Venom: Flashpoint

Posted by Jesse 12 August 2011

Venom: Flashpoint

They called it project rebirth 2.0, we call it Venom 2011 or Rick Remender’s Venom, yet the bonding of the symbiote to Corporal “Flash” Eugene Thompson represents more than just rebirth it is the initiative of marvel to reinvent and redefine the character for a new generation. It marks a new era in the Spiderverse. For the first time ever since his debut in 1963 as the egotistical bully of Peter Parker, Flash Thompson finally has his own series, and not a limited either. As for the symbiote, well we all know by now what its capable of, and if looking at it’s previous hosts is any indication the outcome doesn’t seem too positive.

After the symbiote was stripped from long time Spidey foe, Mac Gargan, we all wondered where ( or who ) it would bond to next. Flash being an unlikely candidate due to his recent amputations, benefited perhaps the most from merging with the alien as he was imbued with a not only a set of legs, but all the amazing spider powers he could ever dream of and more.

Now Venom: Flashpoint gives us this wonderful look back to the beginning, as it reprints the prelude to Spider-Man 654.1, 254.1 itself, and Venom # 1. With all the covers including the # 1 variant and even # 2, this is a nice collection in one bound copy for only $ 5.

Looking back, some things that stand out are, the fact that the previous un-named soldier who wore the suit, couldn’t control it, and was detonated by the government, and that, Flash only has 20 missions and is allowed approximately 48 hours in the suit, before they press the kill switch.


Now, any story wouldn’t be complete without it’s share of supporting characters and of course this series has several. New original characters are neatly introduced from head to toe including rank, such as the project leader General Dodge and his canine associate Sampson, Mackenzie the science guy, and Captain Katherine Glover Special Forces voice of command.
Also the familiar faces of long time friend Peter Parker Spider-Man, and love interest Elizabeth “Betty” Brant. As for the villains, Venom # 1 quickly establishes Jack O Lantern and his mysterious leader as the primary opposition. However, as part of a secret government military operation Venom was assigned to stop terrorism by any means necessary. Yet, Flash heroically chooses to rescue people as well.


In my opinion the best art work you’ll find in this, is in the prelude by Paulo Siqueira & Ronan Olivera. The rest is drastically different and less refined for my taste, with work from Humberto Ramos and Tony Moore. Yet the coloring by Crimelab! Studios for issue #1, is what really spoils the art for me. Joe Quesada provides a lovely cover to #1 and Siqueira delivers two excellent but entirely misleading covers for Venom # 1 Variant, and Amazing Spider-Man 254.1. I still can’t get over why Spider-Man even appears on that cover. The Overall front cover is a great copy / paste from what I believe was part of a panel from Venom # 4.


Part Black Ops, part James Bond, Venom reads like a Jason Bourne novel, with less politics and more monsters. There’s also the mellow drama of his everyday life and failing relationships thrown in for good measure. Overall Dan Slott writes a great introduction and 1st run, followed by Remender digging into the details and inserting villains / drama. Together they really get the ball rolling, but was it enough to weaken the flames of fan outrage, when they realized their favorite Spidey villain / McFarlane creation, was getting a complete makeover, as a rip-off of Deadpool / Punisher? (No, at least not in my book.)


Only time will tell just how permanent or temporary this becomes, but my guess is that fans will clamor for more and more of the old brain eating, acid spewing, body builder physique Venom, which is probably opposite to what the creative team has in mind.

One development in One More Day mostly unrelated to the secret identity and the removal of the marriage was Harry Osborn's return from the dead. Considering the speculation that even Gwen would return, it wasn't exactly a surprise.

While the storyline in which Harry Osborn died was possibly the best mega-arc in the Spider-Man comics, his death did leave a void in the supporting cast. He was Peter Parker’s best friend, in addition to a flawed individual, a combination that can make for interesting stories. The writers tried to shoehorn Flash Thompson into the role -with some success, especially in Dematteis’s second Spectacular Spider-Man run- but it wasn't the same.

