Venom featured in a Crawlspace FNF episode
Will be digging into this as soon as possible. Does Brad fan-mush all over this one, while George rages? And JR for a bonus!
Love the episode and though it’s a long shot I really hope you guys cover more Venom stories, at the very least the very next one (which I think most people regard as the best outing for the character).
I think some of the mistakes Peter and Brock make in the fight could be excused, in Peter’s case on being shaken up nd not thinking clearly due to the shock of seeing Venom, seeing the suit is alive and the attacks he took from him. In brock’s case he took Spider-Man to the church because he wanted to savour his victory and make him suffer and killing him whilst he was knocked out wasn’t going to cut it. If he was going to do that then he could’ve just found out where peter lived and snuck into his house whilst he was asleep and broken his neck. Clearly though he wanted something more dramatic. And whilst it is classic Bond villain stupidity to leave the protagonist alive in the death trap and trust that they will die, in this case Brock couldn’t have stayed and watched because the bell tolls would’ve injured the symbiote. I imagine he went back up there again just to take a quick peek and ensure Spidey was a red smear.
Personally I think Venom under Michelinie AND McFarlane together was the best Venom, and that rendition was what Mackie brought back in this late 1990s/early 2000s run, maybe as the lone brightspot of that era. Visually I like this version of Venom but prefer Bagley’s (sans Ultimate). However those are 2 very different perspectives on the character. McFarlane essentially draws the black suit as ‘alive’ with a solid mass and a mouth to indicate it’s alive, whereas Bagley (after toning down the tongue and teeth) draws him as a nightmarish perversion of Spider-Man’s visage.
I don’t agree entirely about his origin being weak. Michelinie I do not think was outright re-writing the Sin Eater storyline so much as demonstrating Brock having a selective memory and twisiting the narrative to suit himself (like many unethical journalists. And like JR said…he’s a psychopath. He’s someone who blames others for his own faults and as a person of religion he was might’ve felt that in the Sin Eater’s case he’d rather scapegoat his failings upon Spider-Man rather than a fellow man of faith Stan Carter, who also had a respected record as a SHIELD operative and police officer under his belt and whom Brock likely knew had mental problems through no fault of his own.
In contrast Spider-Man was a morally questionable vigilante implicated in numerous incidents and crimes (including murders) and who was completely anonymous with a big blank mask disguising him. A perfect outlet for Brock to project his rage and frustrations on and blame for what went wrong in his life; the exact opposite of Peter who blames himself for everything that goes wrong in everybody else’s life. Furthermore Brock was clearly shown to be erratic, hypocritical and situational with his morality, choosing to do whatever suited him best at any given moment. This was highlighted in ASM #300 when he needlessly killed a police officer and then felt sad about it for a second and then never looked back on it. He could’ve prevented that guy from foiling his schemes without hurting him too much but he chose to violently kill him.
At the same time Brock not being a previously established character wasn’t inherently a problem. Both Electro and the Crime Master were people we’d never met before afterall.
Additionally, looking at Michelinie’s other work (including the stalkers he gave Mary Jane) as well as the 2 hints towards Venom he gave earlier in Web of Spider-Man his intention was for Venom to be the equivalent of a celebrity stalker who’s a complete stranger to their intended victim but whom the stalker (in their messed up head) has come to view said victim as having slighted them or someone they need to kidnap or kill. I mean even if you put aside the whole Sin Eater thing, Michelinie’s original origin would’ve retained the aspect of the character being a total stranger to Spider-Man.
I really do think THAT was really the point that the venom character hinged upon rather than being a dark reflection of Spider-Man or a mystery villain or someone with a direct connection to him. Afterall the genesis for Venom began as Michelinie simply wanting a villain who was invisible to peter’s Spider Sense, which in turn inherently invites the idea of that person sneaking up on (or stalking if you will) our hero. The black costume having that ability already is what led to Michelinie using it, rather than a desire to really have it be anything more than that
But between the impact the suit made in the fandom, the tease of Peter’s stalker from Web and ASM #298, the culmination in an anniversary issue and the fact that the decision was made that whoever wears the costume gets Peter’s powers Venom, no matter who he was going to wind up being, had the greater expectations fostered upon him by the readers than I think Michelinie originally intended.
Again he was just trying to make a creepy stalker for Spider-Man, highlighting the uniqueness of the Spider Sense, not invent the next Big Bad for Spider-Man and his evil opposite.
Furthermore Venom NOT being a pre-established character I think is actually a good thing. Not every villain who knows Peter’s secret needs to be someone significant in his life and Venom being a stranger (apart from being necessary for the stalker concept of the character) reaffirms Peter’s need for anonymity but in a different way than we’d seen before. Instead of being concerned about the enemies we know about attacking him if they knew the truth Venom showcases that Peter and his family would be at risk from enemies they didn’t even know about if his identity was public because there are just crazy people off the street whom he’s never met who want him dead.
In these ways I think Venom was more poorly explained rather than outright poorly conceived with a weak origin. If the issue had been tweaked to maybe more clearly shine a light on these aspects I don’t think we’d have the same problems with Venom as we do today.
Finally to touch upon some of the MJ comments made, I don’t entirely agree that wearing sexy outfits and being kidnapped was the only thing being done with MJ in this era…but I will agree it was far too common.
As for her becoming a SUPERmodel as opposed to a more down to Earth and aspiring model, whilst its not unrealistic that her career could rise fairly quickly Michelinie basically took her in this direction (along with Peter getting a book tour) because he wanted to build up the Parker’s wealth and affluence before bringing it all crashing down courtesy of Jonathan Caesar. That story happened about a year after ASM #300 and Michelinie has a long history of seeding plots in advance, e.g. Cletus Cassidy showed up a year or two before Carnage debuted. It wasn’t like he was intending MJ to permanently be that rich or famous or felt it was a natural direction to go in long term.