Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Tony Moore and Val Staples [Color]
Still in Vegas after being blackmailed and going A.W.O.L. to steal an item (which turned out to be the Toxin symbiote) for Jack O’Lantern and Crime Master, Flash Thompson has fallen back into his alcoholism to cope and pushing Betty Brant as far away as possible. After all, the closer she, or anyone else, is to him, the more danger they’re in as a result of the aforementioned villains knowing who he is.
Flash’s bender won’t last long, though. The Red Hulk, on orders from Captain America, has arrived to collect him. Unfortunately for both of them, there’s evil–for real–afoot in Vegas thanks to a certain black-hearted entity who wants to bring Hell to Earth.
Blackheart, the son of the devil Mephisto, is masquerading as a casino owner and is intent on tricking the new Ghost Rider, Alejandra, into completing the final step of his plan. Meanwhile, X-23 has her own issues with Blackheart, who she only believes to be a casino owner who purchased a vial of her blood on the black market.
It’s only natural that all four heroes should converge when the shit hits the fan later in the issue.
Overall, this issue moves at a nice pace. Rick Remender does a great job of establishing why X-23 and Ghost Rider are in Vegas, as well as giving readers a quick background on who they are. The student-mentor conflict between Alejandra and former Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze is also very well-executed, as are the Venom/Red Hulk fight panels.
The only thing that kind of made me scratch my head here were the “symbiote warriors”–symbiote-outfitted clones of X-23. While the idea is very much in line with my inner 8-year-old’s dreams of a Wolverine-bonds-with-the-Venom-symbiote scenario, it all just feels very ’90s now.
Regardless, there’s a certain level of camp there to be appreciated. Tony Moore and Val Staples capture this with realistic-yet-pulpy art that matches the over-the-top nature of a story like this.
With five more parts coming in the next five weeks, this story has potential to be a fun ride.
[amazon_link id=”B0072WBA62″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]BUY Venom #13 on Amazon[/amazon_link]