Tag Archives: Peter Parker

The Case of the Venomous Offspring (part 1)

RCO001_w_1463374424-1-1-1-1We’re gonna eat your brains! Sorry. But when it comes to the “Father of Symbiotes,” I feel almost giddy! Why, you ask? Simply put, this is my jam, baby! I mean, look at my pen-name, Symbifan. I like to think of myself as an authority on the subject of Venom and all of the other Marvel symbiotes. (God knows I’ve spent enough money on comics over the years!) All of that said, welcome back to the Unspoken Decade and boy, do I have a story for you! So, without further ado…….

rco005_1463374424-1We begin our tale in sunny San Francisco. (Venom had recently left New York as per his deal with the Amazing Spider-Man.) But not all of the city is bright and cheery. Like anywhere else, some of it is dark and dangerous. Down in one of those places, an alley to be exact, a local thief is angered that his mugging of a young woman has born little money. He threatens to take his payment in other ways. As he flashes a knife, he comments with glee how he loves seeing fear in his victim’s faces! That’s when he hears a monstrous voice from behind him agree! Venom attacks the thief with savagery and brutality! It takes no time at all before the criminal is pinned by his throat to a wall by the Lethal Protector! Voicing disgust, he sends tendrils of symbiotic goo down the man’s throat until his eyes roll back into his skull! Presumably dead, Venom drops the street filth and turns to the victim. The anti-hero picks up the fallen purse, apologizes for this whole ordeal, and pats her on top of her head before leaping away. The woman promptly screams and runs away in terror! (That’s some gratitude for ya! You try to help a girl out! I mean, he had a mohawk in the 90’s! He kind of deserved to die, right?)

rco007_1463374424-1-1Eddie Brock and his symbiotic other then make their way through the city, via webline. Once they’re sure they’re out of sight, the symbiote camouflages itself as street clothes and Eddie Brock emerges. He rounds the corner from the abandoned alleyway and joins the rest of the San Francisco populace. He enters a motel and inquires about a room, but it seems that he was sighted after all, as two police officers enter after him, guns drawn and ordering him to put his hands in the air! (And wave ’em like he just don’t care! Woot! Woot! Sorry, I’m in a mood while writing this. A mood….to DANCE!) Instinctively, the symbiote slithers up his hands and webbing fires from both of his fists! Webbing both weapons, he swings both officers into opposite walls, knocking them out! Now fully covered by his symbiote from head to toe, Venom politely cancels the aforementioned room. The terrified clerk shakingly complies.

Meanwhile, on the isle of Manhattan, Peter Parker goes about his work within the walls of the Daily Bugle newspaper office. It’s here that he learns of Venom’s run-in with the San Francisco Police Department. Thinking back, he remembers how the Venom symbiote was on Earth in the first place because of him. He also remembers how it was Eddie Brock’s hatred for him and his alter-ego that called the abandoned symbiote to him, thus creating Venom. He feels that everything that Venom has done or ever will do is his responsibility. (Talk about a martyr complex! Geez! Am I the only one who gets annoyed at how much we, the readers, are reminded of Uncle Ben’s words? Broken record much? Ugh!) That said, Spidey decides it’s time for a trip.

rco015_1463374424-1-1The next day, Eddie takes a stroll through a local park when he suddenly becomes aware that the local homeless are being harassed and beaten by well-dressed goons! (Well, they are dressed nice. But one does have a mohawk. What is it with that? Did thugs in the 90’s have a certain dress code they had to follow that encouraged these early 80’s punk hairstyles? Inquiring minds want to know!) Enraged, Brock demands that they leave the people alone. In reply, “Mr. Mohawk” pulls a handgun! This does him little good, as Venom crushes the weapon easily! He starts systematically fighting his way through the villains, but a red-clad boot comes seemingly from out of nowhere and slams into Venom’s back, knocking him flying! Spider-Man is here!

