Guardians of the Galaxy #23 Review


My main bone of contention with Brian Michael Bendis’ ‘Planet of the Symbiotes’ storyline was that it was fairly light on the ‘Planet of the Symbiotes’ side of things. After two issues we’d spent more time seeing various members of the Guardians get taken over by Venom than learning about the origins of the symbiote.

So has Guardians of the Galaxy #23 done anything to alleviate my criticism? Well, there’s a significant amount of symbiote based planet in this issue but I have to be honest and say that for the first time since I’ve been reading comics, Brian Michael Bendis has actually underwhelmed me.

It turns out that all of this hype, all of the promise of visiting Venom’s home planet and exploring the origin of the symbiote was simply to retool Flash Thompson’s Agent Venom as an out and out good guy, or as he puts it “a super powered space warrior” completely disregarded Venom’s storied history as one of the greatest comic book villains of all time.

I understand that Venom is now a good guy, and that Agent Venom is now a Guardians of the Galaxy character but the conclusion to this storyline strikes me as Bendis deliberately undoing all of Venom’s history as a Spider-Man character to re-establish him as an out and out Guardians of the Galaxy character. This has irked me somewhat.

As has the Agent Venom redesign. I thought the previous Agent Venom appearance was spot-on and made him look every bit the super-powered solider that he should look like. This new appearance and look seems purely designed to be made into a figure for Disney Infinity. Honestly it wouldn’t look out of place in a Web Warriors cartoon. Basically I’m saying it strikes me as a childish step backwards.

But the main thing is that conceptually the origin of the symbiote is something that deserved much more than a massive info-dump at the end of  a throwaway story-arc in a Guardians of the Galaxy that moved onto the next storyline without so much as a lingering glance back. This should’ve been a bigger much more important thing.

Instead of being a big moment in Marvel history this read as a Guardians of the Galaxy side adventure with Agent Venom on the team, just an ordinary time-killing exercise until the next big storyline happens for them. Instead of earth-shattering revelations we followed a character on a journey spanning three comics, in which they spent most of the time unconscious, just to see them get a new suit. Admittedly it established Agent Venom as part of the team which I guess was sort-of the point, but it really, really missed the mark.

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