Venom #2

Background

Previously on Venom, our heroine Lieutenant Patricia Robertson, an army communications specialist working at an arctic radar station named "Christmastown" made a gruesome discovery when making a routine errand to a small research lab. (She was returning some movies, really.) After responding to a distress message over the intercom, she discovered that nearly the entire staff of the lab had been slaughtered. Hoo boy, were these guys dead. We're talking Bucky-caliber dead here. What happened to those guys shouldn't happen to a bug that hits a windshield. Black goo was also found around the scene.

Luckily (or unluckily) Robertson finds a survivor (named "Perry" according to the sidebar on this issue) half frozen, and half crazy, locked up in the freezer. She quickly takes him back to Christmastown, rushing the man to medical attention. Robertson's supervisor Colonel Michael Malone theorizes that polar bears may have been responsible for what happened at the lab, before realizing that with Perry locked in the freezer he couldn't have been the one. After Perry suddenly and without warning goes into seizure, a hideous toothy grimace on his face, Robertson realizes she just made a horrible mistake. A cartoon thought balloon with a picture of a lollipop with the word "Sucker" written on it, lingers above her head. Okay, not really, but it's an amusing mental image.

Story Details

  Venom #2
Arc: Part 2 of 'Shiver' (1-2-3-4-5)
Editor: John Miesegaes
Writer: Daniel Way
Pencils: Francisco Herrera
Inker: Carlos Cuevas
Articles: Venom

Our second issue begins as we flash back to the arctic research lab. A few quick panels reassure us that the staff are indeed still dead in all kinds of ways. Two of the victims have their eyes bugged out in a googily muppety type manner. A stereotypical Man In Black/Secret Service type agent surveys the scene, flashing a few pictures with one of those spiffy cell-phone cameras before stepping outside to make a phone call.

"I am too late. It is gone." He tells whomever it is on the other line. He confirms that there is a military installation in the vicinity, and that it might not be too late to contain the situation. I wouldn't bet on it. The MIB desperately runs off into the arctic night.

Meanwhile back at Christmastown, we pick up exactly where the last issue left off, with Perry still showing that "Dear God, I Just Read the Complete Works of Howard Mackie" horrified grimace on his face. He continues his seizuring, so violently that it requires three people to hold him down. Meanwhile the dogs bark outside, and Robertson worries that this guy may have been the one who slaughtered the people at the lab. Perry finally passes out.

Lt. Robertson and Harold Saunders (the Asian communications guy) are ordered to investigate all the noise the dogs are making. Meanwhile Malone chastises his men for being too wimpy to hold down a civilian, and rightfully so. "Did you boys get lost on the way to the Navy, or what?" Robertson and Saunders step outside, and they speculate if Perry went crazy. Saunders couldn't blame him if he did. Patricia describes the scene back at the lab as a "slaughterhouse." The two find most of the dogs, huddled into a corner in fear, one of them laying seemingly unconscious before them. Patricia quickly recognizes the one laying down as Ivan. Saunders picks Ivan up onto his shoulder and notices that he's dripping black goo, startling Robertson slightly, but not thinking much of it. The two take the dog back to the med lab to Daniel Jackson, the Medical Officer.

"Jackson -- you know anything about taking care of sick dogs?" Robertson asks.

"'Bout as much as I know about taking care of spastic research scientists." Jackson replies.

Robertson is unsure of what happened out there, just that the rest of the dogs were startled. Jackson replies that the canine's conscious but in a catatonic state of sorts. Jerome Delacroix, the bald guy, asks if the dog might be rabid.

Jackson points out that this can't be, as rabies travels through a chain of hosts that it eventually destroys, and up in the arctic the disease can't survive, as there aren't enough hosts to make a chain. Big plot point there. He then asks Saunders to elaborate on this as he grew up on a farm, but he proves to be not much help. Malone orders Jackson to keep an eye on Perry and let him know when (or if) he wakes up. He then asks that everyone else turn in for the night except for Saunders who is to try and radio a nearby station asking for a civilian evacuation. Unfortunately, due to the story, it doesn't look likely the signal's going to get through. As for Ivan, Jackson admits he doesn't quite know what to do, but decides to keep him indoors for the night.

