Venom: Lethal Protector II #1
Eddie Brock was once a reporter, whose rise to fame started when he exposed the wrong man as the infamous killer known as Sin-Eater. Peter Parker, A.K.A. The Amazing Spider-Man, published his correct version of the story and Brock was promptly shunned from the journalism world. When the symbiote bonded with Eddie, their shared hatred of Peter Parker grew into the Lethal Protector known as Venom!
VENOM: LETHAL PROTECTOR II #1 is the next book in line for the Marvel throwback treatment, serving up a fresh dose of old school Venom from his co-creator David Micheline and artist Farid Karami.
This debut issue’s largest strength lies with its dedication to the tone and atmosphere of early Venom stories. New York is bathed in snow during a seemingly never-ending cycle of nights. The plot takes Eddie down into the dirtiest corner of the sewers and into the most dystopian of scientific facilities. In that regard, it conceptually hits some of the most important notes needed to make a great Venom story, however, this issue misses more than it hits.
Michelinie’s return to the character is most definitely bombastic, following up on his previous Venom throwback series by throwing the kitchen sink of Marvel villains directly at Venom’s head in the form of Doctor Doom. However, this issue commendably saves Doom, building him up in the shadows as Silver Sable and an armed militia group called the Vanguardians take the book’s center stage. As the two groups battle it out over an ancient macguffin, Eddie winds up caught in the middle as he tries to protect a member of the Vanguardians who just so happened to be Pablo, a character from Eddie’s past with a noted appearance in Web of Spider-Man Annual #8. This main plot doesn’t work for Venom in a couple ways.
Eddie has no reason to be a part of it. He just shows up randomly because the plot needs him too, he does some punching, and leaves with Pablo in tow and Sable doing whatever dreadfully monotonous spy work she needs to do in order to complete her mission at the Behest of Nick Fury. If Eddie’s place in this plot centers around Pablo, then their relationship needs to be better characterized as it comes off as cold and forced. Sable, espionage, and writing characters into consulted story genres that don’t concern them is admittedly Micheline’s forte and normally it goes over well, but the quality of writing here is see-through at best. There is little to no character work being done, and the plot is not exciting to see Venom in. Not once is the reader given a reason to care about anything happening, besides for the fact that Micheline’s name is on the cover next to Venom’s head. While yes, one could argue that is because of it’s reliance on being dated as a selling point, but I digress this issue reads as just the next chapter in a Venom run, but it frankly isn’t being read that way. The other limited issue series that were created to chase the exact same audience have an on ramp into their stories that setup character driven narratives and enough context to grasp the reader by their shoulders and demand their heart.
As a reader with an extensive knowledge of Micheline’s work and the material that is inspiring the story found here in this issue, it’s story construction simply doesn’t work or function in a way worth caring about. In essence, there is no better way to describe this issue than the word ‘sterile’. While the story is bland, the art isn’t much better. Karami is a great penciller, but his panel layouts and constant changes in POV angles destroy any immersion one could have when reading. His pages tell less of the story than just script lines on the page would, looking more like a makeshift jigsaw puzzle of pin-ups and white pages. There is nothing more immersion breaking than reading a comic that reminds it is a comic thanks to the overuse of white backgrounds and characters breaking panel walls. Panel layouts also tend to be super messy in this issue, but alas, Karami kills it with their raw illustrating talent, but just needs to calm down at times and prioritize being legible over being stylish.
At the end of the day, this book is a schlocky mess of fun action, well-written dialogue, and some piss poor narrative work. Going forward, VENOM: LETHAL PROTECTOR has a lot of work ahead of itself if it wants to keep readers onboard.
Venom: Lethal Protector II #1: The Annihilation Agenda
- Writing - 6/106/10
- Storyline - 6/106/10
- Art - 7/107/10
- Color - 6.5/106.5/10
- Cover Art - 7.5/107.5/10