Archive for the 'We Care a Lot' Category


We Care a Lot Part 9: The Hybrid That Crashed and Burned

April 9th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

At this point in this series of Venom articles, I think it’s right to note that whether you like the comics, hate the comics, like the character or hate the character, you have to admit that the whole symbiote idea is, deep down, really original and full of potential. Really, look past the bad stories and you’ll see a comic book concept that has so many places it can go. It’s like Kryptonian DNA or Multiple Man’s powers. Years later they’re still coming up with new tricks for them all. The sky’s the limit.

Yet, their ideas for characters outside of Venom were never all that creative. Carnage, blood stuff aside is just “Venom but pure evil.” Scream is little more than “Venom as a woman with Medusa hair.” Where are the ninja symbiote hosts? Where are the quadruple amputee symbiote hosts with spider legs sticking out of their torsos? The Siamese twins? At least our topic today, Hybrid, had enough creativity in his concept to be slightly more than “Venom but a black guy.”

I don’t blame you for not knowing who Hybrid is. He’s only had a very limited amount of appearances. While he isn’t the most exciting Marvel character to fall into obscurity, there are some interesting things that set him apart from his symbiote brethren. For one, human host Scott Washington is actually an established character. That’s a bit of a rarity, isn’t it? Eddie Brock showed up after Spider-Man got rid of the costume. Cletus Kasady appeared specifically to set Carnage’s origin in motion. Donna Diego was a complete afterthought to the extent that they didn’t even give her or her symbiote self a name until way after the fact. Even Pat Mulligan, who I’ll get to way down the line, was introduced in the same arc that made him Toxin.

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We Care a Lot Part 8: Brains! Brains! It’s Okay!

March 4th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

Yeah, that’s right. Two musical references in one title. I rule.

One of my few regrets about this site is that sometimes people don’t take my opinion seriously because I revel in stupid shit. I can give them my take on something and say it’s worth checking out, only for them to roll their eyes because I’m the guy who says that the Double Dragon comic was a good read or that the later issues of Mortal Kombat weren’t even all that bad. Now, sometimes when Venom is the center of a conversation, someone might explain that he’s actually a good character. Another person will ask, “Yeah? If he’s such a good character, name one of those good Venom stories.”

I could suggest the time he teamed up with Morbius against an army of goblins or Eddie Brock’s misadventures as a skateboarder, but those will just be seen as off-the-wall screwball stuff. Is there an actual true blue good Venom story out there from before modern days?

Yes there is and I’m going to tell you about it.

Venom: The Hunger (Venom #43-46), is that story. Don’t get this confused with the Spectacular Spider-Man story also called The Hunger, by Paul Jenkins and Humerto Ramos. We won’t get to that one for a while. This one is instead by Len Kaminski and Ted Halsted. What a fantastic creative team. Bagley may draw the true Venom to me, but Halsted’s creepy depictions of the symbiote anti-hero go perfectly with Kaminski’s writing.

Off-the-wall adventures against monsters and guys with flamethrowers is always good for a laugh, but you have to remember that Venom is insane. Why go for the colorful slugfest option when you can just go deeper and do a psychological story? I mean a real psychological story. Not that crap in The Madness where he screamed about being crazy and then got tossed into an alternate dimension where he fought Fake Spider-Man, Fake Wolverine and Fake Ghost Rider.

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We Care a Lot Part 7: The Ballad of Rad Eddie

February 2nd, 2009 Posted by Gavok

Hey, Dan Slott? You know how angry I was when you basically shat on the Juggernaut during your She-Hulk run?

All is forgiven.

(note: I still boycott Amazing Spider-Man, but I’ve allowed myself to make exceptions for Eddie Brock appearances)

Welp. I’m back to this. It’s been a while since the last We Care a Lot, so let’s do a quick recap. It started off with me reminiscing about how I was introduced to Venom comics and how it led to this site. In the comics, Venom decided that Spider-Man wasn’t so bad after all and they formed an agreement not to go after each other. That lasted for about five minutes. Then Venom went to San Francisco, where he teamed up with and/or fought Spider-Man, Punisher, Juggernaut, Hulk, Morbius, Mace and Vengeance. He then went back to New York City to get punked out by the Scarlet Spider. After dealing with his symbiote children and fighting Carnage inside the internet, Eddie Brock turned his wife into Venom for a few minutes and saved Christmas. All that and he made appearances in other comics.

All caught up? Good. Let’s pick up where we left off with Rune vs. Venom, a one-shot by writer Chris Ulm and artists Greg Luzniak, Mark Pacella and Gabriel Gecko. So who is Rune and why does he get top billing? He’s an alien vampire from Malibu’s Ultraverse line. At the time, they were doing a series of Marvel/Ultraverse crossovers and this was one of them. Fair enough.

