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Venom #1 By Matt Martin
Marvel Comics – Daniel Way (w); Francisco Herrera (p); Carlos Cuevas (i)
Another week, another Tsunami release (I know, I’ve not yet reviewed Runaways and Mystique; they were good though). I’m starting to feel like a broken record here though, because this is yet another example of a book where the story might have made for a decent mini-series, but I just don’t see how it’s going to have any legs under it as an ongoing (I felt that way about Human Torch, which I didn’t like and I think it even applies to Sentinel, which I basically enjoyed) series.
The plot itself isn’t bad, though not terribly original. In scripting this book, Daniel Way quite clearly borrowed heavily from a variety of pop culture sources, most notably the Alien and Thing from Another World films, although a case could be made for the lifting of certain elements from Greg Rucka’s Whiteout mini-series.
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Robertson, a communications specialist in the U.S. Army, is stationed at a military outpost some fifty miles north of the Arctic Circle. While on a routine patrol, she encounters a civilian installation that is apparently in dire need of attention. The evidence? A desperate whispering for help is the only answer she can summon on the front gate’s intercom. Summoning her courage and investigating further, the sights she encounters within physically sicken Robertson. The bodies of the facility’s staff are strewn about the cafeteria and lab areas, mangled and broken. Most curious, however, is the presence of an inky black substance clinging prominently to the walls and corpses alike. Returning to her home base with the only survivor that she can find, Robertson soon begins to question the wisdom of leaving the building so quickly, as she wonders who could have been pleading with her over the intercom when the scientist she found was huddling in a locker.
I shouldn’t have to point out the similarities between that story and Alien/The Thing from Another World; they’re pretty obvious. And I think they’re supposed to be that overt, so I guess that’s a little bit more acceptable. But all the same, it doesn’t make for a real thrilling read, since you feel like you’ve already seen this story done before and done better. Compound that with the fact that this book is clearly being marketed to Spider-Man fans (see the cover for simple proof) and you’ve got a fairly mediocre book on your hands.
Like I said before, I just don’t see where this is going as an ongoing series. If this were simply an attempt to take the Venom symbiote concept out of its natural habitat in circa 1990s Spider-Man books and try it as a science fiction/horror mini-series, I’d probably be a lot more lenient in my rating of the book. Because, quite frankly, anything you could do to make Venom interesting to me at this point would be commendable.
But, as it stands, I have this sinking suspicion that the initial arc of the book will center on Robertson discovering that the government is attempting to bioengineer a version of the symbiote that can be used to create super-soldiers (an attempt that has clearly gone awry). About midway through the arc, Robertson will be “infected” with the rogue symbiote. In the conclusion, she’ll learn to control it and harness its powers for good, leading to her being a half-ass version of a lousy ‘90s character. And frankly, that’s a best-case scenario here.