Comics : Venom (Vol. 2) #3

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This review was first published on: Sep 2011.

Background...

When last we saw our hero he was deep in the jungles of the savage land tangling with Kraven the hunter, and even though he managed to elude the madman; the risk of becoming permanently bonded with the symbiote grew ever too likely. Can Flash get things back on track and complete his mission before it’s too late? Let’s find out…

In Detail...

"Web of Death"
Venom (Vol. 2) #3
Jul 2011 : SM Spin-Off
Writer:  Rick Remender
Artist:  Tom Fowler
Cover Art:  Mike Deodato, Jr., Rain Beredo
Lettering:  VC's Joe Caramagna
Colorist:  John Rauch
Executive Producer:  Alan Fine
Publisher:  Dan Buckley
Chief Creative Officer:  Joe Quesada
Editor In Chief:  Axel Alomso
Senior Editor:  Stephen Wacker
Associate Editor:  Tom Brennan
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Review
Articles: Jack O'Lantern VI

We start out with darkness. A single match is lit giving flame to a pumpkin. The next panel details a truly menacing Jack O’Lantern perched on top of Betty Brant as she screams in terror.

Back at mission HQ, General Dodge is being updated on Venom’s status or lack there of. Reported missing for 3 days, agent Venom is in danger of being remote detonated, but Dodge manages to remain hopeful and stays his hand.

Meanwhile, Venom is getting busy doing what he does best; killing the bad guys with extreme prejudice. He calls them terrorists but they refer to themselves as “The Henchmen” All of them are dressed like Jack Skellington, plus suit and tie.

Out of fear of being overtaken by the symbiote, Flash injects a sedative as a last resort to control its rage. Flash makes haste, and catches a helicopter just as it’s about to take off. He makes a courageous leap of faith off a roof, and catches a web to the fleeing copter just before being engulfed in flames from the explosion behind. Even getting shot in the face doesn’t stop him from tossing the pilot outside and taking the controls.

On the Chopper’s com system, a mysterious man informs him that not only does he know that Flash is behind the black suit; he also says he has his girlfriend attached to a giant bomb. Flash is then blackmailed into delivering the shipment to New York; lest Betty get blown to bits.

Meanwhile peter Parker makes a shocking discovery; Betty’s place has been ransacked, and she’s nowhere to be found. Spider-man springs to action. Venom lands the chopper and is greeted and congratulated by “Crime Master”. Venom questions him and receives info that Betty is in a warehouse by the river. He frantically takes to web slinging praying that he reaches her in time, and determined to let nothing stop him. And then…

Spider-Man attacks, knocking him from mid swing, and continuing the assault as Venom begs to reason but just can’t finish his plea. Spidey smashes Venom into the ground with a thunderous Boom! Apparently Spidey believes that Venom is responsible for Betty’s absence. Venom emerges and snags Spidey on a web line, and pulls him directly into his uppercut. Venom goes into a furious rage, swinging Spider-Man around like a cat by the tail; while his other half begs the symbiote to save Betty. Flash has clearly lost control of the symbiote, and his internal pleas go unanswered, as Venom screams in anger “Kill Spider-Man!”

Elsewhere Gen. Dodge witnesses this chaos, and pushes the big red button of doom.

In General...

The artwork is definitely a bit of a downgrade; while the story picks up the level of intensity. High amounts of action and violence carry through. The villains merely being called The Henchmen seems so completely uninspired, as well as the head honcho being named Crime Master. Really is that the best they could come up with? Jack O’ Lantern looks awesome in the beginning and you get the feeling that he will be a major feature in this issue but he barely manages to make two panels toward the end, with little to no significance. Spider-Man’s attack on Venom comes out of nowhere and is a total surprise. The battle that follows is pure nostalgic joy. Venom looks in top form, and handles Spidey just like you’d expect; overcoming him with brute strength and power shots all while really enjoying it.

This issue has bravado and elements of suspense. It delivers a somewhat interesting comic book experience, despite the muddy under toned color, simplified designs, and one pop reference obscene joke. I think fans will appreciate the way it incorporates Spidey into the story; which sense the re-launch of Venom has been missing. To top it off this is a big cliffhanger issue, the next one will be pivotal.

Overall Rating...

This issue was a little too fast paced and the replacement artist unfortunately makes matters worse. I just can’t find much to like about this issue despite the climactic confrontation at the end, which was cool. Also, the cliffhanger ending is just too typical for this type of story with kidnapped girlfriends and ticking time bombs. Ultimately, the dialog just barely comes across as anything more than fill in the bubbles, and while the art wasn’t terrible, it does leave much to be desired. Venom deserves better, and so do we.

I would have really liked to see more conflict and drama between Jack O’ and Betty or Flash, but it looks like that will have to wait; as Venom has his hands full with Spidey. We all know it’s just a matter of time before the symbiote takes over, and this helps in proving the point. Venom is an uncontrollable monster. As long as steps are being made to keep Venom unlike Deadpool, and the Punisher (no discredit to them) this should work out just fine. With that established here, I like the direction but remain skeptic.