In which Rick Remender and Lan Medina retake the reigns and things get fun again.

VENOM #13.4
“Circle of Four” Part 5
SCRIPT: Rick Remender
PENCILS: Lan Medina
INKS: Nelson DeCastro w/ Terry Pallot
COLORS: Marte Gracia & Antonio Fabela
LETTERS: VC’s Joe Caramagna
COVER: Stefano Caselli & Frank Martin

Due to Alejandra’s temporary death, the Spirit of Vengeance flies to rejoin Johnny Blaze. Sadly, Blackheart’s concubine Gari Oyle intercepts the spirit and delivers it to Blackheart. At the borders of Las Vegas, Doctor Strange and Daimon Hellstrom use their magic to prevent Hell from spreading. Blackheart speaks in Hellstrom’s mind and tempts him to give into his demonic heritage. Hellstrom loses his resolve and stops resisting, allowing Blackheart to imprison him and Doctor Strange.

Reason Blackheart is cool #3: He eats human hearts.



Meanwhile, the four heroes return from the dead per their deal with Mephisto and devise a plan to defeat Blackheart. X-23 embarks to destroy the centrifuge powering the hellgate while Red Hulk, Venom, and powerless Alejandra attempt to steal the Ghost Rider spirit from Blackheart. Blackheart kicks their butts and Alejandra apparently snitches their plan to Blackheart. However, that might have been part of the plan along because the next thing that happens is Blackheart getting blindsided by Red Hulk, who has bonded with both the symbiote and the Spirit of Vengeance!

I am glad this story arc ships weekly because I needed the taste of last week’s issue washed away fast and this chapter brought back the fun! I knew I missed Remender, but I had no idea how much I missed Medina until now. To put it bluntly, Medina and his collaborators blow every artist on this arc besides Tony Moore out of the water. Don’t get me wrong–I liked those artists–but after several issues boasting looser styles, these crisp, glossy, detailed pages feel like a dessert for my eyes. To me, this is what a comic book in 2012 is supposed to look like.

Reason Blackheart is cool #2: He can wipe the floor with pretty much anyone.


In keeping with this arc as a whole, the story provides more mindless action and bizarre imagery. Remender’s primary goal seems to be to maneuver the characters in place for the final showdown, and it accomplishes that with some fun battles along the way. I have little to say about Venom Ghost Rider Hulk other than it made me crack a grin and it reminds me of something the 90s would have produced. This whole story arc has a 90s vibe, and I mean that in a good way. It favors style over substance, but with the right state of mind going in it that can be damn fun. The story won’t win any literature prizes and it contains occasional lapses in logic, but it knows what it is and does not pretend to be anything else. Fans constantly clamor for escapist comics, and this should scratch that itch.

The only people I hesitate to recommend this to are Daimon Hellstrom fans. I admit that I have limited familiarity with him, but this can’t be his finest moment. On the bright side, both the heroes and villains have seemingly wised up to Alejandra’s uselessness. Most of the characters spend the issue ridiculing her, which I don’t mind at all. If Marvel won’t write this character out entirely, at least make her the butt of some jokes.

Reason Blackheart is cool #1: He saves Alejandra the time she would have wasted waiting for the elevator.


3.5 defenestrations out of 5 (good). I eagerly await the conclusion.




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(6) Comments

  1. Phantom Roxas

    I had actually thought of some Venom/Ghost Rider hybrid, if only for the sake of it making Peter's potential beatdown of Mephisto all the more awesome. Didn't expect Rulk to get the two of them, though. Have we ever seen Ghost Rider with the symbiote before?

  2. CrazyChris

    @1 Sthenurus - Amen!@2 Two-Bit - My point was that Alejandra is useless with or without powers. She's worse than useless, actually, because she's actively made the situation worse in every instance and has not done one thing to help rather than hinder the team. And on top of that she has an arrogant, snide attitude. I can't stand that character.@3 Freddy - Yeah, this whole story has a "just go with it" attitude when it comes to logistics. That's one of the reasons I haven't rated any of these issues exceptionally high.@4 Enigma - I don't think I would say it's stupid, exactly. I think "silly" is the word that comes to mind for me. But I do think its awesome in a somewhat ironic way.Keep the comments coming!

  3. Nightmare Freddy

    Great review. In my oppinion my only complaint about this comic is while the ending was a very bad ass, I can't get head around how inlogical Alejandra could have fell on the bike... Seriously, how could a flying Venom and hulk would have had the time to arrive at the bottom, fuse and have the time to sadly being able to save Alejandra without Black heart event notice the roaring geant bike? Just saying...

  4. Two-Bit Specialist

    I beg to differ on Alejandra. Anybody would be useless without the Spirit of Vengeance.Back on topic, I actually like this issue less than #13.3. Like you said, it's mindless fun, but it was a little too mindless for me. It's still fun, though. I just like my comics when they explore the characters, as well.I'm going hold off on reading the review for #14. I won't be able to pick up my new comics till Monday, unfortunately.

  5. sthenurus

    Good review. I agree on alejandra, she use useless and can't wait for her to be killed/retcon/forgotten

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