Following his recent escape, Venom has captured Spider-Man in a cryogenic freezing chamber.
|Cover Art:||Erik Larsen|
|Reprinted In:||Complete Spider-Man (UK) #18|
|Reprinted In:||Spider-Man Family (Vol. 2) #2 (Story 4)|
|Reprinted In:||Spider-Man: Venom Returns (TPB)|
Spider-Man awakes on a tropical beach. Venom hops down from his web among the trees and informs the web-spinner that as all their past battles have often been interrupted by innocent bystanders, he decided to bring the pair of them (via a chartered plane) to this island that had deserted since a mining disaster in the 40's: the ideal battle-ground and "what better place to die". Spidey seizes opportunity to web up Venom's face and make a break for it, running into the jungle. Swinging down to a lake he tries to gather his thoughts - assuming that Eddie Brock would have researched this place beforehand to ensure he knew the turf to gain an instant advantage. These thoughts are realised as he gazed down into the water to see a toothy smile and large white eyes staring back at him.
Meanwhile in Pittsburgh, MJ is in hiding at her sisters; standing on the porch watching her nephews playing in the snow and worrying about Peter. One of the boys throws a snowball at her and she explodes in their faces. Instantly regretting loosing her temper she apologises and helps them to finish their snowman.
Back in the jungle, Venom has dragged Spider-Man into the depths. Although it's a new trick, Spidey is beating himself up (though Venom isn't doing too bad a job either) for not anticipating the symbiote's ability to emulate different textures and colours. He grabs a sunken branch and smashes it into Venoms face, rushing to the surface and heading deeper inland. Venom emerges from the water, licking the blood from his broken-toothed mouth. Spidey comes across the old mining village (complete with grave-yard), and takes the time he has to set a few snare traps using the methods Flash Thompson once taught him. Traps set, he decides to let Venom find him rather than trekking out himself - then realises that it's always Venom that finds him. Directly behind him, his hunter emerges from his camouflage among the trees.
The blow sends Spider-Man sprawling but he is straight back on his feet with Venom hot on his trail. Knowing that Venom isn't as nimble as he is, Spidey keeps on foot, also full in the knowledge that whereas he will jump an innocent mound of dirt, Venom would instead plough straight through it - and he does. The trap springs and Venom is hoisted into the air by the snare. Spidey uses the symbiote's momentary confusion to wrench a door free and shatter it around Venom's head. However this does little good as Venom, unphased, sprays webbing into Spidey's face and frees himself. Vision restored, Spider-Man attempt to gain ground and swings away, narrowly missing the jeep hurled at him but loosing his hold on the web-line. The jeep crashes through the ground with Spidey right behind it, finding himself in a mine shaft. He can smell gas and realises what caused the mining disaster. Not wanting to suffocate he turns back to the hole, to find Venom perched above him.
New York: Felicia Hardy slams down the telephone having again failed to reach Peter. Flash tells her to get a move on before they miss the concert. She declines, telling him she isn't feeling well, and when he persists she snaps back at him. It dawns on her that she still has feelings for Peter, but she loves (or at least, she thinks she does) Flash. Grabbing her coat and telling Flash to wait up, she apologises to Spidey that he's on his own.
Spider-Man webs the support beams and yanks Venom down into the pit, leaping out as his foe falls. Smelling the gas but not registering it as such, Venom promises to eat the spider's lungs for that one. Back at the shore, Spidey removes one of his web cartridges before he uses up the last of his web fluid. He spots a ship on the horizon and makes a break for the ocean, but suddenly tendrils of symbiote burst from the sand and ensnare him. The tentacles begin dragging Spidey back towards the jungle mouth where Brock stands half-clad in the symbiote. Firing a web at the tree behind Brock, Spider-Man launches himself into his foe's gut and sending him crashing into a tree. Dusk is setting as he heads back into the foliage.
At her home in Queens, Aunt May is worried that Peter and MJ haven't answered the phone all day. Willie assures her that Pete's a grown man with his own life to lead - and so does she. The two settle down to the TV, all worries of her nephew forgotten.
Skulking around the graveyard, Spidey sinks his foot into a shallow grave, un- nerved further by the skull grinning back at him, he looks towards the jungle and sees a light glowing in its depths. Hoping against hope that it may be someone else on the island that can help him, he finds Brock seated by a fire: the symbiote keeping guard behind him. Despairing, he realises that the only thing that will ever keep Venom from coming for him is his death...and that gives him an idea.
One hour passes, when Brocks log-fire is webbed away and disappears off into the darkness. Thinking that the wall-crawler is going to use the flame against the symbiote somehow (one of its weaknesses) Venom peruses the fleeing light. Spider-Man is using Venom's rage against him, using the insanity it produces against him, and preying that he continues to react instead of reason (and that these reactions are consistent with his past behaviour). Spidey uses the last of his webbing to create a net, which Venom becomes tangled in. Maddened to insanity, Venom rips himself free, grabbing a van next to him and hurling it at the light in the distance. The light disappears, followed by a gigantic explosion. Venom pieces it together: the mine; the gas; the flame...he grins widely.
The following morning once the flames have dies down, Venom crouches among the ash holding a charred skeleton, clad in to remaining tatters of a Spidey-suit - a melted web-shooter attached to one arm. Breaking off the skull, Brock laughs and the symbiote slips back, morphing into bathing suit. Far out to sea, Peter is making a break for another passing ship. Their foe dead Eddie and the symbiote agree there is no longer any need for Venom to exist and that they shall remain on the island indefinitely. Gazing at the island form the boat, Peter shares a thought with Brock - finally he knows what it is to be free.
There really isn't anything I can write about this issue without restating what I've previously written for the previous issue - namely; fantastic art, hardly anything to side-track form the main focus, a forward thinking and monstrously designed Venom, realistic peril for the webbed-wonder...the list goes on. The only thing this issue has the other (and to this point, few others) issues didn't was a sense of closure. Spider-Man is finally free of Venom, and there is no need (but we know they will - they always do) to ever have him return. The perfect send off, and it makes logical sense - if you don't want to kill your enemies and imprisonment doesn't work, then faking you death and having them being in a convenient place to ever know better is the soundest option.
So that said, I shall give a few of my favourite scenes. We have a fantastic title page; a full page panel of a slobbering Venom sitting in a web above Spider-Man. The scenes in which Venom uses his camouflage to sneak up on his quarry are done with admirable creepiness, particularly when his toothy grin is reflected back into Parker's face from the water. The scene in which Brock sits beside the fire while the symbiote pours from him like a demonic shadow. But my personal favourites have to be to the twisted look of satisfaction on Venoms face as he surveys the explosion, and the image of him clutching the would-be remains of Spider-Man among the ash and smoke - pure brilliance.
Not only an amazing and beautifully drawn story, this issue is the perfect finale to the Venom saga, so if you're a symbiote lover this is a must - it kind of goes to pot shortly after.
Venom uses the symbiote snare trap back in Amazing Spider-Man #317