Comics : Venom (Vol. 2) #4

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This review was first published on: Sep 2011.

Background...

Previously, thanks to the nefarious Jack O Lantern, Venom found himself in a race against time, desperately trying to save his girlfriend, Betty Brant, from being blown to bits. The only thing standing in his way; a certain red and blue clad spider, wrongly accusing Venom for Betty’s dilemma.

If that wasn’t enough of a cliffhanger for you, need I remind you that Gen.Dodge believed Flash had gone A-wall and wasn’t about to risk the operation, so he pressed the trigger button to explode the symbiote, as a last resort to contain the monster.

Now that we have reached the climax, what will be the conclusion? Will Flash survive the detonation, or will he share Betty’s potential fate of go up in flames?

In Detail...

"The Same Coin..."
Venom (Vol. 2) #4
Aug 2011 : SM Guest
Summary: Spider-Man vs. Venom
Writer:  Rick Remender
Artist:  Tony Moore
Cover Art:  Mike McKone, Morry Hollowell
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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Articles: Jack O'Lantern VI

Dodge is confused and annoyed that the monster Venom on his screen, has yet to go boom. His researcher comes to the conclusion that Venom must have read his mind and extracted the bomb from it’s own body. Meanwhile, in the midst of the Spidey / Venom battle, Flash struggles to control the symbiote, but the fight ensues to a local pharmacy. Seizing the moment, Flash grabs a massive handful of sedative pills and devours them, hoping that it will calm the symbiote. Alas, Flash is able to tell Spidey where to find Betty, just before tossing a truck at him.

Somehow, and amazingly Spider-Man shoulder rams the truck intentionally taking the impact and saving the citizens. Regaining control of the symbiote, Flash goes to save Betty, but it’s too late; the building explodes. He succumbs to his depressing realization of failure. The very next panel shows Venom watching Spider-Man swing by with Betty in his arms. Venom notices a Spider tracer planted on him and decides to “Bring it with”

Flash makes a call to General Dodge, who tells him he better stop that shipment. Chibi devil cherubs start dropping on Venom and saying they “Wuv him”. He evades them but is instantly ambushed by Jack O Lantern. Jack calls Venom his Arch-Enemy and captures him in what I can only surmise as some type of shrink wrap cellophane (freakin weird) glowing green ghost thingy.

Jack gets a call from his boss reminding him of the shipment, and skedaddles off, but not before Venom tags him with the tracer.

Later on, Dodge scolds Flash for his going off radar and not completing the mission. Flash states his case but they agree to disagree.

Back in Brooklyn, Betty, Flash, and Peter Parker make their best guesses as to the villain’s motives, but playing the blame game doesn’t get them very far.

In General...

What a strange and weak ending. I don’t see why Pete has to be such a part of Betty and Flash’s relationship. It’s not exactly drama, as they just sit there and mull through possibilities.

It wasn’t very clear exactly what happened to the shipment. Dodge merely said it wasn’t destroyed. Also what was the point of that encounter with Jack O’ Lantern? It just came off as an excuse for Venom to plant the tracer on him. Clearly Jack had the upper hand and just got through monolouging, only to flee the scene moments later.

The whole issue felt like a series of uneventful events, and lacked any sort of direction or purpose.

The Spider-Man encounter really made Pete come off as a jerk and overly self righteous. It appears that the writer is trying to portray Venom as a “bad luck follows him around” and “everyone misjudges him” type of guy. Maybe he is building up these failures for a reason, but right now they feel like a bum deal.

I just can’t get over how, Spider-Man shoulder tackled a semi truck and still managed to get to Betty before Flash. The fight was just a montage of Spidey demanding Venom to tell him what he did with Betty, yet not giving him an opportunity to speak’ by continuously pounding him. I can’t figure out if the writer is intentionally trying to make us hate Spidey or if he really wants us to believe that Venom is a horrible monster deserving of pain and punishment. It’s terribly confusing and, why should the reader have to pick sides?

Overall Rating...

This issue's a real problem for me. I’m finding it hard to care about the plot or the characters when the mission objective gets summed up in vague and ambiguous references. How did the military obtain the vibranium, and why didn’t Venom follow Jack O’Lantern? Sadly, we may never know.

One more thing I have to interject; now that Venom has no explosive device inside him, will Dodge continue allowing Flash to wear the symbiote? It’s all up in the air right now. We could see Venom going rogue in the near future, but if this series is going to be any good; the writer needs to not portray Venom as such a guilt ridden screw up.

Footnote...

With this, the first story arc comes to an end; even though Flash never actually caught the bad guy. The series is scheduled to continued at least till December 2011. Until then, send your letters to spideyoffie@marvel.com.