The two begin duking it out until Venom finally gets through to the wall-crawler that these aren’t police officers, as he suspected, but rather criminals that he’s fighting! Spidey wastes little time in joining Venom in battle when the men begin shooting! When the dust clears, Spider-Man finds himself alone. Venom is gone. Meanwhile, at an undisclosed location, a sinister man watches this all on the local news with keen interest. He lifts a phone and commands someone on the other end to assemble “your men.” (Hmm. Who is this mystery shady character? What is his agenda? Does he wear boxers or briefs? No? Not important? Okay, moving on….)

rco016_1463374424-1Where is Venom? He walks, as Eddie Brock, with the homeless people he has just saved. Where are they, you ask? Beneath San Francisco. In a hidden sanctuary within the sewers! They explain there is a whole secret society here and, if the council approves, he is welcome to live here. But before he can answer, huge mechanized suits of armor drill their way through a nearby tunnel wall! (Only in comics, ladies and gentlemen!) Brock shifts into Venom and stands in front of the crowd of innocents. The men within the armor waste no time and attack! Venom is lifted by powerful robotic arms and shot with lazers! Hating the heat, the symbiote fights back! The vigilante begins to win the day too until sonic weapons are used! Hating loud noise even more, Venom begins to weaken! (Hey! Superman’s weakness is a rock, okay! Don’t be so judgmental.)

The armored monster then raises two large fists above its head in unison and brings them crashing down on our hero! The force of the blow not only damages Venom but the ground beneath him! Both hero and villain crash through the floor and fall through to a hidden chamber! When both come to, they look in wonder as it appears that they have not only fallen through the ground, but back in time itself!?

rco023_1463374424-1To be continued…..

…..right now! Issue two begins with the armored villain and Venom continuing their brawl within the strange antique city. A second bad guy, a complete copy of the first, falls through the opening and comes to the aid of the other goon! The suspicious man from last issue, Treece, is mentioned to be their boss! Some of the villagers come to Venom’s rescue with weapons of their own. This angers the goons and they retaliate with lazer blasts, killing several of the people! Venom flies into a murderous frenzy, smashing the head of one and impaling the another through the chest! Soon, all that remains is smoke and death.

rco004-1It is later revealed that this part of the underground city is not accessed through time travel, but is rather a city from the past that fell during the big quake of 1906 and was paved over and forgotten. It was later discovered by a homeless man and has been a secret sanctuary for those less fortunate ever since. (Aww! No time warp? And I was all ready to dance in my Dr. Frank-N-Furter costume! Get it? You’re not “Rocky Horror Picture Show” fans?! This younger generation with its cell phones and video game consoles….sob….)

While this is going on, elsewhere in San Francisco, Spider-Man hacks a police computer database and finds the home address of Eddie Brock’s father! What’s he up to? Later, Eddie Brock is taken before the council. It takes little time for them to reach a decision. Their ruling? He cannot stay! Even though he saved several of their lives, they are afraid of him. Upset, he calls upon his symbiote and becomes Venom once again. Shooting webbing, he swings back up to the surface world. Meanwhile, Peter Parker knocks on the front door of the Brock residence. Asking about Eddie, he is answered by a door slammed in his face!

rco012-1-1Venom does some searching and soon finds the corporate headquarters of this Treece. Easily breaking in, he crawls along the ceiling, and while examining the building’s rooms he discovers a scale model of the park that he saved the homeless from earlier that day. The model depicts the park, only newly renovated as a gift to the city. This type of renovation would require all of the city’s “undesirables” to be removed from above and below! But before he can examine further, security guards burst in and open fire! (Damn! Look at all of that drool in the photo above! Talk about giving away your position! He’s gotta be leaving a huge slimey trail! Reminds me of a giant slug cosplaying as a ninja! HA! I amused myself!)

rco014-1They state aloud how they followed his drool trail to locate him. (Ha! Told you! And it’s not just because I’ve read this miniseries a million times. I’m just that smart.) Venom tells them, as they are doing the work of others, they may be innocents and are allowed to leave with their lives. They answer with even more gunfire! Venom falls! They foolishly approach, thinking their prey deceased. Venom then leaps to his feet, firing the bullets his “other” has just absorbed right back at them! Those who aren’t gunned down are beaten mercilessly by the Lethal Protector!

Meanwhile, Peter approaches Mr. Brock Sr., this time in his Spidey gear, through an open window. He demands to talk. As this is going on, Venom finishes with the guards and turns to leave through a window. He is then blasted out of the air by a group of heavily armored people! In front of them stands a mysterious blonde man! The man says, with a sinister smirk upon his face, that The Jury has come to destroy him!

