Amazing Spider-Man #316-317
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man #316, Amazing Spider-Man #317
These issues feature his first rematch with Spider-Man and continues the idea that he's as much a threat because he knows Spider-Man's secret identity as his physical powers. But before that, some fun in storytelling. Here's Peter getting some change of address notices from Glory Grant and the panels immediately following them.
Where did that phone come from?
Venom first shows up at the apartment that Peter and Mary Jane have recently been evicted from. The Black Cat was already there, also looking for Peter. Venom attacks her, hurting her pretty badly while McFarlane also manages to get in a butt shot and tear her clothes off, while Felicia barely puts up a fight.
And of course after that encounter, all she can think about is the fact that she's learned that Spider-Man is now married.
Mary Jane happened to see Venom swinging away from the building after the fight, so she's upset when Peter gets home (Felix the Cat in the upper left corner).
Peter takes the unusual approach of calling the Vault to complain as Spider-Man. Hopefully no one thinks to trace that call.
That of course gets him nowhere so he goes out to patrol for Venom.
After swinging around for hours, he gives up and goes to retrieve his clothes where he left them (at a meat packing plant). But it turns out that Venom had been following him all along (Spider-Man's spider-sense doesn't work on Venom), and it's only now that he's tired that Venom attacks.
The idea is that Venom is so scary that Spider-Man panicks, for the first time ever. Depicted, ummm, like this:
After Spider-Man gets away, Venom finds the change of address notices.
Therefore, next issue, Eddie Brock starts coming around Aunt May's boarding house.
But luckily Venom doesn't want to fight in the suburbs where "innocents" might get hurt ("I like to avoid that... when possible") and he doesn't want to reveal Spider-Man's secret ID because he wants him all to himself. So he tells Peter to come fight him at a deserted beachfront property. Peter agrees, but when Venom leaves, he goes to get help.
The cover of #317 has another jokey bit, this time stealing the Fantastic Four's "World's Greatest Comic Magazine" tagline and having the Thing react to that.
That's announcing the Thing's guest appearance in this issue.
The Thing agrees to help and says he'll put the rest of the FF on notice. But when Peter gets home, he finds Brock with his aunt again. Brock knows that Spidey went to the Fantastic Four.
So Spider-Man is really on his own for this fight. He does stop by the office of Dr. Charles Jefferson, the psychiatrist that previously tried to help Doctor Octopus, to get some advice about "love-hate relationships".
The next morning is the fight. The coolest scene is where Venom sends some of his tendrils under the sand to grab and drag Spider-Man.
But for the most part the (short, especially after an issue and a half of build up) fight doesn't really feel like a battle between two Spider-Men. I guess that's partially because it's on a beach where there isn't room for swinging around. But it's also because Venom is depicted as more of a generic strong guy.
That's ok though because the conclusion to the battle is a psychological one.
There's no room for a conclusion so the final panel has Peter saying that he'll phone the Thing and then take a bus home. No point in sticking around and making sure your dangerous enemy is re-captured.
Venom looks cool. His menacing of Peter's family and friends is credible; the scenes remind me of Cape Fear. The splash panels look nice. The idea that Spider-Man goes to the Fantastic Four for help but Brock sees him do it and forces him to fight him one on one on threat of hurting his family is plausible (and it's nice to see an in-story explanation for why Spidey doesn't get help from his super-hero friends). A lot about this is done really well. The problem is Todd McFarlane's non-existent storytelling and overuse of super-large panels, which as usual makes the plots very thin (and requires me to include so many large scans to show the action) but more importantly makes the fights (the first one, especially) boring.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Based on the next issue blurb in Web of Spider-Man #51, this takes place after that issue and Spectacular Spider-Man #151 is the next Spidey book. Ben Grimm is still in his Thing form in this issue and a footnote confirms that this takes place before his transformation in Fantastic Four #326.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Spider-Man Legends vol. 3: Todd McFarlane Book 3 TPB
Inbound References (4): show
I thought it was a good fight, love the tendril under the ground trick too. I think this is the perfect Venom look, it is scary, especially when just the teeth and 'eyes' are leering out from the dark, scary on another level since he knows Peter identiy and hangs around his family.
So there's much potential for Venom and Brock but they kind of screw with it and I always hated the huge tongue, slime and brains thing.
What's great is that all adaptions of Venom, or almost all, try to fix his introduction problems like making Brock a character first. Spectacular Spider-Man had a great Brock and Venom storyline too.
Posted by: david banes | September 22, 2014 2:25 PM
Brock's wording "when the Cold War went away" is odd considering the Cold War was just ending when this story came out. I guess they meant during the '70's detente.
Posted by: Michael | September 22, 2014 9:58 PM
'The problem is Todd McFarlane's non-existent storytelling'
I think I've mentioned it before but David's scripting isn't that great and I believe he's one of the top writers. I wonder if this is due to Todd's very poor story-telling forcing him to adjust his script accordingly?
Posted by: JSfan | September 23, 2014 6:31 AM
It might surprise you to hear me say anything positive about Macfarlane, but he was always better drawing his own characters like Venom, rather than putting his own odd spin on existing characters.
Posted by: kveto from prague | September 23, 2014 4:06 PM
Beautiful looking book. Will always treasure this run.
Posted by: Grom | August 30, 2016 10:02 PM
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