Graphic Novel Review: Venom: Unleashed/War of the Realms

Venom Unleashed

Venom Unleashed - Credit: Archant

(Panini Books)

Venom: War of the Realms

Venom: War of the Realms - Credit: Archant

The new mythology of Venom continues to be crafted by the creative team of Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman and Frank Tieri, and in Unleashed they flesh out some of the backstory of the symbiote's progeny Carnage ahead of the forthcoming bloodbath Absolute Carnage in a collection of four disparate tales under the umbrella title of Web of Venom.

Having established the existence of symbiotes on Earth long before Spider-Man brought one back from the original Secret Wars, we first discover how human test subjects took the alien infestation into the heart of the Vietnam War, with devastating consequences. Joining forces with the future Wolverine, James "Logan" Howlett, SHIELD director Nick Fury plunges into the heart of darkness to deal with the surviving hosts using extreme prejudice…

Then the dark origins of Cletus Kasady, the serial killer who became Carnage, are uncovered and laid bare, including the secrets behind his latest resurrection and the rise of the cult which bears his name.

Following a brief journey through Eddie Brock's old San Francisco haunts from the perspective of his alien "other", we take a trip to Doverton, Colorado, the town which was once taken over and brutalised by Kasady's alter ego, and is now the home of the Church of the New Darkness, in reality a front for the Cult of Carnage.

Agents Misty Knight and John (Man-Wolf) Jameson find themselves caught up in a bloody tale of smalltown horror which is merely the appetiser for the slaughter yet-to-come…

Then the devastating events of the War of the Realms, as seen unfolding in the Thor series, find a powerless Eddie and his son Dylan face-to-face with the Dark Elf Malekith's army, forcing Brock to make a desperate bargain with a Norse witch...

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Meanwhile, in another precursor to the forthcoming crossover, Carnage hunts down another former symbiote carrier, Flash Thompson's one-time protégé Mania, leaving a trail of death and horror in his wake.

With Venom thrust back to his rightful place in the higher echelons of the Marvel pantheon, now is the perfect time to immerse oneself in symbiote goo, and catch up on what's been happening ahead of Absolute Carnage.