As the blogger, A Less Than Reputable Source said...
Like much of Brand New Day, I wasn’t too chuffed about it to start with but then I got it: Peter Parker needs a best mate. The interplay between Peter and Harry is marvellous, even in the first issue of Brand New Day when Harry lends Peter money more to stop him whining on about the Parker luck than to actually help him out.
For about an year, there was a lot of speculation that Harry's return was tied to Peter Parker's deal with Mephisto in One More Day. An answer Joe Quesada gave in an interview suggested that, at the very least, that this was something Marvel had considered.
And Harry? Well, there's always a price to pay when you make a deal with the devil.
You could certainly make the case that Harry Osborn may not have died if Peter and Mary Jane had not been married, as he may not have snapped the way he did in “The Child Within.” Though that would have had some major repercussions for stories that required Harry to be believed dead. Had Mephisto been involved in Harry's return, at some point, Peter might have been placed in the appalling position of possibly having to choose between the restoration of his marriage and his best friend’s life. It’s worth noting that Peter didn’t know Mephisto had the power to resurrect anyone, and did not ask the devil stand-in to do this, so I wouldn't have had problems with the development.

Marvel chose to go in a different direction. The questions raised by Harry's resurrection were answered within the year. While later writers could always decide that Mephisto was somehow responsible, there was nothing in the story of Harry's death and return that couldn't have happened if Peter and MJ weren't married. The goblin serum that was supposed to have killed him only made it appear as if he had died. Norman Osborn was aware of this, but chose to keep his son's survival a secret.

Continuity remained mostly intact. It's been established that Harry was married to Liz, and that their son still exists. There was some premature speculation that the Harry Osborn in Brand New Day obviously dumped his wife/ the mother of his child because she wasn’t young enough, but there was nothing to support that. Eventually readers learned that Harry was on fairly good terms with Liz. Though Peter Parker was still his friend, which should count for something when considering Harry's character.

Some complained about the structure of Harry's return, suggesting that it should have been a bigger deal. They'd have liked to see it as the payoff to a longer storyline, rather than an afterthought. It was a lost opportunity, but taking advantage of it would have come with significant disadvantages for the Brain Trust, the group of Spider-Man writers in the beginning of the Brand New Day era.
The equation for the Brain Trust was simple: one story was not as important as an year's worth of stories, especially since they already had a period in which Peter Parker had quit being Spider-Man, during which changes to the status quo could happen in the space between pages.

Harry's return was a means more than an end. Incorporating some required beats: Peter Parker being surprised, Peter Parker being paranoid and Peter Parker being cynical would have delayed plot points which required Harry's return to be widely accepted early in the Brand New Day era. Harry's resurrection had to occur prior to Peter's return as Spider-Man, so his role as a backer of Bill Hollister and relationship with Lily in the mayoral election wouldn't be completely forced. There's no one else who would have functioned as effectively as a link between Peter Parker and Bill Hollister, which was necessary for that mega-arc, which would otherwise have been delayed for some time -along with the planned conclusion with Mayor J Jonah Jameson- if Harry's return had occurred as an "A" plot.

The writers could have changed Bill Hollister's background so that he can be a candidate for mayor, somehow aware that Harry Osborn is still alive. Perhaps he could have been on the right congressional committee or something. That would allow them to establish a Lily/ Harry relationship, prior to Harry's public return, but it still requires a link between Peter Parker and a prominent politician, and having someone else serve in the best friend role until Harry's return.

Delaying Harry's return would have complicated the introductions of Carlie Cooper and Vin Gonzalez. who were planned from the beginning as members of the supporting cast, given Carlie's ties to Lily and Vin's ties to Carlie. You'd need a new way to tie Lily into the series, or somehow delay the introductions of two important characters: a romantic interest for Peter, and his future roommate.

Making Harry's return the payoff of the "A" plot would also have contradicted other plans, including focusing on new villains for the first six months. And if Harry's return wasn't the "A" plot, it would have overshadowed whatever the "A" plot was. That wasn't a problem in One More Day, in which other events (Spider-Man Unmasked, the end of the marriage, Aunt May's fate) were more significant than the revelation that Harry was still alive.

Sometimes writers and editors have to choose between two flawed options. Especially when time's a concern, to say nothing of the further complications of four writers simultaneously testing a format that really hasn't been done in mainstream comics.

