Archive for the 'We Care a Lot' Category

h1

We Care a Lot Part 19: We Are the Worlds

December 3rd, 2009 Posted by Gavok

One of the themes of We Care a Lot has been that Venom has been written so differently over the years, including stories coming out at the same time. A good deal of the frustration comes from how all of his stories are one shared continuity. People disagree, but I love continuity. I think, when done right, it adds a special dimension to stories and empowers them.

But what of other continuities? The alternate realities and all that? Hell, you can do all the damage you want and it won’t have any affect. Have Gambit as the third Summers brother? Sounds stupid, but go ahead. Have Batman kill the Joker? Go for it! Have Richard Fisk become Daredevil? Sure, why not? Because at the end of the day, Gambit isn’t a Summers brother, Joker’s still kicking and Matt Murdock is still wearing crimson. If you can make a good story out of it, even better!

So let’s look at Venom in the other worlds. This will be a two-parter, followed by a similar look at alternate futures. What better way to start than Marvel’s go-to series for alternate storylines and one of my personal favorites: What If!

I’ve covered What If issues like wildfire before – and I do plan to reprise my Top 100 list a bit after the new batch or releases are finished – so I won’t go too in-depth. The first alternate story for Venom is What If the Alien Costume Had Possessed Spider-Man (#4 in the second series) by Danny Fingeroth and Mark Bagley.

Read the rest of this entry �

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

h1

We Care a Lot Part 18: The Sammy Hagar of Cannibalism

October 13th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

“Oh, no. No no no. That’s—that’s Venom. That’s Venom as me. That’s—and it’s not even the good one. It’s Mac Gargan.”

– Spider-Man, New Avengers #50

Due to popular demand, I guess I have to dedicate one of these installments towards Mac Gargan, the current Venom. First, a quick refresher on who Mac Gargan is and what he was up to before donning the hungry goo spandex.

Mac Gargan used to be a greedy private investigator, doing just about any job as long as the price was right. Jonah Jameson hired him to figure out the link between Spider-Man and Peter Parker. Mac wasn’t getting anywhere due to Peter’s spider-sense indicating when to slip away, so Jameson pulled out the big bucks for more desperate measures. Using an experimental serum and a cybernetic suit, he transformed Mac into the Scorpion. On the plus side, he was granted strength and agility to counter Spider-Man, along with a cool tail that shoots stuff. On the minus side, it drove him completely mad.

I think we need more villains who are only evil because whatever gave them powers also made them fucking crazy. A lot of the early Spider-Man villains had that going for them.

Scorpion existed for decades as a B-list Spider-Man villain. He was one of the many, many villains who in some way existed as the dark shadow of Spider-Man. Due to his insanity and his insatiable hatred for Jameson, Gargan tended to fail as a team player. Also, some of his insanity came from his inability to remove his costume.

Mark Millar reinvented Gargan for the better during his run in Marvel Knights Spider-Man, which I covered earlier in this series. At some point, Gargan had become a top henchman for Norman Osborn. His armor was gone, though with many operational scars left behind, and his sanity had been more or less restored. Sure, he was still a bad guy, but he was a coherent bad guy. Under Osborn’s orders, he orchestrated the kidnapping of Aunt May as a way to mess with Spider-Man and get Osborn out of prison.

As we know, the Venom symbiote – having skipped on its latest host – decided that Gargan was ideal. Perhaps it was how Gargan’s Scorpion powers are notably comparable to Spider-Man’s. Perhaps it was Gargan’s hatred of Spider-Man, spiked with his lack of Eddie Brock’s morals. But by the end of the day, Mac Gargan had become Venom.

Read the rest of this entry �

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

h1

We Care a Lot Part 17: The Hollywood Influence

September 15th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

The status quo for Venom had been changed, perhaps forever. The Venom symbiote had moved away from Eddie Brock, leaving a cancer-filled husk of a human being. While Mac Gargan found success as the new Venom, Eddie would be nearly forgotten about, suffering in a hospital bed. Eddie Brock himself was never a match for Spider-Man from the start. What hope would he have as an antagonist when he’s weakened by a disease?

Around that time, directly after Civil War, Marvel was making a big deal out of Spider-Man’s new look. Or old look. Whatever. The third Spider-Man movie – which featured the black costume – was on its way to theaters and Marvel chose to capitalize it in a way that really didn’t work. Spider-Man would start wearing a black costume again. The whole thing was a list of letdowns.

Was it the Venom symbiote? No. It was just a spandex costume he wore because he wanted to kill the Kingpin. Wearing black means he’s totally hardcore now.

