Venom issue #4 just came out on Wednesday, and if you’ve been out of the loop lately, now is the time to jump back in. This key issue is loaded with several callbacks to Venom’s “Lethal protector” days. The infamous Life Foundation is back, and they’ve got quite the score to settle. Only this time, they have Dylan Brock in their sights. The villainous Carlton Drake, the foundation’s head honcho, continues his plan to poke as many holes into the symbiote as possible. That plan involves sending Agent Carson out in the Spearhead armor for the first time. Meanwhile, the Venom symbiote continues to struggle while dealing with its paternal attachment to Dylan.  

Venom Without a Host 

Dylan was captured in the last issue, after a former “friend” of Eddie Brock betrayed him. The Venom symbiote begins tracking Dylan and Sleeper, while simultaneously struggling to find a way to make Dylan trust him. Unfortunately, Carson in the Spearhead armor suddenly attacks. Simultaneously, Dylan is being experimented on at a research facility connected to the mysterious “Absent Throne” conspiracy theory that Eddie Brock was investigating before his alleged death. Venom realizes that he’s no match for Spearhead without a host, and makes his retreat. Carlton Drake advises Carson to allow the symbiote to escape, proclaiming that they’ve “prodded the beast enough” for one day. 

We Are Venom 

Meanwhile, Dylan desperately clings to the idea that his father is still alive, pleading to him for help. At that point, the various symbiote samples suddenly break out of their containers, combining together to create a grotesque malformation of Eddie Brock. Eddie tells Dylan that he can only trust Venom and Archer. Dylan tells his father that Archer betrayed him. Eddie is confused by this, but he vows that he will ‘fix’ everything. He tells Dylan that Venom will come back for him. As Dylan makes his escape, that’s exactly what happens. Venom bonds with Dylan, leaving the corrupt scientists scared for their lives. 

Bedlam is My Name 

Finally, Meridius shows up in Carlton Drake’s office. He informs Drake that they must continue to push Venom and Dylan beyond their limitations. Meridius vows to play his own part as well. From there, he transforms into the monstrous red symbiote creature briefly seen in a vision by Eddie Brock towards the end of issue #1. Bedlam has arrived.  

Only four issues in, Ram V and Bryan Hitch have definitely stayed true to many of the horror elements introduced in Donny Cates’ and Ryan Stegman’s previous Venom arc. That serves this new series well. One unique aspect of Venom is, despite getting his first solo series back in the early 1990s, there isn’t a large pool of archvillains to choose from in his history. For the longest time, Venom was the primary villain to Spider-Man. The Life Foundation happens to represent one of Venom’s first true antagonists outside of Carnage. It will be interesting to see if we get some significant new villains out of this series.