Given an almost unprecedented amount of creative with the character, Daniel Way's Venom series seemed like a promising property for Marvel last year, and a fresh start for the character finally moving away from the countless "Lethal Protector" mini-series of the 90s. Despite not a really large amount of hype, fan interest was inherent in the book due to the fact that the Venom character had not made any comic appearances in the last few years. Debuting within the Diamond Comics top 10 the first issue of Venom seemed at the time like a complete success.
That was of course until we actually read the book, in which started off with a lame rip-off of John Carpenter's The Thing, and gradually devolved into a complete mess featuring bald tube-headed cyborgs, an omnipotent cell phone, nanobots, clones, and an atomic blast that only manages to knock off Wolverine's shirt. Venom's sales tumbled, perhaps with it killing any good will the "Tsunami" brand name carried, and scaring readers away from trying quality books like Sentinel and Runaways.
Now as we begin Venom's third arc, Daniel Way's side projects "Deathlock Detour," "Ant Man," and "Gun Theory" have all been canceled with rumors that this book may be next on the chopping block.
Anyway this arc is a prequel to "Shiver" and "Run" let's see how this arctic nonsense all started.
Yes, just as we all feared this issue marks the return of Francisco Herrera to Venom, and dear god does his art look bad in this issue. If you compare his vastly superior work on Kamikaze: KMKZ to this book it's like two differ artists drawing in a similar style. Our story opens up opens up with a horribly off-model Venom (the old Eddy Brock version) laying a WWE Smackdown on Spider-Man who has been beaten bruised, and knocked unconscious. Brock brags that he can do this Spidey any time he wants, and when he finally succeeds in killing Spidey it's going to be a surprise, and that he won't let Spidey die a hero. It should be noted Venom's upper body is hideously disproportionate to his lower body making me wonder if it's really Megaton Man, or a Bart Sears rendition of Captain America being possessed by the symbiote.
Suddenly Aunt Petunia's favorite nephew the ever-loving blue-eyed thing crashes through a wall and grabs Venom. Or maybe he's trying to do a tango with him. The art makes it kind of unclear. Actually Medina's rendition of The Thing looks more like the feces demon from Kevin Smith's "Dogma" than any incarnation of the character that I know of. Brock-Venom yells out "It's Slobberin' Time" before suddenly attempting to tongue-kiss the Thing to death.
And to think there are people on earth whining about how Chuck Austin is the worst thing to ever happen to comics, or about how Andi Watson and Bill Jemas's Namor was some kind of blasphemy, or how wrong it is for DC to introduce a new Firestorm... Oh for heaven's sake... NOTHING, I say NOTHING compares to the Lovecraftian horror of watching Eddy Brock attempt to french kiss Ben Grimme.
Anyway the Human Torch flies in and makes the save in doing so cutting off a good chunk of Venom's Tongue, while Mr. Fantastic blasts him with a sonic blast gun. Sue Storm binds Eddy Brock and the symbiote in two separate force fields, and the fight is over. Mr. Fantastic decides to bring the two halves of Venom back to the Four Freedoms plaza for safe keeping and give Spidey some medical attention. Ben Grimme meanwhile pukes up half of Venom's tongue. "That thing... was tryin' to crawl into my stomach." Grimme complains, as he's not the only one feeling nauseous at this point. The Thing not unreasonably wants the symbiote to be destroyed once and for all, but Reed thinks the creature should be kept for study.
Meanwhile some kid who was watching this fight the whole time finds scoops Venom's tongue up into his apron and promptly quits his job. The kid returns to his apartment in Brooklyn where his pregnant girlfriend/fiance/wife is awaiting. He explains to her that he just quite his job and that his new get rich-quick scheme is to sell Venom's tongue on E-bay. Honest I'm not making any of this nonsense up. This is sort of like that Gotham Central story where Firebug sold his equipment on line, but a thousand times stupider. You think this guy would at least have the wits put the tongue in a pickel jar so it wouldn't rot.
Remarkably this mook's girlfriend doesn't choose this moment to walk out on him, but actually helps him upload the information on the site. Suddenly a blank red screen appears on the site reading "this auction is closed" just before the lights go out. BOOM! A black helicopter blows a hole through the side of the apartment as Vick and Frankie dive in the building. Yep, blasting a hole in a side of a building in the middle of Brooklyn with a helicopter, that's not going to attract any attention. Vic & Frankie (who apparently aren't bald tube-headed cyborgs yet) arrive on the scene to find that the guy and his girlfriend have done the first smart thing all day and have fled the scene. They then pick up Venom's tongue and radio back to headquarters.
We cut to see Frankie and Vic sneaking into Kennedy Airport to make a secret flight to New Mexico under the orders of their employer Bob. Meanwhile in Manhatten at the Evil Corporation, Bob (the Kingpin lookalike with the Super Mario Brothers mustache we saw last issue)is approached by his secretary Vicky that his associates have found an optimal development site in Northern Canada, above the Arctic Circle. "It looks like everything is falling into place" Bob says with a tear in his eye. "After all this time... I believe we're finnally going to make it happen, Bob."
We cut away to see to a lab in Mesa Verde, New Mexico where an identially man in a labcoat, also named Bob is talking on the phone to himself. Frankie asks him when she and Vic (or a Vic in any case) should expect a tissue sample and Bob The Kingpin Mario II says that it will be arriving momentarily. Bob also asks if they've found a research scientist named Goodwin who was keeping a journal. Vic says that they have. "*Everything* is prepped."
We cut to see this scientist strapped to a table with all manners of nasty tubes and probes attached to him. Bob II thanks Mr. Goodwin for being a team player, as Goodwing, gurgles in agony.
Back at the airport we see the airplane taking off while Vic asks Frankie what if she ever wondered just exactly what it was that they do here. Vic responds by saying "They do things we're not supposed to know about." We then cut back to see ANOTHER Vic and Frankie on the ground. "Are you really afraid of flying Vic?" "It terrifies me. C'mon let's get to work.
At this point I honestly wonder if even Daniel Way can keep score.
Back at Four Freedoms Plaza Spidey comes to learn that Mr. Fantasic has Eddie Brock and the symbiote secured in separate parts of the facility. Just as Spidey is about to leave, Reed asks Spidey to take a look at something. That something turns out to be a tube full of those spidery little nano-bot that The Suit is filled with. Reed explains that the bots do can build almost anything and have thus far done everything he has asked them to do.
Mr. Fantastic then approaches the glass cage containing the Venom symbiote and says that thanks in part to their apparent invulnerability they are perfect for in-depth examination of volatile subjects. I always considered algebra to be a volatile subject. Spider-Man asks if Reed considers these to be a pestilent species, but Reed points out that these creatures though alien are both sentient and benign and have been very helpful. What does puzzle him is that they seem to have shown heavy level of commitment in examining this particular specimen (that being the symbiote) and seem to have a vested interest in either understanding the Venom, or destroying it.
This is confusing as heck, and lacking in redeeming features. We're only one third in, but already I don't like it. One web.