Venom Island to Venom Beyond
After the events of Venom Island, Donny Cates sets the stage for the biggest Venom story of the character’s history. If there was any concern about this story burning out quickly, it’s been crushed under the weight of the epic new Venom Beyond story arc.
At the end of Venom #25, readers were left with a small taste of what was to come for Eddie Brock and his son Dylan. This came in the form of a two-page montage that revealed the arrival of several key characters such as Virus, the God of Symbiotes Knull, the Maker, and an unknown figure bearing a familiar insignia on his chest. Helping Cates to bring this new epic to life are artists Iban Coello, Juan Gedeon and Jesus Aburtov.
Starting with Venom #26, Eddie and Dylan’s story picks up some time later.
The first page opens with an unknown man running for his life down a back alley as a shadowy figure pursues him. He runs into Eddie Brock, who reveals that he lured the man to him by using his separated Venom symbiote.
Brock then bonds with the symbiote and, as Venom, informs the man that he can lie to them or he can live, but not both. Eddie is Hell-bent on finding answers about what is happening to his son Dylan. Apparently, this man gave them the location of just the person they needed.
As they make their departure, Venom and Dylan are quietly pursued by the mysterious new character, Virus.
They arrive at the location, and Dylan comments that it’s “just some warehouse.” Eddie tells Dylan “Lots of crazy things can be hidden in warehouses.”
Inside, they find the Maker building some kind of portal to another universe. Both the Venom symbiote and Dylan warn Eddie that something is wrong. The Maker tells them he’s leaving, and then reveals that he has his own lab-created symbiote.
Venom attempts to stop the Maker but is overpowered. Before the fight can continue, Virus bursts through the front door equipped with a Goblin glider and pumpkin bombs. During the attack, Virus screams at Brock for ruining his life and says he’ll kill him and his son. Before Virus can reveal his identity, a stray pumpkin bomb damages the portal, pulling all four of them through. The Maker ends up landing in his home universe which is desolate, while Venom and Dylan end up somewhere unknown.
In issue #27, Venom and Dylan attempt to figure out where they are before Virus surprises them with a sneak attack. Eddie pushes Dylan out of the way, before being knocked off of a tall building. The two exchange threats as the symbiote warns Brock that Virus is using anti-symbiote tech.
As a battle to the death ensues, the symbiote seems distracted. It tells Eddie that it has never been this close to a hive mind, and it is receiving interference. The symbiote eventually gathers itself, telling Eddie it has learned new abilities. It shows Eddie how to use these new abilities by absorbing the energy from Virus’s cannon and then directing it back at him, seemingly taking Virus out of commission for the time being.
Venom returns to the rooftop after sensing Dylan is in danger. There, he finds an alternate version of the Avengers, who appear to be wearing the Venom symbol on their costumes. Captain America orders Eddie to stand down and remove his symbiote. Eddie tells Cap that he knows him, which Cap denies and again orders him to remove the suit.
Before they can come to blows, Virus re-emerges, attacking Venom. Captain America orders the Avengers to assemble against Virus while Venom and Dylan sneak away. Virus seemingly destroys Captain America, but then it is revealed that Cap and the rest of the Avengers are made up entirely of symbiotes. Cap reforms and the Avengers take Virus to the Hive, where their leader Codex awaits.
Venom and Dylan sneak through the sewers, where they are approached by five dark figures wearing Agent Venom symbiote suits. One approaches and reveals herself to be Anne Weying, Eddie’s deceased wife.
In issue #28, Codex approaches a giant lab run by this world’s Dr. Octopus. Inside one of the test tubes is Virus, now separated from his suit but still unrecognizable.
Codex asks if the symbiote he ordered to be attached to Virus has bonded yet. Dr. Octopus informs him that the symbiote is strangely apprehensive about bonding with the subject. Codex orders the symbiote be killed if it doesn’t bond. He then begins interrogating Virus, who tells him that he is from another world and chased Eddie Brock and his son through a portal to this one. Codex gets incensed at the name “Brock” and orders Virus to tell him everything.
Meanwhile, Anne explains to Eddie that in her world, Eddie Brock committed suicide in the church bell tower after losing his job. Because of this, the Venom symbiote instead bonded with Anne due to her grief and anger, eventually spawning offspring of its own.
Anne introduces them to her team of symbiotes, Peter Parker, Wade Wilson, Andi Benton, and Cletus Kasady. Brock immediately questions the addition of Kasady before Parker’s spider-sense warns them of an impending attack. Symbiote versions of Juggernaut, Sabretooth, Omega Red, Wolverine, and the Thing then appear. As the battle intensifies, the heroes make their escape after Wade uses a bomb to blow up himself and Codex’s symbiotes.
Back at the Hive, Dr. Octopus reveals to Codex that they have achieved full symbiosis with Virus. Codex orders Doc Ock to release Virus and then asks him to take a new name. The big mystery of Virus’s identity is finally revealed as none other than former Venom host Mac Gargan, The Scorpion. Codex orders Gargan to swear allegiance to him.
At the same time, Anne and the other agents take Venom and Dylan back to their home base and introduce them to the Reed Richards of their universe. Dylan introduces himself to Richards much to the shock of Richards and the agents. Anne then explains to Eddie that in their world, Dylan Brock is Codex.
This story has absolutely delivered on all the expectations laid by the groundwork of Venom Island and the rest of the series. Most of the lingering questions left on the final pages of Venom Island have been answered, only to have new questions spawned from those answers faster than a symbiote can reproduce!
What happened to the Maker’s world? What is his endgame? How and why did Dylan in this universe become Codex? What event occurred that allowed him to become the undisputed leader of the world? What new powers and abilities will Venom learn next? When will Knull finally reveal himself, and what allies will Venom have?
More importantly than any of those questions, we are seeing a side of Eddie Brock that we never have before. Eddie is a father first in this current Venom run. He is driven solely by his love for his son, and wants nothing more than for Dylan to have the normal life that Eddie was never afforded. During the rooftop battle with Virus, Venom was willing to kill Virus only because Dylan wasn’t present. Eddie is trying to shield Dylan from the worst parts of himself, and it’s clear from the pacing of this story that eventually something traumatic will occur that changes the trajectory of Dylan’s character. This story is only getting better.