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.

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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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