As a child of the ’90s, I grew up with Venom. And I always found him annoying.
That’s probably weird to hear, but I wasn’t a fan of “mirror” characters then and I really hate them now. Every superhero, if he sticks around long enough, will get an evil counterpart, and Venom, as a character, was never interesting. Carnage was even less so. They had nothing to make them distinct. Venom’s entire shtick was that he was an also-ran Peter Parker, and when the guy pops up every third issue… how do you make that interesting?
And then there’s Kaine and the Clone Saga and… well… do I really need to say any more?
Still, in the interests of being fair, I picked up Minimum Carnage to try out the series it tied into, Venom and Scarlet Spider. Both characters are essentially ’90s relics, grim anti-heroes who whine a lot and care about themselves more than others. And then the book goes hilariously, gloriously insane.
Essentially, Venom and Scarlet Spider get shrunk down into a teeeeeeeny fantasy kingdom, and get their asses kicked. And it’s a riot. Venom gets his ass handed to him by fairies, and Kaine finds himself face to face with a mutant dinosaur with his only assistance a suicidal blind guy who speaks in riddles. Kaine’s final line in the book is laugh-out-loud funny.
It sounds ridiculously goofy, and it absolutely is, but the juxtaposition of grimdark antiheroes with ’70s insanity (you might remember the Atom spent some time as a teeny barbarian, for example) is just so funny, for me it makes the book. It turns what could have been an overly grim team-up into what’s looking increasingly like a fish-out-of-water buddy movie with Spider-Wolvie and Flash Thompson.
I don’t know if the energy in this book will be sustained across the whole crossover, but hell, I’ll take it. Mixing Marvel’s ’90s tendencies with its ’70s tendencies is a hoot, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.