By Mike Costa, Gerardo Sandoval, Iban Coello, Dono Sanchez-Almara, Israel Silva and Andres Mossa
It’s hard to pick Spider-Man’s biggest arch-nemesis. The obvious choice to go with is the Green Goblin; he’s been a thorn in the side of the wallcrawler’s side for a long time and also been the cause of some of Peter’s most painful grief. However, if we go with the most popular villain, surely Venom’s name is in the conversation. We’re five issues into the new Venom series, and so far it has been underwhelming. There could be a number of reasons why, but it’s just easier to say that it’s not Eddie or Flash.
Lee Price is in control of the symbiote for this series, and that may be a big reason why it isn’t doing so hot. Mike Costa is trying his hardest to make Lee a likable character, but it just doesn’t seem to be working. People love Eddie Brock as Venom because he gave him some personality, but Lee comes off as a dull character that readers can’t get behind. One thing Costa has been showing is Lee’s skills as an army ranger, like to set up both sides of the character against one another. Having said that, this is just another “meh” issue. The best part of this book is the first few pages where Spider-Man is eating and watching stuff on his phone. Costa shows he can write Peter as funny, and he definitely has a couple of good lines. The battle with the Scorpion continues, and is all right; it’s nice to see Mac Gargan and Spidey working together. The first couple of pages are the highlights, and after that it slows down and never really recovers. One of the things Costa is really pushing is the relationship between the symbiote and Lee. The problem with this is that it’s not particularly interesting; again, this comes back to Lee. We’re five issues in and the protagonist isn’t all that compelling. The writing isn’t terrible, but when you really dislike the person you’re reading about, it makes it hard to enjoy a book.
The pencils this issue are handled by Gerardo Sandoval and Iban Coello with colors by Dono Sanchez-Almara, Israel Silva, and Andres Mossa. The pencils by Sandoval and Coello work well together as they both have a similar style. With Sandoval, it’s a guarantee that you’re going to get exaggerated art. This works in the panels where the symbiote is attacking, and there is an excellent panel where Venom’s face serves as the border for a page. Sandoval and Coello do a nice job of making Lee look like a sinister character in some panels, most notably when he is harassing Pat Healy. This issue had several colorists on it, but for the most part they do a decent job. There are panels where the colors are too dark or muddy, like during the fight with Scorpion. There is an excellently colored panel where Lee is having a flashback of being abused as a child and the symbiote and Lee watch silhouetted in the frame. Overall, the art as a whole was serviceable and has been getting better as the story progresses.
It shouldn’t be a secret that this series is not a fan favorite. The cameo at the end of the issue says a lot about the direction editorial decided to take. Matt Costa isn’t a bad writer, but this isn’t the vehicle for him. The art has steadily improved each issue, but is ultimately not enough to make this a series to invest in.