Venom #5

Background

From the previously in-page in Venom #5...

"The rest of her company dead, Robertson is left with only Perry, the sole survivor of the massacre at the research lab, to stop Venom before the alien can escape the isolated Arctic radar station.

And Perry's no help at all.

If Venom is allowed to reach civilization, it will become impossible to isolate or destroy. The only man who seems to know anything about stopping the creature -- the mysterious Suit-- was literally torn in half by Venom. Robertson is the last line of defense between Venom and a world that is completely unaware of the monster that stalks it from the shadows.

Robertson has faced her fears... now she must face the inevitable truth: Either Venom dies, or they all die.

One way or the other it all ends here."

Fair Warning... This page is the best part of the whole issue.

Story Details

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

Our climatic issue of "Shiver" opens up with a large splash-panel shot the outside of Christmas town as a strange "DZZT!" sound effect. We pan in closer to see to see the thoroughly snapped body of "The Suit" accompanied by more of the "DZZT" sound effects. We pan in still closer to see little spidery robots welding The Suit back together with little blasts of lavender electricity. I think one of them is using some spackle too. Ok, I guess I was wrong about my theory of him being an energy based being. A few more "DZZT's" and Suit clenches his fist shut.

Pan back inside to where Patricia Robertson has Perry locked up and held at Gun point.

"How... ...do I... ...kill it?" Patricia asks. (Must... Speak in... ...broken sentences... broken sentences... convey emotion!)

"Y-you can't we've tested it against everything-- it won't die! The closest we ever came was to force it in a dormant state." Perry explains. I suppose these scientists never tried fire, sonic waves, or electrocution (wasn't that how Venom died in Punisher destroys the Marvel Universe?) Maybe their whole path of scientific experimentation was to keep poking the symbiote with random pointy objects?

Perry goes on to explain that the alien feeds on living hosts, and that when you take away it's food supply it shuts down to conserve energy. Thus the reason they brought it up to the Arctic, expecting that the creature wouldn't get too far. Robertson point out that the creature did indeed escape to which point that Perry responds that they underestimated it. Robertson chews out Perry verbally and slaps him around a bit for good measure. His attempts at apologizing fall of deaf ears. She then realizes that there still are trucks outside.

Her plan is for them to take one of the trucks and destroy the rest. "Y-you mean -- out there? But what if it's waiting for us?" Perry asks, his eyes looking like big green jawbreakers.

"If? It is waiting for us." Robertson replies. Perry asks if he can have a gun, but Robertson refuses to give him one.

"You knew what that thing was gonna do, but you decided to save yourself. You let them die. If we get outta this alive, I'm gonna make sure that you burn for what you've done. You're a coward and a lowlife. And I'm not gonna turn my back on you for a sec--" Robertson is suddenly interrupted by an explosion as the two duck for cover. They step out from the wreckage outside to discover a horrific sight. "It blew up the trucks."

The two realize to their horror that they're now trapped. Robertson speculates that the creature must be trying to trap them. "That is incorrect" a voice interrupts her.

"The creature wants to escape. The last thing it would do is eliminate a possible escape route. I destroyed the vehicles to keep it here." "The Suit" rather politely points out. Perry panics demanding that Robertson shoot the guy. Robertson seems a bit hesitant. She points out that Jackson shot Suit in the head at point-blank range.

"Yes, he did. I do not expect you to believe, but I have come from a planet far away on a mission to destroy this creature. If I fail, you and the entirety of your race will die." Mr. Suit points out.

"He's lying! Shoot him before it's too late!" The ever panic-stricken Perry yells.

"I am not lying. You must not believe what that man is telling you." Suit responds.

"Why not?" A clearly confused Patricia Robertson asks.

"Because. He is not a man." Suit states in a mater-of-fact manner. Not anymore." It turns out Perry's Venom's Host du jure. Boo, scary. And wow... The first season of Spongebob Squarepants is out on DVD. Sorry this sequence is just so shocking I'm forced to look to the ads for comfort. Really.

The suit asks an understandably shocked Robertson to calm down, as fear stimulates the creature. Robertson wonders the question we're all wondering as to how the hell Venom managed to possess Perry.

"The Creature is an accomplished mimic. It's race has survived for eons through it's ability to remain camouflaged. It is almost impossible to contain." Suit points out. Fine explanation Suit, but I still think Venom would have had to have been in two places at once to possesses Perry. That said I guess this explains why Perry didn't tell Robertson about any of Venom's traditional weaknesses.

"Th-there are more of these?" Roberston asks. "Millions. But none like this."

