Archive for the 'We Care a Lot' Category

h1

7 Elements: Carnage USA

April 15th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

The whole 4 Elements article concept is David’s baby. The four ties into the four in 4thletter and 4thletter comes from David’s name because he’s an egomaniac, an Eggo maniac and possibly a Lego maniac. You can also say that the four comes from there literally being four elements, but I’m pretty sure there are like a hundred of those things, so that’s definitely wrong.

This is David’s site and all, but Carnage USA is my comic. It’s a comic specifically made for ME. Me. Gavin Jasper. And since I’m Gavin, which starts with the seventh letter of the alphabet, that means I need to talk about the 7 Elements.

Carnage USA is the sequel to last year’s Carnage, both by Zeb Wells and Clayton Crain. Carnage was the story that returned Carnage from his grizzly death of being torn in half in space by the Sentry back in 2005. It acts as a loose sequel to the character’s most mainstream adventure Maximum Carnage while introducing yet another symbiote anti-hero in Scorn. By the end of the story, not only is Cletus Kasady alive and reunited with his blood-red costume, but he’s also on the loose and nobody knows where he’ll end up next. All we know is that he has something bad on the horizon.

The plot of Carnage USA has Cletus venture to Doverton, Colorado, where he goes to a slaughterhouse and kills the entire stock of cows. The symbiote grows off the meat and expands to the point that he’s able to infect and assimilate the entire town through plumbing. A handful of the Avengers (Spider-Man, Captain America, Wolverine, Hawkeye and Thing) are sent to go deal with it and find a town of frightened human puppets before Carnage takes them too. Spider-Man gets away and the government goes to plan B… while trying real hard not to move to the dire plan C, which is to blow the county to kingdom come.

This miniseries helps support the idea that in comics, there are no bad characters, but bad writers. For such a mainstream villain who got his own popular videogame back in the day, Carnage’s death was met with little backlash. For years he’s been seen as nothing more than 50% shallow Venom mixed with 50% shallow Joker. Nobody’s ever really tried to write something decent with him and whenever he got the spotlight with his own one-shot, it was usually a bunch of gory dreck that didn’t do anything for me.

Read the rest of this entry �

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

h1

The Revengers Explain Themselves

January 4th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

This week Marvel released Avengers Annual #1 by Brian Michael Bendis and Gabriele Dell’otto. It’s the long-awaited follow-up to New Avengers Annual #1 from several months ago, which featured Wonder Man’s Revengers beating the stuffing out of the New Avengers and trashing the mansion. The new issue reads almost like a Garth Ennis anti-superhero story where he somehow reins in the sodomy and bad language. Despite his extreme actions, there’s little reason not to root for Wonder Man. He brings up good points about why the Avengers may not be worth having around and their rebuttal is never anything more than, “My God, Simon’s gone insane!” or “Are you being mind-controlled?” or “Please, Simon! You need help! Would punching you in the face help? I’m going to punch you in the face. It might help.”

The Avengers naturally win and the final scene shows that Wonder Man’s reasoning for wanting the Avengers disbanded goes deeper than originally thought. Before that, after the other Revengers are taken down, one of the Avengers wonders aloud why they did this. Bendis had his own spin on it, having them express feelings of revenge, atonement, insanity and — in Anti-Venom’s case — full agreement in Wonder Man’s mantra. Me? I think Bendis was as off the mark as he is whenever he writes any scene with Marvel Boy in it.

Okay, that might have been a little harsh. It’s not that bad. Still, I think I can shed some better light.

Read the rest of this entry �

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

h1

4thletter’s Guide to Carnage USA #1′s Cliffhanger

December 15th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

This week marks the release of the first issue of Zeb Wells and Clayton Crain’s Carnage USA. This 5-issue series is a sequel to last year’s Carnage. Originally set to be called Astonishing Spider-Man/Iron Man, Carnage told the story of how Cletus Kasady and his alien costume came back from having the Sentry tear them in half in space back when New Avengers was first starting up. Cletus was shown to be alive, albeit with a robotic bottom half and proceeded to give both heroes a headache while unintentionally creating a new hero with a living costume.