To be continued…..

rco017-1Third issue. We begin where we left off. Only now, the armored men have attacked our hero! He is struck down by a sonic weapon, shocking the symbiote to its core! Eddie Brock manages to stumble across the right words and asks why he’s being attacked. The blonde man replies that he is Orwell Taylor, and that during one of Venom’s escapes from The Vault, a prison for supervillains, he had murdered this man’s son! He has since studied Venom thoroughly in order to take him down for good! He even assembled friends of his deceased son that either served as guards within The Vault as well, or with him in the military! He calls them The Jury! (Boy, this sure seems like a lengthy explanation since Venom is nowhere near death and quickly regenerating. I’m reminded of Disney’s “Incredibles” and the villain’s joke about “monologuing.”)

rco004_w_1463374524-1Venom uses this opportunity to lash out at his captors, his strength fully renewed! (See?! What did I say?!) He battles The Jury with great skill and quickly leaps to freedom! Meanwhile, Mr. Treece surveys the damage done to one of his offices by your friendly neighborhood symbiote. He is not pleased. He makes it clear to one of his cronies that Venom must not find out the true purpose of the park rejuvenation project.

rco012_1463374524-1At the home of Mr. Brock Sr., Spider-Man is told only that he cut ties with his son long ago and to leave immediately. (Nice guy, huh? Ah. Reminds me of my own dear papa. Maybe I should become a supervillain turned anti-hero. Now if I could just locate an alien symbiote….)  As Spidey turns to leave, he is approached by the housekeeper. She tells him that she wants to help.

Elsewhere in San Francisco, Venom is having a moral dilemma. He did kill the man’s son after all – isn’t he in the wrong? Is there no hope of his becoming a hero? Deep in thought, neither he nor his “other” sense the oncoming assault from The Jury! And attack they do! Well-coordinated and high-tech blast after blast either hit our hero dead on or miss him by a fraction, all along the length of Golden Gate Bridge! Two of The Jury members strike out at the same time, with their armored fists, sending Venom sailing through the air! Looking off the side of the bridge, they see no signs of him. Deciding to attack him further at a later time, they flee, leaving Venom clinging to the undercarriage of a car, camouflaged and relieved!

rco016_1463374524-1The housekeeper begins her tale of young Eddie Brock. She tells how Eddie’s father only loved one person in his life, Eddie’s mother. When she became pregnant, he was happy, until she died during childbirth. Raising the child alone and secretly blaming him for his mother’s death, the man became more and more bitter. Nothing the child could do, be it sports or schoolwork, pleased his father. When Eddie landed the job as a reporter and broke the story of his career, still nothing. When Eddie lost his job, after the story ended up being false, his father cut all ties. (Great guy! I wonder who gave him parenting advice, Charles Manson’s father?!) Spider-Man takes his leave as the old woman finishes. He wonders, is he actually not only getting to know his enemy better, but is he also beginning to understand him?

rco018_1463374524-1Venom detaches himself from the car, reverts to Eddie Brock mid leap, and lands on the sidewalk some distance away. As he walks incognito, he suddenly becomes aware that a metallic orb is hovering in the air behind him, following his every move! Before he can react, it drops to the ground beneath him and lets loose an intense sonic shriek! The loud sound starts to cause the symbiote to retreat away from its human host! (Have you ever found it amusing that when stuff like this happens, the human host has just enough symbiotic goo left to cover his or her naughty bits? Hey, if the rest of it retreats, where does it retreat to? I think a proctologist might be involved.)

rco019_1463374524-1A man boasts from behind that the orb was a sonic grenade, and then raises a rifle to finish the job. Venom tries to reason with the man, arguing that Eddie understands why The Jury is doing this, that the man he killed was a good man. But if he were to die, many good people would perish beneath the sewers. This makes the man hesitate. He does so long enough that Eddie can call the symbiote to cover him and then quickly reach out to crush the weapon! He then defends himself against an onslaught of blasts from the armored fists of one of the other Jury members! This battle doesn’t last long, though, as a missile explodes, knocking Venom’s foe unconscious! Looking up to the source of the projectile explosive, Venom sees a hovering helicopter! Someone is actually helping him!

rco021_w_1463374524-1A megaphone from within the copter announces that his savior offers him sanctuary and a proposition. Curious, Venom shoots up a webline and boards the craft. Once inside, he is met with a screen, on which is a black-haired man with a goatee. The Man introduces himself as Roland Treece, and he wants Venom to act as his head of security! Venom asks if this includes the park project. He is assured it does. Obviously smelling a trap, Venom agrees. (We all know that this is gonna go sideways for the V-Man, don’t we? The question is how.)

