Venom Inc: Omega
Writers: Dan Slott & Mike Costa
Artists: Gerardo Sandoval & Ryan Stegman
Inker: Jay Leisten
Colorist: Brian Reber
C.Artists: Ryan Stegman & Brian Reber
Designer: Anthony Gambino
Editors: Nick Lowe & Devin Lewis & Allison Stock & Tom Groneman
Editor-In-Chief: CB Cebulski
Plot Summary: Andi Benton, Eddie Brock, Felicia Hardy, Peter Parker, and Flash Thompson team up to take down a gigantic Lee Price/Maniac symbiote monster. Flash runs point on the take-down while Peter goes off to save civilians. Felicia discovers that once immune to the effects of Maniac, you cannot be infected again. This inspires Peter to dose Flash’s Anti-Venom with his blood and this takes down Maniac once and for all. Peter wants to arrest Eddie and Felicia, but Flash talks him out of it and wishes Venom’s new partner the best of luck on his journey to heroism. Eddie passes this pep talk on to Felicia, who resigns from a life of crime (much more explicitly in Defenders #9). Andi returns to Philadelphia, while Flash hangs around New York for the time being. The issue ends with Peter realizing his symbiotic relationship with Bobbi Morse may be a bad thing.
For the sake of blending our two reviews into one cohesive unit, I will be tackling things by category. These categories include: Stegman Art, Sandoval Art, Colors, Inks, Script, and Verdict.
Stegman Art: Both Neil and myself were impressed by Stegman’s work for the most part. Neil felt his figures were very fluid which I argued is because of the body language Stegman gave his characters; Black Cat was the character that benefited most from Stegman’s fluid figures in this event but Flash leaping into the maw of danger was my favorite panel in the issue. Speaking on figures, I liked the subtle difference between Venom and Maniac, such as eye shape and the direction their spider logos go; I was never confused who I was following during the talking head scenes. Neil quite enjoyed the cinematic camera work of Stegman’s art and I loved how he introduced establishing shots just to have Maniac tear through them. That being said, a lot of shots felt almost verbatim lifted from earlier issues (especially Andi shots) and the fight scenes were so crowded with smaller panels that big details like Venom gouging out Maniac’s eyes were obscured.
Sandoval Art: We both felt that there was a notable quality drop in the final pages, but for different reasons. For myself, my problems arose from a lack of visual continuity; Peter’s mask suddenly broke, Andi’s jeans were no longer ripped, Flash and Peter started leaking symbiotes from their eyes for no reason. Neil felt the pages became convoluted under Sandoval’s pen and questioned why Sandoval suddenly took over art in the middle of a scene. I felt the editors, more than Sandoval, were to blame here.
Reber Colors: Neil noted that Reber did a lot of the heavy lifting in establishing tone and keeping the colossal smackdown from feeling too out there. He also applauded how the void of color worked for the issue; I bounced off this by noting how the snow makes for an interesting backdrop, allowing the characters and symbiotes to pop off the page. I felt there were a lot more bold colors in the issue, which indicated impact and allowed Andi’s flames to leap off the page.
Leisten Inks: While I was quick to praise Leisten, Neil felt a lot of blame for the Sandoval pages laid at his feet. I thought Leisten did a good job of obscuring details around characters in motion with heavy speed lines that were contrasted against thick character outlines to make them pop. Neil felt Leisten’s work was rushed and failed to make characters distinguishable from each other, especially when engaged with Maniac.
Script: Both Neil and I felt like Flash Thompson was the star of this event, which was a-okay with me. Dan Slott’s run on Amazing Spider-Man has made me aware of character traits of Peter Parker I strongly dislike; traits that Slott himself did not create but amplified during his run. As such, I doubt Peter Parker will ever break my top ten heroes again, but Flash is definitely sitting cozy near the top five so that made me much fonder of the event than I expected. Neil did not take to it as well, since he felt the crossover failed to deliver a story of impact for its two actual leads; Peter and Eddie. On that note, I got to say… it is so damn ridiculous that Peter has not unmasked to Flash yet. Only been waiting bloody five years for it at this point. The surprise of the series was the bond Eddie and Flash made through their partnership with Venom; it left me with a smile on my face.
I thought the ladies of the event also fared okay. I thought Cat had the best lines this issue and while both Neil and I will miss Mania, Andi Benton comes out of the event on pretty solid ground; hopefully one that will be revisited in the future. Neil was pretty pissed that it was Eddie that brought Felicia out of the criminal game. While I enjoyed the Eddie/Felicia dynamic, I do not think it was strong enough to serve as the final scene of the event or to change Felicia’s life style; that should have been a Silk storyline, damn it.
My biggest disappointment is that Lee Price is still alive and still has a connection to the Maniac/Mania symbiote. Price needs to go away, but I guess we are not that lucky. While Slott may be leaving Amazing Spider-Man soon, Costa is on Venom for the foreseeable future as Marvel whores the character out to extremes. Another problem I had was the Flash war flashback scenes added nothing to the story and filled an already crowded fight sequence.
Neil Verdict: I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Venom Inc. was a mess of epic scales; there was no build-up and no climax befitting the hyped scales we were promised. Hence, a rushed and clunky resolution shouldn’t be unexpected; alas, here I am, disappointed as usual.
Issue Grade: D
Venom Inc Grade: D-
Shaun Verdict: I do not know what’s wrong with me, but I enjoyed this more than I didn’t. Maybe it was because I did not have to take a critical eye to the Venom issues, which I will admit were the weaker installments. But Flash came out strong, Andi came out strong, Felicia had some good lines, and the two characters I can’t stand were sidelined for the most part. I also think the art team had some real strengths, as well as some notable flaws. But they were able to carry the story when the script could not. For Flash fans, this is worth checking out. Otherwise, skip it.
Issue Grade: B-
Event Grade: B-