Stillanerd Reviews: Venom #151 review


Despite regressing into your typical antihero, Eddie Brock’s Venom does a little dinosaur hunting and winds up with a surprising new ally.

Venom #151

“The Land Before Crime, Part One”

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Writer: Mike Costa

Artist: Gerardo Sandoval

Color Artist: Dono Sánchez-Almara

Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

Cover Artists: Francisco Herrera and Fernanda Rizo

“The darkness within us” and “a monster who fights monsters” are common themes in stories. Superhero comics are no exception, and lean heavily on those themes far too often. Especially if the hero thinks of themselves as a monster struggling against those darker impulses. Eddie Brock as Venom, however, didn’t have such concerns. If the symbiote unlocked and freed the worst within him, then Eddie happily opened the cell door.

But of course, we must have “conflicted” antiheroes. They must feel regret over their otherwise heinous actions while committing those very heinous acts for some “greater good.” It’s an unfortunate cliché, this brooding, angst-ridden, violent misanthrope with noble intentions. Now it looks like Eddie, under Mike Costa, has become exactly that. But hey, at least Eddie will be fighting dinosaur men!

Credit: Gerardo Sandoval and Dono Sánchez-Almara; (Marvel Comics); from Venom #151

…with Eddie’s return, we’re right back to concept of the symbiote bringing out the worst in others. It’s just this time, Eddie’s no longer so compliant with what his “partner” does.

All right, despite my being tongue-in-cheek, this is a serious drawback with Venom #151, and possibly for the series too. As two-dimensional as the character of Lee Price was, at least he flipped the script on the host/symbiote relationship. Now, with Eddie’s return, we’re right back to the concept of the symbiote bringing out the worst in others. It’s just, this time, Eddie’s no longer so compliant with what his “partner” does.

Thus, when we first see Eddie sitting by the hospital bedside of the priest he unconsciously assaulted (and fortunately didn’t kill), he’s already convinced something’s wrong with the symbiote. In their various internal monologues, he tries telling it how things can’t be the way they once were, even while reassuring they’ll stay together. The symbiote, meanwhile, brings up Eddie’s lack of trust, and how it’s only trying to do what’s best for them both. It’s a development which seems all too familiar.

This does, however, tie-in quite well with the issue’s main plot. Overhearing about a viscous attack from a monster with “fangs” in the sewers near the priest’s church, Eddie fears the symbiote has harmed more innocents. Fortunately for him and the symbiote, it’s a different monster altogether—one with direct ties to the C-list Spider-Man villain, Stegron, the Dinosaur Man. And both, surprisingly enough, have connections towards a botched military project conducted by the nefarious corporation, Alchemax.

Credit: Gerardo Sandoval and Dono Sánchez-Almara; (Marvel Comics); from Venom #151

To Costa’s credit, this is a shrewd creative decision. Considering how Spider-Man 2099 will soon be ending, this allows for Miguel O’Hara’s adversaries to stay relevant. It proves the fight between Venom and Scorpion in #150 wasn’t so obligatory. More importantly, it provides Venom with a ready-made supporting cast and an ongoing narrative. As Liz Allan tells Eddie, her company will help him fix the symbiote while he cleans up their mess with Stegron. Obviously, this will wind up being an ongoing arrangement between them long after this current story is over.

Eddie’s arrival at Alchemax is also the moment where the comic really gains momentum. It’s an odd coincidence how two different comics from this week, both this and Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows, involve Liz with Venom. Here, it’s through her interaction with Eddie, and the dynamic between them works beautifully. Though when Alchemax’s comically nervous astrobiologist calls Eddie Liz’s “boyfriend,” I hope this wasn’t an attempt at foreshadowing.

Speaking of comedy, I also found this welcoming, especially after the more serious-minded #150. Then again, that’s not unusual for horror stories involving monsters like this one. They’re silly as they are scary, as it’s clear that’s the angle Costa is aiming towards in the introduction involving the film students being attacked by one of the dinosaur men. As it just so happens, they’re making a monster movie, too, with a monster resembling the Gill-Man.

Credit: Gerardo Sandoval and Dono Sánchez-Almara; (Marvel Comics); from Venom #151

…Venom #151 is still narratively sound. More than that, it sets up a potentially stable status quo with an actual supporting cast

Even Gerardo Sandoval goes for the occasional absurdist wink. All throughout this comic, Sandoval depicts Venom resembling how he originally looked under Todd McFarlane: big, muscular, with a permanent, over-sized grin with even bigger teeth. And in doing so, Venom’s goofy grin somehow makes him more intimidating. The only time he does is when he exposes his tongue, which also gets pulled and yanked by the dinosaur man he’s fighting.

It’s also in line with Sandoval’s more exaggerated style. Like McFarlane and Humberto Ramos, he uses caricature (accentuating certain features) to give his figures more personality and individuality. It’s also one which proves great when it comes to more action-oriented scenes like Venom’s fight with the dinosaur man in the sewers. It’s fast, brutal, but never graphic. We see a splash of blood during one of Venom’s punches, but never the actual killing blow itself. If there’s only one complaint, it’s that he could ease off a little when it comes to his inks.

So, yes, for as much as I lament over how Eddie Brock’s return as Venom has turned into yet another angst-ridden antihero, Venom #151 is still narratively sound. More than that, it sets up a potentially stable status quo with an actual supporting cast, something which Eddie Brock never really had before. Not a bad way to set up what could very well be the comic book equivalent of a B-grade monster movie.

Stillanerd’s Score: 3.5 out of 5

Next: Stillanerd Reviews: Venom #150 review

 Stillanerd’s Nerdy Nitpicks (possible spoilers)

Credit: Gerardo Sandoval and Dono Sánchez-Almara; (Marvel Comics); from Venom #151

“That costume looks terrible in these lights.” Um … what lights? The one from your lone tripod camcorder?

A bit of Stillanerd Speculation: that symbiote “footprint” Eddie left behind will bond with the comatose priest.

“In the sewers …” Really? Cause it looked like those students were filming in an abandoned railway tunnel to me.

So why didn’t the film student just describe the monster as a dinosaur man? Why go for the nebulous description of it being “seven feet tall … walked on two legs” and had “huge fangs.”

Why should Liz Allan be surprised their top secret project is a potential “public relations nightmare”? The very fact Alchemax was stupid enough to brand their experimental dinosaur men with their company logo defeats the purpose of it being a secret project.

Yeah, Steven, I’m kind of wondering why Eddie is shirtless myself, seeing as how the symbiote can mimic any clothing it wants.

I’d think, as an astrobiologist, Dr. Steve should know better than to handle a test sample from parasitic alien organism with his bare hands.

And bravo to Eddie for pointing out the irony of a scientist named Stegron turning himself into a half-man, half-stegosaurus.

  • Yes, that’s a half-man, half-dinosaur wearing a crown, sitting on a throne flanked by torches. Clearly, Stegron’s an avid watcher of Game of Thrones or a huge fan of Conan the Barbarian.