4 min read

Where We Do The Work

It's late and things are getting weird.
A detail from VENOM #18.
The Great Work.

So I managed to get pretty late tonight before I remembered that I hadn't written a newsletter yet, and this is actually a pretty big one, because important comics are out tomorrow. So this is going to get rambly and I'll suffer in the morning. Onward.


Venom #18, that's what!

The cover for VENOM #18 by Bryan Hitch, showing Dylan Brock, Eddie Brock, two versions of Venom, Red Goblin and Sleeper.
Some symbiotes not included.

This one deserves some commentary from me, as it's a major turning point in the story of Eddie Brock, and the issue where he learns the secret of the universe - or at least, the important secrets of his own personal universe, that link up with a few larger secrets of the universe I've been laying down for some time.

This is an experiment I've been conducting for quite a while, mostly without even realizing I was doing it - building a cosmology quietly, in the background, linking bits and pieces as they came to me and dovetailed with my own interests in magic and religion. Not that I'm more than a dabbler in that regard, but one of the things I do best is make connections - I've had too much synchronicity happen to me and around me not to at least use it in the work, and I've been wrestling with agnosticism and the essential unknowableness of the divine for years. So it goes in the work - where else am I going to put it? It's made for some decent comics over the years, as well as a structure to work inside. There's something about a gigiantic, constantly-evolving shared universe that makes it a very potent tool for this kind of exploration, and I'm not the first to think so.

In some ways, I'm probably trying to follow in the footsteps of Marvel writers before me - my very first taste of Marvel was Secret Wars, immediately followed in UK reprints by Secret Wars II – Jim Shooter's attempt to take in heady concepts of desire, godhood and humanity through a lens of pure eighties consumerism. It's widely held to be a failure, but it's kind of a brilliant failure. You can see glimpses and ghosts of what he was trying to achieve, trying to wrestle the Marvel machine – a machine of people, who from what I've read did not enjoy being wrestled by their Editor-In-Chief - into producing. I can't recommend it, exactly, but it's an undeniably fascinating work and, for my sins, one of the foundational comics for me - so every so often, I keep coming back and looking at it from a different angle, trying to find a way in through the tangle. Of course, that's where I first met all the big floating heads of Marvel - the cosmic aspects, this wonderful conglomeration of bizarre concepts, each of which feels like a deeply personal revelation to one writer or another through the years, the kind of soul-shaking vision that hung in the desert sky over Philip K Dick, hammered out on the typewriter keys to meet the deadline. I've been there.

While I was puzzling through the final issues of Secret Wars II, US comics were starting to filter through into my hands, including glorious issues of Daredevil, where titan of the field Ann Nocenti was following up a legendary run by beating it  hollow, issue after issue descending into poetry and allegory, battles with societal monsters and avatars of American nightmares, trips to hell that were literal and metaphorical all at once. Truly visionary work, and a huge influence.

Even the more mainstream books were all leading to the capital-E event that was Infinity Gauntlet – a comic entirely about the universe's greatest nihilist attempting to make love to the concept of Death. Literal and metaphorical all at once, and building on Jim Starlin's earlier concepts, dating right back to his beginnings at Marvel. Of course it's the one they made a movie out of. Bear in mind that this is the comic where half the universe is destroyed, not the one where the whole universe is destroyed while Doctor Strange freaks out, and then after he puts the universe back he has to go to his chillout room and come down. Steve Englehart - another exploratory writer.

Even Galactus was an attempt to put the concept of God on the page. Like so many things, Jack Kirby was first.

How does all of this fit together, exactly? Well, I have a theory that Marvel needs to have at least one person doing this stuff at all times - or I hope they need that, because it's a lot of what I do and I'm not sure I know how to stop doing it. Anyway, Venom #18 involves Eddie Brock interrogating a mysterious floating hand that will only answer five questions, and it's all happening in a qlippothic space. The qlippoth of where? The answer will shock you, true quasi-believer!

Also out this month: Immoral X-Men #3, continuing the Sins of Sinister Saga. Kieron Gillen is joined by our +1000 artist, Alessandro Vitti, as the futureverse degrades into a living nightmare you'll have to experience to believe. Can Sinister turn over a new leaf when he's already burned down the whole tree? Read and find out!


Yeah, no Marvel Comics Panel By Panel this time - I'm up way later than I should be as it is. But I got another newsletter out, so this is still where to find me. Love and strength to all those who need it, and I'll play us out with "REDESIGN YOUR LOGO" by LEMON DEMON.

Symbolizing freedom – and, of course, your product.