Ultimate Spider-Man #123

Background

Spider-Man defeated his friend Eddie Brock who had acquired a powerful organism known as Venom way back in Ultimate Spider-Man #38. This organism was accidentally created by Peter and Eddie's fathers. Eddie and Venom have not been seen since that time.

Story Details

  Ultimate Spider-Man #123
Arc: Part 1 of 'War of the Symbiotes' (1-2-3-4-5-6)

Eddie Brock sits on a park bench contemplating life. An old lady joins him. Eddie proceeds to discuss the events that led him to become Venom. Various people listen to Eddie talk but leave as they think he is just another crazy bum.

Eddie's story mentions that whenever he is around Peter, the organism yearns to escape from its host. Eddie's knowledge of the organism is severely limited. Silver Sable and her Wild Pack tried to capture him some time ago but failed. By now Eddie is speaking to a pair of teenage girls.

Eddie briefly was in close proximity to Peter on a museum field trip. As Venom, Eddie crashes through an exhibit and attacks Peter who has donned his Spider-Man costume. Peter wants to help Eddie overcome his attachment to the Venom organism. Unfortunately, Eddie does not want to listen and renews his assault on Spider-Man, destroying the museum. The fight spills outside where Silver Sable and her men wait for Venom. They blast him without mercy.

At this point a random jogger is listening to Eddie recount his story. The jogger connects the dots. Unfortunately, Eddie transforms into Venom and eats the beleaguered man. He returns to normal and resumes his ruminations on the park bench.

General Comments

At long last Brian Michael Bendis returns to Eddie Brock and the Venom organism. Venom has not been seen in a long time, not counting the Ultimate Spider-Man video game which Bendis loosely references in this first issue of the "War of the Symbiotes."

Bendis continues his recent experimentation with non-linear storytelling techniques. Here, Eddie recounts where he has been and how he has been able to adapt to his monstrous alter-ego. As a result, Spider-Man only peripherally appears as a story prop. This issue is completely devoted to Eddie's point of view.

Fortunately, the talking scenes are balanced by plenty of action for Stuart Immonen to draw. Immonen is not as strong as Mark Bagley was in depicting quieter moments. Therefore, the action scenes mask any deficiencies present while we see Eddie on the park bench. Immonen's Venom is a bit more weightier than Bagley's version. Immonen draws plenty of tentacles and shows off the predatory aspect of the character without being too cliché.

There's a bit of unexplained mystery as to why Silver Sable would be hired to track down Venom for those who haven't played the video game. Nonetheless, I have a feeling that Bendis will begin to deviate from the video game's script thus making it non-canon.

This issue solidly sets things up and reintroduces a crucial character. The non-linear storytelling works to a degree but somewhat grows stale in light of the unsurprising "surprise" at the end of the issue.

Overall Rating

The return to Venom is a welcome development. Bendis provides ample fodder for an exciting story arc in USM.

Footnote

Here are some of the directly referenced events from the USM video game:


-The Venom appearance at a New York City bar (however he does not fight Ultimate Wolverine)
-Spider-Man vs. Ultimate Rhino
-Silver Sable's pursuit of Venom in the streets of NYC
-Peter Parker's visit to the museum and subsequent battle with Venom
-A sharp eyed reader reminded me that Venom also attacks a female jogger early in the issue, also referenced in the video game.