Let’s Talk About Venom

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I’ve been getting back into comics the last year or so, and I’ve been finding that my tastes have drastically changed in characters and stories in my nearly twenty year absence.  As a kid, I loved Marvel comics, and didn’t ever pay attention to DC, now I’m definitely finding more in DC that I enjoy.  I used to love Spider-Man and the Avengers, and now when I am reading Marvel stuff it tends to be stuff that isn’t too closely related to any of the MCU films or other Marvel films.

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One of the characters that I used to love when I was about 12 or so, was Venom.  He was so cool.  I’m starting to think he may have been more of a ‘cool’ character, than a ‘good’ character.

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I remember reading some of the ‘Venom’ series, and thinking that he was like an edgy broodier version of Spider-Man.  I think I thought “Venom is what J. Jonah Jameson thinks Spider-Man is,” which I thought was incredibly cool.  At this same time in my life, I was also collecting all the ‘alternatives’ that were coming out like A-Next which was the next generation Avengers, and J² which was Juggernaut’s son.  I think I had crappy taste at the time.  But Venom was a bad-ass, and I was convinced that was amazing.

Then, Spider-Man 3 was coming out, and it was announced that they’d be doing Venom as one of the villains, I was ecstatic.  Even when they announced it was Topher Grace, who seemed so unlike Eddie Brock, but they explained that he was supposed to be Spider-Man’s mirror, so they sold me on it.  Then I saw the movie and thought “oh they really fucked that up.”  It was definitely the portrayal of the character, and not the character itself right?

So a couple months ago, the trailer for the new Venom movie was released, and I have to be honest, I think it looks like garbage.  I like every single person in it (especially Jenny Slate) but the way she pronounces symbiote (Sim BY Oat) is obnoxious, and I’m sure this will be like when people were telling me that the correct way to pronounce Smaug was with each and every single vowel present, and I was like “it may be right, but it’s still annoying.”  So there was strike one.  Strike two is that the actual Venom suit/skin looks horrendous.  Don’t get me wrong, it looks just like in the comics, but it looks awful when juxtaposed with non-animated characters.  There isn’t a strike three yet.  So hopefully, I’m wrong.

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Then lastly, I started reading the Venom vs. Carnage trade paperback, and after a few pages of “I’m your father, you have to listen to me,” and “Perhaps if my host had any regard for his family, I’d respect you dear old daddy” a lightbulb went off in my head.  What if Venom sucks?  What if it isn’t that the character hasn’t been portrayed right, but what if it’s that the character isn’t good, or perhaps he’s only situationally good, like in small doses, when paired with the right characters?

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Paul has talked a few times in articles and in the podcast about characters like Wolverine being best served in small doses, because they’re cool, and there is a tendency to over do them.  Maybe that’s Venom’s problem.  Or maybe unlike Wolverine who is cool, and has a great arc/background, Venom is just cool, and not ‘good’.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll go see the Venom film and I’m going to finish reading this book, but I’m not sure anymore about Venom.

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What do you think of Venom?  Is he just cool?  Am I missing some incredible story that does his character the most justice possible?  Let me know in the comments below.

written by Michael Cole

Why Spider-Man Is NOT A Hero or (Why Spider-Man Only Works When He’s A Teenager)

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Spider-Man reached a historic milestone this week with the publication of Amazing Spider-Man #800. This was also the penultimate chapter of writer Dan Slott’s celebrated run on the series. For the finale, Slott pulled out all the stops and gave Peter Parker a truly monumental threat to face for his last story arc on the book. Slott’s story has been building to an epic confrontation with Norman Osborn, unquestionably Peter’s greatest adversary.

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I mean, the guy looks so fucking creepy, why cover it up with this shitty mask?
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Christ…. Just awful. He looks better without the stupid costume.

Though memorably played by Willem Dafoe in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man film series, I always hated Dafoe’s campy and cartoonish performance as one of comics’ best villains. But that’s an article for another day. In the above mentioned comic book story arc, Osborn has returned to once again torment Peter Parker and everyone around him, but this time not only has he regained his abilities that made him so dangerous as The Green Goblin, he’s also bonded with the alien symbiote worn by Carnage, creating the seemingly unstoppable: RED GOBLIN!

