As a general rule, I won’t purchase comics that I would not purchase otherwise because they cross over with books I am reading. Doing so financially encourages more crossovers, and I happen to think comics—especially fledgling comics—should tell self-contained stories. An infant book needs to establish its own identity, not get hijacked by some other book’s plots. I will not to make an exception just because I review Venom. Thus, this review will come from the perspective of someone refusing to read the main Spider-Island storyline in Amazing Spider-Man by Dan Slott. It’s an important POV because in an earlier letters column the editor assured readers that they could enjoy Venom’s Spider-Island tie-in independently. We’re testing that proposition today.

VENOM #6
“Spider-Island”
WRITER: Rick Remender
ARTIST: Tom Fowler
COLOR ARTIST: John Rauch
LETTERING/PRODUCTION: VC’s Joe Caramagna
COVER ART: Tony Moore & John Rauch

 

PLOT:
Hold on to your hat, reader, here comes exposition! People in New York City have spider-powers! Chaos! There’s a SPIDER-BEAST! Venom’s going in. He has to bring the Spider-Beast back alive! Flash’s dad’s dying! Betty’s in the hospital with Flash’s dad and wants Flash to be there, too!

"This bastard's up to something"? That's your reaction to this?

 

Venom teams up with Gravity to KO the Spider-Beast. At the Project Rebirth headquarters, scientists run tests on the monster. Suddenly, the beast coughs up thousands of spiders. It turns out the monster spreads the spiders, which in turn infect humans with spider-powers. The monster breaks free before Flash can reach the symbiote. General Dodge gets knocked out while he, Flash, Flash’s handler, and some scientist named Aaron scramble for shelter in Aaron’s lab. Flash determines that they must self-destruct the base before the monster can escape. Flash announces over the intercom that all base personnel should proceed to the nearest panic room.

The monster breaks in, but the symbiote saves the humans by bonding with the general’s dog and mauling the beast. The symbiote then bonds to Flash and he and the monster battle. Before Venom can kill it, Aaron finishes analyzing the monster’s blood and declares that the monster is really Captain America.

This reminds me of The Mask.

 

Venom hits the self-destruct switch, but shields himself and Spider-Cap under some metal. Everyone important survives the explosion, and they contain Spider-Cap in an unharmed part of the facility. Venom must now shape-shift into Spider-Cap and infiltrate whomever engineered the infestation.

THOUGHTS:
Can one enjoy Venom #6 independently of Amazing Spider-Man’s Spider-Island story arc? Kind of. The comic will entertain those who don’t mind rapid-fire exposition and the sense that this story is peripheral to the real adventure depicted elsewhere. Remender and Fowler produced a pretty cool slugfest with fun action choreography. Some killer fight ideas show up, like Flash collecting Spider-Cap’s acid squirts on Flash’s webs and slamming the gunk back into the monster. Remender depicts Flash as courageous when he declares that destroying the base with him and his comrades inside iss the only solution, and humble when he narrates that his brave front is “fake courage.” Also, the subplot finding Flash absent from his father’s deathbed has emotional poignancy. In fact, I wish Remender focused on the latter point even more. I read Venom for Flash’s story, not to see Flash acting off to the side of Spider-Man’s tale.

The spider monster’s identity left me unphased. Because I refuse to read Amazing Spider-Man, I was not aware that the monster existed until I read Venom #6. Therefore, the mystery of the creature’s identity never captured my imagination. Venom #6 presented me with a monster, told me it was Captain America, and expected this to shock me even though I am certain that Captain America will regain his humanity by this story’s end. Weak.

I loved Tom Fowler’s art last issue, but I think his style suited that issue’s atmospheric tone better than it suits this action-oriented issue. He uses a grainy, pencils-without-inks technique that portrays grit and misery well but lacks the crispness and gloss needed for over-the-top crazy battles between superheroes and bug-spewing monsters. At times, the art tells the story unclearly. In one scene, the dialogue implies that Venom dislodges a metal wall with a shotgun blast, but the art makes it difficult to visualize the logistics of that. Also, it is unclear what portion of the military base survived the explosion.

That wall looks too sturdy to be blown off by a shotgun to the bolts, and I really had a hard time telling what was happening in the last panel.

 

RATING: 3 out of 5 webheads. The problem with crossovers is that they often take good comics off track right when they start flirting with greatness. That’s what happened here. Remender and Fowler did a decent job, but there’s a limit to how great of a comic can be made from scooping up Dan Slott’s leftovers. The comic gets bonus points for the cool cover, though.

