Last Weeks Comics Reviewed 5/4/2011

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    Venom 2 CoverVenom # 2: (writer: Rick Remender; art: Tony Moore)

    First off, Tony Moore’s art is awesome in this issue. He perfectly captures the insanity of the symbiote as well as Kraven’s madness. I think what I liked most about this issue was how Rick Remender dropped us, as readers, into a world that made no sense.

    We feel as lost as Flash does as he tries to battle the recently resurrected Kraven (who goes on to crush a giant spider, then drink its venom – pretty friggin’ cool!). There’s an unbelievable amount of violence and action for such a short comic, and while I know Marvel has failed, in the past, to do a Venom series, they may have actually found a way to make it work.

    Flash Thompson is a likeable enough guy. He’s a war veteran who was wounded while on duty, the result of which was his legs being amputated. The symboiote regrows those legs, so readers can see how Flash would have a need to be bonded to the suit. The symbiote also gives Flash greater strength, agility, and the power of Spider-Man. Adversely, the suit makes him go crazy. So I can’t say the “we” appearing in Flash’s thought boxes by the end of the issue surprised me. 

    In fact, I expected it earlier. My only gripe would be having Peter appear in this issue. I like the idea of Venom exiting outside the Spider-Man realm. I don’t want Pete to make occasional guest appearances in an effort to talk Flash out of wearing the suit. If anything, keep Spider-Man and Venom away from each other for as long as possible. Venom’s one failure was that he always seemed to need Spider-Man. Now, it has what it needs in Flash Thompson: a host who’s willing to be controlled. Don’t mess this up, Marvel!

    This new take on Venom is entertaining, the character is likeable, and the art is disturbing (but in a good way – it gave me the chills to watch Flash transform throughout the comic, only to have the symbiote return to him and engulf him). There’s a great shot of Flash watching the symbiote wrap around him – one eye is visible, the other shrouded in the costume (much like the old Stan Lee, Steve Ditko art where Spidey’s face is half mask when he’s using his spider sense) but Flash looks absolutely terrified. The mood and tone of the piece are fitting. And I know I’ll be following this series on a regular basis. I only hope Marvel can keep the character interesting.

    Action Comics 900 CoverAction Comics # 900 (writer: Paul Cornell; art: Pete Woods)

    So, Action Comics has reached 900 issues. Everything Paul Cornell has been doing this past year has been leading up to this. Lex Luthor has god-like powers and Superman’s closest allies (with Kryptonian powers) have been trapped aboard a spaceship loaded with Doomsday creatures.

    Additionally, this issue is loaded with extras: stories by Damon Lindelof, Paul Dini, Geoff Johns, David Goyer, and Richard Donner. As a regular issue, this story has a lot of pluses, particularly – SPOILER – Kal-El revealing to Lex Luthor that he’s actually Clark Kent. Luthor’s god-like powers are the key to his demise, however, and once again (for, like, the nine hundredth time) Superman saves the day.

    But what I liked most about this was how low-key the issue was. There’s no special bagging, trading cards, arm bands, posters, or 3-D glasses. There’s only a reminder as to why Superman is still relevant. Straczynski has tried to make Superman relevant. He’s had him march across the country on some epic quest to reconnect with the common man. But he’s missed one important thing that Paul Cornell hasn’t: Superman isn’t common.

    Superman is an alien with powers that people would kill for. He’s been given the keys to a kingdom that he doesn’t belong to, and one which he has chosen to protect. Lex is given an opportunity to do the same thing, to give people bliss. But he can’t do it. Why? Because he lacks courage, the one thing Big Blue has in spades.

    Paul Cornell has done more for Superman in this issue than most other Superman writers have done for Supes in a decade. I’m happy to have read this issue. It won’t go down in history as the Superman comic to read. But I do think people will have missed out by skipping it. I look forward to issue 1000. It’ll take about eight and a half years, but when Action Comics #1000 rolls around, I’ll be just as happy to shell out the cash for it.

    Echoes 5 CoverEchoes # 5 (writer: Joshua Hale Fialkov; art: Rashan Ekedal)

    I’m always disappointed that most short comic series’ end on poor notes. The writer builds up plot, only to have it fall apart at the end. Echoes, however, is not that book.

    While I’m not completely satisfied with the ending, it’s only because it’s so damn depressing!! This is easily one of the darkest books I’ve ever read, and it has one of the darkest endings I’ve ever encountered. But the ending is fitting for the story.

    The main character, Brian, is no hero and his issues far outweigh the positives that could come of him being a father. The obvious “echo” has to do with the familial issues of the piece, and for those of you who haven’t read this series, I’ll only give a brief synopsis:

    Brian is struggling with the ideas that his father may have been a serial killer. Brian is also struggling with his own psychoses. These two things do not create a good mixture, and Brian is caught in the middle of his father’s supposed violent past, and his attempts at stability and sanity.

    This issue moves quicker than the previous issues, and when I got to the end, I felt like I hadn’t really had an opportunity to enjoy this issue the same as the others. We’re given a hastened ending, which isn’t bad necessarily, but for a series that used pacing masterfully, this issue feels rushed. I would have liked more time to savor the emotional impact of Brian’s final moments – he doesn’t die, but his fate is not that much more pleasant.

    In a post comic letter, Joshua Fialkov writes about his idea to do a sequel. He admits that this ending isn’t satisfactory, but he shows no remorse for it either. In fact, he writes, “I figured it was time to stop jerking people around and just give them an ending so bathed in misery and sadness and hopelessness that I crushed their tiny spirit.” Mission accomplished, Joshua.

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