After forming an uneasy truce with Spider-Man in Amazing Spider-Man #375, Venom winded up in San Francisco where he got himself involved with a group of homeless people living under a park targeted by businessman Roland Treece. While investigating Treece, Venom was tricked into the hands of the Life Foundation who used his symbiote to create their own symbiote warriors. Spider-Man, tracking down leads of symbiote attacks around the area, confronts a female one before following her back to their base. Venom’s symbiote is completely removed, seemingly killing him, and Spidey is left to face five new symbiotes alone.
While Spider-Man continues to fight Life Foundation agents, Carlton Drake is told that Eddie Brock isn’t dead, just passed out from the trauma of being separated from the symbiote. Carlton has Brock taken to the dissection lab, while setting loose his new symbiotes against Spidey as their final test. Meanwhile, Treece has a demolition crew prepare to blast the park to remove the homeless that live beneath it. Two of those said residents observe and head to report it to the council.
In the desert, Brock revives and takes down his guards while Spidey tries to keep ahead of five symbiotes, all capable of doing what Venom and Carnage do. Only Spidey’s experience keeps him alive as long as he has been. Brock appears and attempts to appeal to the symbiotes, but they just attack him in response. Brock leads Spidey to the dissection lab for the guards’ sonic guns and they use them on the symbiotes. But, one manages to escape the blast and renew his attack.
They retreat further into the facility so that Brock can rejoin his symbiote and face them as Venom. Venom tells Spidey to activate the sonic cage, but without knowing what button to hit tries randomly. Instead of the cage, he activates the maturation laser used to speed up the maturity of the symbiotes, causing part of the attacking symbiote’s arm to dissolve. Venom decides to use it on the others, but on the off-chance they could die Spidey protests. Venom knocks him out and does as planned, removing the symbiotes from their hosts.
Carlton, seeing the failure, orders the facility sanitized. Familiar with their methods, Spidey leads Venom to the hangar he came in only to discover Venom gave him the slip again. Spidey hitches a ride on the hovercraft just before the facility blows. Elsewhere, Venom hitches a ride in a truck with a symbiote tendril around the driver’s neck, ordering him to take him to San Francisco quickly.
So after a four-issue diversion, we’re finally back on track to the conclusion of the plot that kicked off this mini. But first, we get a new batch of bad guys who, unlike The Jury in #2, don’t even merit introductions. In fact, we never learn their names until much later in various different sources, two of them through action figures based on them. So, unlike Venom and Carnage, we get a new breed of generic bad guy (as far as this mini is concerned) with cool designs. Not only that, but they’re wiped out in their FIRST appearance. Considering how much trouble Venom and Carnage have given Spidey ALONE in the past, lack of experience aside, Spidey’s butt should have been handed to him several times over. The question becomes what exactly was the goal here? Was the purpose of all these side-tasks just a way to pad out the mini to six issues rather than the typical four? Or is this mini just a testing ground for future Venom adventures and appearances of the characters therein?
Five issues and this book has still failed to settle on a definitive direction for a story that is just all over the place. On the plus side, Ron Lim delivers stellar character artwork, despite his sparse backgrounds.
Two webs. We get more new villains with no names OR backstory, and then they get taken away. The main plot only gets two pages again, and the whole purpose of this diversion seems like pointless padding to extend the book beyond its logical end point.
The symbiotes won’t begin to be named until Venom: Separation Anxiety. Like Scream, Lasher would receive his name through his action figure from the Planet of the Symbiotes line by Toy Biz.