Tag Archives: Lan Medina

Venom #18

Review: Venom #18 – The Savage Six Get Personal

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.

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.

 

Venom #15

Review: Venom #15 – Flash Thompson, Secret Avenger

Venom #15
Writer:  Rick Remender
Art:  Lan Medina [Pencils], Nelson Decastro with Terry Pallot [Inks], Andres Mossa [Colors]

After saving Las Vegas from Blackheart, Venom is pardoned and made a member of the Secret Avengers by Captain America.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that Flash Thompson gets to keep the symbiote 24/7.  Hank Pym and Beast have worked out a sedative to keep the creature from permanently bonding to Flash when he’s using it for official Avengers business.  If he needs the symbiote at a moment’s notice (like if Jack O’Lantern or one of the other enemies he’s picked up in the last 14 issues comes calling), he simply has to dial a number and the suit will be shrunken down into Pym particles and broadcast from the Secret Avengers’ space station through his earpiece.

Seems simple enough, right?  It’s comic technology.  Don’t think too hard about it.

Once Flash is finally teleported back to his apartment, he arrives to Peter Parker knocking on his door.  Pete, a longtime friend of Flash’s recently-dumped girlfriend, Betty Brant, wants to know what’s going on with him.  The two go out for coffee and Flash is ready to tell Peter everything when he’s interrupted by a call from his sister and mother–two more people he’s neglected.

With this issue establishing that his home life is in tatters, Flash appears seemingly ready to bury himself in his newfound role as a Secret Avenger.

Meanwhile, Eddie Brock, the Venom symbiote’s former host, is hunting symbiotes.  As the book opens, we see him taking out Hybrid, and we later see him kill Scream.   This plot thread started shortly after Brock gave up the Anti-Venom symbiote to help cure New York City during “Spider-Island” and I’m excited to see how it plays out.

There’s one continuity issue here, however, as the Hybrid symbiote has also appeared recently in Zeb Wells’ Carnage U.S.A. mini-series, no longer bonded to Scott Washington, but separated into four symbiotes for use by a special ops team.  Of course, that story takes place after Venom becomes a Secret Avenger (despite being only one issue away from finishing), so it’s possible that perhaps Eddie Brock’s “killing” of the symbiotes themselves doesn’t really work and the government is still able to somehow get their hands on the Hybrid symbiote.  Maybe this will all be explained eventually.

This book’s last story arc, “Circle of Four,” didn’t really do much for me on the first read through (I really need to read it again in one sitting), but Rick Remender followed it with what might be my favorite issue of this series so far.  Remender sets up Venom’s status quo as a Secret Avenger, explains how Flash will use the suit if he is in an emergency situation, and plants a plot thread regarding what could happen if use of the symbiote is abused.  He sets up some romantic tension between Flash and Valkyrie, teases the question of how Spider-Man will react to Venom being an Avenger if he finds out, hints at Flash potentially telling Peter (who he doesn’t know is Spider-Man) anyways, and sets up a future conflict with Eddie Brock.  Plus, he keeps a certain amount of turmoil in Flash’s home life for the time being.

The art on this issue is also great, with Lan Medina packing in an extraordinary amount of detail in everything from facial expressions to backgrounds.

In short, Venom is still one of Marvel’s best kept secrets.

STORY:  9/10
ART:  9/10 

Venom #12

Review: Venom #12, Venom in Vegas!

Venom #8
Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Lan Medina [Pencils], Nelson Decastro [Inks] and Marte Gracia with John Rauch [Colors]

The road trip that Rick Remender has had Flash Thompson on with his arch-nemesis Jack O’Lantern for the past few months has come to an end as the two reach Las Vegas.  Thompson (aka Venom) is about to intercept the item that he was blackmailed by Crime Master and Jack O’Lantern into retrieving.

Only, the item isn’t just any weapon — it’s the symbiote Toxin.

Toxin is the “offspring” of the Carnage symbiote, which bonded to a New York police officer, Patrick Mulligan, who became a superhero crime fighter — drawing the ire of both the Venom and Carnage symbiotes.  That’s not to say the Toxin symbiote didn’t still have murderous rages.  It just suppressed them.

