After his brief team-up with the Sinister Six, Venom still has it in for his old teammates. He took a bite out of the Sandman last issue, and in ASM #17 we saw that good ol' Flint Marko/William Baker isn't doing real well.
And in the meantime, things just aren't going Peter Parker's way.
|Pencils:||John Romita, Jr.|
|Cover Art:||John Romita, Jr.|
|Reprinted In:||Spider-Man Universe #5|
Shortly after their defeat at Spidey's hands in ASM #17, we find Mysterio and Electro (in his ridiculous blue costume, of course... thanks, Mr. Byrne), who are worrying about being hunted by Venom. Electro offers to eliminate Venom, and immediately after Mysterio leaves, the afore-mentioned symbiote-clad psychopath jumps Electro, beats the tar out of him, and leaves him for dead. Two down, three to go.
Meanwhile at the Bugle, Pete tries to sell some pictures to Jonah, who refuses them, and Pete wonders if Jonah peeked under his mask after he was trounced by Venom in PP:SM #10. Elsewhere, Kraven the Hunter realizes he's in danger from Venom, and decides to set a trap for Brock. The bait, of course, is Spider-Man. Back at the Bugle, Peter walks into an argument between Joe and Randy Robertson. Robbie offers Pete some financial help, but Pete refuses, leaves the Bugle, and changes to his Spidey togs. Before long at all, Spidery is ambushed and drugged by Kraven.
Spidey awakes to find himself strung up in Central Park in front of Kraven. The Hunter runs off into the park, and Venom appears and informs Spidey that he's aware of Kraven's plan. Kraven tries to spring his trap on Venom, but Venom is ready for it, and they chase each other into the park, giving Spidey the chance to break free. Meanwhile, Venom catches up to Kraven, they fight, the Hunter attacks Brock with a wall of fire, and Brock slashes Kraven across the stomach. Venom's about to finish him off, when Spidey comes to the rescue. He and Venom fight, and Spidey uses Kraven's fire device to trap Brock in a ring of flame. The wounded Kraven still wants the kill, but Spidey knocks him out and carts him away, at the cost of letting Venom escape.
Later on, Peter Parker finally makes his way back to his apartment, only to find all his belongings thrown out on the street, because he hasn't paid his rent. And just to finish off his day, it starts to rain.
Y'know, I seem to recall reading the letters page in ASM back in the early nineties, and there would often be complaints about how Venom was over-used because he would appear every ten issues or so. Now let's review: Venom has appeared in the following issues of PP:SM since the reboot: #9, 10, 12, 16, and 17. That's five of the last nine issues. And this isn't even scary Michelinie-Venom like in those issues of ASM - this is tame, boring Mackie-Venom. I really think that Venom is a great villain, but not when they're using (or over-using) him like this.
And on to what I think of the other villain in this issue: I like Alyosha Kravinov at first because he was a character with a lot of potential as a new Kraven the Hunter, but with a different twist. But until I got to the end of this issue, where Kraven mentioned his father, I actually thought that I had missed an issue and the original Kraven, Sergei Kravinov, had been resurrected. That twist is gone. The "new" Kraven looks and acts exactly like the original - the two are completely interchangeable.
And what happened to Electro at the start? Are we supposed to think Venom killed him? A character who's been around for thirty years or so just wiped out at the start of the issue? I find that hard to believe. (I'm hoping that Venom just ripped that horrible blue & white costume to shreds, and Electro will have to go back to the green & yellow one).
Despite these problems, this issue actually wasn't bad. I've enjoyed seeing Venom go up against the Sinister Sixers, because is shows us how tough Venom really is. Each member of the Sinister Six is someone who can fight Spidey to a standstill, and Venom is just ripping them apart. The script is typical Mackie, complete with Spidey's unfunny quips. And JRJR's art was stellar once again (except for Venom's fingers... and why was Central Park always so foggy?)
Nothing that really stands out about this issue, but nothing too bad, either (well, except for the Fast Lane Pt. 4 insert, but that's not the PP:SM team's fault). Another pretty decent issue. Three webs.