Wow, this was a tough one to write
This review was published in my school newspaper.
As you may have noticed, my reviews thus far have been exclusively focused on DC comics, with little to no discussion of Marvel. Well, confession time, I don’t read too many Marvel comics these days. Though I love Marvel’s characters and movies, the questionable story directions that the management of Marvel has taken several characters in has turned me off from most stories, what Marvel editor-in-chief, Joe Quesada did to Spiderman is worth another article altogether but will not be written because after my editors cut out all the profanity the article will only be about three sentences long. However, there are some gems left within the comic world of Marvel and today’s outing is one of them.
Oh dear, strap in folks, the back-story section is going to be particularly long this week. This comic focuses on three characters, four if you count a certain character as two, and none of them are particularly well known. First up, we have Venom, the most well known of the characters, but here he does not appear in the form people would expect. Venom is a symbiotic alien being that bonds to a host in the form of a black costume, in turn granting them immense power. It’s first chosen host was Spiderman who rejected the costume which subsequently bonded to Eddie Brock, a man who hated Peter Parker as much as the symbiote hated Spiderman. Venom was brought to the big screen in Spiderman 3 where he was played by Topher Grace, much to the chagrin of fans who thought he was wrong for the part. Recently, the Venom symbiote chose a new host, which will bring us to our next character, Flash Thompson. In the early days of Spiderman comics, Flash was the school bully who picked on Peter Parker and he was depicted as such in both the original Spiderman film and the recent reboot, though I commend the latter for trying to give the character a bit more depth than usual. However, what casual fans do not know is that while Flash picked on Peter, he idolized and admired Spiderman, who inspired him to enlist in the army in order to be a hero himself, but tragically lost his legs in combat. With the help of the Venom symbiote, Flash can walk again and he has chosen to use the power granted to him by the black suit to be a hero. However, Venom is not the only symbiote running around. While bonded to Eddie Brock, the Venom symbiote gave birth to a second symbiote, that bonded to Brock’s then cell mate, the psychotic serial killer, Cletus Cassady, who combined with the symbiote started calling himself Carnage, who acts as the villain of today’s piece. Finally there’s the Scarlet Spider. In the 90’s, something was happening in the Spiderman books called the clone saga. It was not exactly considered a high point in Spidey’s history due to confusing storylines and bad writing but the gist of it’s relevance to our story is this: A super villain creates an evil clone of Spiderman who supposedly died but recently it was discovered that it wasn’t and because Spidey saved his life, the clone, named Kaine, became a hero by the name of Scarlet Spider.
Story: This is actually the second issue in the mini-series that teams up Venom and The Scarlett Spider. At the end of the last issue, Carnage escaped into another dimension with the help of some mysterious allies and with a friend of Flash Thompson as a hostage. Kaine, having only known Venom as a villain, attacks Flash, temporarily causing him to lose control of the symbiote. However, the two quickly call a truce and decide to enter the alternate dimension in order to save the innocent hostage and stop whatever Carnage and his allies are planning. They enter the portal and end up in separate area’s both of them confronted by strange and powerful monsters.
This is a decent story but not the strongest I’ve read. Really, I think this crossover is only happening because in the past year the two main characters have gained a cult following with comic fans but have yet to achieve mainstream popularity. Honestly I believe the story would be stronger if the two were just fighting Carnage without the addition of the alternate dimension story. Also, the story seems to move very slow moving with quite a bit of padding.
The artwork is just okay honestly, nothing to write home about. This particular book has more than one artist and as such there are art styles that clash with each other.
I wish that our two main heroes had spent less time bickering, but other than that they are both written quite well. I think the reason why I like these characters is because, to me, they act like Spiderman should act. Marvel writers seem to have this idea in their heads that Spiderman should never grow up or be put in adult situations, failing to recognize that the character has aged and matured since the 60’s. These characters are similar to Spiderman, but feel like adults and as such, more well rounded characters. Carnage on the other hand is not written as strongly. Carnage works best when he’s the main villain of the story arc but here he’s relocated to the role of minion for his underdeveloped allies.
Despite that rating, this is still a fairly strong story with good characters who are worth reading about.