In the Marvel Universe, a seemingly simple story about fathers and sons can have repercussions that echo throughout time and space, impacting an alien race created by a dark god thousands of years ago. That’s what happened in the current volume of Venom, where writers Al Ewing and Ram V kicked off a tale that found Eddie Brock embarking on a new role as a more benevolent King-in-Black. Meanwhile back on Earth, his son Dylan was left with just Venom to look after him.
As the series progressed, Eddie found himself battling futuristic malevolent versions of himself across space and time while Dylan bonded with Venom, fought to survive, and discovered that his unique parentage had given him the ability to free Klyntar from the hive mind. So Dylan is building an army in an attempt to free his father and the Klyntar, and Eddie is fighting to become something better than his monstrous future selves. CBR spoke with Ewing about Dylan and Eddie’s quests, the heroes they’ve met, and the larger familial themes baked into the series. Marvel also shared an exclusive look at CAFU’s art from the upcoming Venom #18, colored by Frank D’Armata
Al Ewing: That was just where the characters wanted to go. It’s something myself and Ram V gravitated to, given the situation we were left with, which was Dylan taking over the mantle of Venom and his father Eddie Brock becoming the new King In Black, replacing Knull. What that meant in practice especially given the stories we both wanted to tell was that Eddie would be an absent father figure. So the book being about choices, regrets, and that parent/child bond is very much baked in from before we started.
When it comes to comics, nature and nurture can be diegetic or non-diegetic in that sometimes it all comes from the larger semiotics of the characters as well as their internal, in-world drives. Symbiotes have always been pretty metal dark, gooey, spiky, [and] rebellious. All that’s from Venom’s original comic DNA as very much a bad guy. When the anti-hero wave of the 90s offers him a shot at redemption, you get Carnage to pick up his slack a cake to have and a cake to eat, a Venom to take the protagonist role, and one that can’t be redeemed to do all the really nasty stuff you can do with a symbiote baddie. These are, thematically, the parents of every symbiote. So a lot of this stuff gets baked into the concept. Sure, we got to see some full-on hero symbiotes here and there, but no matter what retcon reaches back in time to alter the past, that darkness, the original ’80s sins of Venom, is always there to be struggled against.
In terms of what symbiotes enable in their hosts… Well, giving a symbiote to a young, angry kid like Dylan is definitely enabling some of his edgier impulses. But without Venom bonded to him, Eddie’s been lost and helpless, pinballing from situation to situation. Is that about to change? Maybe. In Issue #17, we saw Eddie complete his fall from grace betrayed by his allies, stripped of his memory, and stabbed through the soul in the fight with Darkoth. He’s at his lowest point, banished to an underworld lower than Limbo, which we’re going to hear all about in the course of #18. From here, the only way is up. The Eddie that comes out of this crucible is not going to be quite the same Eddie that went in. You’re going to see a much more proactive side to what’s, so far, been quite a reactive Eddie Brock.
CAFU can do it all. Every time a page from him hits the inbox, it’s better than the last. He did a wonderful job with the time split from #17 and some of the more cosmic and symbolic spreads you’ll see when #18 hits. But also, he can deliver a certain amount of violent crunch to the action, which we’re going to be making full use of as things take a turn for the physical. I’m definitely feeling the symbiosis!. In a lot of stories, Ms. Marvel is the new hero on the block, and given her background as a fan, she’s often meeting her heroes and learning valuable lessons from them. So it was fun having the exact opposite happen here. Ms. Marvel is now the older hero, the more experienced hero, [and] the one with the lessons to teach. And Dylan’s a rebellious, angry, kind of snotty kid. He’s not going to be taught anything. So it was fun to introduce these different dynamics to one another and see what happened.
He’s going to be bringing in a whole bunch of symbiotes for the cause – and with his ability, in his Codex form, to free them from the hive and the power of the King In Black, he’s got something they want. Ram was the one who originally laid this plot thread out, and I’m going to be playing it hopefully as he envisioned it a collection of side trips into different genres and styles. We’re going to tell a war story, a horror story, and running throughout is the story of a kid growing up into a leadership role. Maybe a bigger role than he can handle? We’ll see. It’s one thing to boss Normie around, [and] it’s another to lead some of these other maniacs. I’d say the chances are excellent. In fact, #19 is a Brock/Osborn special of sorts. It’s about Dylan going to talk to Normie and meeting his Pop-Pop, the Gold Goblin, and what happens when Dylan, the angry young man, decides this murdering old fart’s been having it too easy for too long. Things get violent.
Eddie learns one of the secrets of the universe, and it prompts him to go on a roaring rampage of revenge, leading to a (re)match against a very unexpected villain. Dylan’s recruiting drive continues with a blast from the distant past — to be revealed in this year’s Free Comic Book Day story. I’ll finish up with a thank you to everyone who’s been buying and enjoying the book. The symbiote action has only begun, and we’re going to some very strange places over the next year.