Writer: Rick Remender [Venom “Circle of Three”: Rick Remender, Jeff Parker, and Rob Williams]
Art: Tony Moore and Val Staples [Color Art]
Remember the slew of multi-issue stories back in the ’90s like “Maximum Carnage” and “Planet of the Symbiotes” that made good plots for video games, but were somewhat tiring as comics?
“Circle of Four” has kind of played out like that.
Don’t get me wrong, it has moments where it’s fun. Unfortunately, it suffers from too much of the ’90s ridiculousness that turned me away from comics for a few years when I was a kid.
Basically, over the course of Venom #13.1 through #13.4 and this week’s #14, Blackheart unleashed Hell upon Earth following a scheme that involved the Toxin symbiote (which was never really mentioned again after part one in Venom #13, but I think it became irrelevant to Blackheart’s plan at some point). Venom, Red Hulk, X-23, and the new Ghost Rider just happened to be in Las Vegas at the same time, and were thus forced into an unlikely team-up. They had to face their antitheses after looking in Blackheart’s magic mirror, and ultimately arrived at a scenario where the Red Hulk ended up becoming host to both the Spirit of Vengeance and the Venom symbiote.
That’s right… There was actually a Ghost Red Hulk Venom Rider involved in this story. On the ridiculousness scale, it’s up there with Carnage devouring millions of Earth-invading symbiotes and turning into the giant Mega-Carnage from “Planet of the Symbiotes.” On a side note, if the Venom symbiote is extremely susceptible to heat, how does it survive in Hell, let alone bond to a host possessed by the Spirit of Vengeance?
Look, I don’t mean to make this storyline sound terrible. It’s fun in certain aspects. It has the same appeal as a B-movie, making it kind of like the Planet Terror of Venom stories. The ’90s left a bad taste in my mouth when I was a kid (Damn you, “Maximum Carnage” and “Clone Saga!”), so maybe I’m just bitter. I will say that the Tony Moore art in this issue made it a little more palatable.
Maybe it would have been better for me if instead of doing four “Point One” issues for Venom between #13 and #14, they did three of those issues as “Point One” books for Hulk, X-23, and Ghost Rider. It would at least have made the difference between the three writers’ styles easier to compensate for, as I’ve become somewhat accustomed to Rick Remender on this book.
Anyhow, that’s all beside the point. If you like your stories way over-the-top in the B-movie sense, definitely check this out. Especially if you loved the ’90s and “Maximum Carnage.” This would have been a great plot for an arcade game starring Venom, X-23, Red Hulk, and Ghost Rider.
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