Review: Venom #18 – The Savage Six Get Personal

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Venom #18
Writers: Rick Remender & Cullen Bunn
Art: Lan Medina [Pencils], Nelson Decastro [Inks], Chris Sotomayor [Colors]

Venom’s war with the Savage Six doesn’t take long to get personal.  Just one issue after the introduction of the Marvel Universe’s latest villainous supergroup, Jack O’Lantern is already gunning for Flash Thompson’s on-again/off-again girlfriend Betty Brant.

Following a conversation at Empire Java (what happened to the Coffee Bean?) with Peter Parker, Betty Brant is briefly harassed by Jack O’Lantern before Venom bursts through the window to save the day.  Unfortunately, though, Betty thinks Jack is an old war buddy of Flash’s and Venom was a bit out of control the last time she ran into him.

Anyhow, Flash spends much of the issue trying to get Betty to stop struggling as he protects her from two of the other Savage Six members–Megatak and Toxin–while trying to locate his mother and sister.  These are the kind of problems you run into when your enemies know your secret identity, of course.

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Speaking of Toxin, pairing original Venom host Eddie Brock with the “grandchild” of the Venom symbiote is an interesting choice, especially after Brock’s anti-symbiote crusade.  There’s a plot thread planted by Toxin during the scuffle with Venom involving some sort of “spawning,” hinting that there may be more symbiotes on the way–but beyond that, I was thoroughly amused that a character whose appearance vaguely reminds me of the Violator would use the word “spawning.”  Intentional nod to Venom co-creator and Spawn creator Todd McFarlane?  Perhaps, but more than likely just a coincidence.

Seeing how Eddie Brock’s character develops in his new status quo as Toxin will be perhaps as interesting as when Spider-Man inevitably becomes involved in this situation–especially when/if he also finds out that Flash Thompson is Venom and also a Secret Avenger.  How Spidey missed out on that coffee shop brawl after being there just moments before is beyond me.

Overall, Rick Remender and Cullen Bunn deliver yet another action-packed issue that leaves just as many questions as it provides answers.  Like the last issue, there’s another big reveal on the final page that is icing on the cake after the 19 pages preceding it.

The artwork is equally impressive and full of minor details on characters and settings alike.  The last time I saw a symbiote character that made me stop and think “cool” to myself was probably when I first saw Carnage in second grade.  Lan Medina, Nelson Decastro, and Chris Sotomayor make these once-D-list villains feel menacing, and they throw a lot of emotion into the faces of Betty Brant, Peter Parker, and random civilians.

Under Remender, this book has become a must-read for me after I debated adding it to my pull list when it was announced last year.  With Cullen Bunn taking over in a few issues, I’m more excited for the character than I have been in years.

 

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Roger Riddell
Essentially Peter Parker with all the charm of Wolverine, he's a DC-based B2B journalist who occasionally writes about music and pop culture in his free time. His love for comics, metal, and videogames has also landed him gigs writing for the A.V. Club, Comic Book Resources, and Louisville Magazine. Keep him away from the whiskey, and don't ask him how much he hates the Spider-Man movies unless you're ready to hear about his overarching plot for a six-film series that would put the Dark Knight trilogy to shame.