The GeeksverseVenom #23-Review; Monsters of Evil part 1

Venom #23-Review; Monsters of Evil part 1
Published on Monday, August 27, 2012 by

Cullen Bunn takes over the reigns of secret Agent Venom as sole writer on this solo series. How is it working?At the end of the last Venom issue was a note from Rick Remender thanking the fans for the ride. Remender and Tony Moore started the new Venom title hoping to land five or six solid issues. The sales were strong enough to carry the title past all of Remender’s wildest ideas and story lines. The last story arc, Savage Six, was co-penned by Cullen Bunn. In my reviews I have questioned how the work load balanced between those two creators and who was responsible for what I liked. In the thank you note, Remender said that without Bunn doing the heavy lifting the arc would not have happened.

Remender hasn’t completely left the character since Venom is still running around with the Secret Avengers.

However in Venom #23 Bunn has come into his own.

Bunn is working with the framework established during the earlier Circle of Four story arc. Circle of Four was a re-visioning of the 90s New Fantastic Four, bringing Red Hulk, Female Ghost Rider, X-23, and Venom together as an unwilling team to handle one problem. At the end of the arc the characters went their separate ways. X-23 and Female Ghost Rider returned to canceled stories. Venom and Red Hulk went into Secret Avengers although Red Hulk wasn’t in the last issues of that title.  Female Ghost Rider wound up becoming another character as Johnny Blaze reclaimed the spirit of vengeance. And Bunn has to build on this? The story arc was better than the aftermath for the characters.

The story arc of Circle of Four ended with the characters marked but heading in different directions. Those unseen hellish markings are finally about to pay off. Hellstrom is returned. Now he’s a villain? In Circle of Four he stood beside of Doctor Strange to help safeguard the world. What happened? Does it matter? I see no reason to track it down. He’s a villain now or some sort of mis understood anti-hero–marvel loves those.

Bunn throws Venom into the path of Hellstrom and reveals a few new things about the familiar Flash Thompson and symbiote.

It’s a nice story arc beginning.

Bunn seems to be revisiting the monster madness of Marvel. As a continuation of Circle of Four will Ghost Rider be around soon? Which Ghost Rider? Only time will tell.

One area that Bunn and Rememender need to discuss is the love life of Flash Thompson. In Secret Avengers the mask reveals a kissy face with Valkyrie. Back in his solo title the same dual identity personality seems to be hitting on a reporter that is providing information to the Secret Avengers. Given the breakdown of the relationship with Betty Brandt—a long term relationship that ended in bloodshed, perhaps the man needs a break from romance for a few issues.  Nothing against Valkyrie, a nice Norse warrior woman, but I suppose I would pull for Flash Thompson to hook up with the civilian for more bloodshed and dual identity problems in the future.

I’m also a little fuzzy on the timeline. In issue #22 Venom makes up with the Secret Avengers. Has that happened before Secret Avengers #29-30? Is Venom #23 after that? In Venom #23 Venom is getting ordered around by Hawkeye but what path has their relationship taken? I’d like a little editorial box here or there to help me sort through the timelines.

Overall this issue is a success for Cullen Bunn. He is far from a household name and this is far from being the reputation builder that Amazing Spider-Man can be, but this is a solid issue by a creator that is taking it seriously. Besides this new Marvel project, Bunn has also written the Sixth Gun and Damned for Oni Press. Sixth Gun is probably a better resume piece that knowing which Fear Itself tie in books Bunn wrote for Marvel.


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