VENOM (2011) #8 REVIEW

I have been reviewing for Crawl Space for five years, now. By my count, this is my 100th review. Please read it and leave a comment!

“Spider-Island” Part 3
WRITER: Rick Remender
ARTIST: Tom Fowler
COVER ART: Tony Moore & John Rauch


The military gets to work returning Steve Rogers to human form with the spider-transformation cure synthesized from Anti-Venom’s blood. By the way, what super hero identity does Steve Rogers use these days? Captain America? Super Solider? Just plain old Steve? Cap’n Steve?

At the hospital, where Flash’s dad just died, Betty hands Flash a letter from his father. Before he can read it, the Army calls Flash and orders him to terminate The Queen. Flash tells Betty to hide while he finds an escape route, and then he swings to The Queen’s hideout.

Flash shoots at the Queen, but her telekinesis stops the bullet. The two have a nice, long fight in which The Queen proves far superior as a combatant. During the struggle, Flash’s dad’s letter gets set on fire. Flash never gets a chance to see what it said. We the audience get to read it, though, and it was a lot of “I’m sorry,” “I love you sonny boy,” etc., etc., etc., blah, blah, blah.

The fight moves outside to Central Park. The Queen pins Flash down and rants about how horny killing him makes her. Then Cap’n Steve arrives to help Flash. With Cap’n Steve distracting her, Flash manages to shove Steve’s shield into The Queen’s back, apparently killing her. However, The Queen erupts from her old skin in the form of a gigantic Spider-Monster.

“To Be Continued in The Amazing Spider-Man #672”

I originally meant to make a joke about The Queen morphing into her final boss form, but then I found out that the title to ASM #672 is actually “Final Boss.” It seems Eric Lexie used the same phraseology in his ASM #671 review, too. No one, not even the writers, can look at this ending and not remember all the video game enemies that arbitrarily turn into hulking monstrosities after you kill them the first time. Although it stinks that I’ll never see the boss fight of “Spider Island,” I’m sticking to my guns about not reading any “Spider-Island” tie-ins except Venom. “Spider-Island” has abandoned all pretense of not being a Maximum Carnage-style crossover where one must read all the Spider-Family titles in order to perceive a linear story. Venom #8 shows the first half of a fight, but if you want to see how it ends you must read ASM #672. Eric’s ASM #672 review indicates the reverse problem; that issue starts in the middle of the fight without showing how it started.

Happily, I enjoyed the half of the fight shown in Venom #8. Venom and Cap’n Steve battling The Queen in her human form entertained me due to The Queen’s formidable power set, including strength greater than Venom’s, fighting skill exceeding Cap’n Steve’s, telekinesis, sonic screams, and telepathy. Visually, at least, the fight provides fun, casual comic reading.

Not even Remender and Fowler can make me like The Queen as a character, though. Admittedly, it biases me that Paul Jenkins’s origninal Queen story was arguably my life’s most unpleasant comic reading experience. I can’t fathom why Marvel would remind readers of that mental miscarriage by producing a sequel and making it an extended Spider-Family crossover. And everything I dislike about the character is still there: she’s a quasi-rapist, she has no discernible personality, and her stories dwell on nauseating imagery. The only difference now is that her dialogue is just . . . weird. She calls her victims “lucky duckies,” and when she strips Cap’n Steve’s shield away with telekinesis she says “I don’t want you to use protection.” From what I understand, Remender’s characterization is consistent with Slott’s. Are the writer’s going for funny? With The Queen? She’s such a drippingly icky character overall that attempts to make her humorous just feel deeply wrong.

Remender probably knew this story was merely a warm up to ASM #672, so he put in the burning of Flash’s dad’s letter to enhance this issue’s relevance as a Flash Thompson story. However, Flash’s scene with his father from last issue mitigates the tragedy of this letter’s burning. Flash has already reconciled with his father. He already heard that his father loved him from the man’s own mouth. With or without the letter, Flash and his father received closure. Conversely, if Flash had not made it to the hospital on time, and his dad went to his grave without reconciliation, and the letter’s burning meant Flash never got to know his father’s regret, then the letter’s burning would have mattered. I’ll come right out and say it: the choice to allow Flash to make it to his father’s deathbed in time was self-defeating dramatic cowardice.

2.5 out of 5 (neutral). The solid action sequences redeem this issue, but on the whole Spider-Island has done nothing but obstruct Venom from telling the awesome stories I know Remender can tell.

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