Saturday, March 12, 2016

Comic Book review: Spider-Man: Anti-Venom

While all-American Flash Thompson was running black ops missions for the U.S. government as the new ‘Agent Venom’, former host of the Venom symbiote Eddie Brock renounced his past life and sought to cleanse hurting individuals of their diseases and addictions. Under the new alias of Anti-Venom, Eddie Brock remains slightly unhinged, seeming to perceive himself and the Anti-Venom as two halves of a whole being. Despite his terrifying and alien visage or his lack of subtlety, Brock hopes to provide aid to those in need, especially when it comes to one young woman named Jenna.

Brock helps to get Jenna clean early on, but then enlists her help in tracking down the local dealers who led her to become a junkie, in the hopes that it will prevent others from heading down the same dangerous path. And while Brock does manage to find some small-time local dealers, he also discovers that the trail leads all the way to another country, where a well-connected drug lord lives. Brock ends up crossing paths with Frank Castle, aka The Punisher, who would similarly like to take down this cartel, but isn’t exactly the most trusting of Brock, being all-to-familiar with his past actions as the former Venom.

In the chaos that erupts between Anti-Venom fighting drug dealers, The Punisher fighting the same thugs, and the two antiheroes fighting one another, young Jenna is taken hostage and transported directly to the head drug lord’s well-guarded estate. Anti-Venom and The Punisher stop their fighting in order to track down this larger target – or at least, Anti-Venom does, as The Punisher still attempts to blast Brock away on a couple of occasions. Anti-Venom is shocked at these attempts on his life by Frank Castle, even frustrated, but he refrains from physically lashing out in anger, which presents some comical back-and-forth interactions between the two.

The pairing of Anti-Venom and The Punisher proves to easily be the highlight of this short-lived series. While Jenna is a central focus throughout, early issues make it seem as though something larger may come of her placing trust in Anti-Venom. Unfortunately, she proves less of a full-fledged character and more of a convenient plot device during the later issues. The pacing is rather slow early on as well, and the thugs lower on the chain prove to be pushovers in the presence of Anti-Venom. Even the final foe is an over-confident fool in the presence of Anti-Venom and The Punisher, which removes any real tension from the conflict, save for the well-being of the antiheroes in the midst of bombastic firefights.

My rating: 6 (out of 10)

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