VENOM #25 REVIEW


Venom shows the demons who’s boss. Check out the review.

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VENOM #25
“Monster’s of Evil Part 3″
WRITER: Cullen Bunn
PENCILS: Thony Silas
INKS: Decastro, Wong & Ketcham
COLORS: Sotomayor w/ Mossa
LETTERS: VC’s Joe Caramagna
COVER ARTISTS: Patch Zircher & Marte Gracia

PLOT:
Daimon Hellstrom has forged an army by possessing ancient and powerful monsters with demons under his command. Hellstrom wants the symbiote in his collection. Venom resists, channeling negative emotions to fight harder. Venom recalls that earlier he successfully commanded a demon to flee and that he successfully subdued the demon currently possessing him. Realizing he can control demons, Venom orders the monsters to turn on Hellstrom, which they do. He then instructs the monsters to disperse without hurting anyone again.

At super-jail, Venom asks Hellstrom why he can control demons. Hellstrom explains that an event called “The Descent” is coming, at which point a current Hell Lord will become “the true Devil.” Each Hell Lord has marked candidates as replacements in case that Hell Lord descends. Mephisto has marked Venom and his Circle of Four teammates to succeed him, and a Hell Lord has also marked Hellstrom. In other words, if Mephisto gets “promoted,” then Venom or another of Mephisto’s marked candidates will inherit Mephisto’s realm. Plus, demons obey the marked. Hellstrom explains he betrayed the heroes to gain allies useful to his bid for a Hell throne. Hellstrom would rather rule in Hell than see someone worse gaining the status.

Venom, still inhabited by a tamed demon, visits reporter Katy Kiernan. They agree to exchange information. Flash then leaves Betty a voicemail, but a call to duty from the Secret Avengers interrupts him

THOUGHTS:
When I set my mind to enjoying something, I can forgive much. For instance, last issue I wondered how the villains prevented Venom from summoning the Secret Avengers. This issue, Hellstrom illuminates that plot point thusly: “There’s no SECRET I can’t twist to my own ends.” That is nonsense. But I’m not fussed.

It does bother me, however, when a comic presents fundamentally disagreeable characterization. I’ll elaborate. In the fight’s midst, Flash suddenly decides he needs to “think happy thoughts.” Why? Look at this panel (which lacks no helpful context, I promise) and tell me if you see a reason.

“Botched fertility ritual?” Sounds like college.

 Flash proceeds to list and dismiss provisional happy thoughts: “Mom? Ugh . . . no. Betty? Swing and a miss. Uh . . . high school? God, no.” Then Flash surrenders, thinking “Do I have any happy thoughts?!”

I’m sitting there, reading this, and my mind keeps interjecting “Spider-Man.” “Spider-Man.” “Damn you, comic, his ‘happy thought’ is Spider-Man.”

Flash ultimately concludes that to win this fight he must channel the fear and hatred instilled by his abusive father.

Flash has been reading Darth Vader’s self help books.

 

For the first time since this Venom series began, I reread the contemporary Flash Thompson saga’s REAL first issue, Amazing Spider-Man 574, which depicts Flash’s crippling Iraq war experience. Looking back, ASM 574’s focused less on Flash’s loss of limb and more on what drove him to stay strong through adversity. Flash Thompson’s inspiration is the ideal of heroism represented by Spider-Man, and Flash’s emotional scars from abuse are one thing Spider-Man’s example spurred him to endure.

I am using a Brand New Day comic as a touchstone for how to properly write a character . . . what have I become?

 

 Flash’s drawing strength from “fear” and “hate,” rather than the spirit of doing the right thing no matter how hard it gets, turns the character upside down. I can appreciate that sometimes people’s perspectives change, and that complex characters often have multiple, even conflicting motivations. However, not even mentioning Spider-Man in a scene where Flash tries to think of something that makes him feel positive is practically a criminal omission. It relates to a core character quality. Imagine a comic where Batman can’t come up with something that makes him feel vengeful, so he ends up going with “The Mask of Zorro sucked.”

Moving on, in this issue we learn that Flash Thompson can control demons and is a candidate for succeeding Mephisto as a Hell Lord. Writing that sentence makes me smile because the concept is so far out. Great. Let’s do this. Why not? This series has continued long enough, and has made the more grounded themes of addiction and family familiar enough, that it has earned an off-the-wall excursion.

Beyond that, all I can really say about Venom #25 is that it has a lot of action and some cool monsters with fun little backstories. The art has finally wooed me, with enjoyable creature designs and a more discriminating use of blank backgrounds. So despite irksome characterization, Venom #25 earns visual approval. That said, the creators might expand their battle choreography repertoire next time.

