VENOM #9 BY DONNY CATES, RYAN STEGMAN, AND FRANK MARTIN
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
VENOM #9 tells an incredibly grim story. Eddie Brock’s dark inner monologue takes the spotlight this issue. Cates adds some superb characterization for Eddie, digging into his psyche to tell a bleak, but engaging, story. Ryan Stegman and Frank Martin pair their art to the dialogue, making the issue look just as somber as the writing.
97 %
Dark and Dour

VENOM #9 is a surprisingly subdued issue. Prior issues of the series have been pretty over-the-top and action-packed. However, Donny Cates takes a step back this issue and writes an uncharacteristically (for this book, at least) emotionally resonant story about loss and the grief that comes with it. Eddie Brock returns to San Francisco to confront his abusive father one more time, in hopes of reconnecting with him after the Venom symbiote became mindless. On the way, he reflects on the aching loneliness plaguing his mind after effectively losing the symbiote, his best friend. Artist Ryan Stegman and colorist Frank Martin draw a suitably dark and, at times, nearly-monochromatic issue which corresponds with Eddie’s depression. Overall, VENOM #9 is a very well-written, yet distressing, meditation on loss and grief.

On the Road Again in VENOM #9

In the last few issues, the Venom symbiote lost any sign of conscious thought after nearly sacrificing itself to save Eddie Brock. For two months after that incident, Eddie Brock traveled around the country with the symbiote, but he lost nearly every memory of his travels. One of the places he knows he visited was his father’s house in San Francisco. In VENOM #9, Eddie takes a bus to San Francisco, where another passenger who wants to sit next to him accosts him. His rabid symbiote, now taking the form of a wild dog, scares the passenger away. All the while, Eddie has an inner monologue about the pain that comes from losing someone you were inseparable from. He comes to the conclusion that his loss hurts even more because his symbiote still exists, but it’s not the same “person” it used to be.

VENOM #9
VENOM #9 page 7. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Eddie arrives in San Francisco and goes to his father’s house. His dad immediately answers with anger, threatening to call the police on Eddie. Then, he brings up the fact that Eddie already came to his door two months ago. Eddie tries to explain that that’s why he returned, but his father won’t listen. Their altercation takes a turn for the worse. How does this happen, and how will the rabid symbiote respond? Read VENOM #9 to find out!

A Depressing, but Superb, Read in VENOM #9

VENOM #9 is incredibly well-written, thanks to Cates’ knack for dialogue, but it’s a very depressing book. Most of the issue, Eddie ruminates on his various losses in life, from his symbiote to his sister, mother, and uncle. He has long soliloquies on the true meaning of grief and despair after losing a loved one. Cates makes some really poignant comments on losing people you hold very dear. It’s actually incredibly touching, but also very morose. Eddie seems rather cynical in his assessment of death and grief. Of course, losing your, in essence, best friend would probably do that to a person.

Now, while the issue isn’t all too cheerful, that doesn’t mean it’s bad in any way. No, in fact, these inner monologues serve to better characterize Eddie Brock. We’ve seen his past before, but we learn more this issue about just how much his father’s cold, hateful attitude affected his entire life. Plus, we get to really see just how connected he was to Venom. Unlike other books, which have portrayed Eddie as a crazed lunatic whenever he’s without his symbiote, VENOM #9 shows that losing Venom isn’t like quitting drugs cold turkey. Cates shows that it’s more like losing a soul mate. I really enjoy Cates’ successful attempt to make Eddie into more of an interesting, well-rounded character.

Subtle, Subdued Art in VENOM #9

Stegman and Martin went all out in prior issues, making the book look like a scary horror book. They go a different route this issue, making the art less creepy looking and more subdued. The bus ride to San Francisco and Eddie’s arrival is punctuated by Eddie’s dark inner monologue. Stegman and Martin mirror this in their art. Each page is almost monochromatic, with only the subtlest hints of blues and greens. This continues into the issue’s beautiful title page. Without any dialogue, they show Eddie walking away from the bus as the sun just starts to rise in San Francisco. Everything looks dull and dark to fit Eddie’s intense depression and utter despair. He has a cold, almost emotionless expression on his face as he walks his crazed looking symbiote dog. It really sets the tone for the issue, which is a downtrodden, dark story.

VENOM #9
VENOM #9 page 6. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Final Thoughts: VENOM #9

VENOM #9 isn’t action-packed. In fact, it’s packed mainly with sad, dramatic inner monologues about death, loss, and despair. However, it’s also a fantastic issue because of its deep insights into Eddie Brock’s psyche and past.

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