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This is an excellent character design by the artist on the book Stuart Immonen. It’s Norman Osborn juiced up on his Goblin Formula while bonded with the Carnage Symbiote. Bad. Fucking. News. Immune to normal symbiote weaknesses like fire and sound.

Osborn has never been so deadly and his new persona as THE RED GOBLIN  is a terrifying, unstoppable monster. To use a cliché: All the strengths of The Green Goblin and Carnage, but none of their weaknesses. It takes everything Peter has, including the aid of everyone from all the other Spider themed heroes like Miles Morales to semi-reformed villains Venom and Otto Octavius, to bring down The Red Goblin. Hell, even MJ and Aunt May get some licks in. Ultimately, Flash Thompson, Peter’s former high school bully, turned good friend, turns the tide of the battle. Now the military war vet/super hero Anti-Venom; Flash sacrifices himself to give Peter the chance to defeat Osborn.

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Flash Thompson as Anti-Venom. Giving Peter the edge he needs to win the fight.
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Tragically, Osborn has just enough left in him to deal a brutal killing blow to Flash.

With Osborn beaten, Peter takes a moment to appreciate his victory and take in the destruction caused by their fight. When J. Jonah Jameson walks out of the smoke with a gun, intending to finally put an end to the death and misery caused by Osborn. It was far too close this time, Peter didn’t even come close to beating Osborn on his own. It took unprecedented amounts of help and a whole lot of luck to just barely defeat this monster.

Jameson knows Norman will be back like he has so many times before to bring death and horror into their lives. Osborn has killed thousands of innocents, used a U.S. Intelligence agency as his personal kill squad when he became head of SHIELD, started a war with Asgard, and finally he was responsible for one of comic books’ most iconic and heartbreaking deaths: the love of Peter’s life Gwen Stacy.

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Well, he didn’t die. YOU didn’t kill him. He went on to kill hundreds more. How do you think Gwen would feel that you could have avenged her death, but didn’t because you’re a fucking hypocritical coward?

Not to mention the countless other innocent victims that have been caught in the crossfire between Osborn and Spider-Man over the years. He knows Peter can’t and wont do what needs to be done: kill Osborn. But this is a burden Jonah is willing to bear for the young man he once saw as a menace. So, doing what needs to be done, what he believes is right, he pulls the trigger to kill Norman Osborn….

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…. And Peter dives in front of the bullet to save Osborn. Taking a slug in the shoulder for the man who juts killed one of his best friends.    …..Wait…  …Um..  …Hold on a second… ….Ummmm… WHAT?!…. WHAT THE FUCK?!!!!….. WHY?!!!!!!

Because Peter Parker isn’t a hero, he’s a coward. With great power comes great responsibility. Flash Thompson understood that and gave his life for it. Jameson understood by the making the choice to take on the burden Peter didn’t have the strength to. When Peter took that bullet he spat on Flash’s sacrifice. Every death caused by Osborn from this moment on is Peter’s responsibility. Trust me, this is Comics. Osborn WILL be back to kill and maim again, in some form or another.

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Police and their use of firearms is a very touchy subject in this country right now, so I’m speaking hypothetically here. I understand that police using their firearms inappropriately is a serious problem in this county at the moment and I take that very seriously. But stay with me here for a second while I make a quick point, hypothetically in a world where police officers use their weapon in the line of duty only in the situations where it’s absolutely necessary or if  a psychopath is killing people, isn’t it their responsibility to save lives? Even if it means killing the perpetrator? Or what if an officer were defending themselves from an armed and dangerous individual? How is this different than the many times Norman Osborn has murdered people, put lives in danger, and terrorized people over and over again. If the police had encountered Osborn in almost ANY of the senario’s that Peter has, they would have killed him (if they could of course, Osborn is probably impossible for a normal human cop to take down). Peter should have put Osborn down for good a long time ago. If he really believed in dedicating his life to being a hero, he’d have realized that so many of the lives Osborn has taken are on him.

