosts. However, Cates’ revelations this issue not only piqued my interest but made me actively interested in the minutiae of Knull’s backstory. I really enjoy where he’s going with making Knull into an angry, vengeful god. It explains why Symbiotes seem prone to violence, as evidenced by every single Symbiote who showed up on Earth, as well as other interstellar Symbiotes like Killer Thrill. Brian Michael Bendis tried showing that Symbiotes were, by default, a peaceful race and that the Earth made them violent. But that didn’t make much sense. This adds much more clarity to these violent Klyntars.

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I also was impressed that Cates logically brought this into the main continuity of the Marvel Universe by detailing the origin of the Godslayer sword. Not only does it explain where Gorr’s sword came from, it also adds some more layers to Gorr’s story. He’s a being who despises gods so much that he made it his life’s mission to kill them all. And yet, he got his all-powerful weapon from a god, except it was a god who used it for the same purpose. I hope Cates or Aaron bring this up in some way in the future. Regardless, Cates making this connection to existing Marvel continuity makes this issue even more enjoyable.

Stegman Does it Again in VENOM #4

Once again, Stegman delivers a beautiful looking issue. This time, in VENOM #4, Stegman shies away from the horror-inspired art of the prior issues (save for a handful of pages which take place in the present). Instead, he seems to draw some inspiration from Sci-Fi/Fantasy lore with Knull’s designs as well as the artwork of Knull fighting gods and attempting to conquer planets. In one page, Knull uses the Godslayer to kill a bunch of golden gods. The artwork is simply stunning. Stegman draws Knull looking quite similar to Venom himself, while strands of blood surround him and his victims, floating in the vacuum of space. Knull’s long tongue and familiar pose serve as a great way to visually show how much the Symbiotes are like their progenitor.

VENOM #4
VENOM #4 page 8. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Final Thoughts: VENOM #4

VENOM #4 is a spellbinding issue. It looks gorgeous thanks to Stegman and co. On top of that, Cates tells a truly fascinating story. I recommend it to any and all Venom fans, as it gives a super important backstory to the Klyntar race.

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