Comics : Venom: Funeral Pyre #3
This story is part of a Lookback Series: Filling Gaps
This review was first published on: 2006.
Gray Russell, a reporter who embedded himself within the ranks of the Jadoo gang, was forced to kill as part of an initiation. When the Punisher stormed the Jadoo base Gray used the secret lab he was looking for to give himself superpowers as protection. Angered over being forced to kill, he turns those powers on Venom who was on his way to save him from the gang.
Venom: Funeral Pyre #3
Oct 1993 : SM Spin-Off
Summary: Venom vs. Pyre, Punisher
Russell, calling himself Pyre, is able to keep Venom at bay and the Punisher is no match for that kind of power. Both manage to retreat; Venom to another section of the warehouse and Punisher to his van. Once there, Punisher patches up his wounded leg and consults his partner Microchip on a way to take Pyre down.
Meanwhile, Venom keeps his distance as best as he can until Punisher crashes through in his van and hits Pyre with the beam modified with Micro's instructions. Unfortunately, he failed to notice the computer screen alerting him to an error with the beam, making it not stop Pyre but cause things to ignite on fire around him.
Venom tries one final effort to save Pyre, but realizes he must stop him by slamming a unit hanging above down on his legs. Even still, Venom attempts to rescue him but the fire spreads too quickly and engulfs the area. Venom is forced to flee while Pyre burns. Enraged, Venom seeks to take it out on Punisher but with the arrival of the cops vengeance had to be put on hold. They part ways, leaving the site of Pyre's death...or, was it?
One of the fatal flaws with these new characters of the 90s are they learn about themselves way too quickly to have even the faintest hint of realism. Granted, with a 3-issue mini-series and the character's debut at the end of the second issue, some liberties need to be taken. Some, not a lot. The story ends on a rather sad note, leaving it open for a villain to make his return one day but who will ultimately disappear into the obscurity of comic limbo.
Overall, it was a great idea but mistakes were made and kept it from reaching said greatness. Anything other than Gray becoming super-powered would have been preferable. Maybe a more extended fight with Punisher, perhaps. A golden opportunity was missed; you have two of the most lethal heroes in the Marvel U getting together and their battle is ended in mere pages. Sure, Punisher would have been outclassed, but he's gone up against super types before.
One and a half webs. The lackluster villain really drug this series down. Overall the concept was a good idea but the execution left you wanting.