WRITER: Mike Costa
ARTIST: Gerardo Sandoval
COLOR ARTIST: Dono Sanchez-Almara
LETTERER: VC’s Clayton Cowles
COVER ARTIST: Gerardo Sandoval
ASST. EDITOR: Allison Stock
EDITOR: Devin Lewis
EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Nick Lowe
STORY: Price/Venom attacks the FBI agents who corner him in the alley. But when Firebug burns the symbiote, it leaves Price and tries to bond with one of the agents. The alien, however, ends up returning to Price to save his life when he’s hit in the gut by a bullet. It escapes, taking Price back to the apartment of his dead friend from issue #1.
Mac Gargan voices his suspicion about Price to Black Cat, who dismisses him.
The FBI catches up to Price at his buddy’s apartment and blackmails him into working for them. They will meet at Parker Industries later to discuss details.
Gargan decides to suit up as Scorpion and deal with Price himself.
That’s…pretty much it.
To be continued.
ANALYSIS: This was a misstep. Other than blackmailing Price into working for the FBI, every other part of this comic feels like something we’ve seen in this title last issue. Price’s relationship with the symbiote doesn’t move forward. Gargan is still gearing up to fight Price. Black Cat twirls her moustache (there’s an image). Even the government blackmailing Venom to work for it is old and worn territory (Venom: License to Kill, Thunderbolts, Agent Venom, etc.). Even with just a single filler issue like this one, this book is spinning its wheels way too much already. Second tier books like Venom have to justify their existence with every issue, especially early on like this when the goal of the storytellers should be to win readers over, or they quickly barrel downhill into the pit of cancellation.
This book is already making a lot of promises too: the Gargan fight, the Spider-Man fight, the return of the original Venom, resolution to the symbiote’s separation from Flash, whatever that “monster-gas” is, the confrontation with Black Cat, etc… This makes me very nervous. It reminds me of Bunn’s Venom run. When he wrote the coda at the end of his last issue and mentioned wanting to play a long-game with the book, listing all of the things that he wanted to touch on in his run, I was like, “where was all of this, like, 20 issues ago?!” It is very risky to play a long game and make big promises on a book like Venom. Especially with this character’s books’ history, the last thing we need for ole’ Fang-Face is more unresolved plot threads.
Don’t get me wrong: I didn’t hate this. Sandoval’s art, especially, is such a good fit for a Venom book. And I am still excited for what’s to come. But, I should be excited for what’s happening now. Hopefully the Scorpion fight next issue gets things rolling.
All things considered though, my gratitude on behalf of my fellow Venom fans goes out to Mike Costa, Gerardo Sandoval, and the rest of their team for putting this book on the stands for us. See you all next week for #4!
Below average (a blundering offer of a set-up issue that causes the story to lose its forward momentum, a mistake I’m not sure B-books like Venom can afford)