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Mar 19

X-Men Blue / Venom: Poison-X

Posted on Monday, March 19, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

There must be people out there somewhere who can summon up enthusiasm for a five-part crossover between X-Men Blue and Venom.  I am not one of them.  I rather envy them their sunny optimism.  It must make the world a more cheering place.

Specifically, “Poison-X” runs through X-Men Blue Annual #1, X-Men Blue #21-22, and Venom #162-163 (which pretty much reduces the Annual to issue #20-and-a-half).  You may be wondering what might reasonably link the time-travelling junior X-Men with Venom.  And there really doesn’t seem to be an answer to that, beyond one link which this story generates, apparently to set us up for a sequel.  But I’m left entirely unconvinced that the world needed one X-Men / Venom crossover, let alone two.

In fact, this is a Venom story first and foremost.  The entire thing is written by Cullen Bunn, and it turns out to be a sequel to his Venomverse.  On top of that, it leads into the next Venom tie-in mini, Venomized.  And… seriously, it’s a Venom story.  What is it doing in three issues of X-Men Blue?

Trawling for a plot hook, the book settles on the idea that Venom’s symbiote is from space, and space is also where Cyclops’s dad is.  So a bunch of space pirates with their own symbiotes attack and kidnap the Starjammers in order to claim the bounty on their heads.  That interrupts a video call between Corsair and Scott, so Scott realises there’s a bunch of symbiotes involved and decides to round up the X-Men and pressgang Venom into helping out, before giving chase into space.  Which apparent is something they can do using Danger, because the plot requires that she can do that now.

Venom isn’t especially interested in helping out.  Or rather, Eddie Brock isn’t.  But his symbiote is quite keen to rescue its fellow symbiotes, who are presumably being bought and sold as weapons, so it drags him along to help out.  This all leads to the X-Men getting their own symbiotes so that we can have venomized X-Men teaming with Venom to rescue the Starjammers.  At that point the Poisons show up, which is meant to be a big deal, because we’re meant to have read Venomverse.

This is where I tune out.  The Poisons are the main bad guys from Venomverse, and from what little I’ve seen of it, they’re a fiddly, overcomplicated idea.  They’re little phantomy creatures who can kill symbiote-users with one touch, the idea being that this makes the Venom symbiotes a massive disadvantage, rather than a power-up.  So it’s kind of an attempt to create a villain that inverts the Venom concept.  But once they’ve touched somebody, they take over the entire body, symbiote and user both, and you get a sort of character who is still a Poison but also sort of a version of the original character too.  Oh, and this time the Venoms can touch them, because otherwise there wouldn’t be much fighting.

It’s convoluted and profoundly dull.  There doesn’t seem to be anything very interesting about the Poisons beyond a rulebook-based power set designed specifically to play off Venom.  Nothing in particular would make them especially relevant as X-Men villains, were it not for the fact that the plot has shoehorned the X-Men into wearing their own symbiotes too.

The art has its moments; Jacopo Camagni (on the X-Men Blue issues) does a good Jean Grey, draws alien worlds which feel somewhat lived in, and does some nice Venomised designs for the X-Men – Iceman works particularly well as an insubstantial shadowy figure.  The Venom issues suffer from having two artists working in visibly different styles – Edgar Salazar and Ario Anindito – but both are fine on their own terms.  And the death-mask facial designs of the Poisoned characters are somewhat interesting, though otherwise they feel a bit bland.

But this isn’t an X-Men story and it never manages to persuade me otherwise.  We’re evidently not done with all this because – spoilers – Jean gets Poisoned at the end and left behind in space.  She’s obviously not dead – the story doesn’t seriously try to persuade us of that – but that storyline is clearly going to have to be picked up and resolved somewhere.  Perhaps that’ll be in Venomized.

This all feels tremendously boring.  It probably works better as a Venom story, where at least you have the angle of the big bad guys pursuing Eddie back to Earth.  But for the X-Men, they’re just running around in the margins of somebody else’s plot.

Bring on the comments

  1. Taibak says:

    Welp. At least nobody’s obsessed with cobalt?

  2. Moo says:

    This sounds like something Howard Mickie would write.

  3. Moo says:


  4. mark coale says:

    I’d forgotten Corsair was alive again.

  5. Chris V says:

    I’d have to assume this is Marvel attempting to increase interest in the character of Venom before the movie is released.
    X-Men are pretty popular, so Marvel is trying to increase the visibility of Venom by shoe-horning him in to a X-Men comic.

  6. SanityOrMadness says:

    Thing is, I’d argue it’s even *less* cop as a Venom story than an X-Men story. At least the Starjammers are X-Men characters with a meaningful connection to Cyclops. Venom spends the whole story not wanting to be there, and the revelation of his new arch-enemies causes him to…want to be there even less.

