New Sheriff In Town
Writer Colin Bunn seems to get better with every issue of Venom that he writes. He has really hit his stride, and is really showing Flash the care the character deserves. Venom 37 picks up essentially where 36 left off, a few days after Flash's confrontation with Lord Ogre. Flash is looking to make a difference in Philly, and Lord Ogre is the big dog in town. This is his way of making a statement. Unfortunately for Flash, it seems Lord Ogre isn't so easily pushed around and has set up a bounty on Venom.
We are re-introduced to Katy Kiernan in this issue, someone I was never really that fond of in her previous appearances. She immediately starts questioning Flash about Venom's fight with the symbiote slayers at the high school. Flash seems to be underplayed here, sure he's no genius but he shown himself to be a pretty smart guy; but here he seems like a babbling idiot. Like essentially denying that the footage of Venom is real. I feel the whole scene could have been handled better. Things thankfully pick up, though, and we get into some great panels of Venom taking out his frustrations on some nameless thugs. Bunn has mastered Remender's balance of on-panel action with Flash's inner dialogue, bringing action and plot development at the same time. I love it, as you never get bored reading a Venom book.
After the thugs, Venom is ambushed by a group of super villains hired by Lord Ogre to take out Venom: Death Shield, Blood Spider, and Jagged Bow. It's a fun fight showing off Flash's capabilities as he readily handles the three who are comparable to their hero counterparts (Spider-Man, Captain America, and Hawkeye namely). There are two panels I feel should have been swapped where Flash compares Jagged Bow to being as good as Hawkeye, but he doesn't fire a shot till the next panel. That might be an editing error, or maybe since Flash apparently read files on many super-villains that's how he knew and they didn't mention that. Not sure. Flash does take a sonic arrow straight on, a full on punch to the head from Blood Spider, and a shield to the face and back from Death Shield, and pretty much shrugs it off. Lets face it: Flash is tough as hell and I love it. The three villain are joined by two more, Constrictor and "something with 'Death' in it" as Flash calls him. There is some interesting banter about Flash calling himself the "only knock-off Spider-Man in Philly" and wondering where in the hell so many super villains come from, and how there seems to be an endless supply. It's really quite amusing.
Kim Jacinto takes the reigns in the art department in this issue, and as someone who loved last issues artwork with Pepe Larraz, it sort of killed it for me. In the very first panel alone, Flash looks possessed by a demon (well I guess he sort of...nevermind). Additionally people's faces look contorted and more like caricatures of the people they are than the actual characters. Jacinto's action scenes are fantastic, however, and Venom looks vicious and tough. I like how the artists are giving Flash a splash of the old Venom look (fangs and tongue) without it being there all the time or without Bunn making Flash lose control. Perhaps Flash is gaining better control over the symbiote's will? Only time will tell I suppose. Jacinto also has a habit of using dots for shading, which again I found very distracting early on. Perhaps it will grow on me, but I really missed Shalvey's and Moore's artwork.
All in all it's a solid Venom book and absolutely worth picking up. I did not like the art very much (except the action parts, which again are done very well), but that's just a personal taste and others may love it. I also wasn't a huge fan of Kay Kiernan's return, and her and Flash's overly flirtatious (at least I found them to be so) conversations. Isn't Flash dating Valkyrie? It seemed like Bunn forgot that, or maybe I interpreted Flash flirting back when he wasn't. There is also a surprise return at the end, and while he was great as a villain for Venom in the past, I was disappointed because I was hoping for a new Venom A-lister who could help build up Venom's rogues gallery. Still a solid issue, and worth 4/5 stars.