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YMMV / Donny Cates' Venom

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  • And You Thought It Would Fail: Despite a rocky second arc, the series proved to not only be a critical darling, but a commercial smash hit frequently topping both the Nick Spencer's Spider-Man and the Jonathan Hickman's X-Men runs in the sales charts.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • Probably knowing that fans would miss Flash Thompson, Cates begins every arc with a character wishing that Eddie was Flash Thompson, and turns Issue #7 into something of a tribute to Agent Venom.
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    • Once Knull shows up, Cates uses him as a vehicle to undo some broken base changes Brian Michael Bendis made to the Symbiote lore — they weren’t originally a noble warrior race, as the Agents of the Cosmos try to be now. That they were is a lie spread by them to distance themselves from their past.
  • Arc Fatigue: While the Rex arc was well-received when it came out in 2018, a lot of Venom fans have come to dislike the Cosmic Horror elements of Cates' run and feel that Knull — who had been "coming" for two years as of King In Black — had long overstayed his welcome, wanting to see a return to Venom's status quo as a street-level vigilante.
  • Awesome Art: Ryan Stegman channels the best aspects of the nineties into his already energetic style and the result is just beautiful.
  • Broken Base:
    • Fans that enjoy the Venom symbiote and Eddie as partners have expressed distaste for Cates' run, as they see Cates going out of his way to make Brock and the symbiote's relationship out to be incredibly toxic, including using retcons to get this point across — which is something fans object to, as in several other media depictions the relationship was depicted more as a stand-in for a romantic LGBT pairing (“The Hunger” published back in the 1990s having subtext so strong that it included sharing valentines chocolate together and holding hands). Others, however, like this depiction, viewing the relationship as having always been some level of emotionally abusive and unhealthy due to the overt codependency and they enjoy Cates acknowledging this and exploring it.
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    • There’s also those who don’t ship it romantically who still dislike the numerous retcons to the story and the recycled symbiote leaving Eddie plot. This especially goes for longer-standing fans of the franchise seeing certain materials they read being altered, Note  to the extent that one reviewer called it the “One More Day of Venom”. Others are fine with the retcons since it allowed for Venom: Dark Origin to be completely erased from continuity and are excited to see what Donny does with Eddie being a father, to a human child this time. Although then some opinions split again into souring at that exploration, as the comic had Sleeper - addressed in the directly prior run by Eddie himself as his child - barely acknowledged by Eddie and said to be not his kid “unlike” Dylan.
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    • Opinions are split on the cosmic level of the story — with some fans enjoying it and others insisting that Venom should only be a street-level anti-hero; and with those who like the cosmic aspect, opinions are split on how well it’s done here.
  • Character Rerailment: When Cullen Bunn took over to write the War of the Realms tie-in, he had Eddie enjoying killing the invaders to release his rage, which was dialed up to eleven by an artificial symbiote he got from the dark elves. Some found this Eddie far more likable and in-character than Cates' iteration because it has Eddie returning to his roots with him being more competent by himself, wanting to save innocents from the monsters even when he was outmatched, having him come to terms with the realization that the symbiote wasn't wholly at fault for his rage and violent impulses, and having him admit that his rage and fixation on past traumas alienated him from his friends and family; finally acknowledging his flaws taking and responsibility for himself.
  • Continuity Lock-Out: The tendency for important continuity details and snarls to sometimes be clarified on Twitter by the author and not in comic, such as on Eddie’s cancer and the Carnage Symbiote being dead can be seen as this. Not everyone checks Twitter and would like the clarifications to be in-comic.
