The Point of No Return (Venom Inc. Alpha Review #1 Comic Review)

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The classic team-up of Spider-Man and Venom returns in the 6-part crossover series! Venom Inc. is part of Marvel’s Legacy event that celebrates various characters taking up the mantle of Marvel’s iconic superheroes through the generations.

Venom Inc. Alpha #1
Authors:
Dan Slott, Mike Costa
Artist: Ryan Stegman
Colors: Bryan Reber
Publisher: Marvel

What You Need to Know:
The story is set after the events of Venomverse and The Fall of Parker. Eddie Brock, the original Venom, now has the symbiote in his possession. However, their bond is not what it was before as the symbiote craves to kill its victims, conflicting with Brock’s desire to be a crime-fighter. Brock seeks help from the Alchemax Corporation in keeping the symbiote under his control…

After being forced to shut down Parker Industries thanks to Dr. Octopus, Peter Parker is left penniless and both he and Spider-Man are viciously hated by the public. Bobbi Morse, aka Mockingbird, took Peter under her wing and the two are in a relationship. Peter slowly works to rebuild his life by returning to work for the Daily Bugle as a science editor, while still patrolling the streets as Spider-Man…

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What You’ll Find Out:
After learning that Eddie Brock now has the original symbiote, Andrea “Andi” Benton, who possesses the Mania symbiote (a clone/spawn of the original Venom symbiote), aids Flash Thompson in finding him in an attempt bring the symbiote back to Flash, so the latter can once again become Agent Venom. Andi was suddenly ambushed by Lee Price, who previously bonded with the original symbiote. Lee and his men forcefully separate Andi and the Mania symbiote and capture the latter.

With Andi hospitalized, Flash seeks help from Peter Parker and informs him of the situation, hoping the message will be passed to Spider-Man. However, Flashbacks off upon knowing that Spider-Man may attempt to destroy the symbiote instead of helping it return to Flash. Flash is unaware that as Peter leaves, a Spider-Tracer is placed on him to track his movements.

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Meanwhile, Eddie Brock continues to struggle to keep the symbiote under his control as its desire to kill intensifies, nearly killing The Looter, a low-end criminal. Eddie decides to return to Alchemax for a new treatment to keep the symbiote under control, much to the protest of the latter. Flash sneaks into Alchemax and finds Eddie, and demands that the symbiote is returned to him, leaving the symbiote conflicted as to which host to bond with. As the two engage in a tug of war, Spider-Man crashes in and douses the symbiote with the new treatment compound, thinking it would destroy the symbiote for good. Instead, Flash then re-emerges as the new Anti-Venom.

At an underground bar, Lee has bonded with the Mania symbiote and assumes the name “Maniac”. He infects The Looter with the Mania symbiote and recruits him to his army.

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What Just Happened?
1993’s “Maximum Carnage” was one of the most memorable arcs of Spider-Man as it featured the team-up between the web-slinger and his arch-enemy Venom. Indeed, Maximum Carnage helped raise Venom’s profile to be a fan favorite that continues to this day. With the Marvel brand now running its Legacy series, Venom Inc. is an attempt to re-ignite the spark that made Maximum Carnage memorable – just without Carnage, and maybe not so much with the team-up part.

What I enjoyed when I first started reading Venom Inc. is how easy it is to get into the story without having to backtrack to reading past arcs. The first few pages with the visuals by Ryan Stegman provides a quick, easy to define memo that a lot of stuff happened, but none of them too important in getting into Venom Inc.’s plot. Even though I never read how Andi, Flash, and Lee became Venom/Venom spawns, just knowing that they had was more than enough.

The issue focuses so heavily on Venom that Spider-Man can be seen here as a bit of a nuisance. Indeed, Peter is totally out of the loop on what the symbiote has been doing for these past few decades and still thinks of it as a threat that must be disposed of. This results in unintended consequences as Peter is the one responsible for turning Flash into Anti-Venom, which may affect not only relations with the major characters involved in this arc but themselves moving forward.

The absence of Cletus Kassidy/Carnage in this arc meant that Lee Price/Maniac would have to fill in as the main antagonist. Those are indeed big shoes to fill given that Carnage, like Venom, has made a name for himself over the years. Only time will tell if Venom Inc. pushes Maniac to a status that will make him likable and memorable by comic book fans, or be left out as a mere footnote like The Looter.

Rating: 7/10.

Final Thoughts:
All-in-all, Venom Inc. is off to a good start. Peter and Eddie are once again back in the mix, along with several characters old and new coming from Venom line to form what may be an interesting story arc. With part 2 being just around the corner, you don’t have to wait too long to see what happens next.

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