Comics : Venom #14
This review was first published on: 2004.
Before I get too deeply into my first PPP review ever, there's something everyone needs to know about Jason G: Venom and Carnage are my favourite Marvel characters. Venom, because he is (supposed to be) a serious nemesis for Spider-Man and Peter Parker, and Carnage, because there has never been a more ruthless villain. About a year ago, I heard there was going to be a new Venom title. "Awesome!" said I. I got to the comic store first thing in the morning the day it was released last summer, expecting magic to happen. And I was rewarded (over the course of the summer) with a somewhat-cool plotless piece of horror involving a Venom-Thing that eats people. Fun. As time progressed, and issue #13 rolled around, I began to wonder... why haven't there been any MORE plot points? Sure, there are other characters, but what do they have to do with anything? Way seems to expect that we all know what and who they are, so he needs not explain anything in this title. What I originally thought would be a great companion to that awesome Paul Jenkins story in Spectacular #1-5 has turned out to be one of the most unreadable titles ever produced.
So far we've learned that:
1. The Venom creature stalking around the Arctic ISN'T Eddie Brock, but rather some kind of clone (GAH!) creature created from the original Venom's tongue (Ick),
2. The cyber-mecha-lesbian warriors Vic and Frankie are clones,
3. Reed Richards doesn't understand the nano-Suit creatures, but apparently blood-and-guts Nick Fury can command them and has ordered them (him?) to contain the new Venom,
4. Eddie and his symbiote have been separated for some time by the Fantastic Four and S.H.I.E.L.D.,
5. The nano-creatures that Suit is made of also make up Bob!
6. Daniel Way has cleverly pissed away a lot of my time and guaranteed several more issues of this title by creating so many horrifying continuity questions.
Up to this point, Venom has easily been the worst Spider-Man related title in history. We have clones, lesbians, mechanical spiders, and questions that screw with the mind, but strangely, I don't care what the answer is. I just want it to end.
Let's see if this mess gets any better with # 14, the start of the 5-part "Twist" arc:
Jul 2004 : SM Spin-Off
Arc: Part 1 of "Twist"
We start off with more of angry Nick Fury ordering his soldiers to locate the Venom creature, since there's some kind of time limit before it destroys New York... and then THE WORLD! BWAHAHA! Ahem... They go tonight, he says. Issue 14, and this is Way's first real offering of a little thing I call "plot development." Might get interesting...
Switch to Manhattan, where Robertson-Venom meets Mr. Suit on top of a building, where all Spider-Man stuff is supposed to happen! Suit tells Robertson that there's a change of plans, to which Robertson replies, "There was a plan?" CONGRATULATIONS! Robertson, you've just figured out everything that has happened in 13 issues thus far! Then, two spies, apparently Frankie and Vic, report to the ever-mysterious "Bob, " who is aboard some kind of starship that looks like something out of Disney's Treasure Planet.
Now, without any details as per usual, we go somewhere else to a bar where a bunch of muscleheads and a dork are checking out a hot babe sitting on the pool table. Some poor sap grabs her bum, causing a fury of pool balls and cue flying around as the girl beats up the jerk. Then, for some reason she goes to bed with the dork she never met before. Nice. Why did she take the dork? Why? I wonder... I'll give you 3 guesses...
She's VENOM! (cue wiggly lines around the word "venom") Wow, what a plot twist (pun intended)! So the poor dork is killed and wrapped up in symbiote (not eaten this time), and Venom takes his place, and hey, the little wuss is a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, and so are all the muscleheads!
So Fury and his goons activate their plan to capture Venom, and some stuff happens all at the same time: turns out the Suit is Bob! That's interesting. Eddie Brock wakes up and reforms into Venom I..., and Eddie gets gummed up by Fury's officers with their magic glue guns. Of course, Fury notices that his chopper isn't following orders anymore, and that's because... oh, this isn't even funny trying to be sarcastic anymore... Venom II is on the plane, and Robertson-Venom II is now controlled by Bob! So then, Fury gives a war-cry, falls through the floor and disappears for the rest of the issue for "some reason," and Spider-Man shows up! Hooray, a REAL hero shows up!
So Spidey webs the chopper, making it slam against a building, and Venom II gets up from the fiery crash. Spider-Man asks "Eddie" why he would come back, and what they should do now. Of course, Venom II says that it isn't "Eddie," and Spidey says that the act is getting old. A voice behind, in that ever-lovin' black voice bubble says "Actually, Parker... No..."
And the Twist? You guessed it! Venom II is holding Spider-Man, and Venom I is here to try to save the day!
I find that whenever I try to place any character or event in this title, the best description I can think of is "for some reason." That's because Way just isn't doing a good job of describing anything, and on top of that, the plot he has in mind is the most convoluted thing created since the Clone Saga. Let's review, kiddies: How many webs do you get for plot? None, since there isn't really much of a plot other than "stuff happens for some reason, and hey, here's a helicopter." How many for characterization? None, because we learn zilch about Bob or anyone important, and on top of that, Fury is HORRIBLY misinterpreted by Way. Art? None, because if you try to imitate Ramos, it sucks! Show some originality, Young! How am I going to grade this? For all kinds of generic, predictable twists to a convoluted plot, I would normally give it nothing. But, because it needs something to build on, I'm giving it one half of a web, due ONLY to Spider-Man's presence, which usually means something good is on the way. (Something good... Way... is that ironic or something?)
Next issue: The plot gets more intense and makes more sense, with guest writer Howard Mackie! Or not...