Review by Frank Plowright
It’s difficult to conceive that Marvel ever issued a story as wretched as Separation Anxietyas a graphic novel when they were selective about which of their back catalogue deserved publishing in the format. Perhaps it’s because Sega seized on the idea for a primitive video game back in the day.
The title originates from Howard Mackie’s idea of having the alien symbiote forcibly removed from Eddie Brock. Each feels the pain of separation, and this occurs as a reporter infiltrates the process. After some insipid, soul searching dialogue, the facility is raided by the five Venom ‘offspring’ last seen in Lethal Protector. With Eddie and his symbiotic suit back on the loose, a series of murders occur for which he’s blamed. Cue misunderstandings, much repetition and a dismal ending.
On other series Ron Randall is an effective artist influenced by classic newspaper strips. Here he’s caught between two stools, putting in the effort to establish the locations, but also attempting to draw in the shorthand style inexplicably popular at Marvel in the 1990s. He can’t quite bring himself to drop his standards that far, but does seem to be increasingly rushed the further into the story we get.
Mackie’s basic idea is no better or worse than any other Venom story of the era, but his problem is only having two chapters of plot for a four chapter story, so we have the same scenes over and over again. A character bemoaning what they’ve become when they began with the best of intentions is a favourite piece of padding, as is a bunch of characters arriving from nowhere to generate a fight. Add to that the poor bombastic dialogue and the compromised art, and this is a story to avoid at all costs.
If you really want this, it’s also found with some other Venom stories from around the same time in the bulkier 2017 edition of Separation Anxiety, or with even more poor early Venom in the first Venomnibus.