As a guy who never cared for Carnage and had no desire to see him come back, I consider the miniseries shockingly good. It’s definitely worth checking out. The end showed that Carnage was biding his time for his next move while keeping his mindless and loyal pet Doppelganger on a leash. That leads right into Carnage USA where the serial killer has manifested his powers in a scary way that makes him more megalomaniacal than he’s ever been shown. He tussles with a couple members of the Avengers and the fact that this is the first issue should tell that it doesn’t work out so well for the good guys just yet.

It’s the final page that sells me on the series. For the sake of spoilers, I’ll blot out the bottom part in the preview, but click to see the full glory.

Hey now! Someone call the doctor because it’s been well over four hours! Zeb Wells obviously wrote this entire comic for me specifically. I’d imagine that there are a lot of people confused by some of the names here, so as the world’s foremost expert on all things Venom, I thought I’d give a quick who’s who.

Read the rest of this entry �

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

h1

We Care a Lot Part 24: The Antihero’s Journey Concludes

July 9th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

It’s so weird to see this article come full circle. As I said long ago in the prologue, We Care a Lot gained its genesis in a series of posts in a forum that no longer exists. David Brothers was new to blogging and asked me to join him many years ago, citing that I’d be able to repost my Venom essays, finish them and write junk like it. I may have done that latter part, but I never could get back into writing about Venom. At the time, the character I once loved and saw things in that few else ever did had become a dummy used in various stories that for the most part weren’t very good. Unlike the “weren’t very good” stories from the 90′s, these stories actually went and destroyed my interest in him.

Look how far everything’s come since then. As Venom, Mac Gargan became a major star in the Marvel Universe for quite a while, got his own miniseries and was a wheel in one of Marvel’s top selling books at the time. Now Venom is worn by Flash Thompson and stars in his own comic that has definite staying power (I was going to say that it has legs, but, well…). Eddie Brock has been reborn in a new form with appearances in Spider-Man’s main comic here and there, as well as an upcoming Venom crossover. Carnage has come back from the afterlife with a couple miniseries that make the character kind of sort of worth reading. Not only did his return give us yet another symbiote hero character who will fall off the face of the Earth, but a preview of Carnage USA suggested that there’d be some kind of task force made of obscure symbiote characters only remembered by me, the people who’ve read these articles and maybe six other people. I can only hope.

The whole Venom Family is thriving and comics have evolved in the way that modern writers have a better grasp on what to do with these guys. I’ve seen a lot of criticism on Dan Slott’s Amazing Spider-Man, but I can’t fault him on his use of Anti-Venom. The dude just plain gets it. Or he at least gets what I get.

I suppose with Venom, my enjoyment of the character has been almost defining for me. I know some people online might consider me “the Venom guy”, for better or worse. I never set out to make readers fully agree with my delight with the character/concept, but I at least wanted to make them understand where I was coming from. I hope that I’ve at least succeeded in that.

He’s a Silver Age concept painted with a 90′s extreme paintbrush. Look at the whole symbiote idea. Tell me that that isn’t a Silver Age idea that nobody got around to using until they were decades too late. It’s a plot device that writers continue to pull new tricks out of their asses for (might I remind you that symbiotes can kill people through the internet?). Yet in the end, it’s Eddie Brock who anchors it all. I’m not one of those fanboys who wants him to be Venom again because, “That’s the only way it can be.” No. I’d rather he be Anti-Venom forever.

When done right, Eddie is someone that writers have yet to scratch the surface of. He isn’t like the Punisher. He may kill and justify it, but he isn’t dead inside. In fact, he’s more optimistic about what he does than most superheroes in their saner exploits. He thinks he’s right and sometimes he is, but he’s occasionally capable of understanding that he’s wrong and can indeed agree with logic every once and a while.

Over the years, Venom has been treated like the redheaded stepchild of Marvel. Tossed around from writer to writer and making appearances that treat him as more of a money-making accessory than an actual character. He’s been in some good stories, he’s been in a lot of bad stories and he’s been in a few incredibly terrible stories. I recognize that. I’m not blind.

I also recognize something else.

Read the rest of this entry �

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

h1

We Care a Lot Part 23: Red Jelly

June 11th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

I admit that I’ve been putting this one off for quite some time. It’s only natural, since it means having to read Maximum Carnage for the first time in about fifteen years. For a while, I didn’t even intend to review this story since it’s been covered to death across the internet, but then I realized that my take may have its own flavor. After all, I’m a guy who likes Spider-Man, loves Venom and tolerates Carnage. That last one already puts me on a different path from most reviewers.

