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Venom #38 Review

4

Lord Ogre's hired goons flood Philly and attempt to collect the price on Venom's head.

The Good

There's a handful of books from Marvel which get me legitimately excited before turning to the first page and VENOM is absolutely one of them. I wasn't the biggest fan of the whole mystical side of things the series previously went through, but this latest story seems like writer Cullen Bunn read my mind and is delivering exactly what I want. Venom against an army of hired goons? It's not exactly the most original concept, but it sounds gloriously fun to me, and thankfully, it's fairly awesome thus far.

In this issue, Bunn decides to shine the spotlight mostly on Andi. Prior to this, she felt really one-dimensional. She was your cliche goth with nothing special about her. This chapter focuses on her relationship with her corny yet caring father and makes some big changes to her life. If you've read the solicits, then you know there's some massive developments being made and it certainly makes a nice addition to Flash's current mindset. Speaking of his current mentality, this issue also jumps into Katy Kiernan's involvement. As of right now, it's simply hooking Venom up with more contacts and not adding a whole lot to the story, but it seems safe to say she'll play a bigger role down the road when it comes to his identity and whether or not it'll remain a secret.

The decision to reintroduce Jack O'Lantern had me down the middle. On one hand, we've already seen plenty from the character and he's had more than enough time dedicated to him in this series. This story should open the door to bringing brand new villains into Venom's life instead of a "been there, seen that" villain. But on the other hand, they do indeed have a strong history and this could make for a more emotional rematch, and that's precisely what Bunn delivers. I won't lie, Jack's an amusingly twisted character, especially with the bloodthirsty little dolls by his side ("We wuv when they bweed!") and despite my initial concerns, his reappearance was quite enjoyable and absolutely the biggest selling point of this issue.

Kim Jacinto's art is mind-blowingly good when it comes to Flash being in the symbiote and engaging enemies. It's really rough around the edges and grittier, but it totally works for the book's tone and the combat looks stellar. Whether Venom is just standing around or flipping and shooting through a plethora of ninjas, the costumed panels rock. And when the symbiote begins to take over? Man, it's magnificent. Additionally, Jack and all of his diabolical weapons appear every bit as freaky as they should. Jacinto simply kills it when it comes to the symbiote and Jack. Throw 'em together in a fight and the result is a slew of fantastic panels. I have no idea how long this illustrator plans to be on the book, but I can tell you right now, I'll never get tired of looking at Jacinto's take on Venom and his enemies.

The Bad

As you can tell from "The Good," I really dig the artwork when it comes to Flash being in the symbiote and the battles. But when there isn't a symbiote or costumed villain around, close ups on human faces are really, really rough. The shading and lines used to convey detail almost make it look like Andi's father has stitches on his face -- it's just a tad overboard for me. Also, the opening establishing shot looks like a movie set and not an actual city. There's no real depth to the environment and the building just seems like a cardboard wall. Yes, this complaint only applies to one panel, but it's the very first one you'll set your eyes on.

The death of Andi's dad felt a bit forced to me. I get Venom was slightly injured, but that totally pales in comparison to the other stuff he's endured over the series. Sure, it's still emotional and the captions are good, but I feel like Venom COULD have saved him. I mean, he had time to yell "Leave them alone! This is between you and me!" So, why couldn't he lunge at the villain? Or focus the symbiote to pull on his legs? It just seems like Venom was downplayed in that moment just so we can have a scene that'll likely serve as a motivator for Andi.

Minor gripe: How'd Venom not see Jack on the rooftop? It seems like he's heading in roughly the same direction and considering there's a price on his head, I imagine he'd be observant while out.

The Verdict

VENOM #38 pretty much delivers what I wanted: more of Venom facing a sea of villains, deliciously gritty artwork whenever he's in the costume, and Andi is finally fleshed out and some major developments are made with the character. Seeing only glimpses of Venom fighting Lord Deathstrike and Constrictor feels like an abrupt tease, but what comes later makes it totally understandable why Bunn needed to limit the panels for those fights and it's well worth it. This may not be the best issue yet and I do have my complaints, but it's still a great dose of fun and something you should absolutely purchase.

13 Comments
Posted by TheAcidSkull

basically agree on everything you said.

overall i thought it was a good issue.