As to how the symbiote ended up detached from Mulligan and stored in Vegas, I missed that story somewhere along the line.

The important thing to know here is that its presence sends the Venom symbiote into a rage, causing it to take full control of Flash and go on a rampage through Sin City trying to kill it and Jack O’Lantern — who grabs it from Venom.  Lantern eventually breaks through to Flash by telling him how he’ll find his girlfriend and cut out her brains if he doesn’t get the symbiote under control, and then leaves Flash alone in Vegas to fall into his old habits.

Little does Flash know, the Red Hulk is still on his trail and the two are about to collide with X-23 and Ghost Rider in next month’s ‘Circle of Four.’

Overall, this story has been a nice lead-in to ‘Circle of Four’ without feeling like a lead-in story at all.  Well, until this issue, anyways.  After seeing what Rick Remender has done with Jack O’Lantern as far as making him an interesting villain, I’m excited to see what he can do with a D-List symbiote character like Toxin.

The art remains solid, especially the panels with glimpses of Jack O’Lantern’s charred, disfigured face.  At one point, Venom even has two additional mouths on each side of his neck — which was weird and something I’ve never seen before, but I’ll take it.

STORY: 8/10
ART: 8/10 

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Venom #10

Review: Venom #10 – Jack O’Lantern is Finally an Interesting Character?

Venom #10
Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Lan Medina [pencils], Nelson Decastro [inks] and Marte Gracia [colors]

Early on in this series, Jack O’Lantern was established as the arch enemy of the Flash Thompson incarnation of Venom.  That rivalry was put on hold during the recent “Spider Island” event, but it picks back up in Venom #10 in a big way.

As far as I can remember from ’80s issues of Amazing Spider-Man to now, Jack O’Lantern has never been much more than a D-lister in the pantheon of Marvel villains — little more than a Goblin wannabe, at best — no matter who was under the pumpkin mask.  In this issue of Venom, however, Remender builds on what he’s been doing with the character all year and pushes him to the next level.

The book opens with the funeral of Flash’s father, whose death was a focal point of the last few issues.  Lurking in the background at the funeral is the current Jack O’Lantern, sans-costume.  If you remember, Lantern discovered that Flash is Venom several issues ago, which obviously makes him a much more dangerous foe.  Not only is he creeping at the funeral, Lantern (who was badly burned and disfigured at the hands of Venom) actually approaches Flash and his girlfriend Betty Brant after the service is over, introducing himself to Brant as a veteran that Flash saved during the war.

This is a fantastic, ominous plot point that I haven’t seen done to such great effect since J.M. DeMatteis’ classic Spectacular Spider-Man #200 where Harry Osborn had reverted back to being the Green Goblin and was stalking Pete around the city (FYI, that’s also the must-read issue where Harry originally “died” before being revealed as having never died at all a few years ago).

Anyways, Betty leaves to console Flash’s mother and sister and the Lantern takes Flash to see his boss, who says he has a job for Venom to do…and if he doesnt’ do it, of course, he’ll kill Betty, Flash’s family, and everyone Flash knows.  Typical villainous stuff, right?

This of course, means Flash has to get his hands on the Venom symbiote, so he goes to the Project: Rebirth facility…only to find out that Captain America, now in the know about Venom’s use as a government weapon, has shown up to shut the facility down and take the symbiote into custody.

I think you can see where this going…Venom vs. Captain America!

Who isn’t fighting Captain America this month?!

Overall, this is a compelling beginning to this arc.  Remender making Jack O’Lantern interesting is good enough alone, but the overall story throws in just enough classic plot devices to make it hard to put down and disappointing that it ends until next month.  The artwork is breathtaking, as well, with some of the best panels being close-ups of Jack O’Lantern’s charred, twisted, toothless face.

Until Remender came along with this series, I was fairly sick of symbiotes and Venom.  It’s safe to say now that I’m once again really into the Venom character.

STORY: 9/10
ART: 9/10