Carnage falls into the category of, “It’s not the character that’s bad but the writing.” Carnage can be in a great story, I’m sure. We just haven’t seen it yet, though the Carnage miniseries (originally going to be called Astonishing Spider-Man and Iron Man until Marvel realized they could lure more readers in by naming it after the long-dead villain) has certainly had its moments. In preparation, I read through Carnage’s original story arc in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man #361-363, which isn’t at all an offensive story. The Micheline/Bagley joint mostly acts as a way to both remove Venom from his status quo where he peacefully lived on an abandoned island while believing Spider-Man to be dead as well as giving Venom an excuse to fight alongside Spider-Man against a threat greater than both of them.

This idea, which I’m sure sold like gangbusters, was made fun of in the pages of the Ren and Stimpy Show #6 when Spider-Man made a guest appearance to fight a mind-controlled Powdered Toast Man.

This was written by Dan Slott, who would go on to create Anti-Venom and a bunch of gimmicky Spider-Man costumes. Pot and kettle.

So anyway, Carnage was a decent enough villain for his initial story. If they kept their cool about it, he’d probably be more accepted by your average comic fan. Instead, they went nuts over how this was the best idea Marvel’s come up with in years. The covers would literally say that Carnage was so awesome that they had to put his name on the cover twice! It was this thinking that made Marvel brass believe that a lengthy Spider-Man arc spanning all his books should be centered around this supervillain.

After reading Maximum Carnage, I felt that it had a lot of similarities to the Clone Saga. Part of it is the innocent idea of taking a character who’s been taken off the board in a previous story and bringing them back for the sake of telling a bigger, better story. Due to the hype behind the character, many issues are dedicated to telling this story. Too many issues.

Read the rest of this entry �

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

h1

We Care a Lot Part 22: We Care Again

January 25th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

It’s been quite a while since my last We Care a Lot article and even longer since I had a Venom article that was about actual Marvel canon. Over a year, in fact. Even longer when it comes to a canon article about Eddie Brock! For forever, I seem to have been sitting on the potential Anti-Venom entry. Why haven’t I written it? Honestly, it comes down to needing a good ending. I’ve been waiting for that perfect ending to finish off the article. And, well, you’ll see how that went…

We all remember the infamous One More Day/Brand New Day status quo change. Devils and Harry Osborn and whatever. The whole thing’s been beaten into the ground to the point that I might as well skip it. The short of it is that I decided I was done with Spider-Man in general and despite all the claims of how great the series has become, I would simply put it at the bottom of my list of great things I should be reading. I wasn’t going to fast on it completely, since I agreed to myself that I would still check out any issue that included one of my favorite characters. In this case, those would be Eddie Brock, Deadpool and Juggernaut. The first one matters the most here, though I suppose Deadpool’s issue plays a role too.

The story New Ways to Die begins eight months after the new status quo of three issues per month. It starts off at Amazing Spider-Man #568 and ends at Amazing Spider-Man #573. It’s got Dan Slott on words and John Romita Jr. on art.

Of all the various plots going around, the two of importance for me are that of the Thunderbolts and Mr. Negative. The Thunderbolts is in its Norman Osborn phase, where the team is made up of Songbird, Moonstone, Swordsman, Bullseye, Penance, Radioactive Man and Mac Gargan as Venom. For one reason or another, Swordsman, Moonstone and Penance get the story off. They’ve been training by attacking motionless dummies for the sake of going after those who are unregistered. Venom goes nuts and starts tearing into all of them. Before Songbird can chastise him for it, they’re given orders to head to New York.

Read the rest of this entry �

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

h1

The Venom Plus Prop Challenge

October 12th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

As I talked about in my article about NYCC ’10, I decided to make use of Artist Alley after three years of passing it by. The question was, what did I want out of it? Asking for a sketch of just a comic character wasn’t enticing enough for me. I needed something just a little extra.

Therefore, I came up with the Venom Plus Prop Challenge, based on fulfilling my own typecast. Each artist would be tasked with drawing Venom along with another object. Any object. What will the prop be? That’s up to the artist his/herself. I had a lot of fun with this and got a good pile of sketches out of it.

Let the showcase begin.