Our hero is taken to a secluded compound in the Mojave Desert. (Sounds bad already, huh? I’m guessing he’s gonna be forced into slave labor. A symbiote could make a lot of tennis shoes in an hour, after all!) Anyway, one of Treece’s men points Venom in the right direction, stating that the boss will meet him inside. Done playing games, Venom encircles the man’s throat with a symbiote tendril and forces him ahead as a hostage. It does him little good as the man breaks free when the walls surrounding them burst into flames!

rco023_1463374524-1-1A voice tells Venom that he can blame him for this predicament if he wishes. He introduces himself as Carlton Drake of the Life Foundation. He states that Treece, a board member of his, told him that Venom could possibly be of help to him. Venom roars that he would never help the likes of him! Drake replies that he isn’t interested in Venom….but his offspring!

To be continued….

This article is dedicated to my nephew, Blade Miller. He has grown up beyond even my greatest expectations and is a big Marvel symbiote fan as well. I love ya, kiddo, and I couldn’t be more proud of you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The World You Have Always Known is Born-MC2 Part 1…SPIDER-GIRL!!!

 

 

 

Hey 90’s people!  Sorry we weren’t able to get this to you sooner, but I hope you have enjoyed the tremendous work the last few weeks, done by Angel Hayes and Emily Scott respectively, but much to your delight (and chagrin to some of you – after their work, how’s a guy supposed to compete?) I have returned to the era of Hypercolor, Friends, and Extreme!  Rest assured 90’s babies, I have missed you as much as you have missed me!

The 90’s meant tons to me, not just because of the enjoyable comics, but because that was the era of my youth.  I turned 11 in 1990, and I turned 21 in 2000.  The 90’s are the era when I discovered my music, my books, and myself.  This is also the time that I discovered girls, and no, this isn’t some joke where I say, among them Spider-Girl!  Although, that is indeed a joke I might make.  The point here is that, like many a young lad, attempting to attract the fancy of the opposite sex made me give up some of the interests I had previous clung to more tightly than that lady tried to hold on to Stallone’s hand in Cliffhanger.  Just like her, I was unable to hold on.

Too Soon?

I really thought this was a great movie when I was young. I watched in on VHS and yelled “Stallone is back!” to no one in particular because I was alone. What?

 

I made few new comic book purchases during the years of 10th-12th grade.  Like I said, I was discovering girls, but in addition to that, my local comic shop had fallen victim to the speculator bust/Marvel distributor fiasco (and I am sure we will cover this eventually right here, 90’s fans!). Our local supermarkets dropped comic books at this time too, so no matter how badly I wanted any of the adventures of the X-Men, Punisher, or CyberRad, I was S.O.L.  I was not one of those folks who abandons their love altogether, though.  I certainly still admitted to liking superheroes;  I just was not able to buy comics.  And even if comics had been there, I don’t know that I could have.  16-18 is such a confusing time for folks, and despite my affinity for fun articles about 90’s comics and great radio shows like Her Dork World, His Dork World (co-hosted by Emily Scott, who wrote the fantastic Death article from last week!) and Compton After Dark, I was no exception to that.  Like nearly all teens, I vacillated between being gung-ho about my interests and defending Chumbawumba vociferously to cowering if someone dared offer a disparaging comment toward WKRP in Cincinnati or anything else I loved.

Don't worry, after just a few more unentertaining and rambling lines about my experiences, I will answer the questions posed on this cover.
Don’t worry, after just a few more unentertaining and rambling lines about my past, I will answer the questions posed on this cover.

