Characters Appearing: Beck Underwood, Black Tom, Dusk (Demon), Eddie Brock (Venom), Juggernaut, Necromancer (Demon), Paranoia, Venom Symbiote
Venom: The Madness #1-3
Issue(s): Venom: The Madness #1, Venom: The Madness #2, Venom: The Madness #3
In our Ultra Cool First Issue (per the cover), we start with Venom already in the grip of madness.
Note the stuff about the "Realm of Insanity". I should have paid more attention to that (see below) but i just glossed over it and a lot of the craziness in this series. I just wanted to see a giant multi-headed Venom fight Juggernaut, dammit!
I was actually surprised to see that Venom is still the "lethal protector" of the hidden city that we saw in his first mini-series, and still trying to earn their acceptance.
In this case that means following some screams and defending a pair of people from some muggers (who he doesn't kill). The people he rescued are Abby Rubin and Beck. Abby used to work at a company called Scarmore, where they did experiments splicing mercury with viruses. Abby and other employees got sick, and Beck is an activist who is helping organize them for a class action suit. Beck takes a liking to Venom.
You can ignore Beck's strangely sinister grins (the art throughout this series is kind of weird). She's above board, and she'll actually remain a supporting character in future Venom minis.
Scarmore, apparently into overkill, hires the Juggernaut to scare Beck into giving up her activism. The hire is arranged between an underling at Scarmore (the boss demands "plausible deniability", which the underling doesn't know the meaning of) and Black Tom, who looks like a heroin addict.
Beck and Eddie wind up making out, but Beck breaks it off when the symbiote tries to join in.
Listen, they're a package deal, ok?
The Juggernaut later shows up to harass Beck, and, as noted, Venom isn't really a match for him.
Juggernaut is not a mutant!
Venom is beaten, and gets tossed in some sludge containing Scarmore's mercury compound. It is sentient, and it bonds with Venom, transforming him into my action figure.
We also see these guys.
There are no footnotes and i initially skipped over these pages because i assumed that Venom was just having mercury-induced Nocenti-delusions. But this ties into the "Realm of Insanity" line at the beginning of the story. There's no way of knowing it (i.e. no footnote) but two of these characters, Dusk and Necromancer, appeared previously in Marvel Comics Presents #127-130. I suspect that i don't really want to know what their deal is. Update: I've now read that story and i still don't really know what their deal was.
Venom comes out of the water intent on killing the Scarmore president.
But instead he kills a poor cleaning lady who was sitting in the boss's chair on a lark.
Eddie then returns to Beck, but becomes rape-y.
That bottom right panel is a classic, but this is a very weird scenario. Beck is actually saved by the return of the Juggernaut.
I sometimes like the art but it's definitely abstract. Sometimes i think the Juggernaut is mutating too.
During this fight, a portal opens up behind Venom, and Juggernaut tosses him through it.
So Venom is in the Realm of Insantity, where he's attacked by the Necromancer (whose look is inspired by his encounter with Ghost Rider in the Marvel Comics Presents story)...
...and Dusk, and god knows what else (illusions of Wolverine and Spider-Man). I kind of skipped past all of this. Venom eventually makes it out of the Realm, and the madness mercury burns out of his system.
Meanwhile, Juggernaut holds Beck prisoner, and they get to talking.
You can also see that the Scarmore underling is getting tired of carrying water for his boss. He eventually turns in evidence that gets the boss arrested. There's therefore no reason for Juggernaut to stick around, so when Venom returns, he leaves.
Beck and Eddie break up, but Beck says they'll remain friends.
This was, i guess, about what i expected it to be. Kelley Jones' art has a vaguely Sam Keith thing going that fits the weirdness of the series, but i wish the abstract stuff could have been restricted to Venom and the actual insanity scenes. I don't know why artists have started depicting the parts of strong guy character's bodies where ribs used to go as a series of little circles. It's weird. It doesn't make them look strong; it makes me want to give them chemotherapy. But i like Venom's weird grins and stuff. The actual manifestations of Insanity i could have done without as well. One thing i really liked was the low key conversation between Beck and Juggernaut. That was nice and humanizing, at least until Beck turned it into a weird defense of Venom by saying he was like an attack dog that she sic'd on the Scarmore president. The obvious defense for Venom here is that he was under the influence of the mercury virus thing. But still, killing a complete innocent like that should be hard to live down.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Marvel Comics Presents #123-130 takes place prior this.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Nocenti, ironically enough, is good at writing completely deluded villains. She is probably a good match for Venon. Or she would be, if I could be convinced that there is such a thing as protagonist potential for Venon.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | March 8, 2017 4:59 PM
I had the first issue of this series, but it wasn't Ultra Cool enough for me to pick up the rest. I'm glad to see the creators at least resisted the urge to have Venom: The Madness (is that a White Wolf RPG?) defeat Juggernaut, which would have been totally ludicrous.
Posted by: Mortificator | March 8, 2017 5:44 PM
@Mortificator- in the later two issues, Venom did much better against the Juggernaut then he should have:
Posted by: Michael | March 8, 2017 8:42 PM
Juggernaut is not a mutant!
Considering what a crap journalist Eddie Brock was, I'm not surprised that that he got that wrong!
Posted by: Ben Herman | March 8, 2017 10:10 PM
Most of the potential this had was ruined by the scenario of Venom killing the lady. Besides undermining the entire excuse to give him a solo series (of mini-series), Beck's reaction to it played her up as an annoying doormat.
Posted by: iLegion | March 9, 2017 2:14 AM
I love Kelley Jones' art, but it's an acquired taste, and certainly not for everyone. And it's always been highly inconsistent. Characters looking totally different from one panel to the next is common for him.
I'd love seeing him doing a Dr. Strange or Ghost Rider story.
Posted by: OverMaster | June 19, 2017 11:54 AM
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