As a child, Christmas, birthdays and even some Easters were a treat because I found myself receiving a carefully wrapped package of some description. The wrapping paper would be bright, vibrant and would always catch your eye leaving you wondering as to what the contents could be filling you with anticipation.
This is how I felt as I got my hands on a copy of the new Venom series.
Joe Quesada opened by taking on the cover art for the first issue giving us the Venom we have come to know and love. We have the hulking mass, slathering tongue, wild eyes and drool a plenty. It is the iconic image that everyone recognises from the Eddie Brock era and also a few fleeting frames if you have read Spiderman #654.1. It’s smooth, shiny and well defined so I was a little taken aback when I opened the issue to read on. Tony Moore’s linework feels grainy and non-defined. In some frames where it is a distant image, characters are little more than shapes coloured in with a recognisable form to it - a personal let down.
So I turn to Remender’s storyline instead. Set in a war-torn Eastern European country we open with UN soldiers (in Stark designed equipment) fighting against a new and increasingly psychotic Jack O’Lantern. Enter into the fray, the new Venom. Leading with an initial narrative to establish a premise for new readers there are some very nice touches. The allusion towards Spidey’s age old, “With great power comes great responsibility,” is there if you read between the lines. More importantly Remender’s attention to the bigger picture has caught me. This new incarnation of Venom is finite. Flash can only wear the suit for a maximum of 48 hours and only on 20 occasions.
Even more frustrating is that all the time he is doing it he has to keep full control of his anger for fear of the symbiote taking over. This, above any storyline, is going to become a real driving force. We see undertones of it all the way through. We also have Flash using his brain to find new and innovative uses for the symbiote; another example of Remender using every opportunity of this new beginning.
This issue closes in quite an awkward way for me, but this is also very good. For years Flash has strived to be a hero and champion and throughout this issue he has - but only to be brought down a notch by his commanding officer and then at home too - essentially driving him back to his own demons.
Overall this is a fantastic story and Remender has done very well. My bone of contention is how it is presented and I really don’t get on with the artwork. This would be an absolute must have for me if it visually met the standards it has been scripted to. It has divided me so much that the childish excitement of the title has actually made way for grown up reason to seep in and I’m not sure how long I will follow this for. I would still recommend it though and look forward to the next issue.
Before you ask, no Matt Puddy has not read the first volume of the Walking Dead