D2CE0547-9214-4780-AAED-2E8E0A4F2E36 I think this is a good time to point out that Peter Parker is a superpowered, masked vigilante whose identity isn’t known to the general public. You and I cant go around taking the law into our hands, but he can. In fact, he does it all the time. That’s what being Spider-Man is. He just doesnt have the guts to kill Osborn and because of his abilities and persona as Spider-Man, this is a crime he could very likely get away with, in a way normal people couldn’t.

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This isn’t the first time Peter has pulled something like this. A few years ago through a convoluted set of circumstances, Norman Osborn became head of SHILED and the Avengers instantly became outlaws. Hawkeye argues that Osborn is insane, homicidal, and cannot under any circumstances be allowed to keep control of SHIELD. Hawkeye thinks the only thing to do, the thing they need to do, have a responsibility to do is kill Osborn. The public doesn’t know that he’s a madman and potentially millions of lives are in danger with Osborn controlling the weapons at SHIELD’s disposal.

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At which point Spider-Man argues that HAWKEYE is the one who’s crazy for even suggesting they kill Osborn and tells the rest of the Avengers that Osborn will inevitably shoot himself in the foot and the public will see him for the monster he really is. Well, how many people will die while you just sit around waiting for this to happen, Peter? In a world where individuals can be classified as a “Person Of Mass Destruction” isn’t it dangerously negligent for Spider-Man to have this attitude? Isn’t this the very definition of “With great power, comes great responsibility”?

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Teenage Peter Parker from Ultimate Spider-Man

This is why I think Spider-Man only works as a character when he’s a teenager. I only read Amazing Spider-Man #800 because it was a milestone issue. The only Spider-Man book I currently read on a monthly basis is Spider-Man which stars the other younger Spider-Man, high schooler Miles Morales. When a teenager sees the world in such morally black and white terms… well, they’re teenagers. What the fuck do they know? I remember when I was 16 I thought good and evil were clear lines and I’d never see the world as a place where thing like “necessary evils” must exist. But of course as I grew up, I changed and so did my view of the world. It almost seems like Peter Parker never grew up. It seems as if he never matured past his childish and naive sense of morality. So when you read a Spider-Man book or see a Spider-Man movie, they tend to be at their best when Peter is a teenager. It’s no coincidence that my personal favorite Spider-Man stories ever told were part of Brian Michael Bendis’ Ultimate Spider-Man run, which chronicled Peter as he navigated the dangers of super villains and his New York City high school.

Tony Stark and Steve Rogers debate morality all the time, but they’ve never debated the morality of killing murderous, super-powered lunatics. Spider-Man is always talking about how “with great power, comes great responsibility”. But I say Peter Parker is a coward who doesn’t have the courage of his own convictions. Heroes do what needs to be done, they don’t hide behind some bullshit code. SPIDER-MAN IS NOT A HERO. SPIDER-MAN IS A COWARD. Let online onslaught of hate begin…

In all honesty, I’d love to hear your opinions on the points I bring up in this article. Please write you comments below or on our Facebook Page and maybe we’ll read your question or comment on an upcoming episode of The World’s Best Podcast.

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Fuck you, Peter. You deserve everything coming to you.

As always, thanks for reading!

-Paul

First Look: VENOM Poster & Trailer (Updated)

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Today we got the first poster for the Venom movie due out in October. It’s minimalist and I like it. I’ve never been the biggest fan of Venom. I always thought he was visually interesting character and that’s about it. You see, in the comic book world, there a lot of characters from the 90’s that are dubbed “cool“ and certain fans clammer to see them on the big screen. I’ve always viewed Venom as a characters like Apocalypse, Carnage, Gambit, Cable and Deadpool. But I’ve found, it’s usually people who really don’t have a deep understanding of comics and only like these characters because they all have a great visual designs and have character traits that are superficially cool. “90’s characters”: it’s always been a dirty phrase to me.