  • Complete Monster: Knull, the God of Symbiotes, predates almost all existence. Despising the light of existence, Knull warred with the gods and consumed entire worlds before creating the symbiotes and loosing them on civilizations to devour them, killing countless billions. Eventually betrayed and sealed off by his own "children", Knull returns and attempts to torture Eddie Brock's symbiote to relieve it of any honor and nobility, intending on recovering his old power and resuming his mission of devouring all life-starting by consuming everyone and everything on Earth.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Happening with some readers, as by issue 11, there’s only been an increasing barrage of darkness and despair and everything going horribly wrong. First Eddie finds out that the symbiote is seemingly braindead, and that the symbiote was messing with his memories to make him forget traumatic events like Flash's death. In his despair, Eddie starts doubting he was ever good enough for the symbiote; and sets out to try to make amends with his estranged and abusive father, who rejects him outright. Then he finds out that his cancer is making a resurgence; only to discover that the symbiote was only pretending to be braindead, he never originally had cancer, and that it had been messing with his memories all along to make him believe he had a sister.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • The Symbiote Rex, for being a Badass Normal symbiote with some humanity and depth, being able to contain Venom with thrown-together equipment and impersonate a person for years while conveying more depth than most symbiotes with only a handful of appearances. The Ve'Nam one-shot only helped, giving it something of a character arc and delving into its past.
    • Eddie's younger half-brother — or rather, son — Dylan Brock has been embraced by the fandom for being one of the few brighter spots of the second arc.
  • Fridge Horror: A massive one for any and all female symbiote hosts, especially ones who had their symbiote transported to them by male hosts, which even more horrifyingly includes teenage charges such as Jubulile and Andi, with the reveal of the circumstances of Anne’s pregnancy, raising the questions of if while they escaped, these hosts might be or have been at risk of such a forced pregnancy too. Never again will it be entirely comfortable for any of them to host a symbiote.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: The run was meant to introduce a new character during its Free Comic Book Day special in 2020 named Virus. A lot of people really liked the design and noted the simple-yet-cool name that was surprisingly overlooked, given the stranger names other symbiote characters have had... then Coronavirus became a much bigger issue (and it was already an issue when the character was revealed, though obviously not nearly as much of one during the creation itself), which also resulted in the delay of said FCBD issue due to the cancellation of FCBD 2020.
  • Heartwarming Moments:
    • The symbiote telling Eddie they love him. Even if he cannot hear them.
    • The Fourth Wall Psych at the start of Issue 25, when Eddie thanks his unseen audience, really the Avengers, for sticking with him as he tries to be a better person. It easily feels like he's thanking the reader for believing Venom can be a hero.
      Eddie: But I wanted to say thank you. To all of you. I know things have been... insane. That I haven't always been at my best... But, for good or for bad, you've seen something in me that I can't see in myself. And you've stuck with me. So. Yeah... Thank you.
  • Hype Backlash: Marvel hyped up the debut of Virus as some cool new character... it turns out to be Mac Gargan, who wears the armour and the identity for less than an arc.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "Venom is better than Watchmen." Explanation 
    • "Blond Kratos" became a Fan Nickname for Eddie beginning in the second arc, on account of his beard and moustache resembling those of Kratos in God of War (PS4). When Dylan Brock was introduced fanart depicting him in the role of Atreus and Eddie in the role of Kratos started popping up, with the comparison becoming all the more apt with the revelation that he is indeed Eddie's son.
  • Narm:
    • Knull's name is ominous and invokes the nothingness and despair that he is god of... and it's also Swedish for "fuck". His humanoid appearance was also offputting for someone meant to be a primordial god of eldritch darkness.
    • The Maker revealing that the symbiote's green saliva is actually waste product, meaning that Venom is basically shitting or pissing out his mouth. Certainly casts a new light on a few old panels, like the one from Lethal Protector where he was shown drooling all over his own face while crawling along a ceiling.
  • Surprisingly Improved Sequel: The series follows up Mike Costa's run, which by some was considered to be So Okay, It's Average; and also uses Eddie Brock rather than Flash Thompson, who had only recently died. Not only that, but it was also worried the series would be too much of a tie-in to the film. Instead, the run is by some considered one of the best Venom series (to the point that it was joked that this run is better than DC's Watchmen). However the comic got a Broken Base starting with the second arc, which while retconning the much reviled Dark Origin out of continuity, introduced several divisive retcons. It’s only become even more divisive as it’s gone on.
  • Take That, Scrappy!: Lee Price and Tel-Kar, characters from Mike Costa's Venom who the fandom largely repudiated due to their abusive treatment of the Venom symbiote, were both killed off during Absolute Carnage. Price in particular got the short end of the stick, with Carnage laughing at Price calling himself "Venom" before killing him, and Eddie dismissing Price as a nobody when Dylan asks who he was.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
    • In terms of the characterization put in place for Eddie here, specifically the reveal that Carl was physically abusive and the addiction metaphors, some feel this would serve better as a Flash story — some also note that Carl being emotionally distant in his abuse makes him more unique than yet another instance of a physically abusive father.
    • Some fans have pointed out that Eddie has been fully clothed despite he being known for end up being naked when he is separated from the symbiote but never shame about it, to the point he would even interrupt a conversation bare naked. In this run, however, despite the fact that Eddie is still poor and homeless like in the 90's, he still somehow wearing clothes, more jarring when you consider that Eddie in the Costa run actually had money and a job, but the symbiote would still turn itself into clothes for him.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Symbiote-wise there was Scorn and Rex, both good characters with a lot of potential who were abruptly killed off. In terms of humans, with the plot centring on Eddie’s human family, some feel this could have been used as a chance to bring Mary back and develop her properly, instead of her being unceremoniously fridged on a meta level.
    • On an ironic case, the character of Venom has been largely missing in this run because of the symbiote's braindead state since the second arc and the story not being much about dealing with a plot but more about Eddie having his history retconned. This is not the first time when Eddie and the symbiote has been separated inside an individual story (Venom: Lethal Protector, Venom: Separation Anxiety and Planet of the symbiotes to give a few examples), but it has taken for too long, to the point it feels like Wolverine Publicity except Wolverine is missing an entire arc in one of his runs.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Because of the symbiote going away and leaving Eddie alone with Dylan, it means that the Wars of Realms event has no Venom to make a tie-in story with, so Bunn has to come up with the idea of giving Eddie a fake magical symbiote to make up for it. The first issue was liked well enough but some feel that it would have been better if Eddie and the symbiote were dealing the chaos of the event together.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: At the end of issue 6, Venom and Rex team up to kill the Grendel symbiote, killing Rex and nearly killing both Eddie and the Venom symbiote. Before they both loses consciousness, the symbiote told Eddie that it loves him, many fans found this moment heartwarming but in an interview with Cates, it is stated it was meant to be seen as the symbiote being possessive of Eddie, causing fans to question the intentions of the Venom symbiote. The story reveals that the symbiote has been manipulating Eddie this entire time, altering his memories to think he had relatives that died of cancer and make him believe to have it to so he would be dependent on it and that supposedly it did something to Anne that is related to the existence of Dylan and what drove her crazy to the point of suicide. A lot of fans have been disgusted by this and it makes no sense for symbiote's character, in the story it is stated that it did all of this because of its nature Explanation  and fans lamented how the symbiote has been treated, from being mind-controlled by Knull or supposedly brain dead yet its still antagonized for just existing. The story does show the symbiote trying to fix its mistakes but fans still think that none of this should have happened in the first place.
    • Dylan calls out Sleeper at a point for killing Tel-Kar, treating the act as entirely in the wrong. Whilst Dylan thinking this, especially with him being a child, is very understandable...some readers have found that the narrative itself agreeing with Dylan is not so much. Pointing out that not only did Tel-Kar enslave the Venom Symbiote, advocate enslaving symbiotes and also make attempts to kill Sleeper and Sleeper’s parents, but that he also tried to commit genocide twice - against both skrulls and humanity - being lobotomized during his second attempt. As such, those readers are inclined to look on Sleeper doing so quite sympathetically given the circumstances.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: On the other side, Eddie Brock has been pointed as this, the entire story has painted him as a victim of everything and very often he ends up crying or lamenting everything, but fans found this straight up pathetic for how much of it feels like the writer is self-inserting himself on Eddie (which doesn't seem to be a secret on Cates' part) and how the narrative seems to try to lay the blame of all of his mistakes on the symbiote, instead of continuing to take responsibility for himself and learning from it. His bombastic and charming personality from before is all gone and in its place, it just a man that laments everything that happens to him but does nothing about it. He can't even fight for himself anymore, as more often he is tied up in a chair and letting other characters scream in his face.
  • WTH, Costuming Department?: A sticking point for the first arc was Eddie's long hair — evocative of his appearance in some of the 1990s comics — which was seen by some fans as so un-Eddie that it made him look like Sabretooth. He eventually does get a new haircut in the second arc, however.


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