VENOMIZED #4 by Cullen Bunn, Kevin Libranda and Matt Yackey
Plot
Characterization
Art
Summary
While VENOMIZED #4 begins the climax that past issues have neglected, it struggles to find a genre it can belong to. Silly dialogue and plot points are boldly contrasted against morbid themes, forcing me to wonder what Bunn's true intentions are for the series.
49 %
Strangely Funny
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Just when we thought Earth’s mightiest heroes were gaining on the Poisons, the vicious parasitic aliens bring in the big guns: Poison Thanos. VENOMIZED #4, written by Cullen Bunn and illustrated by Kevin Libranda and Matt Yackey, finally sees the beginning of what might be considered a climactic moment. Past issues in the five-part miniseries have been lackluster due to slow storylines and unnecessary dialogue. While I think this issue also fails to keep a needed pace, VENOMIZED #4 does raise the stakes by bringing Thanos into the action. Whether or not that action will be worth the wait of four issues won’t be determined until the last installment in the series is released on May 2nd.

venomized #4
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Poisons Keep Coming in VENOMIZED #4

VENOMIZED #4 begins in Poison Thanos and Dr. Doom’s creepy spaceship where the evil pair is holding a meeting. In attendance are the Poison Jean Grey, the recently-transformed Carnage, and some weird Poison ghosts. Poisons are able to create the physical shapes of their victims’ loved ones, which is why an ethereal Charles Xavier is always lurking behind Poison Jean. Thanos has a ghost of Death and Doom has one of his mother (who looks a lot like Wanda Maximoff…).

Back on Earth, Cyclops and Venom argue over the nature of Poisons. According to Cyclops, buried beneath Jean’s Poison shell, there is still an inkling of the real her. He admits that Jean tried to contact him, and in his reply, he gave away his location. Venom vehemently reminds him that once a person becomes a Poison, they are no longer that person. Poisons, according to Venom, kill on contact.

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When a group of Poisons (including the ruthless Carnage) attack the heroes’ safehouse, Venom and Cyclops are forced to put their differences aside and fight. Numerous heroes become Poison prey, but thanks to Kid Kaiju’s monsters, most of them get out safely. But, in the world of VENOMIZED, nowhere is safe. As the heroes are escaping, Thanos suddenly appears, creating chaos and killing anyone in his path. Kid Kaiju summons his biggest monsters yet, crushing the intergalactic villain. The last panel in the issue is less than hopeful as Thanos rises and announces that everything is going according to plan.

venomized #4
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Light Comedy Meets Horrid Violence

Perhaps the oddest thing about this issue, and the VENOMIZED series in general, is the bizarreness of it all. Comic books are strange — I’m well aware of that (trust me). But, VENOMIZED brings the word “unusual” to a whole new level. The series has parasitic aliens, creepy ghosts, outrageous monsters, and wild 80s hairdos (Poison Jean has definitely invested in some top shelf hairspray). Individually, I could handle all of those things. But together they start to paint a pretty outlandish picture.

Outlandish is not necessarily a bad thing. Take any DEADPOOL comic and you’ll probably find some similar elements. My problem with VENOMIZED #4 is that it doesn’t know where it wants to belong in terms of genre. The funny, childish moments involving Captain America and Kid Kaiju are juxtaposed against very serious conversations between Venom and Cyclops about death. Is it a kid’s comic? Is it a 15+ comic? Does anyone really know?

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I think Bunn should accept the fact that VENOMIZED has a kind of silly concept and run with it. Silly concepts in comics can be a lot of fun. But placing silly storylines with emotional and traumatic storylines? That’s not usually a good idea.

venomized #4
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Jean Grey is Everywhere and Nowhere

In my review of VENOMIZED #3, I talked a little bit about how Jean’s return to Earth was really anti-climatic and pretty much did nothing for the plot. It seems Bunn agreed with me because in VENOMIZED #4 Jean is back in space and acting as if she never went to Earth in the first place! Inconsistencies happen in comics all the time. Mostly they appear because it’s nearly impossible as a writer to know microscopic events from every series that’s ever been written. But, in this case, the inconsistency is from issue #3 to #4. That’s kind of a problem.

A crossover event with as many characters as VENOMIZED is going to be a little confusing regardless of how well organized the plot is. But, having characters jump from setting to setting without any explanation only makes the story more complicated. Perhaps the Jean seen in VENOMIZED #3 is a clone and the real Jean was still back in the spaceship during that issue? Maybe she telepathically projected an image of herself to fool everyone into thinking she was on Earth? It could be those things, or it could just be a run-of-the-mill inconsistency.

venomized #4
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Which Poison are You?

VENOMIZED #4 gets an artist change, with Kevin Libranda taking over for Iban Coello. Libranda’s artistic style isn’t quite as natural as Coello’s when it comes to the creepy crawly Poisons, but Libranda still does a good job drawing such a large array of monsters, aliens, and humans.

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The biggest drawback of having Libranda as the artist for VENOMIZED #4 is the inconsistent character styles. For example, Coello’s Jean Grey, seen in VENOMIZED #3, is completely different than Libranda’s Jean Grey in VENOMIZED #4. Sure, they both have red hair and a similar suit but stylistically they’re very different. Looking at images of the two side-by-side, they look like completely different characters. Why did Libranda do this? In VENOMIZED #3, Coello’s Jean doesn’t have the small red light on her forehead that all of the other incantations of Poison Jean have had. But, in VENOMIZED #4 she does. So, perhaps my clone theory isn’t so outlandish after all…

venomized #4
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Final Thoughts

VENOMIZED #4 doesn’t really know where it stands. Is the series supposed to be funny? Is it supposed to be serious? Or is it supposed to be somewhere in between?

In the last issue of the series, I hope to see some elements that clearly place it in a genre because, at the moment, I’m not really sure how to react to this strange mixture of comedy and tragedy. I think VENOMIZED has an interesting premise but it needs to decide on what it wants to be and it’s running out of time to do that. Hopefully, by the last issue, it’ll be clear what genre VENOMIZED belongs to.

VENOMIZED #5 comes out on May 2nd!

One Comment

  1. […] VENOMIZED #4 really struggled with deciding what genre it wanted to be. Bunn added a lot of humorous elements but he also included some very serious topics that don’t mesh with a comedic setting. The issue felt like it was floating between the two genres without completely being either one. […]

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