Amazing Spider-Man #374-375
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man #374, Amazing Spider-Man #375
As for the main story, it's the *yaawwwwn* return of *yaawwwn* Venom, who we haven't seen since Amazing Spider-Man #363. Oh, no, wait, that's not true, we just saw him as part of Spirits of Venom as recently as Web of Spider-Man #96 and Spirits of Vengeance #6, the month before this story, and actually the same time that he was escaping in the back-up story leading into this arc last issue. So he literally didn't remain captive for even a publication month.
But this Venom appearance is different because Venom has (obviously!) become popular enough that he's going to get his own mini-series, and in order to do that his obsession with Spider-Man has to be dealt with. So after the usual fighting...
...Venom kidnaps Peter's "parents" (but refuses to kill them for me, and also doesn't give away Peter's ID).
Peter counters by getting Eddie Brock's ex-wife, Ann Weying.
Things are complicated by the arrival of Silver Sable's Wild Pack, hired by J. Jonah Jameson to capture Venom (and/or allow Lance Bannon to snap some good pictures).
But ultimately Weying convinces Venom to give up the grudge against Spider-Man.
That's fine as far as it goes, but it requires Spider-Man to make a major moral compromise, turning a blind eye to the fact that Venom has killed multiple people, and letting him go.
Spidey does make a half-hearted attempt to keep tabs on Venom.
In any event, Spidey has plenty of practice with this sort of thing after tolerating the Punisher for so many years.
I'm ignoring the first back-up for placement purposes. It's by Tom DeFalco and Pat Olliffe, and it takes place after Fantastic Four #373, while Spider-Man is considering accepting employment from Silver Sable to hunt down the Human Torch. But it's really just a retrospective back-up feature giving a recap of Spider-Man and the Human Torch's friendship and rivalry.
The second story has J. Jonah Jameson convincing his son John to work with him now that he's quit being Captain America's pilot. He winds up in a situation similar to what happened to him (twice!) where an astronaut gets turned into a monster after a failed space flight. Being an expert at this sort of thing, John helps him out.
The final back-up has the Chameleon visiting Kraven the Hunter's grave (actually scaring off some vandals to start). He takes the blame for instigating Kraven's obsession with Spider-Man, but obviously hasn't learned the larger lesson that obsessing about Spider-Man isn't healthy.
Here are your terrifying out-of-context panels for the day.
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 544,900. Single issue closest to filing date = 465,600.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Venom escaped "last night". Irene Karnowsky, someone that testifies against Venom because her daughter was traumatized when Venom attacked this clown...
...technically must be around for this story, but i don't think she actually appears on panel and she only has one other appearance, so i'm not going to list her. In Fantastic Four #377, Silver Sable gives a bill to J. Jonah Jameson for the work she does for him here and in Fantastic Four #373. She says that JJ hired her to capture the Human Torch "and then, on a whim, reassigned us to pursue Venom". Sable is a meticulous character, so i trust her memory of the sequence of events, and that means that this story takes place after Fantastic Four #373. And that has implications for the previous Amazing Spider-Man arc since Venom's escape was "last night".
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (9): show
That googly eyed bear looks like a horror out of a Dark Souls game.
Posted by: Red Comet | May 3, 2016 3:00 PM
WOW, this title was selling like gang busters! Those are X-Men numbers, as I think of them. I came back for these two issues, as I had rather enjoyed Venom's appearances in the #340's. Not too bad-suspenseful in a way, and pretty well-drawn. I would later feel the same about the first months of the Clone Saga. Something about a decent Spidey comic will always be a little like a call from an old friend. Hopefully, not a drunken, belligerent one at 1:45 a.m.
Posted by: Cecil | May 3, 2016 3:57 PM
Peter's deal with Venom was an awful idea. He let a sadistic murderer go??? Seriously...
And it's not like the deal was even executed well. Venom hated Peter all this time, he clearly had a psychotic-level obsession with him... but now, he hears some words from his ex-wife and decides "Oh well, I was wrong"..?
Posted by: Piotr W | May 3, 2016 4:06 PM
Because fnord has to put this out of sequence these are the numbers in the issue cover-dated 1993, and Darkhawk and GotG are the only other books with those numbers in the project so far. Somehow I once found Statement of Ownership numbers for other books that put the average paid distribution of X-Men at 967k, X-Force at 759k, and UXM at 731k, while X-Factor lagged at 448k. But the numbers fnord has from last year's UXM 286 (I think) put its average paid distribution at only 460k, so clearly the X-Books, at least, had their sales jazzed up in 1992 (presumably by the shake-up resulting in the creation of Adjectiveless X-Men late in 1991 - the closest-to-filing-date number was 599k - though UXM will stay at 714k in the 1993-reported-in-1994 numbers), and last year ASM had 340k so something was lifting its boat as well. On the other hand, Web and Spectacular had much more modest lifts from 211k to 298k and 207k to 261k respectively.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | May 3, 2016 7:25 PM
The difference between Peter's toleration of the Punisher and his deal with Venom is that (a) Peter never really had a formal agreement with the Punisher and his treatment of him varied depending on the situation and (b) the Punisher usually confined himself to criminals- Venom killed anyone that got between him and Spider-Man. Some writers and editors didn't like the deal either- it's brought up during the Clone Saga to cast doubt on Peter being the real deal.
Posted by: Michael | May 3, 2016 8:10 PM
I bought two copies, so I could remove the awesome Bagley Spidey/Venom/Carnage poster from one and keep the other one "mint". So, I was part of the problem, basically.
Posted by: Andrew F | May 3, 2016 10:24 PM
By this point Venom had become so insanely popular that Marvel was going to give him his own series, no matter what. David Michelinie has indicated that the decision was taken out of his hands, and that with or without his cooperation Venom was going to become an anti-hero. Michelinie obviously was not happy with this, but he agreed to write this story and the first Venom miniseries in order to try to make the character's heel-turn at least semi-plausible. I don't really think he succeeded, simply because of the fact that Venom is an insane murderer. But I doubt any other writer could have done a much better job of it. As much as I dislike Venom and regard his entire conception as flimsy, I do have a certain sympathy for Michelinie, since it's clear that he didn't intend for the character to go in this direction.
That was also why Michelinie introduced Carnage, so that there would once again be a symbiote bad guy who was an out-and-out villain to take the role being vacated by Venom. As I've said before, I think it was a incredibly bad idea to create a character who was the equivalent of the Joker with superpowers who only exists to murder people non-stop. But that's what happened.
Posted by: Ben Herman | May 4, 2016 1:59 PM
John Jameson turns up here in ASM #375 just a few months after he abruptly quit as Cap's pilot at the end of the Man and Wolf story.
Posted by: Rick | May 10, 2016 11:35 AM
Some writers and editors didn't like the deal either- it's brought up during the Clone Saga to cast doubt on Peter being the real deal.
Beyond that, Ben Reilly actually defeats and captures Venom, which is meant as part of the case for him being the "real" Spider-Man.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | August 21, 2016 1:57 PM
Fnord, this is also an issue divisible by 25. Those tend to get the "anniversary" treatment (especially around this time), regardless of anything else going on.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | January 18, 2017 4:30 PM
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