During “Spider-Island,” Rick Remender did a good job of both holding up his end of the crossover and providing a strong set of subplots that might draw readers back for the next story. That, in a nutshell, is how you should handle a crossover. With that in mind, what will people who have jumped on the book for the first post-“SI” issue get for their money?
The inciting incident for this storyline concerns a plotline which wasn’t prominently mentioned in the crossover issues: that Jack O’Lantern knows Venom’s identity and is exploiting that knowledge. That said, Remender introduces it in such a way that new readers will quickly understand what’s going on, and what that means for Venom. The stakes are simple, and the motivation powerful.
Beyond that, the book reads almost as a direct continuation of Venom’s role during “Spider-Island” featuring not just the fallout of his father’s death, but the return of Captain America who had a reasonably prominent role in Venom’s tie-in issues. For obvious reasons, Flash looks up to Captain America, and this conflict of interests (he’s trying to seize the Venom symbiote) creates a hero-vs-hero battle that feels like it has some substance. There’s perhaps some suspicion in the way Venom manages to take down Captain America so easily, but, since it’s Venom’s book, we can forgive that fudge.
The ending of the issue provides a nice springboard into the coming plot, and given that Venom will soon join the “Secret Avengers,” also written by Remender, it’s likely Captain America will show up again. What’s interesting is Remender has found a way to make his involvement in the story seem organic and natural, even though his appearance in the crossover issues might have been editorially mandated.
This issue sees Lan Medina join the title as the artist (for this arc, at least). There’s a lot about Medina which is similar to the book’s original artist, Tony Moore, with instantly-readable facial expressions and a high level of detail in the environments and figures. There are a lot of background characters, and Medina doesn’t shy away from including them all when he could just as easily shoot around them, which helps enormously in building the atmosphere, whether at the funeral, the Crime-Master’s base or the Venom Project’s headquarters.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about this story is, despite being the voice of authoritarian government, Captain America is probably correct: Venom is too dangerous for one man to control, and we’ve already seen him go too far. He’s taking the wrong risks and making the wrong decisions. We might be rooting for Flash because it’s his book, but it’s not quite as clear-cut as that. I fully expect that idea to develop over the next few issues, and there’s no question I want to be around to read it.