As we enter into the third Edge of VenomVerse comic, we look back once more at Edge of Spider-Verse. The third EOS-V issue had Dustin Weaver take control of both story and art, delivering a story devoid of Peter Parker. Weaver created a new man to take the mantle of Spider-Man, but unlike Miles Morales or Miguel O’Hara, Dr. Aaron Aikerman was fairly unremarkable. He was a doctor in an affair with his boss and I think also the mother of a woman he failed to save, and was killed by Morlun’s hand before the issue had ended. I remember little of this story, but I recall the art blowing me away. In Edge of VenomVerse #3, we are about to enter another Peter Parker-less universe and meet the Host-Rider. Will this issue fare better than EoS-V #3?
Edge of VenomVerse #3: Ghost Rider
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Tigh Walker
Colorist: Felipe Sobreiro
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
C. Artist: Francesco Mattina
Production: Carlos Lao
Editors: Nick Lowe & Devin Lewis & Allison Stock
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso
The Unearthy and The Unholy: Our comic begins with SHIELD escorting mad biologist super villain, Mr. Hyde, through the streets of New York City. They are quickly assaulted by all sorts of creatures and mobsters, something Mr. Hyde organized with the villain, Crossbones, so he could escape SHIELD custody. One thing they did not plan for though was the attention of a symbiote-infused Ghost Rider (Robbie Reyes). The Host-Rider makes quick work of the bad guys, forcing his way through SHIELD personnel in the process. The Host-Rider reveals the corpse of Crossbones to Mr. Hyde and then consumes Mr. Hyde’s soul, before feeding him to his demonic car. As they look over the carnage left in their wake, they are summoned by symbiote Captain America to fight in the upcoming war.
You Are The Worst Creature Alive: This is an unpopular opinion among comic book fans, but Robbie Reyes is my Ghost Rider of choice. I was not a Marvel reader during the periods where Johnny Blaze and Daniel Ketch were at the height of their popularity, I prefer cars over bikes, and Tradd Moore’s art made All New Ghost Rider something special for that first arc. Even though writer Simon Spurrier had written Daniel Ketch’s adventures before, this book is filled with things from All New Ghost Rider: it has the series’ main colorist, Robbie’s main antagonist, and Clayton Cowles letters the book similarly to the way Joe Carmagna lettered ANGR. This ingredients gave me hope that this issue would be of the same quality of ANGR‘s first arc but I was wrong. It is even better.
Robbie Reyes is a character defined by tragedy and what happens to him in this comic is pretty damn tragic. The Host-Rider is more Venom than anything else (yet another strong willed Venom for this event, which makes Venomverse worth it for me) and Robbie Reyes is used only as fuel to power the Ghost Rider side of things, as it feeds off Robbie’s horror at the things they do with his body. Venom’s decision to bond with the Ghost Rider is one driven by a desire to eliminate his weakness to fire. This makes the Host-Rider an MVP in the coming war, which means he will either make it a long time or be one of the first to fall. This is a mentally-unstable Venom on steroids and he is a force of carnage in this comic. He has a car that can shift shapes and consume people, plus he uses flaming chains in ways similar to how Spider-Man uses his webs. This comic is vicious and everything I never knew I wanted from a Venom comic. Speaking of Spider-Man, it is heavily implied that Peter was killed shortly after getting the Venom symbiote in the 80s. In fact, it is a pretty dark universe for Spider-Man’s cast, as we see a Deadpool-Doctor Octopus-Sasquatch hybrid that tries to kill people with crushing hugs. Host-Rider’s mentally instability because he is a cross of three mind compliments the 2000s/Daniel Way version of Deadpool well, so he is an excellent choice of antagonist. Because despite the violence in this issue, Host Rider does not kill any innocents; just hurts them badly. So maybe Robbie does have some say.
Despite the dark aspects, this comic is actually fairly funny too. There is a lot of popular lines from pop culture in this comic, but when you have twenty two pages to tell a story it does not hurt to take from other sources. Mr. Hyde (reimagined as a steampunk mad scientist instead of a raging hulk) is a smooth criminal and his repertoire with his SHIELD handler is great. The opening of the comic feels very much like a comedic bottl episode, as we remain inside the SHIELD transport vehicle as all manner of things attack it. Things like: terrorist Forge (of X-Men fame), vampires in dune buggies, Hammerhead and the Maggia, zombie skateboarders, lab chimps in jetpacks, OctoSquatchPool, and zombies skateboarders who worship Hyde as a God. The situation escalates at a hilariously fast pace and just when you think you might not get to see any of it, the creative team brings us out of the vehicle.
This is a tour de force by Tigh Walker. I have been a fan of his since Spider-Women put him on my radar and this work blows that out of the water. This book is visceral and insane. Bombastic letters fill densely packed pages, but the details in the foreground or the background are never muddied. Walker details his backgrounds, even if they are nothing more than cracks in the wall or garbage littering streets. Walker and colorist, Felipe Sobreiro, create a gritty New York, with scuff marks and trash everywhere. Colors contrast each other in dirty ways that adds another dimension. I wish the pink sunset did not cast the outside in a light so similar to the glaring reds of the SHIELD vehicle, but that is a minor complaint. And as packed as the pages are with details, Walker still finds places to make unique panel choices and add variety to keep things from feeling mundane.
Verdict: This book blows me away. My first set of notes for this review was little more than “Look at this, this is amazing” repeatedly. It has so much character and so much creativity. It is such an excellent Venom comic, filled with stunningly drawn violence and a truly repulsive lead. It gets me hyped for the main event, even if it just means I get to see more of the Host Rider. And that badass car too. Edge of VenomVerse #3 is an issue in an anthology, so if you want to buy just one issue to sample it, this is the book.
- Host Rider design and personalities
- Excellent blend of violence and humor
- Creative team made up of various Ghost Rider veterans