So he’s going to kill the Kingpin? Ha! Come on, this is Spider-Man. The only people he’s killed are Gwen Stacy and Wolverine’s spy girlfriend, both unintentional. Spider-Man’s too much of a pussy to even kill Darkseid with a god-killing gun if he had the chance.

Okay, but the black costume will have some kind of storyline blow-off, right? No, not really. He wears it for an arc or so of his different comics, confusing people who will pick up and read World War Hulk for years to come. Then he simply stops wearing it. Like, at the beginning of One More Day, where it would make sense for him to still have it on, he’s back to his regular tights. Everyone was too distracted by the, “Jesus Christ! Really?!” aspect of that story to give a damn.

But what does that have to do with Eddie Brock outside of cosmetics? The reason Spider-Man was so cheesed off at the Kingpin in the first place was because a hitman accidentally shot Aunt May when going for Peter. Now she’s in the hospital in critical condition.

Aunt May in a hospital bed? Huh. I guess that’s one thing cancer-ridden Eddie Brock could take in a fight.

It’s a nice reference to the famous Kraven’s Last Hunt cover of black costume Spider-Man rising from beneath the earth in front of his own tombstone.

The Last Temptation of Eddie Brock takes place in Sensational Spider-Man #38-39. It’s written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and drawn by Lee Weeks.

Read the rest of this entry �

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

h1

We Care a Lot Part 16: Toxology Report

September 1st, 2009 Posted by Gavok

Venom was certainly making himself known in late 2004. Not only did he have his ongoing series and his role in Marvel Knights Spider-Man, but Marvel decided to give him top billing in yet another miniseries! This time, we got Venom/Carnage, or Venom vs. Carnage. At least, the latter is how it appeared in the solicits, but the former is how it shows up in the book. I mean, I guess the slashed one makes it easier to type, but adding “versus” makes anything sound cool. Would people be that interested in “Freddy/Jason” or “Aliens/Predator”? No. Not at all.

Venom/Carnage came out in September, 2004, only weeks before the Venomous storyline, which would seemingly kill off Eddie Brock and make Mac Gargan the new Venom. A couple months later, Carnage would be flown into space and torn in half by the Sentry in the pages of New Avengers. So why would they be making a miniseries about these two characters who are about to be changed so radically? Why, it would be for an introduction!

The series is written by Peter Milligan with the art by Clayton Crain. Crain’s style is very unique, looking like an ultra-glossy wax museum made of CGI. His human characters can look very off at times, but when someone’s face is covered and they’re in costume, they look pretty rocking. This goes double for the symbiote characters, such as Venom and Carnage on that above cover. The symbiotes get by on being made to look cool and this guy makes them look cooler, so give them a minseries, why not.

From writing up these articles and having to reread these stories, I think I’ve noticed a hiccup in the storytelling process. In the Spider-Man story The Hunger, it ends with the Venom symbiote saying that it’s pregnant. Daniel Way’s Venom series ends with Venom becoming a huge monster that’s meant to unleash some kind of world-ending output that can’t be described. My own educated guess would be that Toxin, the character this installment is about, was meant to be that offspring. Only, Peter Milligan was plotting Venom/Carnage and thought, “Eh… fuck it, we’ll make it Carnage’s kid.”

Read the rest of this entry �

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

h1

We Care a Lot Part 15: Way Too Hard to Comprehend

July 20th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

Last time on We Care a Lot, I discussed Eddie Brock’s cancer retcon. Before that, I was talking about Daniel Way’s Venom on-going series. To refresh your memory, the Venom symbiote is on the loose up in Canada. It killed off all of army girl Patricia Robertson’s friends and is on its way to a more populated area. Robertson is allied with an alien life form named the Suit, who fights with a cell phone gun. They are being antagonized by a pair of spy chicks who want Venom for themselves. Although they have already been killed, another couple of them have popped up. Venom has finally settled on a host that he can live off of forever.

And that’s where we left off. Venom #10 begins with the Venom-controlled Wolverine attacking Vic and Frankie’s ship and forcing it to crash. The two suit up in their armor and reveal to the reader that they’re probably into each other sexually. Of course they are.

They don’t last a minute. Frankie is stabbed to death by Venom-Wolverine and Vic stumbles upon her doppelganger’s corpse from earlier. She realizes that she’s nothing more than a clone, puts her gun to her head and pulls the trigger.