When I headed for college at Arkansas State University in 1998, I was fortunate enough that campus was about 3/4 of a mile from a comic book store.  I was also SO LUCKY to have very few friends, so I didn’t have to worry what people thought of me.  I’d learn to blend my interests and passions into a way to be likable, but my first year of college, I was too overwhelmed with school, life, and how relationships and viewpoints change for people during that age.  I found refuge in the comic book store, but since I hadn’t been able to read any comic books regularly since 1995, I was lost.  I was going to get Punisher because, well, Punisher.  I was entranced by Quesda’s art on Daredevil.  Having always been a fan of George Perez and Kurt Busiek, picking up Avengers was an easy choice, but when I heard from my friend Chris Grady that Marvel was going to continue the adventures of May Parker from the above-pictured Spider-Girl, I had to get them because they picked up at the point of Spider-Man where I had left off. Then I learned that not only were we going to see an alternate future for May Parker, Spider-Girl, but that we would also see Juggernaut’s son, as well as a future group of Avengers!

A-Next #2 - Page 1

Here's a look at a couple of covers from those series!
Here’s a look at a couple of covers from those series!  That sentence stated the obvious!

As I thought more about these comics, I knew that I had to do an entry on them.  I started reading and reading comics in preparation for an entry on the MC2 universe, when I realized that I had to do this one in installments, so welcome to part one of the MC2 Summer here at The Unspoken Decade!  We will start with Spider-Girl, but first, what’s all this MC2 stuff about anyhow?

Yep, not getting the comic book you subscribed to because of cancellation is definitely what anyone would call hitting the jackpot.
Yep, not getting the comic book you subscribed to because of cancellation is definitely not what anyone would call hitting the jackpot.

 

 

Now, I could waste a few more paragraphs attempting to describe that point, or, I could let a master like Tom DeFalco use one of these handy gatefold-fold out covers that Marvel used in the late 90’s to explain back story to new readers.  These were great!  Why companies did not continue to use them, I have no idea.

I wish comic book companies would bring these back.  They were a staple at Marvel in the late 90's, and they helped me catch up to what I missed 95-98 FAST!
I wish comic book companies would bring these back. They were a staple at Marvel in the late 90’s, and they helped me catch up to what I missed 95-98 FAST!

This issue of What If, which basically serves as a Spider-Girl #0, “introduces” us to the Parker Family.  Peter and Mary Jane are married, and they are enjoying watching their daughter play high school basketball at the highest level.  Personally, I can’t stand watching high school basketball.  I am a huge fan of the college game (ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK!), and I even keep up with NBA on a casual level, but high school sports in general bore me, unless they are occurring in the fictional town of Dillion, TX on the critically-acclaimed Friday Night Lights.  Have you noticed how it is a law that one says “critically acclaimed” before saying “Friday Night Lights”?

I digress, but forgive me, as both Spider-Girl and the Dillion Panthers (for real, watch Friday Night Lights:  It’s f’n great!) are great pieces of entertainment to remind you of when you were young.  You are reminded when everything was somehow simultaneously carefree but also constantly heavy.  You remember when your whole life was ahead of you, but you could not possibly think past your 5th period world history class.  Spider-Girl brings that to us, and it uses her burgeoning powers as a great vehicle to also deliver the anxiety and feelings of never being able to fit in that saturate our every moment when we are teenagers.

And by burgeoning, I mean, OBVIOUSLY ALREADY APPARENT!

Spider-Girl #0 - Page 4
Spider-Girl or Teen Wolf?
Spider-Girl #0 - Page 6
I hate to sound like an asshole, but don’t be dense, folks. Your daughter just jumped five feet above the rim and then threw the ball through the basket with such force that it SHATTERED THE BACKBOARD. If your teenage daughter is performing feats that Shaq or Michael Jordan couldn’t do because THEY aren’t superhuman, she probably has powers.

This issue is very fun!  Marvel has always seemed to be looking for a follow-up to Spider-Man since that success.  I mentioned this in a previous article about Darkhawk here at The Unspoken Decade, but it goes back awhile.  There was Nova in the 70’s, Speedball in the late 80’s to early 90’s, The New Warriors (who featured both Speedball and Darkhawk as members) in the 90’s, Sleepwalker in the 90’s, and Cloak & Dagger in the 80’s just to name a few off the top of my head.  I am sure more characters fit into this archetype in the Marvel Universe, so feel free to put a couple in the comments section.