Is this similar to another image on this page?

 

RATING:
2 happy thoughts out of 5 (Unfulfilling).

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(6) Comments

  1. Kilryth

    Let me put it this way, I LOVED Remender's run on Venom, which is pretty much a stolen idea from "Haunt", but he made it work. I tolerated Circle of Four. Now Bunn is trying to turn Venom into Spawn 2.0. Is Marvel so lost on Venom that they have to copy Todd McFarlane's ideas from beginning to end? (First Haunt, and now Spawn, which are both spin-offs from Todd's original Venom). Not only that, but "Hell on Earth" has been done SO MANY TIMES... it has to be truly excellent to stand out at this point. As much as I love Ghost Rider as a character, there's a reason his books never FLEW OFF the shelves. Bunn just found that reason and placed it into Venom. These "HELL VENOM" issues are leaving such bad tastes in my mouth, that I've been flipping through my entire Venom collection, debating if he's a character worth reading at all.

  2. CrazyChris - Post author

    @Roxas, the thought about Mephisto potentially becoming the "real" Devil affecting how Marvel refers to Mephisto in One More Day discussions had crossed my mind, too. The best they'd be able to say is that Mephisto wasn't really the Devil at the particular time the deal was made. @Enigma, I was expecting the Circle of Four storyline to be brought up and resolved eventually, maybe in a sequel story down the line. This is actually starting to look less like a mere follow up story and more like a full-blown "direction" for the run. For better or worse, I have a feeling Venom is going to be dealing with demons for as long as Bunn's on this book. @Kevin, hehe . . . only you would say a 2 out of 5 is "forgiving" and "having fun." I consider this a poor issue due to its bad characterization of the main character, never mind Hellstrom. It just takes a lot to get a truly extreme reaction from me. The 0-1 range is for the Sins Remembereds and One More Days of the world. I can't put "Monsters of Evil" in that category. On the point that Hellstrom has a corner of hell already, I see what you're saying but on the other hand Mephisto's corner is certainly bigger, and it apparently comes with some type of heightened rank or status. Hellstrom's motivation is apparently to stop someone even more wicked from gaining that level of influence. I think an even stronger criticism of how he's being portrayed is that he says this is a well-intentioned ends-justify-means plan, but that's not how he's acting. He's clearly taking a sadistic glee in his actions, which have included forcing demons on people as well as outright murder. That isn't how Hellstrom acts in other comics where he's appeared that I've read. Bunn has not even tried to explain why Hellstrom has turned so ridiculously evil in his attitude. P.S. "Lethal Protector" isn't even the bottom of the barrel piece of shit people write it off as. It's stupid but people act like its among the lowest points in comics history. Frankly, I think the other Venom mini series from the 90s are way worse. I think "Lethal Protector" and "Monsters of Evil" are about even for me, with maybe "Lethal Protector" even being a little bit better. But there are some 90s Venom series that I really would give 1s and 0s.

  3. Kevin Cushing

    Chris, like you getting the Scarlet Spider issues running up to Minimum Carnage, I decided to buy and read all three issues of "The Monsters of Evil" arc in Venom. Damn. You are WAY more forgiving than me, sir. No amount of thinking, "Just have fun with it," could make these issues anything above awful for me. I'm truly baffled about the conception of this idea. And for my monthly "What the hell are you doing to Hellstorm" segment - I'm glad they tried to explain his actions in this, but the explanation is that he's trying to get his own corner of hell. But guess what? HE ALREADY HAS HIS OWN CORNER OF HELL!!!! In the 90s he killed his father and took over his father's section of hell. When his father came back Hellstorm relinquished control of that section back to his father, but kept his own corner of it as his own private torture chamber for the demons he exorcises. This was mentioned as recently as that Journey into Mystery story that was written AFTER Bunn's "The Fearless" mini-series that supposedly started this train of bad characterization. In conclusion, I'd read Venom: Lethal Protector THREE times before I ever read The Monsters of Evil again. But, as always, good review. Glad you're having fun with the book.

  4. Enigma_2099

    They're actually going to do something with that "Circle of Four" plot point besides wipe out Flash and Betty's marriage? ... wait.

  5. Phantom Roxas

    Huh, that Descent thing actually sounds interesting, and I'm looking forward to see them follow up on that. Ironically, if Mephisto does succeed, all insistence that he isn't the Devil will be rendered moot. Yes, he's not the original, but he'll have properly received the title. It's a bit of a stretch to hope that it will lead to a story undoing One More Day, so aside from that, I think it could be interesting.

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