Venom (Vol. 2) #28

Background

Flash, in Venom (Vol. 2) #27.1 revealed that he wants to move from New York and start fresh somewhere new. Just...he doesn't know where. Flash is also in a relationship with Valkyrie, the female rip-off of Thor, from the Secret Avengers. Valk's not the only woman in his life, because he also works with Katy Kiernan, an annoying reporter, for leads on the supernatural.

Story 'The Land Where The Killers Dwell'

  Venom (Vol. 2) #28
Executive Producer: Alan Fne
Publisher: Dan Buckley
Chief Creative Officer: Joe Quesada
Editor In Chief: Axel Alonso
Senior Editor: Stephen Wacker
Editor: Tom Brennan
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Pencils: Thony Silas
Inker: Nelson DeCastro
Cover Art: Morry Hollowell, Shane Davis
Lettering: Joe Caramagna
Colorist: Chris Sotomayor

In the Gallery Mall of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a man watches as his girlfriend and everybody around him mystifyingly vanishes. In New York, Flash and Valkyrie are sparring in a boxing ring. After talking trash to her, Flash manages to bring Valk to floor. When she recovers, Valk uses her fiery sword to cut off his symbiotic legs. Now, Flash is on the floor and he announces that she cheated. Valk gets on top of him and things are about to get sexy when Flash gets a call from Katy.

Flash answers the call and Katy asks him what he knows about Philadelphia. He says that he has only seen it on Always Sunny. Katy revels that she’s working on a story in Philly that might be worth his time. While talking, she enters a door and finds the U-Foes waiting for her. The team of F-lister super villains quickly captures her and her phone is left on the floor with Flash calling out for Katy.

Soon, Venom is in Philadelphia investigating to find Kiernan. He finds out the apartment she was staying at from her editors and gets in easily. Flash notices a newspaper on her bed about Gallery Mall when the building catches on fire. When he hurdles out, the U-Foes are waiting for him. Ironclad, a big metallic guy, orders the others to make sure Katy’s research is gone while he takes care of Venom. Flash webs a grenade to his head and damages the shiny fiend.

X-Ray, a purple guy, and Vapor, a girl who turns into a green gas, confront Venom. After many failed attempts at killing him, the U-Foes resort to slaying civilians. Venom helplessly watches as the citizens around him are brutally torn apart by the villains. Then, Vapor orders X-Ray to “nuke” Venom. When he does, the symbiote slithers away from Flash, who is now, as Ironclad says, “extra crispy.” X-Ray orders them to burn the hotel and Kiernan’s notes.

Meanwhile, a laboratory materializes in an abandoned warehouse, with Katy Kiernan strapped in a chair. Vector, a U-Foe, approaches her and tells her she has no reason to be afraid. Suddenly, a bunch of other victims appear around them, all dead and rotting away. Apparently, they were all test subjects for the U-Foes’ equipment. Vector tells Katy that he plans on using her as a guinea pig for a glowing sphere.

General Comments

This was a pretty horrendous issue. Venom travels to Philly to save Katy and is defeated by the U-Foes. The plot is lackluster, (I just summed it up in one sentence) but that doesn’t mean that the issue is automatically bad. Many great stories have very simple plots but are classics mainly because of their execution. Sadly, that isn’t the case here. The pacing and panel layout of the story starts out tight and stimulating in the beginning of the issue, but become very loose and dull as the story advances.

I will say that Flash isn’t an easy character to write. He’s a broken man who blames everything that happens around him on himself. So… why doesn’t he feel anything when the civilians around him are being torn apart because of the villains that are after him? The innocent civilians around him are brutally slaughtered and he simply stands witness to it, coldly narrating it. This is certainly not the Flash Thompson depicted in Venom (Vol. 2) #9. This is not the Flash Thompson I enjoy as a character.

Now, before I express my next point, I see it to be appropriate to reflect on Bunn’s run on Venom so far. Within the span of the past six issues he’s written so far on the title, there have been supernatural, street-level and multi-universal stories. Now, with this story, he introduces a sci-fi theme with mystical elements. Am I the only one finding this title to lack a solid theme? Venom is currently a demon-possessed, secret agent anti-hero with an Asgardian girlfriend. I am usually okay if a writer uses various themes during their run, but this is plain mixed. Therefore, the book lacks a sense of stability that Remender’s run brought to the book in his previous run.

As many of you know, this story was solicited as be the beginning of a new Venom status quo where Flash moves to Philadelphia. The first thing a writer must do when introducing a character to a new setting is thoroughly establish it and show how it varies from the last setting. Bunn completely screws this writing technique during the story. He shows a picture of Venom in front of a church house and calls it Philly. Frankly, this story could have taken place in NYC just the came as Philly. This move was obviously an editorial decision.

Now, I had two problems with the characters in the story: Katy Kiernan and the U-Foes. Katy Kiernan, when she was introduced, was supposed to be that no-nonsense, tough-as-nails reporter that has become so typical in literature. But…how is she supposed to play that role when she has played the damsel in distress twice already since her introduction? Can somebody spell plot device? Second, the U-Foes lack any fearfulness or any villainous edge. They’re a bunch of clowns in uncreatively-designed jumpsuits, but that’s not Bunn’s fault. He didn’t design or create them. But I still feel like his portrayal of them was lacking. I still don’t believe that they could have overwhelmed Venom as easily as they did.

Last and certainly least, Thony Silas’ art is awful. His characters are all in recycled poses from his first arc on Venom, the U-Foes’ battle with Venom lacks artistic prowess, the U-Foes are visually depicted ridiculously, the women look terrible, many panels make no proportionate sense, and every character has white eyes for some reason. Need I any more explanation?

Overall Rating

Based on the poor plot, boring villains, terrible representation of Philly, poor characterization of Flash, and plain bad art, I think I'm being generous. I really do.