Jackson apologizes for not being able to help the dog any more, and Robertson wishes the dog goodnight just before Malone orders lights out. He wants to keep the generator charged as he has a bad feeling about the storm.

At night a shadowy figure lurks around the base, interrupting the Colonel as he's enjoying some liquor. Then we see the same (or possibly another, it's hard to tell) shadowy figure startling Jackson. Sun rises, as we see the ominous face of Venom, watching over Christmastown.

Morning comes. Robertson wakes up and manages to navigate a frozen floor. She enjoys a shower while we, the readers, enjoy a little bit of cheesecake. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. Flash forward to the mess hall where Jackson has already made some bacon for breakfast. Perry, meanwhile, is awake and has been hiding under the table all morning. Jackson recounts how the guy scared the wits out of him last night while he was on monitor duty, and stole a microphone. Robertson asks if they should quarantine the guy, but Jackson reminds her that is Malone's decision, not his. She then asks Jackson why he hasn't informed Malone yet that Perry's awake. But alas, he hasn't been able to find him. In fact, Lt. Robertson and Perry have been the only people he's seen all morning. Which Patricia admits is kinda spooky.

"Boo!" As if on cue, Colonel Malone shows up just in time to prompt Robertson to do a comedic spit-take. Malone seems even crankier than usual and demands to be left alone with the survivor. Why? Robertson asks. "Because I am your commanding officer, that's why!" Malone yells. The two leave, deciding to check on Ivan. Malone has a rather self-satisfied grin, as if he's waited for years to use that line.

Not that this has anything to do with the plot or anything, but I just realized that if you dyed Lt. Robertson's hair brown, she'd look a lot like Takato from Digimon Tamers. Really, she even has the "Victory Goggles." Maybe there was a mix-up and she was supposed to receive that psychic Velociraptor Gertrude got in "Runaways." Or maybe her parents stole it. Damn them.

Back to the issue. Robertson asks why Ivan's outside. And Jackson replies that the dog woke him up in the morning, and nearly knocked the door over trying to get outside. He assumed that the dog just really had to go to the bathroom really bad. You know, Jackson's a nice guy, but he's about as swift as Wizard Magazine's timing on making Fantastic Four its book of the month. Robertson, meanwhile, is understandably spooked by today's turn of events.

Things take a spookier turn as they find Ivan. Robertson notices that the dog is gagging on something. At first it appears the dog's mouth is bleeding. This is not the case, as they find a human finger in the dog's mouth. Bad dog Ivan, bad, bad dog. Before the two can investigate further, some screaming is heard from the cafeteria.

The two rush into the mess hall, and Jackson accidentally clobbers himself running into Perry, who was attempting to flee the scene. "It's here... it's here... Oh my God, it's here!" yells the suddenly talkative Perry, who then goes into the obligatory "We're all going to die" speech that's mandated by law in these kinda things.

Robinson asks what happened back at the lab. "We didn't know, we thought we could contain it..." The terrified lab hand responds. Just before Robinson can demand to know what "it" is, something approaches the two from behind.

"I... didn't think it would follow me." Perry says terrified. "It didn't... it followed me," reads Robertson's internal monologue as she turns her head, and we turn the page. And Heeeeere's Venom, having finally arrived and looking quite cranky. You would too, if you had to wait until the last page of the second issue of your own series to make an appearance.

General Comments

My mixed feelings left over from the first issue are, well...still mixed. On the plus side, Daniel Way's writing really does give the book a fun B-Movie feel, and the cast has grown on me. Particularly Robertson, and Colonel Malone. There are also a few fun little mini-mysteries left hanging in this issue. Namely what exactly happened to the man-in-black, Colonel Malone's fate, and who exactly is Venom's host (if anyone). I'm curious to find out.

That said, many of the same problems with the first issue still linger. Slow pacing, lack of the titular character and very uneven art from Francisco Herrera.

Overall Rating

I still haven't quite made up my mind on this series. Still, the story's keeping me intrigued. I'll give this issue an extra half web over the first due to the shower scene. Yeah, it's shameless, but it's the nicest thing that Herrera's drawn thus far.