Good to be Home Again

August 16th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

So, back from Orlando. I’ll write up the trip report on that in the next day or so.

As I returned to the land of Jersey, I was introduced to this cover image for Anti-Venom: New Ways to Live #3.

Yes. Many times, yes.

Comic books have been very, very good to me.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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