LEAVING A COMMENT IS MANDATORY! 

20 Responses to “VENOM (2011) #6 REVIEW”

  1. #1 Two-Bit Specialist says:

    I’m a scientist now?

    Also, I think it would help my reviews immensely if I could tell what art techniques are used like you can.

  2. #2 Donovan Grant says:

    I agree with the Spider-Cap reveal. It was done purely for shock value and nothing else, because he cann’t remain that way for too long. Therefore, any investment in the situation is nonexistent.

  3. #3 thrawn says:

    This is the issue that got me your vote in Fight Club, correct? If so, bravo for Venom #6. :)

  4. #4 Two-Bit Specialist says:

    @Donovan – Are you saying we can NEVER have anything happen to the heroes because we know that “nothing is permanent”?

    In the end, heroes are supposed to come out victorious in their situations.

  5. #5 Bertone says:

    For a while we’ve been told Flash will suffer a permanent loss during SpiderIslandHashtag. I thought it was going to be his father but they’ve been telegraphing his death so much that I now think it’s too obvious.

    I hope it’s not Betty…then I can’t feed off of her anymore.

  6. #6 butters911 says:

    I hope its not betty. we dont need to lose any long time cast members any time soon

  7. #7 Donovan Grant says:

    @Two-Bit: No, I’m not saying stuff can’t happen to certain characters but in this current state it just WON’T stay permanent. Steve’s going through Fear Itself right now, there are multiple Cap books that are out, and he’s going to keep his facetime in the media through the Avengers movie. This isn’t DC pre-2010, there is no way that he will be a giant bug for any long stretch of time.

  8. #8 Two-Bit Specialist says:

    @Donovan – I just don’t see how that’s a bad thing. I don’t want him to stay a bug monster all the time. To me, if it makes for an entertaining story, then it’s all good.

  9. #9 butters911 says:

    You two guys should have this comment discussion in the comments for the cloak and dagger review i just posted.

    I need commmmmmmmments

  10. #10 Brian Bradley says:

    Agree on the cap reveal… didn’t seem really necessary. Has this Spider-Monster appeared in the Amazing? The art bugged me too, as well. It was nice, but was hard to follow at times.

  11. #11 Two-Bit Specialist says:

    The reveal itself is kinda dumb. Cap is director of National Security and leader of the Secret Avengers. I’m sure someone would miss him.

    OR it could be a fakeout.

    But to say that “I’ve lost all interest because nothing ever happens to the good guys” sounds odd. It’s the nature of most traditonal fiction.

  12. #12 Enigma_2099 says:

    The man was just SHOT DEAD… and we’re supposed to care about THIS?!?!

  13. #13 Two-Bit Specialist says:

    @Enigma – What?

  14. #14 CrazyChris says:

    I think the main reason the Cap reveal strikes me as lame is that this is a Venom title. Nothing that happens to Cap in these pages is going to matter. Plus, as far as I know there’s no connection between Cap and Flash, so what happens to Cap doesn’t really matter to the main character. Also, so far the monster has not exhibited any human characteristics other than parroting other people’s words, so he could have been any random character and it wouldn’t make a difference.

  15. #15 Two-Bit Specialist says:

    @CrazyChris – I’m of the opinion that, if it makes for a good story, who cares if it matters or not? Just enjoy the ride. 8)

  16. #16 Lex says:

    Man, I remember reading Flash Thompson as an ex-highschool football star who was a loser who had issues with his abusive dad. That was interesting. I doubt there’s much of that character in this book. The whole thing is a shame.

  17. #17 CrazyChris says:

    Two-Bit, I agree with you that the only thing that matters is the ride. What I’m saying is that the Spider-Cap aspect of this story is not making for a great ride. Like I said, this book’s main character has no connection to Cap, Cap has not appeared in this book, and Cap’s role in this story is interchangeable with anyone else so far. That just makes the reveal not seem too exciting or shocking. There are good things about this issue and I gave it a positive score, but I was not wowed by the big twist.

    Lex, there’s actually a lot of that character in this book. Read issue 5 which basically centers around that aspect of the character. Flash isn’t a loser, though, but rather a downtrodden guy who’s doing his best to do his duty. That’s better than being a loser, right?

  18. #18 Enigma_2099 says:

    @#13

    Remember when Captain America “died”?

  19. #19 Two-Bit Specialist says:

    @Enigma – Yeah, so? He stayed dead for a good long while, and then when he came back he didn’t immediately went back to being Cap.

  20. #20 fantasyfreak says:

    I like the art. I think this grim dark look suits this title perfectly.