REVIEW: Venomverse #4 – “Hive-Mind”

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VENOMVERSE #4
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Penciler: Iban Coello
Colorist: Matt Yackey
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Price: $3.99

Release Date: 9/27/17

After being recruited by an alternate Captain America into a battle with a species called Poisons, Venom Eddie Brock finds himself with a dwindling army and nowhere to turn. He called on the aid of Carnage, who wreaked havoc on the Poisons, but couldn’t prevent Doctor Strange from being kidnapped. What’s left for the survivors to do in Venomverse #4?

Plot: Despite being down one Doctor Strange, the various Venoms have a plan in place to take out a large number of Poisons. While they are more successful that previous issues would anticipate, there is still dissension among their ranks. After all, once they’re done killing Poisons, Carnage may just try to kill them.

Scarlet Witch is hard at work breaking down Doctor Strange’s mental defenses on behalf of the Poisons. Meanwhile, the Venoms capture Gwenpool and start questioning her… Until the recently turned Deadpool shows up with an even bigger surprise.

Story: Venomverse #4 opens on the confrontation between Rocket and a few Poisons, after he’s booby-trapped the streets. Though it’s just an aside, Rocket remembers his fallen Guardian comrades in a touching moment that exemplifies how well Cullen Bunn draws out emotion in the middle of humor and chaos. There are other instances in which the history of various characters is interwoven naturally into the action as well, such as the very personal anger between Poison Creed and Venom Logan.

One especially interesting aspect of the story is that while the Venoms do retain strong traces of their hosts’ personalities, it is the Poisons who promise to do the same. “They live on within us,” Gwenpool declares. “And so will you.” Except she says this in a monotone any reader can hear loud and clear, no matter how pink and awesome her speech bubble is. Even as they say one thing, the narrative betrays the strength behind their hive-mind.

And it is this very ambiguity that makes Deadpool’s double agent storyline so effective. It feels right that only someone with his self-described “brand of crazy” could fend off the Poison control for any appreciable length of time. Furthermore, it propels the war forward and sends the series hurtling towards its climax in a way that feels earned rather than pat and rushed.

Art: The artwork in Venomverse #4 continues to be highly stylized, but Coello and Yackey manage to make each character distinct and recognizable no matter how Venom-ized they are. The color palette remains as bold and vibrant as ever, bringing life and light to an otherwise dark ‘verse. Even the lettering varies according to personality or background, and Joe Caramagna helps to make each sequence even more fun.

Speaking of fun, there are several fight scenes in the issue which could easily become repetitive in the hands of other artists. But instead the team calls on various tricks of perspective and causes the different battles to crackle and pop. When Gwenpool kicks Eddie Brock – with an added quip about how he’s the most boring guy in the bunch – he nearly comes off the page as if we’re watching a film in 3D.

Verdict: Venomverse #4 is another awesome installment for an event that proves Marvel knows how to do crossovers. Keeping the story contained so that all the action and emotion is in one place has greatly benefited the story, and the excellent art is icing on the cake.

Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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