Last issue, Spider-Man escaped the clutches of the Venom symbiote when it once again tried to bond with him. But when he went looking for the symbiote again, Spidey instead found the symbiote's former host, Eddie Brock, who had quite the bombshell to drop on Spidey - Brock has cancer...
Spider-Man asks Eddie Brock how long he's had cancer, and Brock reveals that he's had it for years. In fact, he had it even before he wrote the false story on the Sin-Eater that ruined his career. When he was first diagnosed, the doctor told Brock that he would have only about three months to live, but that deadline was extended when Brock joined with the symbiote. It seems that the type of cancer Brock results in a boost in adrenaline produced by the body, and this heightened adrenaline made Brock a satisfactory second choice as long as it couldn't have Spider-Man, and as a result, the symbiote was able to keep Brock alive. And that's when Spidey realizes that the reason that Brock has hated him for so long is because Brock knew that if the symbiote ever rejoined with Spidey, his cancer would finally kill him.
But now that the symbiote has left Brock and gone looking for a new host, Brock is on death's door. While talking to Spidey, Brock doubles over, coughing up blood, and finally collapses to the floor. So Spidey webs Brock to his back and goes looking for the only thing that can save Brock - the symbiote. But as they near the symbiote, Brock finally succumbs, and dies quietly in the arms of his greatest enemy.
Kneeling over Brock's body, Spider-Man tells the alien symbiote lurking in the shadows that it has only about three minutes before Brock's brain becomes as dead as the rest of him. The symbiote refuses, saying that the next time it joins with someone, it will be permanent, and that to join with Brock would condemn it to an eternity of disease. Spidey tells the creature that time is running out, and it attacks. As they battle, the symbiote reveals that it is once again carrying an offspring. The symbiote gets the upper hand, and just as it's about to try and bond with Spidey again, the web-slinger slings a web at Brock's body and yanks it into the symbiote. They symbiote is enraged, but it cannot help to rejoin with Brock. After a moment, Brock's eyes open, and they symbiote envelops him. Venom climbs to his feet and swears revenge at Spidey before leaping off into the night. Spidey collapses and wonders if maybe it would've just been better off for everyone if he's just let Brock die.
Well, Venom's back... again. But I'm excited about this. Venom is a terrific villain when handled well (see the first three or four Venom stories by David Michelinie), but is pretty awful when over-used and written poorly (see the stories by Howard Mackie shortly after the relaunch when Venom was appearing twice a month). With the talent on the Spidey books right now, I think it's fairly safe to see that Venom will be used well. I hope.
This issue, the conclusion to the "Hunger" storyline, was just as strong as the previous four issues. Paul Jenkins' story was as stellar as usual, particularly Brock's surprisingly touching "death" scene, and the end of the story with Spidey questioning his actions. And the art by Humberto Ramos and Wayne Faucher is once again gorgeous. Over the first few issues of this title, I expressed my concern that Humberto Ramos might have trouble maintaining his high quality of work while contending with the deadlines of a monthly book, but I take it all back now after viewing his consistently strong work in all five issues of this title.
One continuity gaff: they symbiote is reproducing again? After the first time that the symbiote reproduced and created Carnage, Venom revealed in ASM #362 that the symbiote has only one offspring per generation. And then in the Venom: Lethal Protector limited series, five more baby symbiotes were extracted from the original. So this going to be Venom's seventh child? That's pretty impressive for a creature that was only able to have one. I guess moving from the red sun of Planet of the Symbiotes to the yellow sun of Earth had quite an effect on the symbiote's reproductive system.
The conclusion to "Hunger" doesn't disappoint. Four webs.