Sorry about the delay on this one. Holiday season and back to school are always incredibly busy times up here in Canada, had Brad going full Jonah on me; I believe I was fired and rehired several times over a single conversation.
Amazing Spider-Man 793: Venom Incorporated Part 4
Writer: Dan Slott (with Mike Costa)
Artist: Ryan Stegman
Colorist: Brian Reber
C.Artist: Alex Ross
Designer: Anthony Gambino
Editors: Nick Lowe & Devin Lewis & Allison Stock & Tom Groneman
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso
Guys You Should Know I Spit In All Your Food: The issue begins with a Maniac controlled Spider-Man robbing a catering business. The series then follows Flash Thompson as he is rescued by Andi, who retains the hell-mark from Circle of Four, and its powers. They just miss Maniac, who Andi is able to track because of her connection to the symbiote. However, Flash sidelines their hunt in favor of freeing Spider-Man from Maniac’s control. From this point, we follow Venom and Black Cat, who steal the Anti-Venom serum from Alchemax, who has decided to cut ties with Eddie. All three groups meet at the Daily Bugle, where Felicia is able to cure Spider-Man of Maniac’s presence. The issue ends with Peter telling them that Maniac is going to infect the major crime families of the world at a annual sit-down; as he tells them this we see it play out, with Lee Price becoming the Godfather of crime across the globe.
Classic Flash Getting Someone Else To Do Your Homework: I am not entirely sure what was up with Ryan Stegman the last couple issues, but his work comes back strong this issue. His scene set ups are excellent at establishing location and mood with just a couple panels. His figures are fluid as they move through the page. His Spider-Man action scenes are superb. This fluidity helps his female figures, as Felicia and Andi are constantly in a state of motion. It is only when they stop to talk that Stegman struggles with the female anatomy, mostly in the face; this effects Andi more than it does Felicia. His framing is my favorite aspect of this issue; the angles he chooses in his fights make something as simple as Peter throwing Flash down a building cinematic. He is a master of using the page, best seen in how he frames Felicia’s take down of Spider-Man. He also does cool things with positioning this issue, like having Venom’s cut figure standing next to Doctor Steven, whose fatty skin folds over itself; they contrast each other. This is also the first issue I have enjoyed Maniac and his men’s design; Maniac’s symbiote overcoat is reminiscent of Hawkeye’s outfit in Avengers: Age of Ultron and Stegman emphasizes the veins in the Inklings, providing a Facehugger (from Alien) feel to them. Still not the greatest designs in the world, but Stegman does good with it.
Unfortunately, not all is good. The scene in Steven’s office with Eddie and Felicia seems to partially take place outside, but also entirely indoors; we see snow blowing behind Venom in a single panel but then no snow is ever seen inside and we never cut behind Venom again. And Ben Urich’s design here seems really off compared to his appearances over the last few years in Spider-Woman.
And while we are on the note of bad, this script is rough in a few places. Alchemax cuts ties with Eddie in this issue, which is a huge development… in the wrong book. Price still sucks as a villain, but I like that the symbiote trying to get back to Andi, the same way Venom was trying to get back to Flash when Price had him. There is also a scene where Price emasculates Spider-Man that is really uncomfortable when played for jokes. And while I found most of Dan Slott’s dialogue true to how people speak in real life, and even clever a couple times, his Flash Thompson dialogue is just the worst. Joe Robertson is the script MVP here, as he defends Spider-Man even when Spidey breaks into the Bugle.
Brian Reber does a good job with colors in the issue. He uses a muted palette for most scenes, allowing effects like lights and flames to standout; there is a conversation between Spider-Man and Maniac in headlights that cast a glow around the characters. Unfortunately, the darker colors does not allow for blood to stand out and that limits the violence of the fight scenes. There is a warmth to indoor scenes that contrasts those outside, creating two different moods just through shifting colors. Heavy snow falls throughout the issue, selling the chill of the outdoors.
I have often said Joe Carmagna is the best letterer working at Marvel right now and it shows. He makes fights that happen off panel better than some on panel just through the diversity of color, size, and outlines of his sound effects. He has some of the most versatile Thwips in the business, which distinguishes the intensity of each web use. When a machine starts up, the sound effects travel down a conveyor belt indicating the motion of the machine. In the fights outdoors, white creeps into his lettering which has a chilling effect. And in the final scene, which came out just before the 2017 holidays, he uses red and green (Christmas colors) which indicate the difference between human and symbiote. Just some astounding work from someone I have really come to admire.
Verdict: This issue would rank lower if the artistic team had not delivered the best work of the event so far. For me, it made up for the shortcomings of the script, which I also think is one of the stronger scripts of the event so far. Our heroes have come together and Price has made a grand play that elevates him as well as we head into the final issues.
- Colorful Moods
- Believable Dialogue
- Character Details
- Inconsistent Visuals
- Character Development in wrong title
- Tone-Deaf Scenes