Due to an inexplicable lapse in priorities, I have allowed the Venom reviews to fall behind. Because new things are objectively more interesting than old things, I will catch up in reverse order, beginning with issue 22 and proceeding to issues 21 and 20. We’ll call it “The Curious Case of Venjamin Button.”
Let’s begin with the end. The end of Rick Remender’s run, that is. Does this epic stick its landing with its final issue? Read my review for the only opinion that counts.
Leave a comment about the issue or the review, and since this is the final issue let us know how you liked Remender’s run overall!
WRITER: Rick Remender
ARTIST: Declan Shalvey
COLORIST: Lee Loughridge
LETTERS: VC’s Joe Caramagna
COVER ART: Tony Moore & Val Staples
Jack O’ Lantern has gone killin’, leaving clues at each crime scene to lead Venom to his lair. While Venom follows the trail, he reminisces about his abusive father.
When Venom reaches Jack’s hideout, he finds his father’s corpse sitting in a chair with a bomb attached. The bomb explodes and Jack attacks. Venom retrieves the gun attached to his dead father’s police uniform (was Mr. Thompson buried packing heat or did Jack just dress him up?) and shoots Jack with it. Venom explains that although he and Jack both had lousy fathers (the Crime-Master, in Jack’s case), they can break the cycle through better choices. Venom lets Jack live and Jack goes to super villain prison.
Flash confesses his recent rogue behavior to the Secret Avengers, Betty throws out her Flash photos, Mama Thompson sits sadly, and Ralph Waldo Emerson quotations exist. The End.
Remender’s final story arc hit readers with several insane developments that needed better payoff. Sadly, he squanders his final issue on already-well-traversed territory; Flash thinks about his dad and fights Jack O’ Lantern. It feels like I could pull any random Venom issue out of the pile and that description would fit.
The issue doesn’t even deliver that extraordinary a fight. When a twenty-two issue run ends with a battle between bitter, super powered nemeses, one expects a climactic spectacle, a grand finale. Here, Jack falls after a few bullets and a punch to the gut. It pales in comparison to every other Venom/Jack fight so far, especially their first encounter and the utter rampage from issue #12.
All too many pages merely depict Venom swinging around a generic cityscape. Remender should have dedicated that space to amplifying the battle or to better closing some half-heartedly settled plot threads from the “Savage Six” story, e.g., Betty learning Flashes identity and the Crime-Master’s backstory.
This issue’s saving graces come from the flashbacks depicting heartbreaking vignettes from Flash’s childhood. While some scenes show the brutal, direct violence perpetrated by Flash’s father, the more compelling ones convey the subtler degradation that Flash endured. Two stand out: one where Flash’s dad humiliates Flash in front of the whole neighborhood over some football cards, and a second showing Flash’s water-spined mother expressing her denial by blaming Flash for a beating he received from his father. The art team shines in these scenes, particularly Lee Loughridge, whose monochromatic color schemes inventively heighten the emotional content.
I wish these ingenious artists had more interesting material to work with in the present day story, which is all bland swinging around and a short fight. Even the flashbacks barely overcome the worn welcome of stories regarding Flash’s father. This issue left me wanting more, and I mean that in a bad way. Rick Remender has apparently run out of ideas for Venom.
2.5 daddy issues out of 5 (neutral). The flashbacks just barely justify purchasing this issue. It is too bad the final few Remender Venom issues have been so disappointing because his run as a whole is easily the best run on a Spider-Man related title I have read since before One More Day.
POST A COMMENT!