Venom # 1
Venom recently turned 30 years young, so it’s only appropriate that Marvel celebrates by giving a classic character a slight reboot. Venom #1 promises to explore some complicated plotlines, as well as exploring more of what and who the symbiotes actually are. Ties to Captain America and Project Rebirth, former Venom Flash Thompson, military conspiracies and, potentially, the Gods of War, abound. Are all presented as Eddie Brock, again in partnership with his blessing and curse, the symbiote, struggles to eke out a semblance of a normal life. Brock’s symbiote is afflicted with a mysterious ailment and Brock himself has a tenuous grip on reality. A mysterious figure offers answers, and Donny Cates’ ambitious exposition issue plants several more layers of intrigue down in a secret S.H.I.E.L.D. underground highway. The intrigue is underpinned by the toxic co-dependent relationship Brock has with his symbiote. Topping this all off, there’s a new take on the Klyntar, carried out beautifully by Ryan Stegman, borrowing notes from previous Venom storylines, notably a “Hellish Encounter” from Volume II.
What if the internet came crashing down around us? In the world of Analog, we find it’s pretty much the same as it was for those who remember a time even before the screech of dial-up modems. Except with more robots. With the data cloud as we know it the last place you would want to keep secured data, couriers are back in fashion. As late comedian Mitch Hedberg once said, “I always wanted a briefcase handcuffed to my wrist. Yeah.” It’s an almost ancient conceit, from Nixon’s nuclear football in Watchmen to classic Bond fodder, but it’s a fashion that never seems to fade. Gerry Duggan’s half-step variation on the near future is as refreshing as David O’Sullivan’s illustration. Panels with harsh shadow alternate with airy and bright scenes, mirroring Jack McGinnis’ wisecracks as our pugilistic protagonist dodges death. Duggan’s time writing Deadpool crackles throughout the dialogue. Issue two sets the stage for big moves from a US government that clearly wants the keys back to their police state.
BPRD: The Devil You Know #6
Mike Mignola, Scott Allie
Mike Mignola’s writing has always been understated, and his illustration is more about what may be in the shadows than in the light. Throw in healthy doses of symbolism and foreshadowing and you’re left with the raw and cerebral stories he’s been weaving around Hellboy and other characters for decades. Teamed with frequent collaborators Scott Allie and Sebastian Fiumara, BPRD: The Devil You Know is no less complex or striking. The world has been riven by Lovecraftian nightmares, Hell is “closed for business”, cults roam the land, the B.P.R.D. and governance as we know it is increasingly in tatters. The dialogue from the characters left standing alludes to the culmination of all their struggles on the horizon, which is largely fortunate, as there’s not much reality left. Hellboy has recently come back from, well, death, and is even more taciturn than usual. His entry onto the field is a sure sign that this final battle is close, and the jump-cut threads of narrative are about to weave themselves together into resolution…or oblivion.