by Dan Slott, Christos Gage (Writers), Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba (Artists), Edgar Delgado (Colorist)

The Story: Make place for the Superior Venom as Otto tries to prove that he can control the symbiote, a creature that renders people more arrogant and violent than they were before.

The Review
: There are tons of characters that are mostly popular due to their concepts and their looks more than anything else. Characters like Ghost Rider, Venom and countless others are perfect examples of this, as they had been mostly used due to their designs more than anything else. Sure, we may have gotten good stuff like Rick Remender’s run on Venom and Jason Aaron on his stint with Ghost Rider, but those are more exceptions rather than proof of concepts, with nothing much else being done with the characters that warrant any actual quality associated with them. Things are changing, of course, but this was the sad reality of many characters like these two for a while.

However, I have to say that both Dan Slott and Christos Gage makes for a great use of the Venom symbiote in this issue, bringing the newer status quo of the character up with a touch of nostalgia. Connecting a multitude of eras in order to bring something new on the table, both writers manage to write a thoroughly enjoyable issue as Otto’s antics are getting even bigger and more chaotic than usual.

What this issue really does right, in a way, is in how it represents the symbiote almost as a character on its own in a subtle way. The way it acts with Otto in this issue is very reminiscent of the original symbiote arc, which is actually very different from the manner it has been presented with Flash Thompson in recent series featuring him. The rising need for violent behaviour, the aggressive tendencies with loved one and the lack of complete control is well shown here, leading to some rather delightful and excessive scenes.

This in turn, gives us a very entertaining self-destructive approach to Otto Octavius, who goes in hyperbole with his actions all along. The way he boasts over his control of the symbiote while getting exaggeratedly proactive in his war on crime makes for some really fun moments, yet the best ones are those in which he goes overboard with those close to him. In some ways, this is both a rehash and a whole new way to look at the symbiote saga, yet through the point-of-view of someone much more suggestible to the powers and thrills that Venom represents.

Still, it’s not just the ”Venom and Otto” show, as many other players participate in the story in a meaningful way, like Cardiac, Flash Thompson, Mary Jane Watson and officer Watanabe all gets some turn in the spotlight amongst others, not only reflecting the current status quo of this book, but also the one in this present arc. What might happen to Carlie Cooper, how Anna Maria perceived the way Aunt May talked about her, the way Flash reacts to Venom being away from him and a lot of other things are going on in this book, giving those that are invested in the subplots plenty to enjoy.

However, while the story, action and characters are rather nice, the biggest star here is Humberto Ramos, who manages to draw a very vivid and dynamic-looking book. The way he splits up his panels in the double spreads featuring Otto and the symbiote is simply astounding , yet the very best thing he does in this issue has got to be Venom. Ramos is an artist with very cartoonish sensibilities, someone who can truly goes for exaggeration without making it look ugly, which is a style that fits the bulky and rather savage-looking symbiote like a glove. The muscles, the tongue, the teeth and the posturing of Venom is simply great to look at. The other characters are also nice too, with the Goblin King, Otto Octavius and other secondary characters receiving a good dose of emotions and diversity thanks to his work. Still, characters aren’t everything, as the action and the sceneries are also quite good-looking too, with just enough motion and details to provide for entertaining visuals without going overboard over the more important elements. There are moments however where the hyperbole goes a little bit over the top, leading to some faces that aren’t exactly great to look at or poses that are perhaps a bit too much, but for the most part it’s a very solid issue to show the talent of Humberto Ramos.

Edgar Delgado doesn’t come out as talentless either, with his color work being rather solid here. It certainly isn’t the best issue for the colorist, as there are moments where there is perhaps a bit too much diversity going on and too many elements being disparate from each other, resulting in a certain lack of overall contrasts. However, there are some really neat-looking shades and a rather brilliant use of shadows and lighting when working with the symbiote and other such pages and panels in the book. There are also some impossibly brilliant panels in the issue, like the last one featuring the symbiote-infested Otto, which does make up a bit for the lesser ones. It’s a bit uneven, but it is highly competent for the most part.

The Conclusion: Giving an issue full of entertaining development, some really great use for the Venom symbiote and some rather impressive art, this issue provide a rather fun experience that should please fans aplenty. A nice chapter before the eventual conclusion of the story.

Grade: B+

Hugo Robberts Larivière