Venom #13.4

This "Circle of Four" story is a really odd choice all the way around. Not only does it have the worst numbering in the comic book history (13.1-13.4 with the conclusion coming up in "Venom" #14), it also has the most oddly forced teaming of characters in comic book history with Venom, Red Hulk, X-23 and Ghost Rider.

I can understand the thought behind giving these characters, who (with the exception of Venom) are all struggling a little with comic sales, a chance to appeal to a wider audience but the vehicle pushing that story seems ill-suited for "Venom." While I also understand Marvel has concerns surrounding miniseries, this story still feels misplaced.

Rick Remender, Jeff Parker and Rob Williams offer up a story feeling like it has been coasting for a few issues and this is the issue where some resolution needs to materialize. As a result, the story itself is jumpy and manic -- not from the action within the tale but in order to begin to pull plotlines together.

This issue is even more chaotic than the story contained due to a wild shift in art after the first fifteen pages. It may simply be the influence and difference between the two inkers covering Lan Medina's work, but it looks almost like a separate penciler jumped in to finish this issue's art, which is serviceable but rough. In some parts, the roughness seems attributable to the story and subject matter of demons invading Las Vegas but in others, the roughness just reads as being unpolished. The entire issue is soaked in red, gray and black, which doesn't do much to visually pop as the characters' coloring nearly blends into the backgrounds in each and every panel. Blackheart's appearances throughout the tale are the most visually striking, mainly because he carries a bluish tint.

This issue starts to button up the story going on in this interlude within the "Venom" title. The final page points the direction the conclusion will most likely take, but it really doesn't do much to inspire me to come back and check in on how this all wraps up. Red Hulk is going to continue his adventures in his own title, as will Venom and I'm not given enough reason to care about any of the other characters from here.

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