The torso remains of the Suit give Patricia a new cell phone he has created. He says that he placed the original in a special place and that the new phone acts as a detonator. Venom-Wolverine busts in after her and she presses the button to activate the first phone. As we see, after Wolverine was knocked out by that nuke, the Suit tore open his chest and shoved his phone in there. Now the cell phone goes off, electrocuting Wolverine from the inside and forcing off the symbiote.

BOOOO!

Read the rest of this entry �

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

h1

We Care a Lot Part 14: Eddie, Are You Okay? Will You Tell Us, That You’re Okay?

July 6th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

Last time on We Care a Lot, I talked about Daniel Way’s Venom on-going. Hitting the halfway point, I decided to stop and give myself a break to recuperate. It’s good to know that while that series was going on, Venom started to appear elsewhere. And why wouldn’t he? The reason he was turned into a full-blown bad guy again was so he could go back to being Spider-Man’s threat of the day.

Venom would make his return to Spider-Man’s world in Spectacular Spider-Man #1 for a five-issue story called The Hunger. This isn’t to be confused with the super-awesome four-issue story from years earlier called Venom: The Hunger, but it usually is. It’s kind of funny how although it’s obvious Paul Jenkins probably didn’t read that Len Kaminski story, he more or less wrote the same story, only with Spider-Man and without the happy ending.

As Paul Jenkins writes the story, we get Humberto Ramos on art. This is rather interesting, considering Francisco Herrera is doing the art on Venom at the same time. A little research shows that Ramos mentored Herrera and that really shouldn’t come to a surprise of anyone. Case in point:

Which came out a month apart.

Though there are parts that annoyed me, The Hunger isn’t so bad. If anything, it’s easily the most important Venom story in the past 15 years, so you have to give them that. Really. While it introduces some ideas that don’t go anywhere, it still gets the ball rolling and leads us to where we are today.

Read the rest of this entry �

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

h1

We Care a Lot Part 13: Way Out of His Mind

June 29th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

The badness that stapled to the 90’s is well-documented, but it’s interesting to see the stages that followed it. In the present, we’re in the phase where failed 90’s ideas are being brought back. Onslaught got his own miniseries and an appearance in Ultimate X-Men. Bendis wrote the Ultimate Clone Saga and now Ben Reilly is set to make some kind of comeback. Azrael is back in the Bat-universe. The latest Superman/Batman arc was a one-sided version of Amalgam. Carnage is slated to make a return. Some of these come off as a writer deciding that maybe he could do justice to the idea this time. More often than not, it’s just another bad example of comics cannibalizing its past.

But during the late-90’s/early-00’s, Marvel was in the middle of its great purge. Seeing something like Ben Reilly or Onslaught namedropped was rare. They were trying to wash their hands of every concept that went wrong during that decade. Because of that, Venom downright vanished. After Howard Mackie’s questionable use of the character, Venom wouldn’t appear for a couple years. Unfortunately, he returned in a very bad way.

The 18-issue run of the series began in June of 2003, under Marvel’s Tsunami imprint. The imprint was supposed to be more geared manga readers, whatever that means. The comic series was written by Daniel Way. Now, let me get my thoughts on Daniel Way out of the, er, way.

It’s easy to hold a grudge on a comic writer if you hate a comic they wrote. Lord knows I do it with Jeph Loeb. Way has certainly written some comics I didn’t like outside of this. For instance, if you’ve ever read through Agent X, you might recall that one issue late in the series which is meant to be the anti-climactic finale until Marvel later decided to bring back Gail Simone and UDON to tie up loose ends. That was Way’s issue. Ouch. Adding to that, I’m not much of a fan of “Wolverine uncovers secrets over secrets over secrets”, otherwise known as Wolverine Origins.

That being said, the guy has written some good-to-great stuff. His two Bullseye miniseries were fun. His Nighthawk miniseries was pretty rocking too. Dark Wolverine is already off to a great start. Of course, how could I not mention is stellar run on Deadpool? It’s a comic that gets better by the issue.

But while Daniel Way has certainly grown as a writer, there’s still this mess.

Read the rest of this entry �

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

h1

We Care a Lot Part 12: A Factory of Loose Ends

May 17th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

Last time on We Care a Lot, I covered the last days of Venom’s solo series. In my last few articles, I totally forgot to cover an obscure comic dedicated to him by the name of Uncanny Origins #7. Uncanny Origins was a somewhat short-lived series where each issue went into the backstory of a random Marvel character, featuring cartoony art by Dave Hoover. Each issue cost only a dollar, so you can’t really hate on it too much.

Bob Budiansky writes through Venom’s origins and story up to his Lethal Protector days.

