Venom (Vol. 2) #33

Background

Hmm...Eddie Brock's back as Toxin...Last issue he met up with a pathetic guy the U-Foes experimented on...Venom had been fighting with the guy earlier...That's it.

Story 'Monsters Anonymous'

  Venom (Vol. 2) #33
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
Artist: Declan Shalvey
Cover Art: Declan Shalvey, Jordie Bellaire
Lettering: Joe Caramagna
Colorist: Lee Loughridge

This issue of Venom begins like any poor B-lister story should... Monster battle! Teeth, claws, symbiote, blood, skin-ripping, neck-biting! Gee, isn’t this exciting, folks? Yes, it’s Toxin vs. the pathetic guy from last issue. But…Wait! There’s a twist! When the pitiable guy is thrown away, it’s revealed that he’s driven by the leeches that the U-Foes impaled into his back! Before we actually get any depth out of this story, the action’s back on! After Brock rants cornily for a bit, the battle escalates when the pathetic guy’s arm’s ripped off.

Once disabling him, Toxin picks up the poor creature and snaps something in his stomach. Suddenly, tendrils erupt from the body and stabs Toxin. It’s all fun and games until somebody gets shanked. Brock throws him away, heals himself, and finds the creature has left. Brock decides that he’ll track the beast and use him as bait for Venom.

In the morning, Flash is video-calling his fellow ex-Secret Avenger, Beast. The blue beast tells Flash he looks “dreadful” and they recognize how they are connected by coffee. When Beast asks Flash why he isn’t using his prosthetic legs, he replies that he feels as if he’s cheating when he does. Beast replies, “You’re making a fresh start for yourself. You want to stand on your own two feet…so to speak.” (Geez, how subtle, Bunn.)

Soon, Flash gets down to why he called Beast; he wants to know about the creature he fought last night. Beast explains if the man wants help and Flash can bring him to him, he might find a cure. Our main character explains that he can get the creature for him.

Soon, an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting is taking place in a church. Flash introduces himself awkwardly to the others. While verbally introducing himself, Flash thinks about how he’s actually a “walking time bomb,” “a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” and “a monster.” Soon, he starts talking about alcohol as if it’s the symbiote. Once done, Flash thinks about how “faceless” the crowd is; how alone he is. But, he determines, he cannot be alone because, although it’s “drugged into submission,” he’s accompanied by the symbiote. When the next person starts with their story, he decides that he’s simply part of the unidentifiable mass. Well, now I want to take up drinking.

At Ruff Rick’s Kennel, an employee hears the pleas of dogs in the back room and goes to check the situation out. On the floor, she identifies splatters of blood and animal carcasses. She finds the pathetic guy we have grown to become disgusted with is responsible for the animals’ deaths and is eating a rabbit. He apologizes and explains that he must eat, which urges him to chase the lady out the pet store.

Outside, the skeletal creature is snagged by a web line. Venom smashes him into a car roof. Then, he explains that he can help him, but the creature resists. Venom webs him and thinks about what might happen if Beast can’t cure him. Venom contemplates whether he should put him out of his misery, but is interrupted by a certain symbiotic voice.

Toxin leaps from the shadows and explains that he would put the man out of his misery if he was Venom. Brock reveals, “I’ll take care of him. Just as soon as I’m done with you!” Oh, I sure do look forward to the next issue after that enlightening quote from Brock, don’t you?

General Comments

After reading as story like this, you must put down the book, review what you have just read, and ask what type of person you are for buying it. You get a guy drearily talking in Alcoholics Anonymous and being one in the “unidentifiable mass.” You get a pathetic creature slaying a bunch of animals in a shelter. You get a red monster snapping the ribs (or whatever) of a pathetic creature. This feels like the type of thing a sociopath would read before going to a park and killing a family on a picnic. Has Venom’s standards sunk this low?

Let’s back up a bit to the part about the animal shelter. I was truly horrified when I saw this in my comic book. You want to know who else was? The lady who happened to glimpse over my shoulder while I was reading it at a coffee shop. And her kid. I generally read comics in public but if the industry sinks to the level of having dead bunnies and slain animals to set a tone, I give up. This is why comics should really have a Comics Code Authority to offer a little censorship to sick comics like this.

Otherwise, everything’s really depressing here. Flash’s few pages of his social life and drama remind us why he only has a few pages for social life and drama. In one sequence, he’s talking to his old buddy, Beast. As a continuity fanatic, it’s nice to see a reference to the recently-ended Secret Avengers. This is a pretty bland conversation. Then, Flash attends Alcoholics Anonymous and Bunn does our very best to convince us why we should never pick up Venom again. After attending the meeting, it’s a wonder why he doesn’t start drinking right afterwards. At this point, why pick up Venom when you can get the much more fun adventures of the FF or Nova?

Declan Shalvey’s art is a bit mixed in this issue. The action segments of this book are well detailed and the layouts are great. The pet shop scene is disgustingly detailed, which I guess is what Bunn’s script was aiming for. Otherwise, Shalvey’s art is poor when it comes to the everyday sequences and there’s some really weird shading in certain panels. I still believe Shalvey’s a great artist; he just doesn’t belong on this book.

Overall Rating

How utterly depressing. I used to like this title too...