    Fundamentally, he’s a street-level guy, after all.

  7. Brian says:

    All this space/multiversal Venom stuff would work if Flash Thompson was still wearing the symbiote. With Brock back in the role, it seems odd to avoid the street-level anti-heroics that the character/book in this iteration seems designed for. Flash was the Avengers/Guardians Venom, Eddie is the Spider-Man Venom; that suggests a certain scale for each character.

  8. wwk5d says:

    This sounds…bad. And not the enjoyable, good kind of bad, but Chuck Austen bad.

  9. Moo says:

    It’s hilarious, actually. The Phoenix finally takes a hike and a whole two months later we get another story where Jean Grey gets possessed by an alien creature.

  10. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    @wwk5d But Chuck Austen bad is enjoyable! Exploding communion wafers? Who wouldn’t want to read that? 😉

    Regardless, this is nowhere near Austen levels of badness. Actually, this isn’t bad at all, just… bland. But Bunn is a decent writer, there’s some okay action and dialogue. It’s just that the story as a whole is… well, you’re left with a ‘why is this happening?’. But not ‘this shouldn’t be happening’, like you would after reading something bad.

    …am I making sense? I’m not sure I’m making sense.

  11. Si says:

    I’d assume the Starjammers spend most of their time these days watching Guardians of the Galaxy DVDs and sighing dejectedly.

  12. Chris V says:

    Yeah, it makes sense Ceran.
    There is mediocre, workmanlike, and pointless versus outright horrible, I do not want to read this, it makes me feel depressed that a reputable publisher accepted this junk.
    There needs to be a new rule put in place, and we’ll call it the “Chuck Austen Law”.
    Did the story you just read make you feel nauseous with contempt and give you an urge to rip up the comic book?
    If not, then it’s not comparable to Chuck Austen.

  13. jpw says:

    What magical numbering system did Marvel use to get Venom up top #163?

  14. Voord 99 says:

    With this and the Totally Awesome Hulk/Weapon X “Weapons of Mutant Destruction” crossover, I think we only need one more Odd Couple Miniseries to call it a trend.

    But I think Chris V has it right: this is about the Venom movie. It’s not unlikely that part of the point was to ensure that among the assortment of collections that will be on sale will be one that has both “Venom” and “X-Men” on the cover.

    I’ll push back a little against Brian’s argument that this Venom shouldn’t be doing multiversal and space stuff, but the Flash Thompson Venom could. Originally, and for quite a long time, that wasn’t the Flash Venom either — his stories were all about the “Agent Venom” ground-level stuff.

    But you know, putting Flash in space as one of the Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the instances when Bendis’s idiosyncratic approach to putting together characters for team books sort of worked, even though Flash was working fine already with what he was doing in more grounded stories.

    It may be that there’s room to do something a bit weird with the Eddie Brock Venom, too. After all, space and aliens are built into the origin. I mean, it was maybe not the obvious move to decide that one of the new/old Venom’s first stories should be a wacky team-up with Moon Girl against Stegron the Dinosaur Man.

    Disclaimer: I’ve never been a big fan of the Brock Venom, and thought that abandoning the Flash Thompson Venom was not a good move. So it’s very possible that I just don’t get the visceral ‘90s appeal of the “Lethal Protector!” and am biased in favor of stuff that moves the character away from that.

  15. jpw says:

    @mark coale – everyone is always alive again

  16. Kenny says:

    I admit I’m a bit late to the conversation, but I actually really liked this. I enjoyed both Venomverse and the most recent Uncanny X-Men run, and I’ve really become a fan of Bunn’s writing in general. I also find the Poisons as villains rather intriguing, and I was hyped to see Venom team up with the X-Men because I don’t think that’s ever been done before.

    But yeah, if none of those things apply for you, then I can kinda see where you’re coming from.

  17. Voord 99 says:

    I sort of feel that there might be a basis for a Venom/X-Men crossover that played up symbiosis as a metaphor for the human/mutant harmony that the X-Men supposedly are trying to achieve.

    It might get into the ways in which symbiosis as a phenomenon complicates the oversimplified Highlander version of natural selection (There Can Be Only One Victor And The Loser Will Inevitably Be Driven Into Extinction) that has historically been the only version of Darwinian evolution that the X-books have traded in.

    You could have quite a wide range of possible plots, as long as the thematics were right.

  18. Rich Larson says:

    The arc also didn’t really get into the themes of the actual series. The O5 are supposedly working to avoid the mistakes of their older selves. In this story, they kidnap Venom, potentially get permanently bonded to aliens, seemingly get Jean killed and are bringing a world destroying disaster back to Earth. It should make them question whether they are in fact making things worse. And shouldn’t Scott be as anxious to get back to his actual biological father in his own timeline?

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