Venom: Funeral Pyre #1

 Lookback: Filling Gaps
 Posted: 2006


After forming an uneasy truce with Spider-Man, Venom headed out West to serve as a lethal protector in his own city. In this tale, his twisted morals get put to the test.

Story Details

In Oakland, California, the gang known as the Jadoo are running rampant in the streets. After taking out a former member who defected, they run down a kid's uncle as they were crossing the street in their stolen car. They turn around to finish him off, but the uncle leads them away from the kid by running into a nearby abandoned building. As the Jadoo pursue, one of them breaks off and tries to call for some help. Finding only a busted payphone, he finds the kid and gets him out of there as his uncle plummets to his death trying to jump across the rooftops.

The next day the kid heads down to the tunnels where Eddie Brock resides in a city under San Francisco. He tells him what happened and hands him the note the Jadoo gave him. Brock learns that he's actually a reporter named Gray Russell and he's looking to be saved from killing as part of his initiation into the gang. Venom suits up and takes up the task.

Meanwhile, the Punisher leaves L.A. for home, but listening to the police band about rising gang violence has him making a detour towards Oakland. There, in the Jadoo's base, Gray reminisces about what got him in this situation. His dad apparently worked for Hydra and operated out of a secret lab located somewhere in the building being used by the Jadoo, which is why he had to join the gang to find it and make a name for himself as a journalist. He arranged for some actors to jump a lone Jadoo member so he could save him and be admitted. Now, he was going to have to kill to become a full member or be killed.

Venom arrives in Oakland just in time to see Punisher going medieval on gang members in the street. Venom tries to reason with Punisher, telling him about the reporter he's trying to rescue, but Punisher refuses to listen. A fight ensues. Venom, of course, takes Punisher down but is forced to abandon him as his actions against the bangers have caused a gang war in the streets.

Meanwhile, the Jadoo are gearing up to join in as Gray finds the lab he was searching for. However, he's soon dragged out to the fight by a fellow banger. Punisher's van enters the area and Venom decides to take him down once and for all, only to get a massive dose of ultrasonics from it. Punisher locks him in a building's front gate with the sonics trained on him, weakening him. Meanwhile, his mission is about to be failed.

General Comments

The artwork in the story was good, but the coloring left a little to be desired. Some scenes looked way too bright considering the tone of the tale and were basically inconsistent throughout the book.

The plot is a little simplistic, but the thing that really throws it is the mischaracterization of the Punisher. His mission is to eliminate scum; he takes all possible precautions to reduce civilian casualties. No way would he say the reporter deserves to die because he's running with a gang. That was just a cop-out motivation to put the two anti-heroes at odds and create a conflict for the story.

Overall Rating

Three webs. The art was good and the story has its moments, but it lost points for the shoddy coloring and mischaracterizations.

 Lookback: Filling Gaps
 Posted: 2006