Hey guys, did you catch the new Venom trailer this morning? I personally felt like it was a train-wreck. Despite being an Eddie Brock centric trailer, with maybe .02 seconds of the symbiote, we learn almost nothing about Eddie. And in the very little we do learn, Tom Hardy feels nothing like Eddie Brock. No Venom, no Eddie, no character. It makes this issue look great by comparison.
Venom 161: Tangled Webs
Writer: Mike Costa
Artist: Javier Garron
Colorists: Dono Sanchez-Almara & Erick Arciniega
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
C.Artists: Javier Rordirguez & Alvaro Lopez
Editors: Nick Lowe & Devin Lewis & Tom Groneman
Editor-In-Chief: CB Cebulski
Story: Venom magically gets cured outside the story it actually happened in. Eddie gets rejected by the two love interests in his life. Jessica Drew decides it is time to kick some Venom ass. The Looter pisses himself. Venom gets whooped, but the Klyn’tar talks Jessica out of taking them in, once again doing everything. Eddie eats Chinese food.
Review: Damn, where to begin? This issue is rough all around. Lets run through them. The joke thst gets the most screen time in this issue is a pee gag. I mean, at least it’s not poop, but seriously? The art also does next to nothing to illustrate this point… the piss stains look more like a shadow than urine. Disunity between script and art is going to be a running theme in this rant. I do not expect my Venom book to be laugh out loud funny, especially with bland-ass Eddie under the suit, but if you are going to go for humor, aim a little higher. (Ba dum ching)
Problem Number Two: Eddie is useless. Absolutely bloody useless. Yet another fight where Eddie is knocked out and Venom saves his ass. Not only does he get his butt handed to him, he also gets torn down by the women in his life. Liz flat out rejects him and Jenn Kao belittles every idea Eddie proposes; which to be fair makes her one of my favorite characters in the issue. Eddie consistently objectifies every woman in his life and it is kind of pathetic when reading. I really hope Black Cat does not make the jump from Venom Inc to this series; she deserves better, especially after the last couple years.
Problem Number Three: Jessica Drew is written horribly. All the nuance Dennis Hopeless gave her during his phenomenal Spider-Woman run is gone here. She is back to hot headed mess that Brian Michael Bendis tried to make work but could not. Mike Costa tries to give her some sleuthing to do, but it is basic level stuff that even Eddie could stumble his way through. If this is where she ends up during her hiatus, then it is a hard pass from me. Jessica Drew could happily be at home with Gerry and Roger when we do not see her, having a brief happy ending before something horrible happens to her or she gets drawn back into the superhero game. It is about the quality of appearances, not the quantity, something I feel a lot of comic book fans do not seem to take into consideration. And while we’re talking about Jess, let’s get into the art. Javier Garron delivers some of the worst work of his career. Jessica’s costume hangs awkwardly around her and every facial reaction is off in some way. And every action pose he gives Jessica in this issue? Ripped straight out of Javier Rodriguez’s Spider-Woman run. When artists like Veronica Fish or Natacha Bustos would guest on Spider-Woman they would redefine Jessica’s power set in cool ways, but Garron is just a really poor man’s version of Rodriguez’s style. Having Rodriguez do the cover only amplifies this pale comparison.
Problem Number Four: While we’re on art, let’s discuss the lack of unity between script and art. In particular, the big scene where Venom explains to Jessica that they are heroes. This is a big splash page of Venom flooding Jessica with images of Venom’s recent and distant past. And not a single damn panel in the splash would sell the idea that Venom is a hero. There is nothing from Flash. There is more images of characters like Mania, Maniac, and Carnage. If Costa’s script was trying to sell this as Venom being a necessary evil against a growing symbiote villain base, sure. But nope, suddenly Jess understands that Venom is truly good. We do not even see the freaking dinosaur people Eddie is protecting, you know that plot line that this entire run has resolved around.
While we’re on art, the paneling is uncreative (there is one creative panel and it is another form of theft from Rodriguez), there is only three sound effects in the issue, shadows are way too thick which makes them look unnatural, and items seem to hover above character’s hands rather than appear in their grasp. To be fair, the backgrounds are really nice. And Dono Sanchez-Almara continues to be the creative MVP with some great coloring.
And lastly it feels really wrong to drop your one female editor during the issue involving one of the bigger Spider-Female characters. But whatever, this book definitely does not sell well enough to support four editors doing weak work.
Verdict: Avoid this issue. And the Venom trailer. I can not wait for next week for some good old boring Poison X, at least it will be better than this. This is a bad day to be a Venom fan.
It came to my attention after posting this, that Javier Garron took over for Tigh Walker in January and was still working on this issue as late as the final week of January. I’m not editing my grade, but I feel a lot of the blame lies on Costa and the editors, not Garron.
- Colors and backgrounds
- Literally everything else