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Friday, March 28, 2014

Graphic Novels - Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 6: Venom

Well, it's time to step back into the Ultimate Universe. As you can tell, by the cover, we are getting another one of Spider-Man's greatest foes: Venom. Venom isn't one of my favorite villains ever but he is one of Spidey's coolest villains. He's probably one of the most personal villains that Spider-Man ever faced in the regular universe. He also has the same abilities as Peter, so that's pretty cool. I always like it when a hero has a villain who is a skewed version of that hero. Superman has Bizarro, Batman has Ra's al Gul (think about it), and the Flash has the Reverse Flash. The creative team for this volume is still the same as it has been. So, let's what happens to Peter as he faces a piece of his past.

Ultimate Spider-Man Volume 6: Venom
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Mark Bagely
Inks: Art Thibert and Rodney Ramos

SYNOPSIS
We start out with Peter in his basement being depressed about being dumped by MJ. After some more moping, he finds some family videos and some of his father’s work. He watches a video that has his parents, The Brocks (?!?!?), and his aunt and uncle. Aunt May tells Peter that Eddie, The Brocks’ son, is in the city attending one of the colleges. Knowing this, Peter heads to the college and meets up with his old family friend who is trying to follow in his father’s footsteps. Gwen even gets in with the little group. Sometime later, Eddie shows Peter a project their fathers were working on that’s supposed to be a cure for cancer: a bio-suit called Venom.

Eddie has some theories on what happened to both of their parents since they apparently died in a plane accident. Peter does some research of his own on his father’s notes and videos. It turns out that his father was pressured by the higher-ups on the project. Enraged, Peter decides to continue his father’s work and takes a sample of the Venom from Eddie’s lab while Eddie is out with Gwen. While examining it, he accidentally spills some of it on himself and the Venom envelops him and creates a new black suit for Peter. Spider-Man heads out in his new duds and uses the new tricks from his suit to fight crime. During a heated situation with a crook, Spidey transforms into a monstrous version and almost kills the crook. Peter’s able to stop himself and is eventually able to get free of the Venom’s influence.
Woah is right... I only wish he had another black suit in this universe.

He realized that the suit is essentially a leech. He immediately heads back to the lab in order to destroy the sample but Eddie (who realizes Peter is Spider-Man) finds him there. Peter tells Eddie that the suit is a danger and that it needs to be destroyed. After they argue for a bit, Peter heads off and destroys the suit. Unfortunately, Eddie had another sample of the Venom and uses it on himself. The suit turns him into a monster and has him kill a janitor. Elsewhere, Peter and MJ talk for a bit.

The next day, Peter is at school when he sees Venom (Eddie) outside. Peter heads out to confront Eddie in his clothes and hoodie. They have a pretty epic fight with carries over to another part of the city. The police also get involved and the fight ends when Eddie is seemingly killed by Peter. Sometime later, he meets with NICK FURY and they get into a heated argument. Fury tells him to calm down and that if there’s no actual body, then Eddie might still be out there alive. Peter confirms this to be true when he finds out that Eddie moved out of his dorm and has taken his father’s research on Venom. After an awkward conversation with Dr. Curt Connors (who also know Peter’s identity!?!??), Peter leaves the school and feels that Eddie is still out there.
Ouch.

OPINION
This was really good. I know that’s a bit repetitive with these posts, but I’m just being honest. Almost everything with this trade is gold. First off, I liked what they did to the Venom concept. Just about everything is thrown out for this new version of Venom.  It takes a different path with the sci-fi horror trope. Instead of an alien symbiote, Venom is now a cure gone terribly wrong. I also like how Venom’s strongly tied to Peter’s past since it was a project his father worked on. Now I’m not saying that this version is better than the original version. I personally think both versions of Venom are great, but they’re great in different ways.

I also like this introduction to Eddie Brock. This version of Eddie is treated in the same way as the symbiote is treated. Instead of being rivals, the two are childhood friends and it’s pretty sad to see how it all turns out. Eddie might be a childhood friend but he’s also a complete douche. What he tries to do with Gwen is pretty unacceptable. We actually see this concept in other media. On the TV show, Spectacular Spider-Man (Rest in Peace), Eddie and Peter were friends in school. I also thought it was cool that we got to see this Peter in the black suit if only for a little bit.

The other elements of the story were good. I liked seeing Peter deal with what his father accidentally unleashed on the world. I also enjoyed the small moment between him and MJ. Even though they aren’t talking anymore, there’s still something there between them. We also get a pretty cool scene between him and Nick Fury. It was one-part funny and one-part serious. The one part I thought was pretty weird was Peter’s conversation with Curt Connors. It was weird because we’ve never been introduced to Doc Connors in the series. I believe the two went toe-to-toe in one of the Ultimate Team-Up books or something. He also knows Peter’s identity, which is also weird because it’s not really set up like the other reveals.

The artwork is awesome as usual. The transformation scenes for both Peter and Eddie were pretty creepy and drawn well. The action scenes and quiet scenes were great.  The fight scene between Peter and Venom was also pretty awesome. I liked that Peter just keeps his civilian clothes on when he goes up against Eddie. I also like the Venom costume. It looks more monstrous than the original one did.

I do have a little nitpick with the artwork. On the covers, it shows the classic Venom. In the story itself, we really don't get that. Peter does look like Classic Venom when he goes berserk. Eddie, on the other hand, doesn't get that luxury. I thought that was a little interesting. Maybe they decided to go a different way with with Eddie's look. Either way, the artwork was still awesome.

Revealing/Unmaskings of Spider-Man: 2
We get two times where Peter’s identity is revealed. This time, it’s Eddie Brock and Doctor Curt Connors. By the way, what the heck is up with most of Peter’s villains knowing his identity? While it is interesting and different, it’s kind of annoying. When Eddie sees Peter on television in the black suit, he begins to put two and two together. His suspicions are confirmed when he finds Peter at the lab. Now, I can get behind Eddie finding out Peter’s identity. He also knew it in the regular universe.  

Then we have Doc Connors knowing the identity. That’s one I really don’t get. First, we hadn’t gotten a clue that Spidey faced the Lizard before this. I also don’t get how he realized Peter was Spider-Man. I guess it’s in that story. Oh well… at least it does lead somewhere later on. It also looks like Doc Connors is doing the drinking for us all, so don't drink or eat too much. You'll have to wait for the next volume for that. 

Total Revealings/Unmaskings of Spider-Man: 8

HIGHLIGHTS
-The transformation scenes – Both transformation scenes for Peter and Eddie were pretty creepy. It’s even made worse since the suit apparently eats their clothes. That’s why Peter’s without a suit for the rest of the trade.


-Spidey in the black suit – that whole sequence is one-part fun and one part scary. It’s all good when he’s fighting villains, but it all goes bad when the suit gets hungry.


-Spider-Man vs. Venom – The fight between the two was well drawn. I also liked the inclusion of Richard Parker’s video during the fight.

-Peter’s and Nick Fury’s conversation – Peter meets with Fury to see if there’s a way to remove his powers. We see Peter at his lowest here. Fury does his best to calm him down.

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Overall, this is a good story. It’s fun, it’s tragic, and it kind of makes you think a bit. Well, I think it’s time to take a break from Spider-Man and get back to the Not-So-Merry Mutants: the Ultimate X-Men. Peace, God Bless, and try not to create any cures that might be potential weapons of mass destruction.


NEXT TIME: PROFESSOR XAVIER REALLY  IS A ####!!!!

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