Welcome, dear readers, to X-Men: Bland Design, the weekly multi-part recap column that strives to answer the question: “What if Ed Piskor had no art skills, a juvenile sense of humor, and less classic material to work with?”
It’s been a rough decade or so for X-Men fans. As part of Ike Perlmutter‘s feud with Fox over the Fantastic Four movie rights, Marvel’s greatest franchise has suffered many an indignity. Cyclops turned into a villain by writers and editors with a Wolverine fetish. The worst crossover of all time, Avengers vs. X-Men. A serious attempt to replace mutants with the Inhumans, thankfully killed by the god-awful Inhumans TV show. Greg Land. But that’s all over now (except for Land). With a Marvel/Fox deal on the horizon, the Fantastic Four can return, but more importantly, Marvel can give a crap about the X-Men again!
Each week, we aim to recap what happened in all of the X-books, make a few jokes, and struggle to survive the experience as we reckon our love for our favorite characters with what can often feel like a “quantity-over-quality” approach to comic booking.
Last week, we didn’t have time to recap the X-books due to all the C2E2 news we had to cover, which means we’ve got to catch up. To do that, we’ve got to read and recap 13 — yes, 13 — X-books in one weekend. Is that even possible? We’re about to find out!
VENOMIZED #1 (OF 5)
CULLEN BUNN (W) • IBAN COELLO (A)
Cover by NICK BRADSHAW
VARIANT COVER BY SKOTTIE YOUNG
PROMO VARIANT COVER BY CLAYTON CRAIN
CONNECTING VARIANT COVER BY MARK BAGLEY (1 OF 5)
VARIANT COVER BY ADI GRANOV
VARIANT COVER BY GABRIELE DELL’OTTO
BLANK VARIANT ALSO AVAILABLE
VENOMIZED Part 1
The story that began in VENOMVERSE reaches its epic conclusion with VENOMIZED! The POISONS, a species that hungers for super-powered symbiotes and their hosts, have picked their next target…THE MARVEL UNIVERSE ITSELF! Their first objective? Put every superhuman in a Klyntar symbiote – and CONSUME THEM! But with VENOM and the X-MEN still missing after the events of “Poison-X,” the planet, and its heroes, is defenseless!
40 PGS./Rated T+ …$4.99
Dammit! We thought we were done with Venom crossovers after Poison X, but Cullen Bunn must have some kind of personal vendetta against us, because Venomized opens at the Xavier Institute in Central Park, meaning we’re going to have to read this god damn Venom event comic. Bling and Eye-Boy, most recently featured in the cast of Generation X (RIP), are chilling outside when they see what appears to be X-Force approaching. There’s more than meets the eye here though.
First his book is canceled, then he’s gunned down by a bunch of Venoms… or Poisons… or whatever these are. The last crossover didn’t do a great job of explaining it for non-Venom-readers, and we have little hope this event is going to do any better. Anyway, we’ll assume these are Poison X-Force: Poison Domino, Poison Fantomex, Poison Feral, Poison Wolverine, and Poison Cable. It turns out they didn’t kill Eye-Boy. The guns shoot symbiotes, and now Eye-Boy has been Venomized (TM).
Inside the school, people are panicking. Kitty Pryde watches as an unnamed blonde girl is shot with a Venom and taken over by a symbiote. Colossus, Nightcrawler, and Old Man Logan arrive to back Kitty up, but they don’t last long, Nightcrawler, Logan, and Colossus all become quickly Venomized, but Kitty’s phasing power protects her.
Time for a recap page, which actually appears to contain useful information for once:
Hercules and The Mighty Thor (the Jane Foster version, because as the recap page notes, this takes place before her death storyline), walk out of a bar. It’s not the setup for a joke. It’s a scene change. Hercules is drunk, but Thor notices that they’re being hunted by Poisons from a nearby rooftop. She blasts them with lightning, but Poison Hawkeye is hiding out in a building and he shoots her with a symbiote arrow. From the rooftop, Poison… Crossbones?… shoots Hercules.
In Midtown, Spider-Man is fighting Poison Punisher. He throws some Symbiote grenades at Spider-Man, causing him to don his black suit again, totally undercutting the plans for Amazing Spider-Man #800. Spider-Man says he knows how to handle an alien symbiote, but Poison Punisher tells him he now serves the Poison Hive, even if he doesn’t know it yet. Poison Punisher is much more jovial than regular Punisher. He keeps yapping, segueing into an X-pository dialog montage, revealing that Nova, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Iron Man (or maybe Ironheart, who can even tell anymore, The Vision, Storm, and more have been “marked for harvest” by getting turned into Venoms. Poison Punisher knows Spider-Man’s whole backstory, thanks to Venomizing other-dimensional Spider-Men in the past. He tells him to make peace with Aunt May and Mary Jane.
In space, Venom and the original five X-Men (minus Jean Grey, who became a Poison in the Poison X crossover), are returning to Earth. They Skype with Jimmy Hudson, alternate-universe son of Wolverine, and warn of what’s happening and that the Xavier School is a likely target of the Poison invasion. Jimmy says the rest of the X-Men Blue team will meet them there. Jimmy notices that Jean is missing, and he’s distressed because Wolverines have a thing for Jean Greys. It’s what they do best. After killing their own children.
Back at Poison headquarters, COO Poison Doctor Doom gives an X-pository status update to CEO Poison Thanos. They’re going to take over all the Earth’s heroes. They’ve made advancements in decreasing Poison/Symbiote bonding time. Profits are up. But Doom is worried about an “anomaly.” Thanos says not to worry about it. He’s got people working on finding Carnage, who we gather from context clues is a problem for Poisons from some previous event comic. Poison Black Cat is looking for him.
No, Editor, we don’t. Not everyone reads every comic. That’s what we keep complaining about. Stop assuming that, and instead provide all the required information to understand a comic within the pages of that comic. Poison Thanos and Poison Doctor Doom vow not to fail, because they know they can be replaced. Poison Corp is not going to get high marks in job security on GlassDoor.com.
Back on Earth, Spider-Man is worried about how easily he’s taken to his symbiote again. He locates a church bell and punches it, which should create a sonic blast strong enough to get the symbiote off of him, but it doesn’t work. It hurts a lot though. Meanwhile, at Ravencroft Institute for the Criminally Insane, some Poisons are looking for Carnage. They find him, or at least they find Cletus Kasady.
They grab him. Meanwhile, Spider-Man tries to figure out what’s been done to his symbiote that it can’t let go of him. He sees Venomized (TM) Thor and Hercules and decides to follow them. At the Xavier School, lots of heroes have gathered for a presentation from Captain America on stopping the Venoms. They don’t really know what the Venoms are after, though. Back in the city, Venom Thor and Hercules see the X-Men’s spaceship about to crash into a heavily populated area. With Spider-Man’s help, they try to catch the ship, but they’re not doing a great job.
Thankfully, Magneto, Polaris, Bloodstorm, and Jimmy Hudson arrive. Over in X-Men Blue, in a story we’re pretty sure takes place after this, Magneto acts like the X-Men are still lost in space, so we have no idea how to make sense of this continuity. The X-Men and Venom depart the ship, and Venom sees that Spider-Man has been Venomized (TM). He says this means trouble.
Back at Posion HQ, Posion Doom and Poison Thanos are trying to get Kasady to bond with a symbiote, and that serves as our cliffhanger for today.
Can this please be the last Venom crossover we have to read? We’re going to have to revoke Cullen Bunn’s X-privileges if he keeps this up.