Web of Venom: The Good Son #1
Written by Zac Thompson
Art by Dio Neves, Oren Junior, Rain Beredo
Lettering by Clayton Cowles
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
Donny Cates’ “Venom-verse” continues to expand in Web of Venom: The Good Son #1. Focusing exclusively on Eddie’s young son Dylan and his relationship with formerly Goblin Childe Normie Osborn, horror writer Zac Thompson mines a great deal of creepiness from the pairing. As we know from the pages of Venom, Dylan is keeping a piece of the Carnage symbiote alive, fostering a connection to it. But here in The Good Son, Thompson starts to show just how worried we should be about that, as the two boys start to push the limits of the voices inside their head with a ghoulish experiment.
Artists Dio Neves, Oren Junior, and Rain Beredo also play up the domestic horror elements of the story, encasing the boys in cramped interiors and leaning heavily into their troubling dynamic with expressive but hard-to-watch behavior. Like the decision to test out Dylan’s connection to the sliver by… siccing it on a defenseless raccoon and making it their “pet.” Domestic horror is a subgenre that isn’t often seen in monthly superhero comics, but Web of Venom: The Good Son #1 makes a damn strong case for more of it under the Marvel masthead.
After a succinct recap of the current state of Cates’ Venom in the credit pages, Thompson quickly gets readers up to speed on Dylan’s temporary home with Harry Osborn and Liz Allan. Thankfully Thompson doesn’t waste much time on set-up, and instead instantly focuses on our young leads, both of which are struggling with dark voices in their heads. Though unsettling, punchy narration from Normie, Thompson starts to seed the terrors of their lives and the alienation they both feel as members of the Venom and Green Goblin legacies.
While Normie is still haunted by the bloodthirsty teachings of his grandfather and his short time as a henchmen to his Goblin persona, Dylan’s voice is even darker, as the Symbiote god Knull has plans for Eddie’s son as a sort of herald on Earth. And again, as Thompson is a steady hand at horror story construction, most of this creepiness is doled out at a decent clip.
Some of the early establishing scenes of Dylan trying to adjust to his new family, wearing a thin veneer of kindness, do drag a bit. But once that table is set, Thompson is all-scares, all the time, threading through unsettling thoughts and actions around the boys. But with far more teeth and alien war-gods. The most gut-wrenching of these are Dylan realizing the extent of his control over the Carnage silver and his blooming connection to Knull. The latter of which is revealing in a single splash page that seems ripped right out of Phantasm with Knull looming over Dylan in his bed as he sleeps, hissing darkness into his ear.
Artists Dio Neves, Oren Junior and Rain Beredo also go a great deal with the intimate horror aspects of the title. With expressive, wiry character models for the boys and judicious staging of the more outright horror set pieces, the art team render Thompson’s script particularly well. They even manage to throw a decent amount of kinetics into the story, in the form of a shockingly pitched fight between the boys. As they fight, they crash out of a window and fall to the building roof below. The art team render them constantly in motion as they fall, punching and kicking each other even as they plummet. It is a shocking scene, but one well staged by the art team, giving the darkness of the title a real jolt of energy.
While other Web of Venom titles opt for more obvious horror, The Good Son #1 takes another less traveled, but just as creepy path. Gifted a truly haunting energy by Zac Thompson and a very capable art team, Web of Venom: The Good Son #1 is the start of a creepy slice of Marvel life that we rarely see in the 616. Even with an early drag in the opening pages, this Web of Venom spin-off shows real promise.