Greetings and salutations, you sexy and clever fans of The Unspoken Decade! What’s that? Why am I kissing your butts? Me?! Never! Can’t a narrator praise his amazing readers? Good. I’m glad we cleared that up. (By the way, have you all been working out? It shows!)
Now that everyone is feeling good about themselves, let’s begin my review of the second half of the “Venom: Lethal Protector” storyline, shall we?
When we last left our hero, he had been captured by an organization called the Life Foundation, and the villains were only interested in his symbiote’s offspring! Nope, things don’t look good for ol’ Venom! As we begin this issue, things haven’t gotten any better. Brock and his symbiotic “other” continue to float in an energy orb of comprised of pure sound. Venom thrashes and roars in defiance as Carlton Drake calmly looks on. Venom threatens to “suck his lungs out through his nose!” (Now that’s thought provoking. Can this be done? Does one need symbiotically enhanced lungs or simply Justin Beiber-level of ability to suck? Hmm….)
Drake merely brushes the threat away and begins speaking of his master plan. Simply put? He wants Venom’s offspring to enhance bodyguards for the wealthy that have already purchased condos from him. (Devious, eh? He’s essentially like if Dr. Doom had an evil love child with the Monopoly Guy!) Just then, the fifth and final symbiote is born and quickly contained. Venom continues to thrash in outrage!
Meanwhile, Spidey is seen doing what Spidey does best – fighting crime. As a group of young hoods race away from the convenience store they have just robbed, they take their collective gaze off of the road ahead just long enough for the Amazing Spider-Man to drop down onto their hood! He webs their windshield and leaps to safety. The escape car, now driving blind, hits a nearby tree! Later, as the local police thank the wall-crawler, he asks for change to make a call. (For you youngins, the change is for an ancient device that we neanderthals called a phone booth. Nope. No cell phone for selfies or texting! Truly frightening, huh?)
He notifies his wife that, though Venom has recently dropped off of the grid, crimes are being committed in true symbiote fashion all around the city. His stay in San Francisco may just be longer than expected. Back in the desert compound of the Life Foundation, Venom continues to attempt an escape. Sadly, the force of the Sonics is just too strong for the symbiote. But for the human within….? The thought coming to the venomous duo, Venom grins his many-fanged smile.
Back to ol’ web-head. Following a few leads he finds himself in a mall. A young woman is thrown from above, but Spidey gets there just in time to catch the girl, saving her from certain death. He then follows the gaze of the onlookers and sees the source of their fear….a female symbiote?! Rather than acting afraid of the sudden appearance of a seasoned superhero, she seems positively pleased! (You know, there’s just something exciting about a woman who could either kiss you or bite your face off on a whim. Mmmm! Sexy!)
Back to Venom. While the villain has his back turned, speaking further of his sinister plans, Venom suddenly reaches through the orb with his human arm and seizes a guard! He then throws the minion into the control center for his prison, effectively shutting it down! Now free, the Lethal Protector begins tearing his way through the security personnel as if they’re no more than tissue paper! As he reaches for Drake, however, he is suddenly shot in the back by a sonic rifle! Brock and the symbiote drop unconscious. (Nekkid again, it should be noted. Someone, anyone, get this man some tighty whiteys!)
We then return to the mall, where Spider-Man battles the female symbiote with all that he has! As the fight rages on, he notices that she is extremely fast and strong but couldn’t be any more of a rookie in combat. Using this to his advantage, he lures her away from the civilians, pretending to surrender, and then springs into a fierce attack while she’s unprepared! Now down, she calls for an extraction. She tosses another would-be victim toward a wall. Spidey quickly cushions the man with his own body. Returning his gaze to the symbiote, he sees that she is gone. A hovercraft begins to lift off, but before it can get too far, the wall-crawler fires a web onto it! He is then pulled with the vehicle towards its destination. (Has anyone else noticed how this has become less of a Venom miniseries and more yet another excuse to showcase Marvel’s “big gun,” AKA Spider-Man? Like the dude doesn’t have enough comics in the 90’s! Let the V-Man have his moment in the sun! Geez! Rant over.)
Meanwhile, in a dark and hidden room, the torture of a homeless man finally comes to an end. Treece grows impatient. He wants the homeless exterminated. That way, he can claim the gold he’s discovered beneath the park! If he could just locate their hidden lair….
When the craft reaches the Life Foundation compound, Spidey enters and sneaks along the ceilings, unseen until that’s no longer an option. He battles armored goons left and right, slowly advancing upon the room where Venom is held captive. Within, Drake has decided that Eddie Brock has become more trouble that he’s worth! Using his sophisticated machines, he actually painfully strips the Venom symbiote from Eddie Brock! (Way to go, web-head! Just had to stick your nose where it didn’t belong! Now there is no Venom to finish this storyline! Well, I guess I could finish this with some thoughts on Marvel’s Powdered Toast Man Special #1. What’s that? Oh. The comic’s not over yet. Well, color me embarrassed. Please. Do continue.)
Moments later, Spider-Man breaks into room only to find a taunting Carlton Drake on a computer screen, and what appears to be the fresh corpse of one Eddie Brock lying on the floor!
On to the next exciting issue! Spidey, still fighting guards, replies that Venom is a lot harder to kill than he thinks. Just then, one of the lab techs alerts Drake that they have found a faint pulse! Eddie Brock lives! Disgusted with this turn of events, he switches off the monitor and orders the tech to perform an autopsy anyway! As for Spider-Man? Let him meet “the children!” The five symbiotes enter the room! (Man! Spidey looks like he’s kinda screwed, eh Unspoken fans? I mean, he usually has trouble with just one symbiote! Is the wall-crawler’s number finally up? Will Marvel lose its biggest cash cow without an “X” in the title? Stay tuned….)