The creature pauses hesitating as Suit points out that yet another one of the symbiote's hosts have died. Wow I'm amazed Eddy Brock lasted this long, Venom's going through people like potato chips. Mr. Suit warns Robertson that the host is about to jump to another host and he cannot allow that. He charges up his NOKIA OF DEATH presumably to fry Robertson before Venom can possess her. Robertson swats the alien agent's hand away deflecting the blast. Venom then takes this opportunity to snag the phone. And then grabs The Suit" yet again.

"I will delay the creature, but you must now do as I say quickly and calmly. Kill the--" Alas before he can finish his sentence, Venom snaps him in half again.

"Die you &$*^$!" Robertson riddles Venom with bullets, but that trick never works.

"But I'm having so... much... ...fun!" Venom says. "Oh yes... ...My favorite game. I let you run... and just when you think you've gotten away... ..You realize that I'm right behind you." Well that seems to be the running theme here.

Venom pulls the EXACT same trick where lets her run for a bit and before tripping her last issue. Robertson quickly turns around firing only to find Venom gone, and some manner of commotion among the sled dogs. She manages to arrive at their kennel just in time to realize that the dogs, and the symbiote are gone. Wait wouldn't the symbiote only need to possess one dog? I ask myself as I throw my fist in the air demanding to know how or why this series manages to outsell Runaways and Sentinel.

"Its... gone." Robertson somberly notes.

"Yes. And yet you remain." "The Suit" says before promptly hitting Robertson with a Nokia-blast of lavender electricity. We get one last shot of Robertson's fallen body as "The Suit's" cellphone goes off.

"I have failed... it has broken containment. I will of course follow." He says to whoever's calling him. "Agreed -- it's resourcefulness is rivaled only by it's ferocity. There is no doubt that left unchallenged, it will eventually kill every living thing on this planet."

Shiver ends with a shot of a surprisingly cuddly-looking Venom-possessed Husky (Ivan?) with a big-old floppy tongue.

General Comments

Well... damn. For the past few issues I thought that Daniel Way's horror movie-inspired writing was just fine and that the real problem was with Francisco Herrera's art, yet in this issue Way's scripting let me down in a big, big way thus forcing me to look at some of odder touches of Herrera's art such as the oddly loveable Venom Doggie for amusement. If Way's script for the first issue of "Shiver" plays like a modern horror movie, then the last issue plays like a horror movie that lost it's budget halfway through shooting and wound up being released direct to video.

So with Venom as an obvious villain Robertson amounting to being little more than an innocent bystander, that leaves this title with "The Suit" as a defacto protagonist, and well he's not a particularly interesting one. I mean the whole "Agent from Outer space MIB/X-Files" concept is so 5-years ago it's not funny. Meanwhile we still know very little about what exactly makes this guy tick or what compelled him to blast, or possibly kill Robertson. Anger at her failure to kill the dogs? Did he simply assume that Venom had possessed her? Was he simply wishing to spare her a long, slow death brought on by arctic cold?

Furthermore what compels him to think that the symbiote will somehow whip out all life on Earth? Is "The Suit" an intergalactic fish & game warden concerned that the creature will somehow destroy our natural habitat? A Captain Ahab from another world with a grudge? I mean this is Venom we're talking about, a definite threat to a guy like Spider-Man, but not exactly the kind of villain the Avengers lose any sleep over. The concept of upgrading the symbiote to a global threat strikes me as quite silly.

Finally there's the symbiote itself, and well this creature's obviously not the character we saw in "The Hunger," not that I'm a continuity nazi but it exposes one of the problems with the titular character. Everyone seems to agree that there's some manner of core-concept of characters like Spider-man that everyone can recognize to a degree. The core-concept of Venom alas has been clouded and lost over the years in mess of bad gimmicks and ill-conceived makeovers.

Overall Rating

I know, I said it time and time again "it's better than the previous Venom Mini-series" but alas, that ultimately doesn't mean jack. Shiver ultimately boils down to being a gimmicky, forgettable story about a character for whom gimmicky, forgettable stories have become status-quo. The prior issue of this story had my hopes up that this arch might end with a bang, but alas this weak, plodding ending manages to be the final nail in the coffin for this failed story.

Venom has shaped itself up to be the weakest book of the Tsunami line by far. Should "Shiver" reach Trade Paperback (all the Tsunami books seem to up in the air), the first volumes of "Sentinel," "Runaways," "Namor," "Mystique," and "Human Torch" will all be on store shelves. Pick one of them up instead.

Next Issue: Artist Paco Medina makes a desperate bid to save the series, and Wolverine shows up. Will Paul continue to be able to recap the book or finally grow fed up and stop buying it?