Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Comics Review: Amazing Spider-Man #316

Written by: David Michelinie
Art by: Todd McFarlane

   This is easily one of the most recognizable covers of all comic book history. Its Venom standing over a beaten Spider-Man, hand covered in blood and smiling that evil smile we all love so much. This issue picks up in the sewers of New York, as Venom hunts down a poor homeless man, the sewers are supposed to be for Venom and Venom alone. The man swears he won't tell anyone that he saw Venom, but he knows the man is lying. So his response to that is scare him into keeping his word. Venom webs up a nearby sewers rat in a ball of webbing and notes how the rat is struggling to get out. Bouncing around, trying to bust out of the ball, but when Venom takes the air out of it, the rat instantly dies, and the webbing molds to the rat's body once the oxygen is vacuumed out. Venom's got much more webbing where that came from, and this buys the man's silence. In the sewers, Venom finds an old abandoned fallout shelter used by government people to hide out until after the Cold War. He uses this space to work out and just get bigger, stronger, better, to be more prepared to finally destroy the one thing he hates most, but the same thing that gave him reason for being, Spider-Man. And speaking of Spider-Man, he's trying real hard to get some pictures of action around the city. He can't use the automatic setting on his camera anymore, since J.J. flat out won't buy any pictures of Spider-Man anymore. Even if its him "doing bad". Luckily, there a robbery going on, and a police officer is chasing the single culprit. Just because Spider-Man can't be involved in the photos, doesn't mean he can't help out a bit. He takes down the burglar and snaps some pics, then asks the cop to pretend he wasn't ever even seen!

    At the Bugle, Pete drops off some pics and gives his lively wife Mary Jane Watson Parker a quick phone call. Turns out she's been getting a couple of her modeling gigs cancelled last minute. At least she's using her time wisely, deciding to go apartment hunting so they can move out of Aunt May's boarding house soon. Something doesn't seem right with her though, Pete thinks the lack of work and getting evicted has been taking its toll on her, but she won't let him in on it. She's a strong woman, very deserving for someone like Peter, a strong person inside and out himself. His Spider-Sense goes off at the Bugle in a very odd situation, it seems to only go off when Glory Grant's boyfriend comes around, the editors note on the bottom of this panel tells you he's a friggin werewolf! Could this be a set up for a future arc in ASM? I wouldn't mind! Also happening elsewhere, Black Cat is still on the hunt for Spider-Man. They used to be a hot item, but she jumped ship and went off to mess around with a man called The Foreigner. What she doesn't know is, while she was away, Pete married his long time love MJ. Black Cat thinks by finding Spider-Man she can re-spark their old love. Her hunt takes a turn for the worst when a spider finds her instead. A very dangerous spider, a venomous spider. She realizes from the get that Venom isn't Spider-Man and they have a very quick fight. Quick only because Venom smashes her face into a wall which stops the fight. He asks her very clearly where Spider-Man is, and she tells him she doesn't know. He knows she's telling the truth, and leaves, mentioning his wife didn't know where he was before and he still found the Web-Head. Broken and bloody, that word "wife" is the only thing Black Cat is focused on.

    Speaking of the spider's wife, MJ is making a visit at her old apartment complex, the Bedford Towers, to say goodbye to their old bell boy. Unknown to anyone around, Venom swings by overhead and MJ spotted him and instantly goes pale. She comes back home to Aunt May's boarding home and heads straight up to her room. Peter finally gets home from the Bugle and May let's him know that Mary was shaken up about something and he should go make her feel better. He heads upstairs and she tells him about Venom being back. He's obviously broken out of his high security prison and is on the loose again. Peter makes some angry calls to the prison Venom broke out of demanding to know why he wasn't notified. Venom's entire first strike was finding Peter, kidnapping his wife, and almost killing her, why wouldn't they just let him know Venom's out. Their answer does make a bit of sense, they didn't let the media know so not to create public frenzy. Ugh, ok fine, that's not TOO bad of an answer, but its still aggravating. The only answer now to don the good ol' red and blue and go out searching on his own. Since that's how Venom found Spidey the last time, why not try it for himself?

    After an entire night of swinging around the city, Spider-Man is about to give up and call it a night. He heads back to a meat packing plant where he left a web pack of civilian clothes, but there is where Venom confronts Spider-Man! Apparently, Venom had been following Spidey the entire night! Remember kids, the symbiotes, having been on Spider-Man for so long, adapted his powers and DON'T set off his Spider-Sense. Peter never thought of just looking behind him! His Spider-Sense doesn't go off when Venom attaches his web to Spidey's arm either. And before he can act to snap the web, Venom swings Spidey around and right through a wall. Spider-Man knows he can't beat Venom punch for punch, so he needs to lead him somewhere else and beat him with his mind. He leads Venom into a meat freezer and tries to distract him with a giant piece of meat, which Venom shreds into pieces with his bare hands. This is "practice" according to the buffed out villain. He then picks up a giant container of blood and offal and pours it all onto Spider-Man. This would make even the strongest willed people go absolutely nuts. Spider-Man snaps and takes back the container and slams it right onto Venom's head. Using this open window of time, Spidey makes his escape to fight on another day. He can deal with Venom at another time, the good guy won this fight. Unfortunately, the war isn't over. Peter leaves thanking the heavens that Venom doesn't know where he lives now, and of course because this is a comic book, Venom finds the pants Peter leaves behind in his web pack. Inside those pants is a letter, giving the new address of Peter Parker and Mary Jane.

    Now Venom knows where Spider-Man lays his head, and not only him but his wife and his dear old Aunt May! This was an explosively great issue. Good build up on a lot of emotions, especially fear. The fight at the end was what every Spidey fan loves. Quick thinking, and he goes off the edge a little bit, which I usually don't mind seeing in my favorite super hero. I'm glad to see this new Venom arc spanning a couple issues, although I did enjoy the oversized 300, not the point. I wonder what's going to happen now that Venom knows where exactly to find Peter Parker, and what lengths he'll go to in order to get what he wants. Find out in only one week when I hit ASM 317!

-Matt Milanes

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