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We Care a Lot Part 6: Special Guest Villain

December 23rd, 2008 Posted by Gavok

We’ve seen about three years worth of Venom’s hero exploits. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, he sure gets a lot of guest heroes and villains from other comics. It would only be fair to see the other side of this. After all, Venom wasn’t exclusive to just Spider-Man comics. He had other places to be.

I’m focusing more on the issues that took place during the extent of Venom’s hero run. I mean, there was an issue of Quasar that hyped up Venom on the cover, only to have Quasar toss him back into the Vault by the second page. And there was a crossover between Web of Spider-Man and Spirits of Vengeance by Howard Mackie that featured Venom, along with Hobgoblin, Demogoblin, Doppelganger and a crapload of demons, but it’s such a gigantic, pointless clusterfuck that I just can’t bring myself to care about it. A lot like Maximum Carnage, now that I think about it.

Already, I’m breaking my rule, as this is before his hero run, but I have a good reason for it. I’m starting off with Darkhawk #13-14 from early 1992. This story, by Danny Fingeroth and Mike Manley, takes place at a point in Venom’s history when Spider-Man had him fooled into thinking that Venom had killed him on a deserted island. Venom spent a long while on that island, free from his vendetta, but eventually Spider-Man had to track him down and reveal he was still alive in order to get help against Carnage.

Darkhawk’s got a lot of problems going on. His father’s in huge trouble with some stuff and Tombstone had recently torn the special amulet from Darkhawk’s chest, causing him to weaken, lash out and get ill. As part of his plan to help his father, he sneaks aboard a crime boss’ cargo plane in one of the crates. Halfway into the trip, the goons on the plane discover him and a fight breaks out. The pilot gets knocked out and the whole plane takes a nosedive into parts unknown.


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We Care a Lot Part 5: Wrath of the Butterface

December 3rd, 2008 Posted by Gavok

Last time on the Venom Marathon, we discovered that the symbiote is an entity that can extrude itself as a molecular filament and travel along communication cables. In other words, Carnage Unleashed is the greatest awful comic of all time. Yet somehow, Marvel brass decided that Larry Hama should continue writing the series.

Continue he did, with Sinner Takes All. Had they gone with a real numbering system, this would be Venom #31-35, meaning that we’re halfway into his series. I have fonder memories of this one merely because as a kid, I had the entire five issues. Boy were they big issues. The first four came with a Jury back-up story that I’ve never cared about enough to actually read. The fifth issue came with a quick Venom story that I’ll get to after this Sin-Eater business.

The artist here is Greg Luzniak (Ted Halsted takes over for the last issue), who had a really nice art style for the most part. The catch was that his Venom, as you can see, is a little bit overboard.

Yikes. From what I understand, Hama is less into the superhuman and more into badasses armed to the teeth, so this storyline comes more natural to him.

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We Care a Lot Part 4: Father of the Year

November 30th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

Um… let’s not make eye-contact. Just move on.

To bring us up to speed, Venom left his life in San Francisco as a Lethal Protector to the secret underground city behind so he could visit New York City and throw down with Carnage. Carnage was already taken care of, so Venom fought the newly-christened Scarlet Spider, who knocked him out and led to his apprehension. Now Eddie Brock and the symbiote are separated and incarcerated by the government.

This brings us to Separation Anxiety (Venom #23-26) written by Howard Mackie and drawn by Ron Randall.

In a bout with splitting hairs, I always found it interesting that they named a videogame after this story. For one, the game’s story isn’t based on Separation Anxiety, but Lethal Protector. Second, the game is meant to be a sequel to Maximum Carnage, even though that story came after Lethal Protector. Third, even though Carnage had nothing to do with Lethal Protector, they toss him in as the final boss for the hell of it. Hey, they did have those sprites lying around from the last game.

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We Care a Lot Part 3: The Last Days of San Francisco

November 27th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

I don’t care much about Mark Millar’s Old Man Logan arc in the pages of Wolverine one way or the other, but I don’t get this part. Logan and Hawkeye drive around South Dakota and pass this.

The Venom symbiote just chilling on the side of a mountain. No reference to it anywhere. It’s just that panel. The hell is that about?

Anyway, before I get into the next Venom arc, we should take a look at Marvel Comics Presents #160-163. There were no Venom appearances in these issues. There were stories involving Tigra, Slapstick, Hawkeye and Vengeance, but nothing with Venom. Why is it so important? Because it introduces a character named Mace.