Venom with Lobster Bib
by Todd Nauck

Venom with Handlebar Mustache
by Jacob Chabot

Read the rest of this entry �

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

h1

B is for Brains! That’s Good Enough for Us!

June 26th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

An online discussion about Spidey Super Stories led to someone making the joke about how Sesame Street and Marvel share continuity and how he’d like to see the Venom symbiote latch onto the Cookie Monster. We all had a laugh, but a guy named Carl the Shivan decided to go the extra mile. What followed is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

“GROVER! We’ll make you pay for the way you’ve humiliated us! You may have fooled others, but we know that you are the true monster at the end of this book!”

Venom Nom Nom is brought to you by the letter V.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

h1

We Care a Lot Part 21: Back in Black to the Future

April 18th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

Sorry for the long break there. For the past few months I was more busy writing about Eddie Guerrero and Brock Lesnar than Eddie Brock, so I had to let the whole We Care a Lot thing fall to the waysides. Now, then. Where were we? Ah, yes. I was talking about alternate reality versions of Venom for the sake of completion. Now it’s time to look into the future.

I was originally going to call this installment “Brock to the Future”, but I noticed that no matter what alternate future you look at, Eddie’s days are almost always numbered. Even in the futures where he could still be theoretically alive, he’s not only dead, but they don’t feel the need to explain how he bit the dust. Same goes for Mac Gargan, except for when he appears as Scorpion in Spider-Man: Reign.

I’ll go farther out into the future and inch my way back towards the present. That means starting with All-New Savage She-Hulk, a miniseries by rocking writer Fred Van Lente. The new She-Hulk is Lyra, who has come to Earth from an alternate future, hundreds or thousands of years from now. Her mother is Thundra, a warrior leader in the never-ending war between barbarian men and amazon women. Thundra went back to the present, scraped some DNA off the Hulk’s face during a fight, went back to her time and created Lyra. Lyra is the bane of her people for having a father, despite her great strength. That strength, by the way, comes from a zen mentality. If she gets angry, she becomes increasingly weaker.

So what does she have to do with Venom? In her time, the men are mostly split into tribes that worship the long-dead superheroes. Since her reality seems to be based on Osborn never being dethroned, the tribes are mostly copycats of different Dark Avengers. They have the clawed Howlers, the Goblinkin, the Men of Gold, the War Gods and, of course, the Crawlers.

Not only that, but the Venom symbiote still exists in her time. Man, what kind of life expectancy do these creatures have, anyway? The women warriors have their home protected by a moat with the creature now known as “The Black Bloom” residing. The women are treated with a pheromone that renders them invisible to the symbiote, meaning that when the tribes of Crawlers, Goblinkin and so on chase Lyra, they end up getting devoured by the hungry pool of black.

Later on the story, when Lyra is in the present, she fights the Dark Avengers. She’s amused that Venom wears the Black Bloom and easily disposes of him. After all, her pheromones make her into Venom’s kryptonite.

Read the rest of this entry �

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

h1

We Care a Lot Part 20: Creatures on Infinite Earths

December 30th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

It’s time for the second part of the journey to check out the other alternate universe takes on Venom. We should probably start off with—wait, a sec.

What about Exiles? That’s a series that’s all about different Marvel universes. From what I’ve seen, Venom got shafted throughout. There was an inclusion of Peter Parker with the Carnage symbiote (I think), but Venom wouldn’t appear until the very last issue.

You see, Marvel always has to give Chris Claremont something to do… or else. He’s like the incompetent nephew that Quesada always has to give work to or else his sister will give him hell. They tend to give him stories that take place outside of Marvel 616, such as Exiles. The series became New Exiles and Claremont ran it into the ground, all while fulfilling his rampant [insert female X-Men member] fantasies. They relaunched it with Jeff Parker at the helm, where Morph would lead a team made up of Blink, Scarlet Witch, Beast, Black Panther, Forge and Polaris. It was fun, but nobody cared because of the stigma attached to the previous run. It was canceled by #6.

Venom appeared for a single panel. Why did I go through all that explanation to cover a single stinking panel? Because in it, the team sees another Exiles supergroup and I just know that Jeff Parker made the wrong choice.

Look at that team! I swear, if Parker went with that lineup instead of mutants and wacky Black Panther, it would be outselling Blackest Night.

Read the rest of this entry �

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon