granitesoldier's Venom #40 - Mania, Part 1 of 3 review

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Heart of Darkness

So we find ourselves in the "home stretch" with Venom, so to speak, as Flash is finding his title cancelled come November. Writer Cullen Bunn seems to want to wrap up the loose ends before then, and he delves back into Flash's demonic descent and his Hell-Mark. As I've said in previous reviews, I was not overjoyed with this angle when it first debuted with the "Monsters of Evil" arc, which is Venom's low point if I do say so. Also, Mania is still prevalent, even though the end of last issue almost made it feel like she was being moved to the side for Flash's final stretch. Two things I'm not overjoyed with, but Bunn actually makes them work and makes me enjoy them.

The issue opens with Flash having nightmares, scary demon nightmares, when Mania wakes him up and demands they go after Lord Ogre. She's a little irked it's taken them so long to go after Ogre, and you know what? I agree with her. Bunn has proven himself to be fantastic at writing Venom, but good god does he drag things out. All the Toxin teasers, and now how long Venom has been dealing with Ogre. A man with no super-powers, who as far as we know (still) is no more than a drug-peddling kingpin. Certainly, he has access to hire super-powered thugs, but I still feel like Flash could have laid the smackdown on this guy an issue or two ago and we could have moved on from him into a more dramatic finale. Introduce a new big bad for Flash, and have him fight against someone who outclasses him and really show off what venom is made of. Let him go out with a bang, instead of still dealing with Lord Ogre. Anyways, I digress.

Flash gets a call from Katy to go to Texas, where apparently Daimon Hellstrom is dead. In the interest of keeping this review spoiler free, I'll refrain from telling the rest in detail. But it does deal with Andi, and given her current personality after bonding with the symbiote it makes sense. Speaking of Mania, Andi is tearing a swathe through Lord Ogre's goons. Sure, they're regular street thugs, but she's doing it ruthlessly. She resembles a female, teenage Carnage more than Venom. It's pretty cool to watch, and it's worth getting the issue to see her in action. It still begs the question: how is she so good, so soon, with the symbiote? Hopefully, since Mania will be tied into at the very least the next issue, that will be answered.

We have a new artist on board with issue 40, one Jorge Coelho. It's similar to Declan Shalvey or Kim Jacinto in how he draws symbiotes, but not quite on their level. His normal human faces are still a bit off, but I find them an improvement over Jacinto's. His backgrounds are quite detailed, even though a few panels they are missing. Some I feel are done on purpose to show the speed at which the characters are moving, but there's a small amount that they just seem to be gone. Overall, he definitely fits the mood of the book.

This book does have it's shortfalls. Like I said, I feel Lord Ogre should have been handled, and I'm not jumping for joy that the demon aspect is once again introduced. It's done better this time, in my opinion, but still. I like stories with celestial/divine aspects, but when it mixes with aliens it just feels like there is just too much craziness. The art shortfalls I already discussed above.

This is a solid issue, furthering the story and really showcasing Mania. Like I said before, I would prefer a greater focus on Flash with him now only having two issues left; and I would love for it to have been against a new, A-List Venom enemy where Flash can really cut loose and show us what he's made off. That's just my opinion, though, and the current angle is still good and entertaining. I kind of hope Mania sticks around in some form or fashion, as I think she is quite interesting. Not exactly my sort of preference, but still she is an intriguing character.

14 Comments
Posted by DecoyElite

I just jumped back onto Venom for this issue so a lot of the lower points of the issue were lost on me so it's nice to hear about them. I'm liking Mania even if her character type is a little played out, hopefully her and Flash will stay something of a team with him acting as a mentor figure.

Posted by GraniteSoldier

@decoyelite:

I'm not big on sidekicks, so I'm not huge on Mania, but I agree hopefully Flash does stick around with Mania. After reading this I've wondered if perhaps Venom may be getting cancelled for a team-up book. A Batman and Robin type thing, only Flash and Andi. It could be interesting, I could see mentorship being a good thing for Flash personally, help him through is PTSD he's still dealing with.

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Posted by DecoyElite

@granitesoldier: Yeah I think they could have a good dynamic going. Although I think Venom is just getting cancelled because of low sales. :(

Posted by GraniteSoldier

@decoyelite:

Yeah, but I'm trying to stay positive damn it. Agent Venom is the title I look forward to most every month.

Unfortunately my love for Flash tends to result in me grading him harsher than other titles. I had someone mention to me I give Venom more lower ratings than I do other titles. it's just because I like the character so much the slightest mis-handlings set me loose.

But that's irrelevant here. I unfortunately don't see Flash coming back in his own solo title, but I will stay hopeful damn it.

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Posted by DecoyElite

@granitesoldier: Agent Venom has been a fantastic book, it should be held to higher standards.

I hope Marvel at least doesn't shove Flash on a bus after Venom is over. He's too good a character. Although I guess he's still on Thunderbolts and I have heard it's gotten better at least.

Edited by GraniteSoldier

@decoyelite:

I read first two issues of TBolts and stopped over how bad it was.

I've head it's gotten better as well, but I still have the bad taste in my mouth.

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Posted by DecoyElite

@granitesoldier: I read the first issue. That's it. Couldn't stand the thing.

But now there's a new creative team so who knows how much better it is.

Posted by GraniteSoldier

@decoyelite:

Hopefully much better, if that's the only place Flash will be featured. Although honestly, I feel being paired with a lot of the characters in that team sandbags him.

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Posted by DecoyElite

@granitesoldier: Yeah the team is still a terrible group of character to have work together.

Posted by GraniteSoldier

@decoyelite:

Other than Venom, who I am obviously a huge fan of, the only one I like at all is Red Hulk. And even then, he isn't the most developed or fleshed out character. Elektra, Deadpool, and Punisher aren't bad, but I am just not really a fan of them.

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Posted by DecoyElite

@granitesoldier: It's not even a thing about liking the characters for me. It's just that they have no reason to work together within the premise itself. It's Red Hulk's personal hit squad, so why are Deadpool and Punisher even there? At least he's worked with Flash and Elektra(maybe) before.

Edited by GraniteSoldier

@decoyelite:

True, I'd totally forgotten about the premise. I try to keep it from my mind. You're right their coming together makes no sense at all. Just an excuse to use the name "Thunderbolts" again.

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Posted by DecoyElite

@granitesoldier: The worst excuse to use the name. "Thunderbolt as in Thunderbolt Ross" for a character that's mainly called Red Hulk now. Jeez.

Edited by GraniteSoldier
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