Comics : Venom (Vol. 2) #13

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This story is part of an Arc: "Circle of Four"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6

This review was first published on: Feb 2012.

Background...

Hot off the heels of a fierce breakup with Betty, Flash finds himself hitting the bottle once again, and looking worse for wear. Still an outlaw, and a threat to everyone around him, you could say that things aren’t looking too bright. However, little does he know what’s about to come crashing through his door, but will it provide him with an escape or a greater means of punishment? One things for sure; this all about to get uber weird.

In Detail...

"Circle of Four Part 1"
Venom (Vol. 2) #13
Apr 2012 : SM Spin-Off
Summary: The heroes gather to stop Hell.
Arc: Part 1 of "Circle of Four"
Writer:  Rick Remender
Artist:  Angel Medina
Cover Art:  Dean White, Tony Moore
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

After a rather frank discussion with flash’s now ex girl, Flash vehemently rejects the hotel phone by so graciously displacing it (I’m being heavy on the sarcasm.) Apparently the phone isn’t the only thing he’s throwing as; he proceeds to throw caution to the wind by furiously gulping down his favorite alcoholic beverage. Reminiscing about his father isn’t really helping his attitude.

Meanwhile, over at the Hells Den casino, a poor chap is about to repay his debt o the casino owner by having his soul sucked out… very painfully.

Elsewhere, Johnny Blaze is teaching the new Ghost Rider his patented flip shot technique; yet it’s not getting the attention he thinks it deserves.

Also around this time, Red Hulk is trouncing through the Nevada desert, commenting on his target’s (Flash) conviction. Hulk is determined to make him pay.

Back at the Casino, a new server girl has gathered the attention of a high roller, but the gambling man picked the wrong woman to ask for a tussle, because this girl's got claws, and she also happens to be the clone of a certain X-man with a notoriously bad temper. He gets the point, as she threatens his life, and carries on about her business. Apparently Mr. Degli; the casino owner has stolen a vial of her unique blood and she will stop at nothing to prevent its use.

Speaking of Mr. Degli, he and his female accomplice are up to no good. Using 100 human souls to raise all kinds of hell (literally) but all they need now is the blood of someone who has been to heel and back.

Alejandra is busy giving Mr. Blaze a reality check, when she intercepts the sound of those 100 crying souls as her call to action. Blaze warns her she’s not ready but she reminds him “I am Ghost Rider.” And off she goes. Johnny makes a call to someone named Daimon, and leaves a message, I’m assuming is informing him of the urgent situation.

At Flash’s hotel apartment, he gets a lovely surprise visit from the big red man, by way of him smashing right through the wall. (Kool Aid anyone?) Hulk tells him to hand over the symbiote, but the thing latches onto Hulky, as Hulk tries desperately to tear it off, but it throws him into a nearby gas station and KAPOW ! ( I don’t get how exactly the symbiote did that, but…moving on.)

Now Flash is wearing the suit, but has yet to sober up, when the Hulk appears and delivers a massive uppercut, sending him air born.

Back at the casino, our X lady has made the proper costume change and is now making her way to the hidden lab (Yah, a casino with a science lab, go figure) She explains that her worst nightmare of being replicated and used as a soulless weapon, is right before her eyes, as she spots her unconscious genetic duplicates. She’s about to blow them to smithereens via c4, when suddenly (and you knew this was bound to happen) they come crashing out of their holding tank, claws first. And if that wasn’t threat enough, the fact that all for of them have symbiotes should suffice. Yes Sir, it looks like our lady, X-23, is in deep trouble.

Returning to Mr. Degli, Ghost Rider, has begun taking action by reversing the motion of the pentagram crank wheel ( think of a giant roulette wheel ). GR’s speed and momentum actually triggers the device to pull hell above ground. GR has unwillingly brought Hell to earth and is unable to stop, less earth be pulled down under.

Elsewhere in Sin City, Hulk and Venom are exchanging verbal and physical blows when they notice a change in climate. And now all sorts of hellish evil and creatures are terrorizing earth. Hulk and Venom put their differences aside and team up to get to the bottom of this situation, focusing on the tower in the distance.

Blaze makes a trail towards the Vegas border, notices the hellacious atmosphere and places a talisman on the welcome to Vegas sign: thus halting the spread of hell on earth.

Nearby Degli and his significant other, transform into their demonic forms. Degli represents Blackheart: son of Mephisto ruler of hell.

Blackheart attempts to gloat to his father but is quickly informed of his failure; (due to Blaze’s talisman) however, he swears retribution.

Blaze goes and switches places with Alejandra. Meanwhile Blackheart, teleports his symbiotes and unwillingly X-23 as well, to his location, just in time for Hulk and Venom to smash down his door. Soon after, Alejandra comes crashing through the window on her flaming bike. Now X-23, Hulk, Venom and GR are preparing to take down Blackheart.

Unfortunately for our heroes, Blackheart uses his magic mirror (Its been in the casino the whole time in case you’re wondering.) to create evil manifestations of their group. Uhhh Ohhhh ! ! Guess what? To Be Continued.

In General...

Seeing as how this is an introduction piece to a spinoff story, I suppose I can grade it with that in mind, otherwise it would be quite off putting. Before I say cliché things referencing the plot like,” It’s a nightmare” and “what the hell happened” let me point out that there’s really no main character development, and no re-occurring characters, so it’s hard to say what it represents to the series as a whole. The events here are short and strewn together, switching back and forth very quickly. It really seems like an odd fit even with a strange mix of characters and ideas, that really only seem to make sense in the Ghost Rider cannon.

Now granted I get the idea that Venom is primarily supposed to be a monster mash up with a military twist, but with the addition of X-23 I just don’t get that vibe. She defiantly doesn’t belong, or is replaceable with just about any one for that matter. I get that she’s reckless and hardcore just like Venom but, like I said she’s replaceable. Now granted, marvel is trying to put together this new team, and she is kind of the small one, or the kid who can hold her own, and some may even say she’s the next best thing to Wolverine (Except Daken) but with her included, I’m just not sold on what this team is supposed to be.

Besides all that, I prefer Venom as a solo artist.

Overall Rating...

My how fast this has turned into a popcorn horror. It’s just plain weird, even the dialogue is sketchy. There was so much potential on a really cool Hulk vs. Venom go round but, that is tossed to the side for a bunch of skulls, flames, demons, and super stiscious hoo ha. It’s not that I’m not a fan of Ghost Rider, but don’t Ghost Rider stories belong in Ghost Rider books?

Also we are right back to basic level artwork. I’m so not impressed. I’ll be waiting for the follow up to the foreshadowing Toxin tease. Rick please get this train back on the tracks, before it wrecks.

Footnote...

The story continues in Venom issue 13.1 -13.4 and finishes with Venom 14.