Wraith first appeared in Annihilation: Conquest in 2007, and made a recent appearance in 2019 in Guardians of the Galaxy. Wraith is on a quest to be free of the Exolon, a type of symbiote — that is attached to him. This journey will lead him to cross paths with the god of symbiotes, Knull, and in the process, uncover new information about the lore behind the symbiotes and who created them.
The writing of Donny Cates in this one-shot is clever, even from the start of Web of Venom: Wraith. Wraith is not a super popular character, so there is a good chance many people who pick up this issue are not familiar with him at all. Cates does not waste the opportunity to introduce this character to the reader in a stunning way. We first are introduced to Wraith with a scene of him jumping in to save a Kree woman who is about to be brutally assaulted by four other Kree men before the credits. The credits inform the reader of the Wraith’s backstory and is followed by the conclusion of the prior scene. This conclusion features him defeating all four Kree before they even have the opportunity to react, and perfectly introduces Wraith to those unfamiliar with him. By saving the woman for no reason other than benevolence, Wraith is clearly a good person. By defeating them with such style, the reader is able to understand the power given to Wraith by his symbiote. It is an ingenious way to tell the reader everything they need to know about the character in a short amount of time.
The Web of Venom one-shots have been an excellent opportunity to tell new stories around the Venom series and deepen the lore of the symbiotes, and Web of Venom: Wraith exceeds at doing both. A mystery has been introduced around Wraith in previous issues, and this one-shot reiterates it for a new audience and then concludes it. The one-shot teaches the reader many new things about Knull and the backstory of Wraith, so it is a must-have for those who are a fan of the recent stories being told in Venom.
The art of Guiu Villanova is some fantastic semi-realism in Web of Venom: Wraith, and features lots of complicated alien architecture and cool-looking symbiotes. The issue features heavy use of shadows, which adds a dark tone that complements the story well. Several double-page splashes illustrate the events necessary to flow with the story, while also having such pleasant composition that they deserve to be framed and hung on a wall.
Web of Venom: Wraith begins with many dark-colored scenes that help solidify the grim tone of the one-shot. Dean White does an excellent job of adding enough colors to accent these dark scenes and the accompanying tone, and often provides nice cool-colored backgrounds to emphasize how the scene either has low energy or is taking place in space. White’s work with scenes that contain very bright lights that cast heavy shadows on parts of characters’ faces are phenomenal, and provide some very interesting shading.
VC’s Clayton Cowler provides this one-shot with some very unique lettering that pays dividends in terms of subtle characterization. Wraith’s speech bubbles have a black background and white text — an inverted color scheme to what is standard. This could serve two purposes: one, to showcase how the Exolon that has bonded to him has changed him into a completely different entity separate from a normal person, or two, to demonstrate that Wraith may be empty and lacking of a soul due to his symbiote. Whether the lettering choice intended either of these effects, it still looks phenomenal on the page and stands out from the typical lettering seen on comic bookshelves. A similar thing is done with the symbiote God, Knull, where the background of his speech bubbles are pure red, and the outlines are sharp and jagged. This helps with the dark and monstrous characterization of Knull and composes some outstanding lettering in Web of Venom: Wraith.
Web of Venom: Wraith is a necessary comic book if you enjoy the story that Donny Cates is telling with Knull and want to learn more about the god of symbiotes. The story is gripping and reveals lots of new information, and the art is fantastic through and through. This one-shot is a brilliant way to add to the lore behind Knull, and if you’re a fan, you won’t want to miss this revelation.