Well you can add slowness to my growing number of problems with artist Francisco Herrera, as this issue shipped nearly three weeks late, causing me to miss last month's update. Our last issue introduced a new character in the form of an energy-based Agent Smith from another world with a really cool cellphone named "The Suit." I've checked the characters page in this issue, and yes, the quotation marks are in the name.
Anyway "The Suit" saved Lt. Robertson from being 'venomized' at the last possible minute, alas "The Suit's" efforts to neutralize Venom were abruptly halted by Jackson, who shot him with a tranquilizer in a bit of confusion. Further complicating things was the revelation that Venom's host was none other than Col. Malone. "The Suit" zaps Robertson and Jackson into unconsciousness before tying them up and locking them into a storage room. As the two awake, they debate whether "The Suit" did this with the intent of keeping them safe, or using them as bait. Robertson thinks "The Suit" might be the only hope the remaining inhabitants of Christmastown have.
Meanwhile outside of the base, "The Suit" confronts Venom. Lots of bright purple blasts of electricity fly. The symbiote abandons its host as Col Malone, who dies. Venom eventually manages to get the drop on "The Suit" apparently killing him in a really messy goopy way. If Robertson is right, then things are not looking good for the small handful of humans remaining.
Hours have passed, as both Patricia Robertson and Daniel Jackson are STILL tied together and locked in the storage room. As the two wake up, Robertson has finally managed to work some slack into the rope and spots a chance for escape. Jackson, however, seems somewhat hesitant.
"I uh... think I should tell you something about the rest of the team." Jackson says... "They're dead."
"How... how do you know that?" Robertson asks, wondering how Jackson's speech balloon suddenly got all black and funny-looking.
"Because I killed them." The panel pulls back revealing that it's now Venom who is bound to Robertson. I didn't know he was the kinky type. Very nice full-page scene. Granted I can't help but wonder how Venom was somehow able to get into the room, much less possess Jackson, without Robertson noticing.
"Who... are you?" Robertson asks.
"I don't know. I used to know what I was, But now... now I am something else." Venom responds.
"Are you going to kill me too?" Robertson asks... her eyes all wide and googily like a muppet's.
"No... not yet..." Venom responds.
"B-because you l-like me...?" Roberson asks, really hoping that if he does, it's in a strictly platonic manner.
"Yes... I *do* like you... ...And that's why I'm going to do you a favor... ...I'm going to give you a head start." Venom states, a big toothy grin across his face.
Robertson pauses, apparently confused by Venom's overuse of ellipses before making a dash for it. She doesn't get too far before Venom snags her ankle with a webline. Webbing both of her legs, Venom calls outb "Ready or not here I come!" I'm pretty sure that was a fast count.
"Yesss... that's itb Robertson: Beg, Plead. I can hear your little heart... I can feel it racing, pumping fear throughout your body. I can smell it leaking through your skin." The symbiote's hand begins throttling Robertson's neck. " It'll go away, Patricia... I'm going to take it all away." The alien's very large tongue begins licking Robertson's face. "I'm going to squeeze out every... last... drop..."
You know I'm really torn on this scene. On one hand, this is one of the best villain speeches Venom has ever had, and yet on the other hand, this scene is creepy as sin, and not the good kind of creepy. It's just dripping with all the wrong kinds of icky, icky subtext.
"Put 'er down, now dammit! Or I swear to God, I'll blow your brains out!" Jermone Delacroix thankfully shows up with an M-16 to prevent this from becoming an "M" title.
"Ok... okay... fine. Relax Delacroix." Jackson says as the symbiote suddenly unpeels to reveal his head. Delacroix pauses, a bit dumbfounded by this, not realizing the symbiote is using him as a puppet. Venom, meanwhile, wastes no time sending a big wad of symbiotic gloop to "SHLLAKK!" Delacroix, slamming him into a wall. "Decisions... Decisions..."
Venom momentarily lets go of Robertson so he can murder Delacroix. "I'm going to tear him apart from the inside Robertson. He'll beg me to kill him... and I will of course. But slowly. I'm telling you this because I want you to think about it and know that, when I'm done with him... I'm coming for you." Robertson pauses, stricken with horror momentarily before making off with the fallen mission-specialist's M-16/rifle/grenade launcher.
Slowly heading down the hallway and looking a bit shaky, Robertson finds a door with a trail of black stuff oozing from under it. She pauses before kicking open the door, her eyes going all muppety in shock again at what she sees. The whole room gunked up in a massive black web, the apparently dead bodies of Malone, Jackson, & Saunders all wrapped up in cocoons. Their faces fixated in terror. I shudder to think what horrible things Venom did to them. They look as if they've been forced to read every Venom mini-series from the 90s. Seriously, another very effective scene.
Robertson grimly realizes their fate. "All dead. I'm all alone." She says...
"No... you're not." Venom replies. Strangely, our heroine does not in the least bit seem comforted by this. And fires a round into Venom. To her further horror, she realizes what we, the readers, have known all along: bullets have no effect on the creature. Venom easily extracts the shell from his body, pausing momentarily at the shell's rather odd shape and large size. Robertson makes a run for it, having realized it's actually a grenade. Managing to jump, it explodes, leaving a mess of black jam all over the place. Venom's host Delacroix appears among the wreckage... lurching forward before dying.
Robertson flees from the black goo, slamming a door behind her. "They're not coming." A voice greets her. It's Perry, the ever-jittery survivor of the last massacre.
"They're jamming the singal... they want me to die. It'll be easier that way. They're sealing us off." Perry says.
Robertson aims the gun at him, telling the man he has two seconds to prove he's human. She judges his high-pitched squeals of horror to be proof enough. Obviously enraged, she demands answers. Perry lapses into his "we're all going to die" shtick, and receives a punch in the face for his troubles. Perry explains that it's not his fault, that he was part of a team, and that he doesn't know everything. Robertson demands that he tell her everything he does know.
Perry finally fesses up the whole story, in a sequence somewhat similar to the issues of Marvel's "Nuff Said" even from a couple of years ago, as the scene goes silent with only Robertson's narration.
"And I've never been so scared in all my life. Or so Angry." As part four of Shiver comes to a close, it looks Robertson's ready to rip Perry's head off with her own two hands.
Some nasty subtext aside, this was easily the best issue of the series thus far. Fairly logical progression of the horror-movie style plot, some nice character development on Robertson's part, going from damsel in distress to being filled with righteous outrage. Even Herrera's art didn't bother me this time around. A pretty good issue in an otherwise so-so plot. Let's see how Daniel Way decides to wrap this up in part 5 before Paco Medina takes over the art duties with issue #6.