Venom – The Madness
Book Report by Bob Smeets
Venom – The Madness – 3 part mini series
Ann Nocenti – Writer
Kelley Jones – Penciler
Marvel – Publisher
Venom/Eddie Brock – Villian who has bonded with a symbiote
Beck – Philanthropist, helps the community
Abby – Worked for Scarmore on the Mercury Project, became ill
Darby – Vice President of Scarmore
Charles Evans – Ceo of Scarmore
Juggernaut – Hired thug
Dusk – Hallucination
Paranoia – Hallucination
Necromancer – Hallucination
Underground San Francisco
What are comics?
They are part fantasy (diverse characters imbued with special powers), part archetypical (the Super Hero being the symbol of the highest degree), and very virtuous in its context (the Super Hero embodies the cultivation and adherence of virtues to, typically, fight the wicked). Comics reveal to us “how to be” – how to act in a given situation.
In my life comics has helped me dream. They have inspired and gave me something stable to stand upon. Comics make me feel good in a way unlike movies or novels or songs. And part of it is the way comics are presented. It’s part movie and part novel. I get the best of both worlds. I can take my time, I can pause it, I can analyze every page, there’s an interesting narrative, plot twists, and inspiring art. It upholds the values and ideas of imagination, virtues, and the fostering of heroes. Comics are like mirrors of Virtues and Vices – Good and Evil. I can choose which Super Hero I admire. Spider-Man, Wolverine, or The Avengers can act as role models – mirrors.
Who is Venom/Eddie Brock?
The 90’s version
The Marvel Encyclopedia book by DK publishing calls Venom a “vigilante”. I otherwise think he is a “villain trying to be a hero”. He bonded with the suit around the same time Spider-Man destroyed his career. I don’t think Eddie could handle the stress of the suit or the circumstances involving Spider-Man, just like any Marvel character couldn’t truly handle the symbiote, as we have seen since. It works perfectly if you are evil – Carnage for instance.
If Eddie wanted to be a true hero he would ditch the suit and become a Punisher type character or Captain America or Iron Man. That’s why he is a villain first… the suit gives him raw authority, status, and special powers – the things he always wanted. He tries his best at being the hero but it is in a distorted, symbiote first mentality.
He acts as if the suit is his friend, but it is just making life harder for him. Eddie distorts and creates responsibility with the symbiotes power, however Eddie does have a good heart. If only he could use his own heart more and not the symbiotes heart.
Rundown on the comic
Venom/Eddie Brock is living in an underground city in San Fransico (first explained in Venom – Lethal Protector, the beginning of his first limited series). Eddie is dreaming. A mysterious voice is talking to him, “There is no such thing as true symbiosis. There is only usury. One of the two always has the advantage. That creature slithers all over your body, encasing you, circumscribing you. Do you not feel by its grip which one of you is in control.”
A fight breaks out topside. A man named Abby Rubin who is aware of a conspiracy in the corporation Scarmore is trying to be silenced by thugs. Eddie changes into Venom and saves the day. Abby thanks Venom, while Beck, a good woman who was near by and saw the fight, explains the situation. Scarmore is working on something called The Mercury Project. They are splicing mercury with a virus, but people have become sick from it – even going mad. Venom offers help – with a little apprehension and concern from Beck cause he’s… well… Venom. Then Venom excuses himself and says, “…I’ve got some hired thugs to torture till they squeal on their boss.”
Then later, the ceo of Scarmore, Mr. Evans, wants this whole thing to just go away. He tells his assistant to handle it. The lawsuits are piling up and the ceo is afraid his whole company will go down. So the assistant hires Juggernaut.
The next scene Eddie and Beck talk about the relationship between Eddie and Venom. But suddenly Abby comes running up to them, telling them that a key member in the fight against Scarmore has been hospitalized and is dropping all of his lawsuits, saying, “…whatever hit him was more like a truck than a human.” Abby and Beck insist on Venom being subtle. Suggesting to him that being physical might not be the best approach to evil corporations.
Beck gains a court order for Mr. Evans and holds a press conference to get the word out about the evil corporation. During Mr. Evans dinner party the court order is served. Things are looking good for Beck, Abby, and Venom. A non-profit organization taking down a corrupt organization in court is inspiring on all levels. But the feelings are short lived, as Juggernaut, the hired thug working with Scarmore, attempts to capture Beck. Fortunately Venom is there to handle Juggernaut. A huge fight breaks out. Venom gets in his punches but clearly Juggernaut is winning. Juggernaut explains himself and his powers to Venom, “Get up, Venom! Don’t you know what a Juggernaut is? An unstoppable force that crushes everything in its path.” Then suddenly the floor caves in and they fall down into the sewers. The red sludge is all over the place. The mercury/virus that Scarmore has been dumping appears to be sentient and alive. It calls out to Venom, hoping to bond with him. With a wicked punch, Juggernaut sends Venom flying into the sludge. Venom sinks deeply into the weird, toxic, symbiotic red sludge.
