VENOM (2011) #13.2 REVIEW

“I’m Venom and these be my guns.”
 – Flash Thompson

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VENOM #13.2
“Circle of Four” Part 3
SCRIPT: Rob Williams
ART:Sana Takeda
LETTERS: VC’s Cory Petit

Alejandra, the new Ghost Rider, once removed the capacity to sin from a group of Nicaraguans. This also quashed their free will. Now, Blackheart offers to restore and protect those people if Alejandra destroys the magic amulet keeping Hell from spilling beyond Las Vegas. Alejandra refuses and threatens to kill Blackheart’s girlfriend, Gari Oyle. Blackheart orders the Antitheses to gang up on Ghost Rider.Red Hulk and Venom hold the line so Ghost Rider can secure the amulet. Ghost Rider leaves, but not before Encephalon seriously wounds her. Red Hulk smashes X-666 flat, but Evangelist blows a hole through Red Hulk’s chest, apparently killing him. Venom kills both Encephalon and Evangelist himself, but Gari Oyle snaps Flash’s neck after his symbiote has been forcibly removed.

That's not the way you do the human pyramid, Thad.


Meanwhile, X-23 sneaks into Blackheart’s palace. Her injuries from fighting X-666 still bleed because . . . “healing factors don’t work in Hell.” Wait, why? Did Satan just pass a new ordinance or has that rule always existed. A no-prize to anyone in the comments section who can verify whether past Marvel comics have established or contradicted the functionality of healing factors in the nether regions.

Anyhow, X-23 reaches Blackheart and kills his symbiote clone body guards. X-23 has spent this whole arc wondering whether or not she, as a clone, has a soul. Blackheart provides an answer: “you can’t be in hell without a soul.” Wait, what? I am about 99% sure that Blackheart himself has no soul, but I may just be remembering that from the Ghost Rider movie. Comments section, I need your help again. Are these writers inventing amendments to the Hell constitution as they go along? What’s next, “what happens in Hell, stays in Hell”? Back to the story, Blackheart drops X-23 into a lava pit.

Outside, Ghost Rider reaches the amulet. However, Blackheart renews his offer and this time she seemingly accepts. Ghost Rider burns the amulet and slumps over, dead from Encephalon’s earlier attack.

This story arc earns points for unpredictability. I thought each decimal point issue would narrowly focus to the cover character as that person overcomes his or her personal baggage and defeats his or her own antithesis. Yet, as of this third chapter, all the Antitheses have apparently died, and so have the heroes. Encephalon and X-666 weren’t even defeated by their corresponding heroes. And while X-23, the cover character, does receive some attention, Red Hulk and Venom kick the most demonic ass. Once again, though, the award for “this character sucks and should not exist,” goes to Ghost Rider. Alejandra is so selfish and stupid that she makes amends for harming a handful of individuals by damning the entire population of Earth to Hell? I hope that her cliffhanger choice is a red herring, but given Alejandra’s idiotic tendencies so far, I would not put it past her.

Let us not dwell on the bad, because I substantially enjoyed Venom #13.2. Red Hulk and Venom fighting the Antitheses rocked. I like the chemistry between those two heroes, who relate to each other as military men but play off one another’s starkly different personalities like a comedic “buddy” team. “Circle of Four” has disproven my prior notion that the Red Hulk character has no worth. Red Hulk squishing X-666 came off hilariously and exhibited perfect comic timing by artist Sana Takeda. Flash Thompson also earned major credibility as formidable hero by taking on and defeating both Ecephalon and Evangelist, two villains who on paper should be out of Venom’s league.

Unlike with Ghost Rider versus Ichor last issue, I actually believe Flash overcame his personal weakness here. Probably because he kicked all kinds of ass in this issue.



I like Takeda’s art. I suspect many will frown at her anime-influenced style, a departure from how previous “Circle of Four” chapters look. However, Takeda’s digital painting technique makes every panel gorgeous, and she has a good sense for this story’s quirky ghoulishness.

This is what happens when the cheer squad goes on the Joker Fish Diet.


I considered griping about the apparent deaths of the main characters, and how it puts this story on a track where it can only end with someone pushing the proverbial reset button so that these events never happened. However, it occurs to me that all four heroes have plausible means to recover from their injuries using their established power sets. At least, they would if not for the “healing factors don’t work in Hell” doctrine. I’ll reserve judgment until we find out what really happens. Maybe it’ll be an explanation like, “you can’t die if you’re already in Hell.” Why the Hell not?

3.5 demonic cheerleader pancakes out of 5 (Good). “Circle of Four” remains fun brain candy. But with brain candy comes a few logic cavities.


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(9) Comments

  1. Enigma_2099

    "This is what happens when the cheer squad goes on the Joker Fish Diet."Either that or Harley's cosplaying for Mistah J again...

  2. Phantom Roxas

    Perhaps the demons don't have souls, but they can't bring in anyone from outside Hell unless those people have souls?

  3. Sthenurus

    Good job on the review CrazyChris. I personnaly loved this issue, and this event is pretty good so far. And is it just me that is wandering what happened to ketch?

  4. CrazyChris - Post author

    1 - One small correction, there will only be a total of three writer on this arc. Rob Williams wrote both part 2 and 3, Jeff Parker is writing part 4, and Rick Remender is writing parts 1, 5, and 6. But yes, so far I am enjoying this miniseries. It's fun, frivolous and silly, which is a breath of fresh air as far as I am concerned. There's a lot of action and so far the story has not slowed down or gotten repetitive.2 - The healing factor is not being negated by Blackheart per se. It's just that "healing factors don't work in Hell." You would think Blackheart could easily dispatch the whole team, though, by cutting off their air or just willing them to die. He is supposedly omnipotent when in his own realm. But I guess that would be too easy and make the story too short.3 - Thanks for looking into it. I am really interested in whether the healing factor thing and the "you can't be in hell without a soul" thing have ever been mentioned before. I have a feeling those two statements have been contradicted but I can't be sure.4 - Thanks a lot. I feel the captions add something important. Unless I add something of my own to the images, all I'm doing is decorating my review with someone else's artwork, which is not the point of a review. Every image I use is going to in some way advance the arguments in my review, and I will use captions to comment directly on the images. I also never use full pages any more because I want to focus on the panels that make my points and not let my review become a substitute for reading the issue. My plot synopses are slightly abridged for the same reason.5 - That's an interesting point. Can you elaborate on what you mean by "physics" and "the heart of the battle"?Please keep the comments coming, folks. I especially want to know if healing factors work in hell and whether or not it's ever been said that Marvel's hell-residents do or do not have souls.

  5. dave

    errr, when did all the physics leave comics? There is no display of the heart of the battle anymore, its just THIS event and then THAT event and then before you know it things are just ludicrous to 'try' to make things interesting again.

  6. The Lament Beast

    “Healing factors don't work in Hell”? Hmm, I'll look into this. Doesn't look right…~Lament~

  7. Iron Patriot

    Good review. I'm surprised that a miniseries written by three writers (four, by next week) could be consistently good. I'm looking forward to reading this story.

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