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But it’s dangerous to make generalizations. I realize a lot of what I just said was very dismissive of an entire Fanbase. I’m not saying that’s right, I’m just saying that’s been my point of view. Deadpool really changed things for me. I always hated Deadpool. I thought he was the a pitta me of everything I just described. I genuinely didn’t understand his popularity. But at the same time I was rarely exposed to him in comic books because I avoided them. But then I begin to read Rick Remender’s excellent X-Force run. Basically, Cyclops (right in the middles of becoming the new metaphorical “Magento” of the Marvel Universe) created a mutant, black-ops, kill squad. X-Force was designed to preemptively find threats to mutant kind and quietly take them off the board before they can threaten the mutant race and when I say “take them off the board” I mean horribly kill them. The team which included Wolverine, Psylocke, Archangel, Fantomex, and Deadpool. This is an excellent X-Men book, definitely one of the best runs of the last decade. It was here that I started to like Deadpool. Then Deadpool started to pop up more in other mainstream marvel books like Avengers and I found myself liking him more and more. Then the movie came out and I’m eating some crow and loving the character. Deadpool 2 is one of my most anticipated movies of the year. My point is opinions can change.

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Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock in the first official image released from the film

Now if I was going to make a Venom film, I think Tom Hardy is an excellent Eddie Brock. You can do a Venom film with out Spider-Man because there’ve been numerous Venom series’ in which he’s an antihero going up against a worse villain like Carnage for example. I think the Venom movie will take inspiration from the Venom: Lethal Protector miniseries where he’s definitely a more heroic character. Even when he’s gone up again Spider-Man, Venom has never viewed himself as a villain, he’s viewed him self as a hero.

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Carnage: The Movie’s Villain

The movie’s director, Ruben Fleischer did Zombieland so we know there’s some talent and vision behind the camera. But I can’t help but think how interesting it would be just see the Spider-Man that we saw in Homecoming, the very young, boy learning to become a hero, go up against someone like a Tom Hardy Venom. It would be a dark, brutal story. Definitely something different and definitely something I wouldn’t mind seeing. Now when I say that, I mean I would want it to be a Spider-Man movie were Tom Hardy’s Venom is the villain. From the jump, it’s been made very clear that this Venom film has nothing to do with Spider-Man: Homecoming or the Marvel cinematic universe. But with rumors of Tom Holland being on set of the Venom film, it clouds things up a little. When this poster was released, there was also a hashtag that said “tomorrow”. So I would say we should plan on seeing a Venom teaser trailer tomorrow. That will start to give us an idea of what this movie is and what it’s going to look like. Like Deadpool before him, though I am not a huge fan of Venom, I will give this movie a chance. I just hope it doesn’t squander it.

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Check back here tomorrow where we will have the trailer posted IF it’s released. Thanks for reading guys!

UPDATE:  (2/8/18) Well, just as I predicted a trailer for Venom was realeased today. Take a look below and then I’ll give you my thoughts:

 

I really wanted to give this a chance, but man that is a terrible teaser. You have no idea what the movie is or what its about. You’d probably not even know it was a trailer for a Venom movie, if you didn’t KNOW IT WAS A TRAILER FOR VENOM MOVIE! We don’t get any sense of the character at all. We don’t know if they’re going to play Venom as more heroic or a darker character. There are almost no hints that there’s even a sci-if/comic book angle to the movie. There’s a very brief shot of what appears to be a symbiote in some kind of containment device, but THAT IS IT. Not good enough. Especially for a skeptic like me.  I was very against the Han Solo film, but at least they were able to put out a really good trailer and start to win me over. I had no interest in a Venom film from the beginning and if they keep putting out material like this, they’ll start losing people that are already on board, let alone bringing in new people like me.  Anyway I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Also check out our Amazon Affiliate links below to Uncanny X-Force Vol.1-2 by Rick Remender which collects his entire run on the series. As I said in the main article, I can personally vouche for it being one of the best X-Men stories in the last 20 years. Below that I’ve also put an Amazon link for the Venom: Lethal Protector series I mentioned If you’re curious what kind of material the movie will be based on. Going to Amazon through the links help’s support World’s Best Media and  we always appreciate it!

-Paul

 

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