Mace is a character created by Carl Potts. Through the four issues, he writes an origin for him as basically the Japanese Wolverine. A criminal organization called the Sunrise Society takes the cloned DNA of a skilled martial artist and has it genetically engineered to create the perfect warrior. Since the Society is paranoid and thinks the scientist that created Mace is a traitor, they have him killed. The scientist is quick to destroy all of his notes, making Mace one-of-a-kind. Using his new cyber ninja skills, Mace escapes the Sunrise Society and knows freedom for the first time in his life.

He’s armed with a cybernetic mace, a healing factor, a laser gun that’s fine-tuned to the tattoo on his arm so it only works when he’s holding it, special vision abilities and… you don’t care. I don’t care. Nobody cares. Nobody has ever cared about Mace other than Carl Potts. That’s why we have Venom: The Mace (Venom #16-18 for those keeping track), featuring the superhero team-up that NOBODY asked for.

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We Care a Lot Part 2: Meet the Heavy-Hitters

November 3rd, 2008 Posted by Gavok

Halloween was just a couple days ago, but I still feel the need to post this from one of today’s stories.

The Spider-Man and Captain America costumes are sort of okay, but that Wolverine kid’s got the height accuracy.

We’ve seen Venom deal with Spider-Man a couple times, then cross paths with the Punisher and at some point help put an end to Carnage’s plot to destroy New York City. Now what?

Well… more crossovers, I’m afraid. First off is The Madness, a 3-parter by Ann Nocenti (words) and Kelley Jones (art). In on-going terms, this would be Venom #10-12, ending off his first year as an anti-hero.

The Madness centers around two very strong concepts that appeal to me, but unfortunately they’re bogged down by ridiculousness. The first idea is Venom vs. Juggernaut. That’s just my character bias.

Then there’s the idea of more Parker-to-Brock escalation. In that last story, Pyre was to Venom as Venom was to Spider-Man. Same concept here. Spider-Man’s a pretty sane guy, so the idea of a sentient costume added to his person messed with his head and forced him to take action. Brock, on the other hand, was totally cool with it. So this story goes to the next step. Instead of Venom being made of two beings, he’s suddenly made of three. This third being, while granting extra strength, is so extreme that even Eddie Brock needs to take notice.

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We Care a Lot Part 1: Brand New Leaf

October 29th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

In the prologue, I discussed Venom: Deathtrap: The Vault, which reader Mark Cook was quick to point out was just an Avengers graphic novel that Marvel re-released with Venom’s name stamped on it. I forgot to bring up one panel that always stuck out at me featuring Iron Man. He seemed to resemble a certain cartoon talkshow host.

“Look, listen everybody… please? Listen to me. I have a hit song about a knife and, yes, I am the head of an international peacekeeping organization.”

Venom had spent several years terrorizing Spider-Man whenever he could, but Marvel deemed him popular enough to get his own series. That would be all well and good, but he’s driven by his insatiable hunger for Spider-Man’s brains. How do you cut away from that?

The answer is to get character creator David Michelinie together with Mark Bagley and write two issues of Amazing Spider-Man. Of course, Michelinie is the creator in theory. There’s a lot of debate over who truly created the concept, but at the very least, Michelinie came up with who he was as a character. Between this story and the one following, he’d lay down the groundwork for the other writers intent on writing Venom.

It takes place in Amazing Spider-Man #374 and #375. Look at that cover. People talk about how great MacFarlane’s Venom is, but I personally consider Bagley’s take to be the definitive version.

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We Care a Lot: Prologue

October 26th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

(WE CARE A LOT!) About the gamblers and the pushers and the geeks
(WE CARE A LOT!) About the smack and crack and whack that hits the streets
(WE CARE A LOT!) About the welfare of all you boys and girls
(WE CARE A LOT!) About you people ‘cause we’re out to save the world! Yeah!
Well, it’s a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it

— Faith No More, “We Care a Lot”

I’m going to do a little history lesson here. While yes, it is about Venom, for this first part, it’s more about me, my interest in comics and this very site.

We all have our stories about how we got into comics. Whether it be because someone lent you a copy of Killing Joke or your father read you issues of Rom: Spaceknight when you just a kid, we all have something to say about it. For me, it was sometime in early 1994. In our neighborhood, we had this place called The Great American Party Store which had party supplies and was THE place to go every October for Halloween costumes and decorations.

They also sold comics and as I looked through the area out of boredom, I came across Venom: The Madness #3.

I may not have been into comics, but thanks to television and videogames, I knew who Venom and Juggernaut were. Juggernaut was that awesome domed dude from that X-Men cartoon that I watched all the time and Venom was that bastard who would randomly jump out and attack me in the Genesis Spider-Man game. I never was able to beat him on the Daily Bugle level. Still, I found his evil Spider-Man design magnetic. When I saw this cover, it blew my mind.

Venom’s a good guy now? And he’s fighting the Juggernaut?! This rules!

What, I was 13 at the time. What do you expect?

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