Feeling Venomous

The Marvel wide "Legacy" plan of story telling has been a mixed bag for me. I've enjoyed Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider, as retro-style stories obviously work well with a character created and killed in the 1990's. I was a fan of the short lived Slingers series in 1999, so I was happy to see them return in Scarlet Spider. Peter David pays attention to continuity, something that I appreciate. He made sure that Hornet was dead in "Slingers Return," a mistake that could have easily been made by a writer less aware of past stories. David also remembered Quentin Beck's near death at Deadpool's hands, making Mysterio's retirement from crime feel like a natural progression for the character.

Eddie Brock and Peter Parker haven't had it as good with "Legacy." Venom is as much a product of the 90's as Ben Reilly, but Brock has had much more development since that time. (Granted, Reilly was "dead.") Eddie rejoining the alien symbiote is a tough call for me. For most of us, Eddie Brock will always be Venom. It does feel a little blasphemous to have the two entities join with others. Eddie moved on to become Anti-Venom, to an anti-symbiote vigilante, to Toxin. The alien, meanwhile, joined with Angelo Fortunato, Mac Gargan, Flash Thompson, and Lee Price. Bringing them back together feels right, but also forced. It's like getting back with an ex-girlfriend that you haven't seen in years.

Sadly, I cant say I enjoy Venom's return to form as much as I have enjoyed the Scarlet Spider's. "Lethal Protector" was a fun story. Mark Bagley is the best Venom artist and I liked seeing Brock go against Kraven, another favorite character of mine. My criticism of Venom is that he is overpowered. No matter what enemy he is facing, the alien just happens to have an ability to beat it. It's too damn convenient. I don't care if its an alien, it needs to be a believable living thing with vulnerabilities and limitations. Frankly, I was happy to see how badly injured Venom was after being caught in a bear trap and then shot by Kraven's rifle. In previous stories, he would have shrugged it off. Nothing could hurt Venom except for some ridiculous weapon or even more overpowered character.

That brings me to my next point: the symbiote's endless abilities and powers. Spider-Man even sardonically mentioned this in "Venom, Inc." Apparently, the symbiote doesn't need to reproduce (by our understanding of reproduction, anyway) in order to create new symbiotes. When Carnage was created, Brock explained that the species was asexual and reproduced one in its lifetime. Now it seems that it can create more of itself just by splitting. It makes me think of a super-powered star fish. When confronted by both Brock and Thompson, the alien cant decide whom it wants to join with, so it splits in two and bonds to each of them. This seems to have also happened at an earlier time, when a piece of alien bonded to a young woman to become "Mania." In "Venom, Inc" that piece of alien was separated from the woman and re-bonded to Lee Price. He then called himself "Maniac" and was able to control other people by spitting part of his alien at them. The alien spit would then bond to and give Price mind control over them.

NONE of this has ever happened in a previous Venom comic. Yet, that is par for the course in a series where continuity doesn't matter and any crazy ability for the alien is fair game. That is why I was turned off by the Venom series in the 1990s. After the alien separated from Brock, the writers seemed to relax and somewhat ground the creature in "reality." With "Legacy," the old days are back.

Speaking of regressing a character, that brings us to Spider-Man. Peter Parker and the Daily Bugle: two parts of the Spidey story inexorably linked together. Peter worked for the Bugle off and on for much of his life, until he was fired by Jonah for good in Amazing Spider-Man #624. Since that time, he's gained a doctorate in nanotechnology, become the CEO of a world-wide corporate business and took his gig as Spider-Man international. Eventually, Parker Industries failed, cost the jobs of countless employees and ruined his reputation. So he goes back to the Bugle and by chance gets re-hired by Robbie Robertson as a science journalist. Between Jameson and Robertson, Robbie was always the ethical one to Jonah's mercurial impulses. Yet Jonah did the right thimg by firing Peter, as he manipulated a photograph before showing it to the public. Add to that indiscretion, we have the public outrage at the failure of Parker Industries. For Robbie, it seems all is forgiven.

Many people didnt like that Peter became a CEO. It was absolutely a change, but one that only made sense to a point. Peter is a brilliant scientist that has worked for several scientific institutions over the years. Given time, he could have climbed very high into an organization. However, he is unsuited as a CEO. He is a scientist, not a businessman. He was in over his head and it was only a matter of time until he failed. Moving on from that failure would put him in an interesting position. Where do you go after that? Going back to what he knows until he got his feet back on the ground is fine, but would the Bugle take him back with so much controversy? To protect themselves, probably not. Yet this is the the "Legacy" era, so all characters must go back to the status quo.