Writer Cullen Bunn has been building up the rematch between Eddie Brock and Flash Thompson for several issues now. Cliffhanger after cliffhanger, I anxiously waited to see the symbiote slugfest between the classic character and the latest powerhouse from the alien race. Well, the fight has finally come crashing into the issue and I'm happy to say it was absolutely worth the wait. I mean, pretty much the entire issue is focused on this alien vs. alien throwdown. It's brutal stuff as the symbiotes make full use of their claws, teeth and raw strength. There's a lot to love in this battle, but my favorite part has to be Bunn painting a creative picture of how useless bullets are against a symbiote as the projectiles crash into Toxin. "Ripples across symbiote flesh remind me of throwing coins in a wishing well."
As always, this downtown brawl is brought to life by the beyond talented Declan Shalvey and colorist Lee Loughridge. I've said it a thousand times before and I'll say it a thousand times more, Shalvey was brought into this world to illustrate symbiotes. The wild nature of their tendrils, the viciousness of their teeth and claws.. it all looks so good. There's a few creative panels with the more brutal moments and the motion behind these relentless attacks are fantastic. Also fantastic: how creepy the Spider Slayers look. I'm telling you, Shalvey was born just to illustrate VENOM.
Honestly, I've got no major complaints with this one. Super fun from start to finish and I loved it.
Based on the next cover, it seems clear the enemies will do the generic "we must team-up to defeat the greater evil" thing, but you know what? If it's half as fun as this issue and if Shalvey continues to bring his "A" game, I'll totally dig it. An engrossingly dark tone, frenetic action and a killer cliffhanger makes this a must read for any symbiote fan and my favorite issue from the series in quite some time.