The end of VENOM is nigh and unfortunately this is the penultimate chapter. Mania's mystical story has quite a few elements to it and writer Cullen Bunn is clearly wasting no time trying to address all of them before the book comes to an end. Everything from the mystery surrounding Daimon Hellstrom to Mania's hunt for Lord Ogre takes big strides here and it's obvious Bunn is trying to make the most of the limited space he has left. While this does make certain plot points feel rushed, it's still an entertaining and intriguing ride nonetheless.
I'm a total sucker for a good battle and despite including a massive brawl with a swarm of demons, my favorite part of this issue has to be the final act. Flash finally communicates with the symbiote in a scene which I thought was both particularly well-written and quite trippy at times.
Jorge Coelho's style works best whenever anyone is in a costume. Venom, Mania, Lord Ogre, Crossbones -- they all look solid. The symbiote's attacks against a wave of demons also has a nice sense of weight and motion behind it (even if a massive amount of enemies seemingly came out of nowhere in the end). Coelho's style comes off as a calmer and less eccentric version of Declan Shalvey or even Tradd Moore's art. It's not as energetic or strong as some of the other artists who were on the title, but it's more than able whenever there's action or unique characters filling the pages. I'm also fond of Coelho's establishing shots with various locations and those definitely give colorist Lee Loughridge the opportunity to standout and craft some wonderfully vivid moments.
After so much build up, I can't help but feel disappointed with Lord Ogre's conclusion. Even with his threat, what's stopping Mania from humiliating him and laying into him? Not being able to kill him doesn't mean she shouldn't be able to kick his ass while thinking about how to deal with the potential threat. I get Mania is new to this and thought he was bluffing, but after searching for him for so long and wanting nothing but revenge, wouldn't she want to make him suffer instead of going straight for the kill in that scenario? Given how easily he was dropped by Flash, I can't help but wonder why Mania acted so helpless for so long, especially since her arms were free.
The artwork comes as a mixed bag. It's not as engrossing as the artists who have previously worked on the title. It's serviceable, no doubt about it, but the human expressions come off as a tad too cartoonish and don't fit the vibe of the rest of the issue.
I always try my best not to rush to conclusions with cliffhangers. Far more often than not they go against the expected, but it's tough not to have some concerns over this one. It draws a very strong parallel to a not-so-popular Spider-Man story and honestly, it seems like a somewhat drastic leap for Flash to take right away.
VENOM #41 takes a lot of large steps with the plot and throws a fascinating scene our way, but it still feels like there's a lot of weight left on the final issue's shoulders. One plot element (which I considered to be a big deal) felt like it received a pretty swift and abrupt conclusion, so I really hope everything else doesn't get a similar treatment in the final issue. After all, we still have no idea why Crossbones is doing what he's doing and I wouldn't have known he's with the D.O.A. if I hadn't read an interview with Bunn (or am I forgetting something in the last issue?). Then there's potentially more with Hellstrom and the overall narrative with the markings. On top of all of that, this will possibly be the final time we see Flash and Mania before his appearance over in SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN. There's a fine moment to convey the current status of Flash and Andi's relationship in this issue, but I'm really hoping the next issue will do a stronger job cementing their relationship and developing a stronger emotional connection before it presumably comes to an end.