This issue is the first without artist, Ariel Olivetti. His replacement is no stranger to Agent Venom though. Kim Jacinto handled some of the final issues of Venom Volume Two, where Flash trained Mania. Robbie Thompson has hinted we will see Mania’s return in coming issues, but first how does Jacinto handle Venom’s space faring adventures?
Venom: Spaceknight #8: Under The Skin
Writer: Robbie Thompson
Artist: Kim Jacinto
Colorist: Java Tartaglia
Letterer: Joe Carmagna
Cover Artist: Ariel Olivetti
Consultant: Dan Nevins
Editors: Kathleen Wisneski & Jake Thomas
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso
Venom’s Sending Me A Message: After the events of last issue separated a deranged Venom from Flash Thompson, the Flash-less Venom attacks the planets he saved with Flash during the first arc. Flash and his crew trail behind him witnessing the destruction, which gets under Flash’s skin. They believe they have tracked him down on a pleasure planet, but it turns out to be a trap. Flash is isolated from his crew and Venom leads him to the home planet of his first host. This host was the one who corrupted Venom, when he used the Klyn’tar to murder every living soul on the planet. Venom reminds Flash of all the horrible things he has done in the past, weakening his mental state. The issue ends with Venom consuming Flash, never to let him go.
This Is All My Fault: This issue brings artist Kim Jacinto and colorist Java Tartaglia in to replace Ariel Olivetti on artistic duties. This completely overhauls the visual atheistic of the comic, but it is not necessarily better or worse. This new art team comes with its own set of strengths and weaknesses, especially in comparison to Olivetti.
For one thing, the series has become much moodier and darker visually. There is a lot of darker shades of color in this issue and Tartaglia uses lighter tones to contrast against the Klyn’tar to good effect. Jacinto’s faces have some odd features and expressions, but they are shaped by shadows and despair, which suits the current storyline well. I am of the opinion that Jacinto’s Venom, in the various stages we see here, surpasses Olivetti’s Venom; although Olivetti did new things while we see the same old tricks here. The universe feels a little more empty in Jacinto’s hands though. This is a very focused storyline about Flash and Venom though, so that could change in the future.
Robbie Thompson’s handling of Venom is delightfully wicked. There is a moment where Flash discover Venom has destroyed an entire bar, save for a bottle of their cheapest beer that was left behind for Flash. It is the most effective moment in the issue and it is where Flash’s anger starts to rear its head. Venom plays psychological warfare with Flash throughout the issue, and while I feel giving this more time to simmer would have helped the issue, what we get here is full of nods to Flash’s tragic life. And that really works to get us to a point where Venom could take over a broken Flash.
While the core relationship is well handled, the plot itself is pretty weak. We have seen Peter Parker go through the same story, in countless retellings and media adaptations. There is nothing here that indicates Flash’s resolution to the storyline will be any different than Peter conquering his personal demons to overcome Venom. Something Flash seems to do at least once with every writer he gets.
There are moments along the way that fall flat though. Retconning Venom’s original host from Peter Parker to a genocidal maniac is one of those moments. As is every beat with Flash’s crew mates. Aside from learning that Tarna’s Kyln’tar survived dissection and incineration by Venom, the supporting cast adds nothing to this story. Supporting casts are something Robbie Thompson struggles with, both here and in Silk. I do rather enjoy Jacinto’s renditions of Flash’s crew though, especially Pik Rollo.
Verdict: This is a fairly generic storyline that is given life through the core relationship at its heart. Robbie Thompson takes us into this series’ darkest territory yet and has found a suitable art team in Kim Jacinto and Java Tartaglia. I hope for some surprises before the end, but even if this story stays the course it will be another solid story of Flash conquering his inner demons.
- Venom’s malice
- Mind games with Flash
- Jacinto’s Venom
- Generic story
- Supporting cast useless