Meanwhile, Treece has had enough of his “homeless problem” and pulls the tarp from the back of a large truck, revealing crates of explosives! He means to bury those poor people alive! Seeing this, spies for the underground city return to their home with the alarming news!
Back in the desert compound, just as the Life Foundation lab techs are about to begin their autopsy, Brock suddenly leaps to life and attacks! A guard enters the room and fires a sonic blaster at our hero, but the joke’s on him. Without his “other,” Brock no longer fears loud noise! While it is assumed that these men are being beaten to death, Spidey continues his battle in a nearby room with the five symbiotes!
Two of the aliens trap his arms in tendrils as a third charges with sharpened fists! When the symbiote gets close Spider-Man pulls all three together with his enhanced strength! Another then attacks with barbed hands and, strangely enough, excretes a strange acid from them! (Does anyone else remember this “acid thing”? I mean, I admittedly haven’t read this in years, but isn’t that a strange ability for a symbiote to possess? I don’t remember Marvel bringing this up ever again either. Hmmm. The House of Ideas, forget something? Impossible! Write in if I’m wrong here.) Spidey ducks and webs up their faces. Just then, Brock enters the room! He tries to call his symbiotic children to him in peace. They answer by attacking him in unison, forcing the heroic duo to momentarily retreat!
Webbing the door behind them, Brock leads Spidey to the dissection room, and they each arm themselves with the fallen guards’ sonic rifles. Both fire as the five symbiotes break through! Four are incapacitated but the fifth ducks the attack and lunges forward with bladed arms! Webbing the symbiote, both heroes retreat to yet another room. Once inside, Brock is relieved to see his “other” being held in stasis! Quickly breaking the alien free, the two become one once more, and Venom is reborn! (That’s right kiddies, daddy’s back and it’s time to line up for your spankings!)
While Venom tangles with the other symbiote, he orders Spider-Man to look to the keyboards of the many computers for help of any kind! Accidentally, he discovers a ray that, once it hits the alien’s skin, ages it to death! Venom tells Spidey to hit them all with it as the others burst in! Spider-Man, not wanting to risk the lives of the humans within, refuses! (What a weenie! I’m sorry, but thats why I root for the anti-hero! I mean, I get the whole moral compass thing, but these guys had no qualms about making Spidey-kabobs just minutes earlier! Sheesh!)
Wasting little time, Venom sends a tendril snaking behind Spider-Man’s back. His spider-sense, of course, not sensing it, is caught by surprise when Venom chokes him out! At that very moment, the five symbiotes break in! Using the ray at full blast, Venom ages the symbiote halves of the five humans to alien dust! The humans within survive, though unconscious. Spider-Man awakens in just enough time for both heroes to escape the Life Foundation compound before it explodes! Losing track of Venom, Spidey begins his search anew. Venom, on the other hand, heads back to San Francisco. He has unfinished business there!
At the home of Roland Treece, the chief of security is in a state of shock! It seems that all security measures for the estate have been bypassed and all guards lie beaten and unconscious! Who could have done this? What happened? That’s when he turns and the answer to his question becomes clear…..Venom happened! To his credit, the man tries his best to protect the property, even from the likes of the Lethal Protector! But, in the end, he talks. (Finally, the secret of why there’s gold in them thar hills will be explained! Umm. At this point, do we even really care? Don’t we, the readers, just want to see justice served to the bad guy? Agreed. Moving on.)
Learning that the homeless are in danger from the explosives in the park, an outraged Venom knocks out the security chief and heads toward the park. Spider-Man, however, is already there. When Venom arrives, he is met by two red-booted feet in the gut from our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, quickly followed by a quick punch to the jaw! Venom retaliates by entangling the hero in symbiotic goo! As the arachnid hero attempts to free himself, Venom states that there is no time to fight. Innocent people are in danger. He finishes by asking the hero for help. Surprised by all of this, Spidey agrees. (Wow! Venom was the voice of reason in this scene! Is the world nearing its end? Quick, someone check on Betty White! Everyone knows she’ll outlive the planet itself!)
Now united, the heroes quickly leap into action! Never losing a step, Treece sends the digger armored suits to stop the heroes from reaching the bombs! Spidey lets loose a webline at one as it fires a heat ray and swings it towards another, effectively using both robotic armored suits to take each other out! Not to be outdone, Venom pushes a suit’s drill arm down, towards its own armored knee! Treece then does what anyone in his situation would do – runs away! (Yep. Things are coming crashing down on the villain, aren’t they? He’d have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for those meddling heroes and their symbiote!)
Spider-Man continues battling the diggers while Venom races after Treece. The only problem is that some fuel has ignited due to the crashing of metal on metal. Fire. One of the two main weaknesses of the symbiote race! Inside a nearby trailer, Treece continues to begin the process of blowing the bombs! If he goes down, he isn’t going alone, it seems. Venom, risking the very life of his symbiotic “other” and fighting against unimaginable pain, reaches through the flames and pulls Treece out, ending the threat!
Spider-Man runs up to check on his once-enemy. Venom is already healing itself. Sirens sound in the distance. Spidey turns momentarily. When he returns his gaze, Venom is gone. (Batman, eat your heart out!) Later, Eddie Brock is once again called upon by the council of the underground city. Having witnessed how he saved them, he is offered sanctuary. He accepts. Not only will he live as one of them, he will be their protector – a lethal protector!
(This article is dedicated to my lovely niece, Angel Marie Miller. You’ve always had my back throughout your young life. Always defending your uncle no matter what. Words cannot express just how much you mean to me. I love you.)