Welcome to X-Men: Bland Design, the weekly multi-part recap column that answers the question: "What if Ed Piskor had no art skills, a juvenile sense of humor, and less classic material to work with?"
This week there are five regular-priced X-Books on the stands, which will run you a total of 20 bucks to buy and, thanks to modern comic book decompression techniques, probably take about 10 minutes to read in total (if you read slowly). If that seems like a waste of time and money though, you can keep your money by reading our recaps for free. We make no promises about the use of your time, however, which will still be poorly spent.
This week, the X-books are: Generation X #87, X-Men Gold #22, Astonishing X-Men #8, Deadpool vs. Old Man Logan #5, and… *shudders*… Venom #162, which we have to read because it's crossing over with X-Men Blue for the Poison X crossover. We've avoided it for as long as possible. Time to read Venom.
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artists: Edgar Salazar and Ario Anindito
Colorist: Dono Sanchez-Almara
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Cover: Will Robson and Edgar Delgado
Venom #162 is part 3 of the Poison X crossover. In that story, the original five X-Men kidnap Venom and take him to outer space to rescue the Starjammers from Killer Thrill and her band of bounty hunters, who are powered up by symbiotes. Are they also Poisons? We don't know. The comic has yet to explain what a Poison is (and yes, we read the Wikipedia article). In the previous issue, Venom and the X-Men (including Scott Summers, who has been injured with a magical wound that changes places on his body from panel to panel), track down Haze Mancer, the king beyond the wall and an arms dealer who is in the middle of selling symbiotes to some evil robot aliens. In the course of the battle that ensues, some symbiotes escape their tanks and bond with the X-Men. Now the X-Men are venoms. Cool.
First order of business: now that Scott is a venom, he can see with the symbiote's molecules, without his visor, which his symbiote trashed. The other X-Men are also adjusting to their new Symbiote powers while beating up robot aliens. Mancer gets the jump on Venom with a sonic weapon. Meanwhile, the X-Men are getting beaten up, but Scott saves the day because he now fires optic blasts out of his hands. Cool.
Mancer is happy that the X-Men are wearing the suits, because that will make them more valuable on the speculator market once he gets them back. Some of the buyers escape, leaving the X-Men and Venom to face down Mancer. But Mancer is loaded up with anti-symbiote tech, and can easily take them all on. Until Venom sneaks up behind him and punches his hat off, revealing him to be a long-lost member of Milli Vanilli.
The X-Men continue to explore their new venom powers. Beast's make him look like a fuzzy demon, a fact that doesn't go unnoticed by the other X-Men. Meanwhile, Venom is about to kill Haze Mancer before Jean stops him. X-Men don't kill, even when they're venoms, so Venom shouldn't kill now that he's hanging with the X-Men. Even though he just disemboweled someone last issue.
However, Scott doesn't care if Venom kills Mancer, as long as Scott can first question him about his dad, Corsair, leader of the Starjammers, remember, the whole reason everyone went to space in the first place. Warren is all like all like "Scott how could you?!" Beast explains it's the symbiote talking. Maybe. Maybe not.
Venom interrogates Mancer, who tries to cut a deal and get the X-Men and Venom to join him. Has that ever worked?! Jean gets bored so she just reads his mind. Mancer implanted trackers in the symbiotes that he sold to Killer Thrill, so the X-Men can track them that way. As Hank searches for the symbiotes on a nearby computer terminal, Bobby and Beast keep bickering over the way their symbiotes are manifesting, Hank's a demon and Bobby's as "invisible." Hank reveals that he and Bobby's symbiotes are brothers, and this is symbiote sibling rivalry. They locate Killer Thrill, which means it's time to…
…cut to Killer Thrill's ship, where Killer Thrill's team who had a confrontation with the X-Men in a bar last issue are giving her a status update. Killer Thrill has Corsair brought to her so she can ask him who his friends are. He explains they're the X-Men. Killer Thrill says the X-Men aren't going to want to come to space anymore because one of her goons gutted Cyclops. Corsair isn't intimidated though. He says the X-Men are coming for her.
Elsewhere in space, the X-Men and Venom are in the Blackbird, chasing after Killer Thrill and the Starjammers. We learn that they turned Haze Mancer over to the cops rather than kill him. Venom tells the X-Men they should ditch the symbiotes now, but Scott doesn't want to. He and Venom nearly get into a fight. Jean intervenes, telling Venom she understands that the symbiotes are affecting the X-Men and Venom doesn't think they can handle it, but Jean explains that the symbiotes want revenge and to rescue their fellow symbiotes that were sold to Killer Thrill.
Danger, who is also the blackbird jet (don't ask), chimes in to say that she's alerted Magneto to the X-Men's whereabouts. Venom is annoyed that the X-Men act high and mighty about not killing but work with Magneto. Jean says people can change. Venom says they can't.
Meanwhile, at a prison staffed by the Nova Corps, Haze Mancer is sitting in prison when a mysterious character invades and starts kicking Nova ass. This character approaches Mancer's cell and offers to team up.
It appears to be Xraven, an amalgam created by Mister Sinister using the DNA of the original five X-Men, Carnage, and Kraven the Hunter. So help us, this crossover is getting so stupid it's actually come back around and it's kind of… enjoyable! Curse you, Poison X! Though we still don't know what the hell poisons are or what they have to do with any of this!
That's all for this week… see you soon for more X-Men: Bland Design!