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Snap Judgments -- The New Venom Comic

Hello, and welcome to a new instalment of Snap Judgments, where I look at something new coming and attempt to make a reasoned guess based on poorly supplied information and the reputations of those involved.  Today under the Sine Timore spectrometer?  The new Venom series from Marvel.

Venom is strange.  Born from an era when bad guys were becoming really popular, Venom went from Spider-Man baddie to getting his own series (remember when I said Spider-Man was a prick?  The fact that he cut a deal with Venom to allow him to be a crimefighter bolsters my claim).  Books like Lobo from DC and Venom from Marvel showed them trying to jump on the dark antihero bandwagon that Evil Ernie and various bad girl comics (Shi, Lady Death, and a significant amount of Rob Liefeld's output) were driving.  Wretched excess that could have been considered parody if you looked at it right, but still a part of and celebrating the very thing it was making fun of.  Sort of like Enchanted for fanboys.

Venom is pretty much an afterthought, which surprises me.  Given Sony's insistence on including Venom in Spider-Man 3 so they could spin a movie off with him if they wanted (which almost happened during the stalled negotiations with Sam Raimi), I didn't think there was that much of a Q score.  Apparently not, because there's a whole new Venom here, and Marvel blew the secret in a conference call.  Or they're saying they blew it.  Let's face it -- strategic leaks are part of the business now.

So, what are we looking at here?  Let's start with the actual plot mechanics of the series, since that's what everyone is wondering about (if you're wondering how the symbiote fits into the Brand New Day universe, don't ask me, I'm not the EIC here).  The new Venom is Flash Thompson.  In the comics, Thompson is a decorated war veteran who had his legs blown off during the war.  The symbiote is part of a government program.  They have rules regarding its use -- the host can only use the symbiote for three days max and with a limit of only 20 times.  If it stays on too long, it starts getting the teeth and the long tongue and such.

Now, the pedigree of the creative team is fine.  Rick Remender is the writer, and he was most recently seen on the Franken-Castle story in The Punisher.  Now, that was a dopey concept.  Did it work?  No idea, I haven't read Punisher comics since the days when they were publishing War Journal.  So, let's consider the concept.  Can this new Venom work?

Keep in mind, there's a lot of publishers who cancel the books just as things get going.  SWORD from Marvel was canceled at number three, and only made it to five.  Thor The Might Avenger is one of the best reveiwed recent Marvel titles.  It's gone as of number 8.  There is a tendency to release miniseries without calling them miniseries.  If interest sustains them, they just continue.  If not, they axe the series, collect it in a trade, and that's the end of it.

This has all the markings of "We don't think this will fly."  You have a character that is too different to appeal to the traditional fans of the character and not unique enough for new readers.  A lot of this sounds like warmed over Soldier Zero.  The arbitrary limit is what makes me think this.  Twenty uses, then what?  If it's a hit, does he go rogue like Nomad?  In which case, what's the point of focusing on the whole, "He's a hero" thing?  Xena -- Warrior Princess and Hellblazer are great at exploring a person trying to be a good guy who might not be completely clear on the concept.  This will require a good writer.  It might be possible, but given the ammount of editorial input from Marvel to the talent lately, I'm not sure the writer will be able to take it where it needs to go.  It comes down to, "Will the editor and EIC leave things be?"  And given all the publicity stunts, I'm not convinced.

I see a series that will either vanish like spring ice or will be subjected to continuity-breaking interference.  I think I'll pass on even giving it a chance.  Too problematic.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 29th, 2011 04:16 am (UTC)
Venom is just kind of a bad sign unto himself. It's easy to imagine the good stories you could tell about a "super-powered, sentient, strength-enhancing substance from beyond the stars", but... I don't think we'll ever get to see that story told.

It's like Baywatch could be a really gritty TV series about real-life lifeguards and how difficult and painful that job can be, but - nope, we'll just slow-motion tits on fake sand. Venom is the Homicidal Space Monster version of that.

There's better stuff for to spend your money on, I suspect.
Jan. 29th, 2011 05:43 am (UTC)
Agreed. The idea of a Venom solo series is rife with problems. The first of which is he is a bad guy they are trying to shoehorn into a hero box. A series that follows the bad guy instead of the good has a lot of potential. It's the whole reason I agreed to write The Supremacy, because it was told from the bad guys' point of view. There are only two series I am aware of that focused on the bad guy, the Fu Manchu series and Eclipso from DC. Given how (especially with Spider-Man) the villains are usually more interesting than the heroes, that's kind of odd.

The only problem with better stuff to spend your money on is it doesn't last. Sable And Fortune was supposed to go six issues (I'm a long time Silver Sable fan) and you could tell from the truncated story and radical shift in art in #4 that they cut it short. Thor The Mighty Avenger is extremely well reviewed, so much so I was ready to give it a chance. It's gone. No new Power Pack.... Instead, we get Superman acting like a selfish bastard (the supporting cast is more heroic than he is), Wally West brushed aside for no reason other than to bring back Barry Allen (if anyone can explain why exactly Zoom brought him back to begin with, please raise your hand), and comics selling publicity stunts instead of telling stories. Does anyone REALLY believe Johnny Storm is dead and buried?
Jan. 29th, 2011 10:17 pm (UTC)
Publicity stunts like “The Death of A Fictional Character” drive me nuts. A few speculators buy up a bunch of books, but overall, is the story helped through the cheap, sensational plot device?

I love a good villain/anti-hero story, for sure. Ed Brubaker’s going that way with Incognito and Sleeper, and a lot of Grant Morrison’s early work is full of anti-heroes fighting authority.

In the end, I feel like any plot about any character can be good, so long as there’s some talent behind it. But… that seems to be all-too-rarely the case.

I really miss Wally West. I have no interest in reading comics or watching movies about Barry Allen, or Hal Jordan.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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