Welcome to Comic Sense, a weekly look at the best and worst of what the comic industry has to offer. This week we take a look at the new Venom, New Avengers, and a new member of Batman Inc.! And no, I didn’t realize the whole “new” theme until I typed that sentence, but hey, you love it!
Writer: Rick Remender
Illustrator: Tony Moore
Publisher: Marvel Comics
In a lot of ways, Venom #1 feels like more like Venom #3. Thanks to the pages of Amazing Spider-Man, we’ve already been introduced to the character and been on a mission with him. That’s not to say that Venom #1 doesn’t have anything to prove. After all, it was Dan Slott who had his hands on the character before. Issue #1 is Rick Remender and Tony Moore’s first take on the newest iteration of “evil Spidey”, and after reading the issue, it’s safe to say that the symbiote is (at least for now) in very capable hands.
In his script, Remender seems to take one part Spider-Man and one part Captain America, mixing them together for fantastic results. Indeed, after reading the first few pages, Flash Thompson’s motivation for taking on the symbiote are clear. This isn’t some kind of fan dream come true for him, this isn’t a way of proving himself after losing his legs, duty above all else is what calls Flash Thompson back onto the battlefield. And how does Flash fare on the battlefield with his new alien costume? Like a seasoned pro – some of the moves that Thompson pulls off will have long-time Spidey fans saying “wow” as he uses the costume in some very cool, and truly impressive ways.
However, there are two important things to remember when reading Venom #1, Flash is bonded to the Venom symbiote, and as much as he may emulate heroes like Captain America or Spider-Man, he’s still got his plate full with the threat of the symbiote bonding with him constantly looming over his head. In fact, fans of a more traditional Venom will be glad to hear that Flash has one hell of a time controlling the suit, and actually Venom emerges at one point, not only maiming classic villain Jack O’Lantern, but killing the scientist that he was sent to capture.
Venom #1 is an impressive piece of work. Thompson is indeed a tragic, flawed hero, and watching him struggle against the Venom symbiote should produce fantastic stories – at least until Venom’s handlers have to hit his kill switch.
Writer: Grant Morrison
Illustrator: Yanick Paquette
Publisher: DC Comics
For the last decade plus, Grant Morrison has been a very polarizing figure in comics. Fans seem to either passionately love and defend his work, or absolutely despise it and see it as an aberration. I have personally always been a member of camp Morrison, but Batman Inc. #3 just doesn’t do it for me. Following a two and a half month hiatus, Batman Inc. #3 opens with a scene that takes place in some kind of alternate England, and seems to introduce the main antagonist of the final chapter of Morrison’s Batman arc. However, it was also a scene that was incredibly jarring; reading it felt like waking up after a long nap only to be blasted with information that seemed to have little relevance to anything else going on in the story.
It’s likely that this issue was plotted long before it was delayed, and it’s hard to think that the first few pages would be such a turn-off if there hadn’t been such a delay, but that’s just the way it is. Afterwards, we were treated to a fairly decent Batman story, that had Bruce teaming up with his would be Argentinian “Batman”. But is he really Argentinian? I’m not asking that because of some kind of clever plot twist, it’s because these scenes, and the scenes at Gaucho’s mansion, evoke a Mexican feel far more than an Argentinian one.
Still, Morrison’s handling of Wayne/Batman is masterful, showing that the two men may now more than ever truly be one entity. Gaucho’s insistence that Batman is posing as Bruce Wayne, as opposed to vice versa, is an enjoyable character moment, and hopefully Gaucho will be joining up with Batman Inc., as he’s a welcome member of the book. In addition, the reveal of the issue’s villain on the final page will be a special treat for anyone who’s followed Morrison’s run over the last few years.
All in all though, Batman Inc. has put itself in a hole with its shipping delays. While issue #4 promises to be out in two short weeks, only time will tell if it can keep up with its deadline.
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Illustrators: Mike Deodato and Howard Chaykin
Publisher: Marvel Comics
New Avengers #10 is very much a tale of two comics in one. In the present day, the New Avengers are taking on a group of HAMMER hold-outs led by the newly dubbed Superia. In 1959, Nick Fury is gathering the first, never before heard of team of Avengers, consisting of some out there choices like Sabretooth and Kraven the Hunter. While the ’50s story easily could have been the stronger of the two, the artists make the difference, as the New Avengers story is leaps and bounds ahead of the ’50s tale based on Mike Deodato’s masterful pencil work alone. But that’s not to say that’s all this story has.
Bendis continues to show off his brilliant gift for dialogue, continuing to make the heroes of the Avengers down to Earth, and very much human. In addition to this, the frustrated tantrum that Superia throws in response to the Avengers getting the jump on her is awesome. She simply refuses to accept the fact that the Avengers have gotten the jump on her so soon, and takes her anger out on both Ms Marvel and Wolverine before finally turning her attention toward the rest of the Avengers, who are assisting paramedics with a seemingly mortally wounded Mockingbird.
While the ’50s story is mainly just assembling the team, it’s still full of great moments. Dugan shooting Sabretooth in the head, then quipping “he heals?” when Creed stood up a few moments later is classic Bendis. Just a few pages later, Sabretooth and Kraven already having a long-standing grudge in the ’50s makes perfect sense, and shows the appreciation and understanding that Bendis has for, not just his characters, but the greater history of the Marvel Universe itself.
The book’s only real weaknesses are how Chaykin’s art stands up to Deodato’s. It’s not necessarily bad art, but it has no place in the same book as a master like Deodato, and quite frankly, it just looks silly next to it. The other problem the book has is in its cliffhanger moment: how many times in the last two years have we wondered if Mockingbird is going to die or not? Didn’t she just almost come back to life, and then almost die in Siege? I think I’m actually forgetting one, it’s a lame gimmick, and as much as I can’t wait for the next New Avengers, it has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not she lives… at this point, I really don’t care.