The teenage super-hero archetype they had been trying to achieve again with varying levels of success is perfected here.  I think that this succeeds for a variety of reasons, a primary one being an editorial feel like the old Marvel Bullpen of the 60’s.  The blurbs are fun and insistent that MC2 is amazing, you’re amazing for reading it, and we are amazing together.  That’s vaguely reminiscent of a Beatles song, which makes the concept even cooler to me.  The other reason is the connection to Spider-Man and his mythos.  I found myself going along with the story much more easily than someone else sharing these archetypes because it a generational tale.  May Parker is learning Power and Responsibility now, just as we saw Peter do.  There’s just something about the tale of progeny continuing in the wake of the heroism of their parents that always gets to me.  The idea gives me hope that maybe nothing ever really dies…maybe it is just transmogrifies, e.g. energy.  In fact, there’s even some hope that thanks to the lessons Peter learned, May can do it better.

Spider-Girl #0 - Page 27

The focus on family has always been at the center of the Spider-Man universe, even if most of Peter’s family are adopted.  Loyalty, sacrifice, and togetherness are themes we see again and again, and Spider-Girl is no different except that Peter’s role has changed.  Now he takes on the Aunt May role as he worries about his daughter.

The thing I loved most about going through these first few issues was the subtextual exposure of the inherent hypocrisy in parenting.  The personal stuff between them is blatant, but the subtext to me is that ALL PARENTS are hypocritical due to the nature of the position.  In order for parents to help their kids be better than them, they have to tell their kids not to do what they did.  Not just because and not just for kicks or what have you (although parents probably have to get their kicks where and when they can what with all the child-rearing and all), but because otherwise, the experience of the parents is meaningless without passing that wisdom and knowledge on.  But as a child, how can you take that seriously b/c NEARLY EVERYTHING YOUR PARENTS TOLD YOU NOT TO DO IS SOMETHING THEY DID THEMSELVES.  Thankfully, your Dad wasn’t Spider-Man.

Spider-Girl #5 - Page 3
That’s sort of a strange thing to say, Peter. Do most parents of teenagers just allow their kids to put their lives at risk?

Spider-Girl #4 - Page 23 Spider-Girl #4 - Page 24

Remember when you used to turn your parents' logic against them?  I bet it is even more awesome when your Dad is The Spectacular Spider-Man
Remember when you used to turn your parents’ logic against them? I bet it is even more awesome when your dad is The Spectacular Spider-Man!  Also, Mary Jane is a damn good mom.

 

Spider-Girl would go on to become the longest running Marvel title featuring a solo female character, and this title also had a dedicated fanbase.  When the rest of MC2 died, Spider-Girl lived, being saved from cancellation on a few different occasions by the fervent fan base.  I love that sort of passion, and the idea that willpower, desire, and an unwillingness to cave in against great odds is really what superhero comics are all about, right?

Tom DeFalco, & Pat Olliffe are a great team, and I think Olliffe is sooooooo underrated. Kurt Busiek gets the credit for The Untold Tales of Spider-Man, but the art really helped drive the early Spidey feel of the book; we’ll cover it later, though, because this is an article about Spider-Girl.

DeFalco does a great job bridging the Marvel Universe of old (do the cool kids call it “The 616”?  If so, would that disqualify them as cool?  Let me in on the etiquette here, folks.) with MC2.  In the first few issues, we see Kingpin, Darkdevil (who I cannot wait to find out more about), and in one of those moments that will speak to the woebegone tribe of fans that love 90’s comics in spite of the constant ridicule aimed at us by the comics fans who see themselves as our betters, we see the “good guy” Green Goblin!  Yes, there was a good guy Green Goblin, and yes, he was awesome.  Hush if you think otherwise! (Actually, leave a comment.)

I think the reason that he flamed out as The Green Goblin is because his true calling would have been to be Captain Oblivious.
I think the reason that he flamed out as The Green Goblin is because his true calling would have been to be Captain Oblivious.

Spider-Girl is the place to start with MC2, but it is not the place to end, nor is it my favorite.  The book does provide the center of the MC2 universe, not unlike Spidey is the center of the standard Marvel Universe, and reverberations from all actions and events in MC2 seem to either start or end up here.  From the sneak preview of J2 in this book to the appearance of the Fantastic Five (who will get their own entry in a few weeks), this is pulse of where MC2 happens.  You’ll see the rest of the MC2 Universe here at The Unspoken Decade over the next month or so, and next week, you get to see my favorite MC2 character…J2!  See you then folks!