In this Spider-Island tie-in, Venom is tasked with retrieving Eddie Brock (Anti-Venom) for the US government, because his curative powers have proven the one thing capable of standing up to the Jackal’s spider-transformation agent. Although, as it turns out, the stakes for Flash are much more personal than that.
Perhaps the most important thing to note about “Venom” #7 is that despite providing a story that ties in heavily with the events of the crossover (even going so far as to duplicate certain scenes from this week’s “Amazing Spider-Man”) the book manages to read as much like an issue of the “Venom” ongoing as any other issue. There’s little to no sense of the book being de-railed by a crossover. It’s how tie-ins should be.
However, the reason most people will want to pick up this book is because it contains the first meeting of Anti-Venom and the current Venom. There’s a certain fanboy glee in putting these two together, and to Remender’s credit, their run-in doesn’t transform into a stereotypical hero-versus-hero fight. That’s not to say there isn’t fighting, but as with all superhero comics, the best fights are metaphors and this one is a fantastic character piece for Thompson, advancing his strained relationship with the Venom symbiote in ways he doesn’t even want to admit.
Fowler’s artwork is solid stuff, and he makes easy work of both the more monstrous elements of the story (the Spider-King, the symbiote battle, the giant spiders) and the final, more subtle scenes in the hospital. Rauch’s color palette is muted and slightly more sober than the more upbeat, exciting tone of “Amazing Spider-Man.” Despite this, the book still fits into the same world; it just looks like an alternative angle on the same events — the kind of darker view you might have, for example, if you were Flash Thompson.
While Remender manages to juggle the book’s ongoing plot threads with the crossover, the issue, itself, does appear to lose something, which is any resolution for Venom’s undercover operation posing as the Spider-King. The Spider-Queen asks him to kill Anti-Venom, after all, and while there’s a conflict of interest in being asked to both kill and retrieve the same target by two different masters, the plot thread disappears. Presumably it’ll be picked up if and when Venom returns to his undercover position, but it was allowed to fade away a little too easily.
Still, there’s enough going on that you can understand why that might have been allowed to drop away slightly. Everything else about the writing is great, the artwork is enjoyable, and the story works for regular readers and those on board for the crossover. It’s a textbook example of how to do a tie-in, and just as fine an example of how to write an ongoing series. Even if you’re not interested in Venom as a character, it’s worth giving this issue a try.