“He thinks of himself as a superhero – dedicated to defending the innocent from evildoers everywhere. But the reality is that he is a grotesque parody of everything he believes himself to be, a superhero in his mind and his mind alone… for no good deed he does in the present can ever erase the evil of his own wretched past!”

Aw, come on. Don’t be so pessimistic.

The opening couple pages are interesting in that they’re new to us. We see Eddie Brock, smarmy as hell, visiting his ex-wife at a restaurant. He’s pretty high on himself for his successful Sin-Eater stories, but that just pisses off Ann and makes her leave less than a minute into their meeting. Everything always has to be about Eddie. Eddie defends himself, claiming that he’s doing the public a service with honest reporting, but she won’t listen.

Then we see Eddie being called to work and the subsequent firing. From there, it shows the events of his first appearance from his side. After his initial defeat, we get a montage page about how he has lost to Spider-Man again and again, until it gets into how Venom is out to be a good guy. It recreates the events where Ann gets Venom to leave Spider-Man alone and that’s the end of the issue.

I do like how Budiansky helps bring a little understanding to Eddie’s rage by showing another reason the Sin-Eater situation has ruined his life.

Whoa, whoa, whoa! What’s this about girls on girls?

Enough of that. Let’s get to the real article.

Read the rest of this entry �

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

h1

We Care a Lot Part 11: No More Mr. Nice Guy

May 11th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

“While on Madripoor’s wharf, Venom has a Zen moment: If the fish aren’t biting, then it is time to bite the fish! Confucius he is not.” — Marvel Swimsuit Special: Mad for Madripoor

Venom’s run as an anti-hero with his own solo series lasted a full five years. Unfortunately, we’re at the point where he only has three months left in that five year tenure. Yes, I’m afraid it’s time for Venom to be cancelled. Why? I can think of at least two reasons.

First off, I have to imagine sales were in the crapper. This is due to a variety of things. The comic industry as a whole was feeling the backlash of the 90’s collector boom and almost deep-sixed completely. Spider-Man’s Clone Saga had a horrible stigma to it that I’m sure turned people away from the arachnid side of the Marvel universe. Then there’s personal experience. Now, I stopped reading comics by this point, but just from these articles I can tell nobody was buying these. None of the comments in these articles have anyone talking about how they read the entire run. At most, people recall reading 2-3 different Venom arcs, but that’s it.

The second reason for its cancellation is definitely the rubber banding of the Spider-Man-related comics. Clone Saga was originally intended to fix Peter Parker and make him the fun-loving wise-cracker like he used to be instead of the depressing psycho he had become. Three years later, it was a resounding disaster that Marvel wanted to wash their hands of. In their opinion, the best way to do this would be to set a lot of things back to the classic depiction. Sandman was a villain again. Norman Osborn wasn’t really dead after all. The Aunt May who died was really an actress hired by Osborn. Peter and MJ’s baby was kidnapped under the guise of a miscarriage. Doctor Octopus was resurrected by the Hand. Of course, Venom would have to be pushed back into being primarily Spider-Man’s arch-nemesis.

I think that last part shows how messed up the Clone Saga was. Green Goblin, Doc Ock and Venom are considered to be his Big Three in terms of villains. Look at where they all were during that era: Venom? Good guy. Octopus? Dead. Green Goblin? Dead, dead, dead and good guy. All he had to fall back on were Carnage, Jackal and Doc Ock with boobs. Poor guy.

Read the rest of this entry �

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

h1

We Care a Lot Part 10: The Symbiote Who Loved Me

April 15th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

Previously in the Venom series, our anti-hero got in a dumb adventure with Wolverine that ended with Venom saving the life of a government guy by the name of Agent Daryll Smith. As you’re about to see, Smith would be a major part of Venom’s latter day good guy exploits.

There are only 11 months of his series left. The sad truth is, Venom has nothing to do as a character at this moment. He left San Francisco behind, his ex-wife has walked away from her supporting role and he doesn’t have any real long-standing villains to build up against. He’s just hanging out in New York City, dealing with whatever comes after him. Even the Hunger made a point of how monotonous it’s getting.

What Venom needs is direction.

On Trial (Venom #50-52) is again by Larry Hama, with Josh Hood doing art. It’s always interesting to see the change in the Marvel landscape through this series. If you look back, you see so much change in the previous four years. We saw Peter Parker’s fake parents, Scarlet Spider, Spider-Ben and now we’re back to a story with regular, old fashioned Spider-Man. Not only that, but we have several namedrops of the whole Heroes Reborn garbage.

Read the rest of this entry �

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