The dramatic end to the VENOMVERSE crossover event is finally here! VENOMIZED #1, by Cullen Bunn, Iban Coello, and Matt Yackey, finds the entire Marvel universe desperately trying to survive as dangerous Poisons infect super-powered beings with symbiotes. Even the fiercest warriors, including Thor, Spider-Man, and Storm, have become Poison prey. Will all of our dearly beloved characters fall victim to the onslaught of alien parasites? Does VENOMIZED #1 mark the end of Earth-616 as we know it? That might be a little dramatic (even for a crossover event) but anything is possible, right?

VENOMIZED #1
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Prepare to be Poisoned in VENOMIZED #1

If you didn’t read the X-MEN BLUE “Poison-X” arc, I highly recommend checking that out before reading VENOMIZED #1. Without the storyline provided in “Poison-X,” VENOMIZED #1 doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Now that that’s over with, on with the spoilers! “Poison-X” saw the return of the strange Poison aliens Venom encountered in the VENOMVERSE series. They’re more powerful than a normal symbiote and they fully possess hosts instead of bonding with them. At the end of the arc, the Poisons were set on taking over Earth and turning everyone into Poisons. VENOMIZED #1 sees part of that plan coming to fruition, as a Poisoned version of X-Force attacks the Xavier School, turning numerous students and teachers into symbiote-infected beings. From there, the attack spreads to New York, where more and more heroes become infected.

Venom: A Metaphor for Addiction

It’s important to note that the Poisoned X-Force are shooting Klyntar symbiotes at the unsuspecting heroes — not Poisons. Poisons and symbiotes are two totally different things, but in order for someone to become infected by a Poison alien, they have to have already bonded with a symbiote. In VENOMIZED #1, the leaders of the Poisons (Poisoned versions of Thanos and Dr. Doom) are first bonding heroes with symbiotes. Presumably, they’ll bond the heroes with Poisons later. That’s when things will get really scary.

VENOMIZED #1
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

In regards to the plot of VENOMIZED #1, my only complaint is the inclusion of Mighty Thor so soon after her death. Although Bunn explains the discontinuity, it just doesn’t feel right. Jane Foster’s (aka Mighty Thor) death was so emotional and finite that her inclusion in this issue is jarring.

Symbiotes can be Friendly

While a lot of heroes are infected by symbiotes in VENOMIZED #1, that doesn’t mean they’re mindless, bloodthirsty psychopaths. If “Poison-X” taught us anything, it’s that most people can easily bond with symbiotes and remain fairly normal. They look a lot different, but they’re still the same heroes we know and love. Aside from the giant fangs.

The VENOM crossover event has introduced a lot of new and interesting ideas, but I think the most important concept is that of the friendly symbiote. The enemy in VENOMVERSE and “Poison-X” is not Venom or Klyntar — it’s the Poisons. Venom got a bad rep after being introduced as Peter Parker’s mirror antagonist. However, it’s not the symbiote that makes Eddie Brock a “bad guy” — it’s Eddie himself. In terms of morality, the personality and character of the person infected matters more than the symbiote itself. The Klyntar are a docile species that aren’t naturally evil. It’s the people (and aliens) who want to use the symbiotes for sinister purposes who are evil.

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A Doom and Thanos Team-Up is Never Good

In terms of plot, I thought the best decision was having two of Marvel’s most well-known villains working side-by-side: Thanos and Dr. Doom. The Poisons are a great antagonist, but they need bodies in order to wreak havoc. Without hosts, they’re just creepy crawling aliens.

Bunn’s inclusion of Dr. Doom and Thanos brings the storyline back to the Marvel universe that everyone knows. Instead of VENOMIZED being a story about Venom, Spider-Man, and Poisons, its a story about everyone in Marvel comics — from good guys to bad guys. This also means that Doom and Thanos’ characterizations don’t have to stop for the crossover event. A lot of crossover events see a temporary pause in some characters’ development, but VENOMIZED #1 does a good job of touching on numerous characters without becoming confusing.

VENOMIZED #1
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Is that you, Wanda?

The most surprising moment of characterization comes when Thanos and Doom are casually talking about taking over the world in their secret hi-tech hideout. Doom admits that he’s disappointed people in the past, but he has “no desire to fail her again.” A Poison-induced image of a woman in a dress materializes in the panel as he says this, yet the woman’s name is never given.

I found this moment so interesting because when I was reading it, I immediately thought the woman looked like the Scarlet Witch circa AVENGERS: THE CHILDREN’S CRUSADE. In that series, an amnesiac Scarlet Witch almost marries Dr. Doom. At the last minute, Wanda’s kids come and save their mom. Although their relationship was built on a sandy foundation, Wanda and Doom definitely had something between them. Maybe Doom never got over Wanda and wants to use Poisons to get her back? Or, maybe I’m just crazy and the woman isn’t Wanda at all. I can only hope that Bunn is throwing me an Easter egg a few days late.

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Goo Galore

Iban Coello’s characteristic style is perfect for VENOMIZED #1. Though Coello sometimes struggles with drawing realistic humans (particularly women), his renderings of the symbiotes and Poisons (which take up the majority of the issue) are phenomenal. The slimy tentacles and gooey Klyntar biomasses are as graceful as they are disgusting.

Some of my favorite panels include the symbiote transformations and the image of a Poisoned Black Cat. Coello is really able to capture the alien qualities of the otherworldly matter while still maintaining realistic, earthly backgrounds. The juxtaposition between the slimy symbiotes and the New York skyline is both beautiful and a little scary.

VENOMIZED #1
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Final Thoughts

Even if Venom isn’t your favorite Marvel character, I urge you to go and pick up a copy of VENOMIZED #1. Cullen Bunn is a hot writer at the moment and he really knows the Marvel universe. Overall, the issue is the beginning of the end for a well-done crossover event.

VENOMIZED #1 by Cullen Bunn, Iban Coello, and Matt Yackey
Plot
Characterization
Art
Summary
VENOMIZED #1 is just what Marvel needs to kickstart an exciting summer! Bunn masterfully creates a venomous world full of Poisons, symbiotes, and spiders. While the cast of characters is big, the storyline is clear and doesn't become convoluted like other crossover series. Anyone who is looking for a new and unexplored Marvel adventure needs to pick up VENOMIZED #1 today!
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