Venomania, Like Wrestlemania...Only More Venom
So I'll be honest, with the way Venom 38 ended I was really not super pumped for this. If you read Venom 38 (which you should have at this point and if you haven't it's your own damn fault for ruining the end for yourself by reading this) you know that Venom saved Andi's life by sending a part of Venom to her to filter Jack O'Lantern's toxic gases. It had the unfortunate side effect of taking to her entirely, and making her a symbiote-hero, Mania. I do NOT like sidekicks. I don't like Robin, and thought every Robin who became a solo superhero was far better alone than as Robin (I'm looking at you Nightwing). That being said, I kind of like Mania's design. The spikes everywhere are a bit much, but I like how they make her definitively more female than other symbiotes with softer angles and the addition of hair. Reminds me a bit of Scream and Agony from back in the 90s.
Anyway this issue has no real twists (there is one but I'll get to that later) and is exactly what you'd expect: Venom and Mania going after Jack and other assorted Lord Ogre thugs. n the brief actionless moments, Flash tries to figure out how Andi is such a natural with the symbiote and why it wouldn't return to him when called. The end is interesting, as it leads me to believe Mania will not be a permanent Venom-sidekick. Which, I'll be honest, makes me happy.
Jacinto's art is the mixed bag I've been calling it since he was put on this title. Action and symbiote wise, he's pretty boss. People? Not so much. I particularly like when mania brandishes a pipe wrench and it turns into a symbiote beatstick. And when she punches Lord Deathstrike in the mouth. And when you see what Jack sees out one of his pumpkin's eyeholes, and it is an incoming Venom fist. Awesome, awesome scenes.
There are a few bad moments in this book. Last issue Andi's dad dies because Jack was "too strong and too fast" for Flash to stop him. Well, the one and only twist in this book reveals something about Jack that means that Andi's father's death is such a low-ball moment of plot stupidity I almost want to call Cullen Bunn and ask him what in the bluest of blue hells he was thinking. Was that really the best idea they could come up for his death? And was this really the best twist to put on it? It just makes Venom seem weak. Like I said above, Jacinto's art is a mixed bag. With that statement, it means there are some bad moments with the good. At one point you see Constrictor, and his jaw is a nearly perfect square. Another scene, Flash is without the symbiote and his eyes have no pupils, iris, nothing. He looks possessed. Also, Mania sometimes looks like she has small earrings, other times not. That's a nitpick critique, but I like consistency. Hopefully in the long run she won't have them, I think she looks better that way.
Overall, this issue gets 4/5 from me. It's a solid issue, and Mania is not as bad as I expected, although I admit I am not a huge fan. I get the impression Bunn has future plans for her. Perhaps her own title? I'm not sure. Speaking of titles, word has come down that Venom will be cancelled in November. Sad news for all who have enjoyed this title. Oddly enough, it's cancellation coincides with Flash Thompson's crossover with Superior Spider-Man. Coincidence? Time will tell. For now, fellow Venomites, enjoy the ride. The ending is sure to be a wild one.