If you have not been reading Donny Cates’ Venom run then you’ve definitely been missing out. While there have been many limited series' and solo adventures focused on Venom, reuniting Eddie Brock with the symbiote has been nothing short of phenomenal for all concerned.
Only four issues ago, Venom was facing against an ancient Symbiote, the self-proclaimed god of the goo, but that battle managed to break Brock and his symbiote. Now, there is no 'we' in Venom. The symbiote is brain-dead, Eddie is in a losing battle with PTSD and, to make matters worse, he’s been having blackouts, one that leads him to his estranged father’s house.
This issue is predominantly set in a diner, as Eddie tells his newfound brother, Dylan, about the moment that their father truly began to hate his son, and the moment Eddie realized he - not the symbiote - was a monster.
Previous writers for Eddie Brock’s Venom have tried in the past to make him a sympathetic anti-hero, but Donny Cates succeeds at that. At this point in the tragedy of Eddie Brock, he knows how messed up his life is, but instead of finding other people to blame, which was arguably the biggest reason he was an antagonist for so long, he has finally accepted that he is the one that screwed up so many times.
With this personal revelation, he can at last finally move towards a redemption arc to some extent. This issue especially is not about moving forward, but about clarifying a thread hinted at from all the way in Venom #2, about the accident that started him down the terrible path all Spider-Man fans have been familiar with for the last couple of decades.
This whole title feels like an Image Comic or if the Marvel MAX imprint came back to life, due to the heavy subject matters and the visceral emotion on display. Ryan Stegman’s art really encompasses that feeling, as it feels particularly unique compared to other Marvel books. Even when action does break out, there is a surreal quality to it - fitting, for a character transformed by an alien hitchhiker.
Although there was reason to be skeptical about Venom when it first launched, the series' 10th issue reiterates that Cates and Stegman's book is currently one of Marvel's best. Five stars.