A review of Venom #10.
Credits & Solicit Info:
NEW DIRECTION. NEW ARTIST. OLD SOLDIERS.
Rick Remender welcomes Lan Medina (PUNISHER) with AMERICAN BADNESS!
SPIDER-ISLAND has changed everything and now the death of a loved one reminds Flash Thompson that his secret identity is in the hands of the villainous Crime-Master – and the only way to take his life back is to go rogue. But CAPTAIN AMERICA is out to shut him down. It's a good old fashioned road trip with Flash Thompson and an alien symbiote!
What happens when you take the former biggest bully in Spider-Man's life, give him a suit that makes him one of the most powerful characters in the series and stir in a fight scene with Captain America? Why, you get Venom #10, and is it something you really want? Let's get in the trenches and find out.
Let's take a look at the cover. If you didn't know that this was Venom, the cover art wouldn't be at all helpful. I can't even recall a time when Venom would roll up to a fight on a motorcycle. He looks more like an offshoot from the X-Force's earliest incarnations than anything else. All he needs is a gun three times the size of his body and he'd be a shoe-in. However, it is better that he doesn't look like the original version of Venom. The symbiote's bonded appearance resembles the personality of the wearer, which in this case is the controlled military demeanor of Thompson.
Assuming you aren't well versed in the current storyline of one of the wall crawler's greatest nemeses, the writers provide a one-page backstory. Eugene "Flash" Thompson, breaking free from his archetypal role of bully, enlisted in the army. He suffered a horrific accident which cost him both his legs, making him a de facto war hero. When he gets back, the U.S. government enrolls him in a project where he will use a portion of the symbiote for missions. This is actually a really good idea for a story. Government control of superheroes and villains and their powers, although not new, has potential for a wide array of story possibilities. Provided they avoid the predictable story arc of the government losing control of the power that they have captured and/or cultivated and finding it used against them... how many pages until Flash takes the suit?
Instead of Flash just taking the suit and using it against the government specifically for his own selfish reasons, his motivation comes from Jack-o'-Lantern's blackmail. When he tries to steal the suit, however, Captain America stops him. Cap is there, coincidentally, to shut down the government project. The resulting confrontation between Thompson's Venom and the leader of the Avengers might just be one of the better fights I have read in recent memory. First, the artwork makes it really easy not just to see who is winning and but also what is actually happening. There is nothing more frustrating than watching two top dogs duking it out in similar garb, which leaves the reader debating what is happening. The dialogue during the battle actually moved the story along without ruining the pace of the fight. Although the ending of the confrontation was more humorous than anything, I won't give it away... but let's just say it involves someone being saved by getting thrown into a tree.
Final verdict: this is a damn good comic and the beginning of an entertaining arc. The villain is intelligent and ominous while the protagonist is capable and powerful as a hero, but still flawed and relatable. The artwork isn't particularly stunning but is without issues or flaws, perfectly befitting the situation. The story is good, and the dialogue feels natural. It's a very solid comic that is universally enjoyable. A definite recommendation.
Three stars out of four.
Review by: Dan Buckley