This issue boils down to what’s essentially one big brawl with the creature (aka Slayback’s brother) we met in the previous issue, and if you know me well, that means you know I was immediately drawn into this one. I can’t help it, I love me some crazy action and writer Cullen Bunn's latest chapter absolutely delivers. It kicks offs with a set of seriously awesome panels as the two clash, bringing us face first with the elements that make these two beings so horrific. Rigid and sharp teeth, huge claws, terrible skin conditions... it's stuff that would bring a smile to any horror fan's face. We're then pushed back to witness a full view of the fight and it's a brutal delight as these two go head-to-head.
It goes without saying this entire experience would be nothing without Declan Shalvey's pencils. I do have some gripes with his style (for example, people have zero detail at a distance... just blank faces), but his style is an exceptional fit for VENOM's dark and tragic atmosphere. His method manages to make a few scenes appropriately appalling (i.e. the incident at the vet's office) and this man is unparalleled when it comes to making symbiotes every bit as frightening as they should be.
This issue isn't all claws and madness, though. Bunn doesn't forget for a second that this book is really about a man down in the dumps. He's managed to consistently feed us this without making him painfully emo or fill the pages with cringeworthy depressing captions. Flash isn't all that charismatic and that's what works so well about him. The dude's actually relatable and his dialogue is organic for the most part. I really loved the friendly banter he had with Beast and admit the coffee remark gave me a good chuckle. Also, making Beast look like his current mutation gave the book a nice sense of continuity -- I know the character has a history of changing a lot in appearance from book to book.
GAH! You've struck us with yet another Toxin cliffhanger, Mr. Bunn! You, sir, are one big tease to Toxin fans. The solicit said we'd see it happen this issue, but sadly we don't. At least we'll see them fight in the next issue... or so it seems! Also, having the symbiote construct a gun certainly looked really cool, but aren't holsters way more practical? Finally, I would have appreciated more of a focus on Eddie Brock and his motives by now, so hopefully we'll get that in the next chapter.
Crazy action? Check. Character development with Flash? Check. Pure eye candy from Shalvey? Check. If those points appeal to you, stop reading this right now and go buy the issue. And if you already bought the issue, go read it this second. Toxin vs. Venom has been hyped for quite some time now, so hopefully Bunn and Shalvey go all out in the next issue!
Oh, and how awesome is that cover? Marvel, you need to turn that into a poster.