While getting punched into the toxic waste sludge, Venom completely bonds with it. He mutates and physically becomes more powerful and threatening. Meanwhile Venom is introduced to an unholy trinity of sorts – Dusk, Paranoia, and the Necromancer. They seem to want Venom to go insane.
Beck and Abby discuss their work. They have worries over Venom and are unsure if he is the right guy to help them. Beck thinks she may have unleashed a monster in Venom. While Beck and Abby want to pursue things the legal way, they understand there’s no telling how Venom wants to pursue it.
Meanwhile, other officials for Scarmore also want to bring down the corporation.
Later, Venom has a nightmare. That sludge he fell into is messing with his head.
Venom has a talk with Abby, who insists Venom should go straight to Scarmore, “Go to the source! Go stomp out the evil before it hurts anyone. Scarmore is a rotten company, they deserve to be shut down.” Venom has his own plans.
Venom goes to Scarmore, trying to resolve the issue. He kills the cleaning lady, thinking she was the president.
Later Eddie sleeps and has a twisted dream, consisting of mental illness, phobias, and madness.
Juggernaut is assigned to once again capture Beck and make all her heroic attempts at bringing down Scarmore come to an end. Meanwhile, the corporation covers up the murder of the cleaning lady.
Venom and Beck are talking, but Venom can’t control his emotions and feelings. Beck suggest the he’s unhealthy, partly because of the sludge he fell into. The third voice in his head (the toxic sludge) takes over and he forces himself on Beck. He is confused and out of control. He attempts to rape her. Just then Juggernaut arrives to finally silence Beck. Venom and Juggernaut fight. A strange portal opens up behind Venom so Juggernaut pushes him in.
Venom is stuck in some kind of temporal reality. He meets Necromancer and Paranoia. They want to bond with him. Apparently there are others too: Delusion, Psychosis, etc.
Juggernaut holds Beck captive. Beck, being a really nice person, has sympathy for Juggernaut. Beck learns that it was Venom who killed the Janitor. She blames herself for asking Venom to help. On the television, reporters are spinning the news, making it seem like Beck is at fault and the corporation is not.
Venom fights off Paranoia. He tries to keep his suit under control, “Eddie must stay dominant…” Venom then fights off Necromancer. Venom then confronts Dusk. After realizing he was simply hallucinating all this, Venom defeated Dusk by willing himself back to sanity and back to the real world.
Abby loathes his purpose for trying to help people. He thinks he is just a talker and takes no action to stop evil people.
Beck and Juggernaut talk. Beck decides to forgive Venom for killing the Janitor and extends that forgiveness to Juggernaut too. They watch the television. A reporter says Darby came forward with evidence to Mr. Evans’ cover up and illegal mercury testing. Indictments are being issued against Mr. Evans.
Venom heads back to San Francisco. The virus is starting to ooze off him. Venom and Juggernaut fight again, while the cops show up and are hesitant to do anything after looking at what they are up against. Juggernaut escapes – he’s not getting paid anyway since Mr. Evans is probably going to be arrested.
Beck and Eddie have a moment. They reconcile their needs. Beck tells Eddie she is leaving him, but still wants to be friends. Eddie accepts.
Venom goes back to the sewer where Scarmore was dumping toxic waste. He lets go of the virus, putting it back in the sewer. If he ever needed the virus again he knows where it will be.
The Take Away
The art for Venom – The Madness is stylish and dark (I love Kelley Jones’ art!) and the plot is professional, intelligent, no more complicated than it has to be, and it reads fast and hard (I want to read more titles from Ann Nocenti).
One problem I have with Venom – The Madness is the series really should have been 4 or 5 issues and not 3. You can’t just cram all that stuff into 3 issues. The concept is great. The characters are cool. To do them justice it should have been stretched out more. Hell, they could do a whole run on Dusk, Paranoia, and the Necromancer. The story is great, the art is great, but it seems too compact.
One thing I really like about Venom – The Madness is how they approached madness. Paranoia, Delusions, Hallucinations, psychosis are all very real and very powerful concepts. It’s good to see Venom go insane and then by shear willpower defeat these concepts and come back to reality.
One more thing I like is how creepy it is. I can just imagine the dread and slow build up to Venom’s madness. I can feel the horror of the story.
All said and done Venom – The Madness is one of my favorites. It has a good ending; Venom defeated madness and Darby had a change of heart and brought down the evil corporation.
Ann Nocenti rocked and rolled my mind very pleasantly. She describes madness very well and parallels it with symbiosis with a caption that says, “Do you not feel by its grip which one of you is in control.” Brilliant!
The art – 10 out of 10
The story – 10 out of 10
The finished product as a whole – 9 out of 10