Venom is sort of Marvel’s G.I. Joe book, when you think about it. Former All-American jock turned paraplegic war hero Eugene “Flash” Thompson is the next to hone the noxious symbiote, made famous by classic Spider-Man foes Eddie Brock and Mac Gargan before him. This black-ops deal, of course, grants “Flash” 48 hours of bonding — giving him some “legs” — to paratroop into whatever messes the secret government needs to clear up.
IDW’s new Cobra ongoing is scorched over with the race for Cobra Commander, since Chuckles put down the classic leader just a few months ago. By this issue, it actually deems apparent that Serpentor would be the frontrunner, considering he once held reign over the snakes in the classic run, and had been shortly built up in the previous Cobra series featuring the origins of his cult. With most of the attention spent on the Crimson twins and the burn notice on Chuckles, the Coil story arc felt like nothing more than an afterthought.
This side of a misdirection or two, heroes in both titles take the backseat. Aside from a pretty epic bout with Jack O’Lantern, who actually proves viably menacing thanks to Rick Remender, Spider-Man puts his former schoolyard bully in his place. Flash, ironically, proves a man out-of-time, with the alien poisoning his soul and mentally steering him in every which way possible (for not turning in within 2 days). Though the vibranium-saving mission is accomplished, the new Venom nearly loses both his lady and his livelihood in the process. While the comic packs the same mercenary, militaristic tones of G.I. Joe, I’m glad Remender is sticking the Spidey family-feel throughout this new Venom.
As for Cobra, there’s barely a wince of Joe. I suppose you have to purchase the other titles to enjoy the full breadth of their mind-set on the whole ordeal, with most of the focus on Croc Master, the aforementioned Serpentor, Baroness, Tomax and the like. But this focus on shadowy figures — rather than heroes — is what made the title so appetizing in the first place.
Lastly, the art in both titles is where it’s at. Fuso delivers a more inconspicuous approach to conveying evil; whole while Moore returns to Venom this month to pencil his usually intense detail work that rates second to none. And how could I not mention the new uni looking a bit like Snake Eyes? Regardless, the cover for Venom #4 is rather ravishing, star-spangled and all.
So maybe these two titles really have nothing to do with each other. But they’re both consistently well-written and well-drawn titles that simply ooze the shadowy juiciness of black ops. And that’s good enough for me.