Cullen Bunn joins the writing team to band Venom’s foes together and unveil a new Toxin. Are two writers better than one? Read the review and leave a comment!

VENOM #17
“Savage Six: Prologue”
WRITERS: Rick Remender & Cullen Bunn
PENCILS: Kev Walker
INKS: Terry Pallot
COLORS: Chris Sotomayor
LETTERS: VC’s Joe Caramagna
COVER ART: Michael Del Mundo

PLOT:
Flash Thompson has decided he cannot protect his loved ones without slaying Crime-Master. As Venom, Flash infiltrates Crime-Master’s lair, where the villain has gathered Jack O’ Lantern, Human Fly, Death Adder, and Megatak to join the “Savage Six.” Venom contemplates shooting Crime-Master, but before he fires Eddie Brock, who followed Venom to Crime-Master’s layer, shoots Venom with sonic bullets. Venom webs Brock and the villains attack, forcing Venom to retreat leaving Brock behind. Crime-Master imprisons Brock and forcefully bonds Brock with the Toxin symbiote.

 

 

I love Jack O' Lantern's reaction. "Real life Tetris. . ." It's like he's seen a unicorn.

 

THOUGHTS:
Venom #17 continues this run’s high quality and welcomely reacquaints us with some long-running story lines. I have but mild quibbles. The recap page incorrectly describes Toxin’s symbiote as “one of the first offspring of Venom symbiote.” Toxin’s symbiote is actually the offspring of the Carnage symbiote. Also, Venom re-utters the worn-out catchphrase “hail Mary” for the third or fourth time this series. Think of new ways to show that Flash likes football, guys.

Otherwise, Cullen Bunn seamlessly enters as Rick Remender’s co-writer, and if the credits had not included his name then I would have not noticed a change. Still present are the quirkily ghoulish tone, the charismatically demented villains, and the inspired portrayal of Flash Thompson as a hero forced to make dark choices through sheer desperation. Flash’s introspection prior to and during his attempt to kill Crime-Master prove that Flash-as-Venom carries dramatic substance even when the writers downplay the addiction and corruption subtext. Simple guilt and vengeance drive this story. Bunn can write Venom forever if he keeps getting it this right.

We meet the Savage Six. I have expressed affection for Jack O’ Lantern and Crime-Master in prior reviews, and Human Fly remains surprisingly entertaining. I must see more of Death Adder and Megatak before forming an impression, but Megatak’s power to manifest computer programs as reality (e.g., smashing Venom with Tetris block constructs) should at least create some unique battles. The fight, as standard for a long story arc’s “prologue,” one-sidedly favors the villains, non-hyperbolically conveying the steep odds facing Venom. Kev Walker’s action sense and impressive Agent Venom rendition make this initial skirmish independently satisfying as opposed to merely tasting like an appetizer.

I could stare at the bottoms of Venom's shoes all day, Walker draws them so well.

 

Walker also draws a horrifying Toxin, which brings me to my final topic. Eddie Brock becoming Eddie Broxin may become this story’s most fascinating and controversial aspect. Will Toxin fans hate that Remender and Bunn gave short shrift to Toxin’s ex-host, Patrick Mulligan? Will Eddie Brock fans hate Brock’s relegation to symbiote sloppy seconds? As an enthusiast of neither Toxin nor Brock, I see potential to enhance interest in both entities by combining them. We’ll see.

Trust me, the full Eddie Brock as Toxin looks too wicked to spoil here.

 

RATING:
3.5 Tetris blocks out of 5 (good). This is your typical “hero encounters new villains and gets his butt kicked” issue, elevated by superb art and Flash Thompson characterization. I have high hopes for this story.

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9 Responses to “VENOM (2011-PRESENT) #17”

  1. #1 Two-Bit Specialist says:

    Dang. Didn’t I just pick up #16? I guess I’m stopping by my LCS this weekend.

  2. #2 YES!!! says:

    That Toxin Brock look So Epic, in my op would give this 4/5, still great review, the art was awesome.

  3. #3 Phantom Roxas says:

    Ha, “Eddie Broxin”.

    I do plan to read Venom vs. Carnage precisely because it’s where Toxin debuted, and my name is Patrick. I think Venom is incredibly overrated, and I’m not sure how to feel about Eddie becoming Toxin. To be honest, I honestly expected Toxin to be some random guy Crime Master handpicked to be the symbiote’s new host, but making it Eddie, the primary host of its grandfather, is genuinely surprising. On the other hand, I think that when you go and create a character like Toxin, they should stand out. By making it control Eddie, you’re just making it a retread of Venom, and it’s been too soon since Eddie lost his Anti-Venom persona.

  4. #4 sthenurus says:

    Love this issue, but i have one (very minor) complaint in the very last panel: Why do they have to make the eyes like that? I always found the gargan-esq eyes distracting :(

  5. #5 spideytothemax says:

    I know that I read the Toxin miniseries but I don;t remember it that clearly. Wasn’t Toxin a lot more verbal than the others? Like actively talking back to Mulligan or am I making that up?

  6. #6 sthenurus says:

    @5: Yup, the symbiote was talking to (and even arguing with) its host. He was an “anomaly” being the 1000th symbiote in the line or something like that.

  7. #7 spideytothemax says:

    In that case this might be interesting. Assuming Remender keeps that aspect of the symbiote intact.

  8. #8 TheVenomSite says:

    I love with Remender has done with Venom! He recreated him without forgetting his history (Brock, Toxin…). The Savage Six arc is what dreams are made of!!!!

  9. #9 CrazyChris says:

    Good to see you here, VenomSite. I’ve been following your website for information since I started reviewing this title.

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