Best Shots Advance Review: VENOM - THE END #1 'The Most Concentrated Shot of Comic Book Craziness I've Ever Read' (9/10)

Venom: The End #1
Credit: Marvel Comics
Credit: Marvel Comics

Venom: The End #1
Written by Adam Warren
Art by Jeffrey "Chamba" Cruz and Guru e-FX
Lettering by Clayton Cowles
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

Credit: Marvel Comics

What do you get when you take Donny Cates’ off-the-wall take on Eddie Brock, mix it with the sweeping mad science of Jonathan Hickman’s X-Men relaunch, and add in just a dash of Christopher Hastings’ self-deprecating meta-humor from Gwenpool?

You get Venom: The End, a wildly entertaining one-shot that sometimes feels more like a continuity-driven thought exercise than necessarily an emotional narrative - but the thing is, writer Adam Warren and artist Jeffrey “Chamba” Cruz do such a tremendous job in selling their outlandish high concept that it’s hard not to be impressed nevertheless.

Starting from the final stand of all of life itself, Warren swings big right out of the gate with this series, as he latches onto a bit of continuity minutiae from recent Venom storylines and takes it to the furthest possible extreme. With Donny Cates having recently established the idea of symbiote codices - itself a holdover from Cullen Bunn’s work on Venomverse - Warren reestablishes the Venom parasite as a limitless genetic repository whose mission traverses time and space itself.

To say that Warren’s storytelling is dense doesn’t do it justice - the Empowered creator stuffs more ideas into 30 pages than some series do in 60 issues, starting with one small superhero conceit and using it to build something completely insane. Following the death of Eddie Brock - rendered in heartbreaking detail as the symbiote tries every desperate measure in the book to scaffold Eddie’s failing systems - the alien costume becomes biological life’s last vanguard against a horde of interstellar A.I. led by the most delightfully fan-servicey of options.

Credit: Marvel Comics
Credit: Marvel Comics

Of course, it’s not to say Venom is without options or weapons, thanks to Warren’s witty high concept - with the genetic codes of everyone he’s ever possessed, he’s able to fight back with Multiple Man traits, Wolverine healing factors, Reed Richards atomic tesseract kung-fu. Honestly, this is the stuff that superhero comics were made for, without the safeties on. If you liked what Jonathan Hickman did in House of X and Powers of X, this is the kind of nerd-bait you’re going to read and reread over and over again.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Perhaps it’s not surprising given that he’s working with a writer/artist like Warren, but Jeffrey “Chamba” Cruz does some strong work with this series as well, deftly carrying all of the weighty ideas with a lightness and even a sense of humor that makes this crazy concept easier to swallow. (The image of Venom turn tabling as he “remixes” humanity is a fun beat, one that eases readers into some of the more explanation-heavy elements of the narrative.) Honestly, because this series bounces from place to place, I’d even argue that Venom himself isn’t the strongest design element of the series - watching a gigantic Phalanx square off against a 10-ton Iron Man suit is such a cool image, and Cruz seems to really relish playing around in all the various corners of the Marvel Universe.

Honestly, if "Dawn of X" didn’t exist, I’d probably say Venom: The End is the most fun comic I’ve read in years - and even though "Dawn of X" exists, I’d say that this one-shot might be the most concentrated shot of comic book craziness I’ve ever read. While the finale of this book might be a little less satisfying than the rest of this continuity exploration, this is the absolute definition of a diamond in the rough — if you pick up one Marvel book this week, it’s gotta be this one.

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