Someone suggested that Harry’s return was worth six months worth of stories. Though I'm not sure the return of Harry Osborn would ever be worth 18 issues (or 2 1/4 Dark Knight Returns) of main story points and fallout. There are benefits to figuring out ways to skip that stuff. 

There could have been a story later in which Peter suddenly became suspicious of Harry's return, but it seems none of the writers was interested in telling that story. As an aspiring writer, I don't know how happy I'd be to be told that I get to handle something that's sure to be controversial. I really wouldn't have minded Harry Osborn showing up alive and well with no explanation at the end of OMD. Nor would I have minded a gap between OMD and BND allowing me to set up the pieces to tell whatever story I wanted.

Some are upset that the reaction to Harry's return was shuffled off into an issue of Amazing Spider-Man Family. On the other hand, the issue was written by the excellent JM Dematteis. It briefly raised the profile of that title, and gave those interested in the emotional fallout of Harry's return a single-issue story exploring all of that. It wasn't something that needed to be the main plot of several Amazing Spider-Man storylines.

Harry Osborn left the series at the end of Brand New Day, but he'll probably be back at some point. The character's better alive than dead, considering all the stories that could be told with him and how well he could fit into the supporting cast. It's possible that there was less need for him during the period in which Peter & MJ were married, as she could fit the best friend role, in addition to being the romantic interest. If a writer decides that Peter Parker just needs his best mate, they always have the option of bringing Harry Osborn back into the fold.

After all the mini-essays about what Quesada could have done, it's time to look at what he actually did.


Amazing Spider-Man 667

Posted by bulletproofsponge

A fantastic second issue to what is becoming a really good story in ASM. Spider-Island continues in Amazing Spider-Man 667, featuring the first day of Spider insanity in New York.

The story
When we last left off, Peter returned to his apartment, but was too tired to talk to Carlie. He wakes up the next morning and finds Carlie sticking to the ceiling. Peter is shocked to see his girlfriend with Spider-powers. At first he figures it may have been transmitted sexually. He later scratches that possibility as it really doesn't make sense. Peter is particularly surprised that Carlie has openly told him about her Spider-powers. She seems to be really excited about it, and even tries to get Peter to design some spider gadgets for her.

In another scene, Madame Web watches from afar as the Jackal gathers the worst of thugs he has given Spider powers to and calls for a meeting. In the meeting, he gives them the liberty to cause chaos in the city, even supplying them with Spidey suits. In the midst of some fighting among baddies during the meeting, we get to see Spider-King and Tarantula in action.

Returning to Pete, he and Carlie proceed to send Aunt May off to the airport. The two say their goodbyes and Aunt May leaves with Jay to Boston. The next scene involves MJ, witnessing the attacks of Spider-Men in the city. It's not long before the Avengers appear to help fight the Spider-Men.

On their way back, Peter and Carlie hear news of the Spider-Men creating havoc. Carlie, rushes off, thinking she can do something to stop it. Peter, tries to convince her otherwise, but fails. He then changes into Spidey and tries to follow her. Meanwhile, old Mayor Jameson is having the moment of his life, preparing to take down the Spider-Men.

Spidey joins his Avenger teammates, expressing his concern for his girlfriend. Unfortunately, no one believes he is the real Spider-Man and thus gets trashed by his teammates. From afar, Madame Web and Shang-Chi watch from the roof. Eventually, Shang-Chi can no longer stand to see his friend get beaten and proceeds to help him.

I'm really starting to like this new Madame Web. While the old one simply sat in her chair and was blindfolded, only to appear once in a while, not playing an important role for most of the time, Julia Carpenter here mysteriously appears all over the city, knowing all things, and more importantly, wears shades and a cool jacket!

Anyway, back to the real story. Like Peter mentioned in his head, he is definitely, going to hear it from Carlie when he finally reveals his secret identity to her, if he ever does. Honestly, I hope he never does!

I thought these Spider-Men went down a little too easily. With their Spider-sense and etc, you would think that they'd be able to avoid getting hit, especially by the Thing, who in my opinion moves pretty slow. Also, I've noticed that these Spider-Men have slightly different Spider-powers, being able to shoot organic webbing, camouflage ( Spider-girl) and etc.


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