Online
Posted by k4tzm4n

basically agree on everything you said.

overall i thought it was a good issue.

Excellent!

Staff
Edited by TheAcidSkull

@k4tzm4n: interested in how they handle andi though, she seems like a cool character

Online
Posted by HollowPrince65

I love this series so damn much. My question is thus "CAN A HERO EVER HAVE PARENTS!?"

Posted by WWAJfan

So Dam Awesome, Love this issue That Venom n Jack fight was Dang was too awesome : )

Posted by knightofthechronicle

Wow that's an awesome cover.

Posted by MadeinBangladesh

Venom is awesome!

Posted by Ando123

Loving this comic venom is a really cool character :D

Edited by dscythe

So that last page... Pretty damn excited! Loving this series, gotta agree with k4tz on the art, great for fight scenes but otherwise a bit too rough

Posted by Ruroken

I've never bought a Venom comic until last issue. The art sucked me in when I flipped through it at my LCS. Since Jacinto is back I'll definitely be picking this up.

Posted by GraniteSoldier

@k4tzm4n: Great review once again. This series continues to deliver and is, in my not so humble opinion, one of the best (top 3 I'd say) titles Marvel currently puts out. It really doesn't get the play it should, and Flash doesn't get the respect he deserves as Venom.

Oh, and here's my shameless plug for my review: http://www.comicvine.com/venom-38/4000-419974/user-reviews/2200-38156

Let me know what you think. Great job once again.

Posted by Tyrannotaur

Seems to me that Bunn is using Jack'O as Venom's nemesis. Having him be the cause of Andi getting her powers and surely becoming the source of her anger and vows of revenge sounds like something a nemesis would do. It is a similar relationship that Batman and Jason Todd share with the Joker.

Also I used to hardly care for Jack, and now I see him as a really cool villain. I owe that to Venom's series.
I understand your complaint of wanting to see some new foes for Venom to take out (we are slowly getting that too with Toxin and Lord Ogre), but Jack is always gonna be the one sticking the thorn in his side.

I agree with everything else though. Great review for a great issue!
I love that we are getting a new symbiote character, and a female one at that. Shame they had to kill off Scream. I understand why they did it, but it is still a shame. Menace should be an awesome character though. I love the punk rock/goth vibe she gives off.

Posted by kixxix

I would just like to point out that any images that do not involve fight scenes between Venom or the baddies that he fights is drawn very, very poorly - at least nine times out of ten.

Take a look at Andi's dad on page two for instance. His face is completely scribbled over. It doesn't add depth or character to the drawing, it just looks sloppy. Also, Andi herself had a very relate-able image just two comics before, prior to the new artist. She was your classic goth/emo kid that didn't want to participate in just about anything in school and could really care less about the world around her. That image emanated from her in previous illustrations. You could really see how the writer wanted her character portrayed and it worked well with the art. But now, with the new artist, she has a chin and nose that can cut glass. She looks worse then a cardboard cut-out. She's flat and absurdly two-dimensional and reminds me nothing of the character I saw in previous comics.

This wouldn't be nearly as large of a complaint if it the problem was isolated to her character, but it seems that everyone who isn't involved in a fight scene is drawn in this crude manner. A messy conglomerate of triangles and squares meshed together in a desperate attempt to try and make themselves appear as though they are a human face. It is my understanding that the artwork is supposed to make the comic what it is, through a harmony of dialog and visuals. The writing of this comic is superb, but surprisingly the visuals of this comic serve only to make that story worse and in no way better.

I doubt this will be changed as the series is ending with issue 42, but I'd really like to see characters with softer edges and less lines scribbled across their face for no apparent reason. Such as in issue 36, where the characters were perfectly colored, and beautifully drawn. A large amount of detail is seen here without the need for two dozen pencil marks scribbled across their faces. Plus, the edges of said characters seemed human! Heck, if Venom got too close to Kate Kiernan's face he might just lose an eye.

tl;dr I don't understand why this artist feels the need to make her characters have such sharp edges to the point where they might cut a hole in the page of the comic book. Maybe she realized she drew them so crudely and then scribbled out their faces when she was done, it's really the only reason i see for the lines across every individuals face in every panel.