Sunday, October 14, 2018

Venom: Funeral Pyre

Coming as a complete surprise to me, Venom's the talk of the town! After the recent film, which I didn't think was super great, and a few new series Marvel is putting out, one of which put the symbiote back on Brock, people actually know who he is again. Who would've guessed anyone would still care about a giant buff goo-man with sharp fangs and a slobbery tongue? Well, anyone aside from me. I always cared. Even when he was stupid. Especially when he's stupid. Like this.

Comic Review: Venom: Funeral Pyre

Funeral Pyre is yet another of the Venom limited series that took place after Lethal Protector. These were a bit of a mixed bag. Obviously I love Lethal Protector, but you get stuff like The Madness as well, which... you know. Funeral Pyre falls along the latter side of the spectrum, though it still holds a special place in my heart.

We begin on the rough and tumble streets of Oakland, near Venom's current stomping grounds, as a gang called the... Jadoo are terrorizing people for no reason at all. One of their prospective members seems less than thrilled with the situation.

After they go chasing some old guy and his nephew with no aim in sight, the new guy saves the kid and sends him for help. Who else does the kid go to but somebody no one should ever ask for guidance.

Turns out the new member is actually a journalist, investigating old HYDRA labs in California, one of which happens to be the base of Jadoo. Gray, the journalist, decided to join in order to check out the old lab, but now he needs to kill someone to be initiated, or be killed himself. You know, boilerplate gang stuff. Rescuing him is easily within Venom's purview, as long as someone even more unhinged doesn't show up and ruin everything.


So instead of everyone fleeing to their homes and calling their mothers, the Punisher's arrival somehow sparks a gang war. In the first of many distractions, Venom briefly fights the Punisher before he remembers he has shit to do. Back with JADOO, Gray explores the hideout and finds the old lab, still operational after all this time.

No time for that though, because there's a gang war on! Back with Venom, he's had no luck finding Gray, but he does find Punisher, who quickly hits him with a sonic beam and traps him in a jail cell. In the next issue, using a tendril of the symbiote, he breaks free and starts punching Punisher's van.

Gray, however, is having a poor go of it.

Having committed murder, Gray falls into despair. But now Venom's free, and with the skills he garnered as an investigative journalist, I'm sure he'll be right on Gray's trail in no time!

So his strategy is to talk to everyone still alive in town and just ask them who has a birthmark. Or just grab people at random and see if they have a birthmark or not.

Given that this is not the best canvassing method, Venom takes longer than the Punisher to find the Jadoo HQ. The Punisher slaughters his way through, forcing Gray into the HYDRA lab, specifically the testing chamber.

He pops out glowing red and real mad. Last at the finish line, Venom finally arrives at the lab, but not to a warm welcome.

As the final issue begins, Pyre, as he's now referring to himself, zaps Venom and Punisher with microwave blasts, which cook Venom like a frozen mac and cheese. They fight for a bit, with Pyre being a little bit unreasonable assigning blame. I mean, he did join a gang with no plan. It's not Venom's fault he's an idiot. The Punisher tries to nullify Pyre's power with "anti-waves" but it doesn't work.

After Venom pins him down with some equipment from the ceiling, Pyre decides to just burn the whole place down. Long story short, Venom and Punisher escape and Gray, after having committed murder and mutated into a superpowered red guy with 80's hair, probably dies. What's Venom's takeaway from all of this?

I think I'd call it more an endless stream of incompetence from everyone involved, but you do you. What's important is: dozens of people have died and nobody is ever going to be held accountable. And Pyre will never be seen again. Great job, Venom!

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