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 #2 (OF 5)
CULLEN BUNN (W) • IBAN COELLO (A)
Cover by NICK BRADSHAW
Variant Cover by TBA
CONNECTING VARIANT BY MARK BAGLEY (2 OF 5)
VENOMIZED Part 2
Venom and the X-Men have returned from the extraterrestrial adventures of “Poison-X” to find dozens of heroes and villains bonded with Klyntar symbiotes – and none of ’em are happy about it!
The grand plans of the Poisons begins to make themselves known…including their designs for Cletus Kasady!
One Avenger might not make out in one piece!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99
The issue opens up with Venomized (TM) Spider-Man punching the actual Venom in the face. He blames Venom for the Poison invasion that started last issue because clearly Spider-Man is a dick and he’s prejudiced against aliens, but Magneto breaks up the fight. Cyclops delivers some X-position to catch everyone up. The original five X-Men and Venom went to space to rescue the Starjammers from Bounty Hunters, and they encountered interdimensional Poison invaders who turned teen Jean Grey into a Poison. Now they want to invade Earth and strengthen their ranks by turning all the superpowered beings into Poisons too. Magneto suggests they simply remove the symbiotes that the Poisons have been infecting the heroes with, but Spider-Man explains that normal sonic disruption methods don’t work because the symbiotes have been altered.Magneto says they need to warn Kitty Pryde and then regroup. Venom says he knows a place they can go.
Over at the Manhattan Bridge, there’s a huge traffic jam as people try to escape the superhuman violence in the city. D-Man and Rage are there, trying to calm people down, when a group of Poisons led by Poison Killer Thrill attack. She’s disappointed that only D-list heroes are here, but we’re pleased that she decides to actually name her team members because it’s honestly hard to tell who’s who with these Poison costumes. Her team consists of Poison Hyperion, Poison Captain Marvel, Poison Thing, and Poison Gamora. She orders them to start killing humans to attract some better superheroes. Rage and D-Man try to intervene, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to go very well for them.
Meanwhile, Venom and the X-Men team have gathered at Alchemax Industries, which X-pository dialog from Kitty reveals was once known as Oscorp, for some help getting rid of the symbiotes. A scientist named Steven (no other context provided) agrees to try to figure it out, but so far, nothing has worked to remove the symbiotes. Liz Allan works here too, it seems. She and Steve have called in “additional resources” to help with the problem. It’s Anti-Venom, and he wants to use his powers to kill the symbiotes and free the victims. Venom, however, reminds everyone that the symbiotes are also victims.
Over at Poison HQ, Poison Thanos and Poison Doom are still trying to get Cletus Kasady to bond with a symbiote. They refer to Kasady as “the anomaly,” and they really want him to become a Poison because apparently, he kicked their asses in a previous Venom event comic. They also bring up Kid Kaiju, from the failed Monsters Unleashed comic, as another highly desirable acquisition. Poison Doom and Poison Thanos are followed around by ghosts. For Thanos, it’s Death. For Doom, it’s a lady in white. His mom? Who knows. No context is provided, but we figured we’d mention it because it might play a future role in the story.
On the Island of Mu, some Poisons are looking for Kid Kaiju. One of them is Poison Groot, but the others aren’t named (come on, editors, do your job). They’re greeted by the Fantastic Four’s robot butler H.E.R.B.I.E., who informs them Kid Kaiju has been evacuated by Kei Kawade, who we’ll just assume is someone from the Monsters Unleashed comic. It’s clear at this point that Cullen Bunn is some kind of rampaging narcissist who believes everyone reads every single comic he writes and no explanation is ever required for anything that happened in one of them. We mean, sure, we read quite a few of them, but who can possibly read them all?! Cut us a break, dude!
Elsa Bloodstone attacks the Poisons, but more Poisons sneak up on her and demand Kid Kaiju. If only readers had demanded Kid Kaiju like this, his comic wouldn’t have been canceled. Bloodstone tells them she gave Kid Kaiju “Modred’s Causeway,” which allows him to teleport anywhere. He’s probably far away from here, she says. She’s wrong. He’s in New York, trying to help out with the Poison invasion.
Kid Kaiju ends up smack dab in the middle of a massive superhero vs. poison battle on the Manhattan bridge. Killer Thrill unleashes Poisons to bond with the newly Venomized heroes, such as D-Man and Rage, whose sole purpose in appearing in this comic must have been to serve as cannon fodder. As they turn into Poisons, Nova freaks out, realizing that if the Venomized heroes can’t get rid of their symbiotes, they could be turned into Poisons next. Right on cue, one of the major heroes is turned into a Poison next…
This would be a terrifying cliffhanger if the recap page didn’t already tell us this whole thing takes place before The Death of the Might Thor storyline, which tells us there will be no lasting repercussions from any of this. Wait, how is Poison Thor still worthy enough to lift the hammer? Well, if Nazi Captain America could do it, this should come as no surprise, we guess. How much longer is this X-over?