Venom (Vol. 2) #29

Background

So, in the first installment of this arc, Katy Kiernan was pursuing a lead on a series of kidnappings. During a phone call with Flash, she was captured by the U-Foes, who are responsible for the abductions. Venom headed to Philly after Katy and clashed with the U-Foes. The battle was quick and ended with Flash seemingly burnt to death.

Also, Venom is possessed by a demon and dating an Asgardian princess. (Don't question it.)

Story 'Drowning in a Nightmare'

  Venom (Vol. 2) #29
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, Terry Pallot
Cover Art: Morry Hollowell, Shane Davis
Lettering: Joe Caramagna
Colorist: Andres Mossa, Antonio Fabela, Chris Sotomayor

At the Maritime Motel in Philadelphia, PA, Flash lays in the ruins of his battle with the U-Foes, looking dead. Shockingly, Flash rises from the ruins and reveals that he used the symbiote’s mimicry to fool the U-Foes that he was deceased. “Not the most heroic tactic, maybe, but it saved my hide,” Flash reflects. He decides to stop thinking about the battle as a game and contemplates that he’s terrified by what happens when he fails. When Flash glimpses the slain people around him, he doesn’t show emotion.

In an undisclosed location, Katy Kiernan attempts to dissuade the leader of the U-Foes, Vector, from experimenting on her. Apparently the U-Foes uncovered the machines and have been testing them on civilians they kidnap to find their purpose. Our creatively named villain orders his goon to initiate a sphere-like mechanism to trial on Katy. Luckily, the U-Foes find that it’s only a memory machine when it simply shows bits of Katy’s past. “Why don’t we just leave it running for a bit and see if there are any adverse effects thanks to overexposure?” Vector asks.

Later, Flash enters the supernatural section of the Mutter Museum, which he describes as “like a carnival sideshow grew up and got respectable.” He enters a back room and finds a nerdy man surrounded by bizarre alien skeletons. Flash tells him that he’s looking for Jimmy Z Johnson and the strange man says he is absent. Flash doesn’t openly believe him, declaring he has been “asking all over town” and his sources’ description looks like him. The man gives in and reveals that he, in fact, is Jimmy Z and Katy had come to him before.

Flash asks about Project Rainbow and Jimmy Z affirms that the rumor is no hoax. He explains that in late 1943, the USS Eldrige vanished for a brief period of time. It was moved from one place to another and Project Rainbow was thought to have been officially shut down. Apparently, there have been people trying to figure it out and swipe it under the table. “All these people who are vanishing…that’s Project Rainbow stuff,” Jimmy Z says. But he does have a location of where it may be at…

Later, Venom crouches atop the warehouse that Jimmy Z suggested and is spotted by a sphere-like floating camera. Inside, a goon alerts the U-Foes that they have another intruder and the villains teleport him into their base. Venom grabs a sword from his symbiote and chucks it through X-Ray. The sword acts as a beacon and teleports Valkyrie to Venom’s location.

Venom and Valk wreck chaos on the U-Foes’ hideout, which Flash illustrates, “When Dr. Doom has a wet dream, it probably looks like this.” He jokes that the U-Foes are handling the fury of his “friend with benefits.” Their battle with the U-Foes continues with no apparent upper hands for either team until Vector knocks Valk and Venom to the floor with a beam of some sort. Venom, on the ground, contemplates about how he cannot let the U-Foes win and, when he loses consciousness, the demon takes over!

General Comments

Venom #29 was truly a terrible issue that really mortifies me on just about every imaginable level and reeks of the same problems of the last installment of this arc. Firstly, the basic plot overview is dull, like the last issue. Flash finds the U-Foes and fights them with Valk. In fact, it’s very similar to the last issue, which was nothing to brag about either. The U-Foes are still just as boring of villains as ever; their motives and dialogue lacks depth and their physical appearance lacks fearsomeness. Katy Kiernan and Jimmy Z are both stereotypical characters that have been used to carry forward the plot.

Now, up until now, I have been fuming over minor issues, but the main problem is that Flash is totally out-of-character. This arc is full of death (corpses from both the U-Foes’ attack on Venom and their experiments) but the tone of the arc is not dark at all. This is mainly because Flash jokes around in the whole issue even with the seriousness of the situation. (Which, in itself, is out-of-character.) Not only does he joke, but he starts pitying himself since he has to deal with all the supernatural elements. It feels like Bunn threw a few football references into the dialogue and called the character Flash Thompson.

Now, last issue I complained that there were too many themes among the story arcs, but there were three different themes within this single issue. You’ve got the sci-fi with the U-Foes and their stupid experiments; you’ve got Valkyrie and that mystical nonsense; you’ve got the supernatural element with Venom turning to his demon. The series is really beginning to lack a solid direction which is major for me to hook onto an ongoing series. With all the new Marvel NOW! Books coming out with new, solid status quos lately, Venom had better find its groove soon or it will be lost.

You know what I expected to give Venom a solid status quo? Flash’s move to Philly. In turn, it is rarely even referenced in the story. At this point, the story could all be occurring in NYC. I respect the point that the Marvel editors are attempting to spread the reach of the MU, but Cullen Bunn obviously doesn’t care about moving Venom. Just because it worked for Scarlet Spider (Vol. 2) doesn’t mean it will for Venom! Surprise!

Finally, the visuals of the issue are absolutely horrid. All of Silas’ art consists of recycled facial expressions and character poses that were all poor to begin with. I’ve become irritated that every character he draws from a distance has demonically white eyes and a nasty facial expression. Emotion and depth is portrayed here poorly and Silas can’t draw women at all. Just…I’d take just about any other artist at this point.

Overall Rating

Flash is out-of-character, the status quo is mixed and Philly is presented poorly. The art is plain terrible, like this issue in general.