Monday, January 16, 2012

SPIRITS OF VENOM by Howard Mackie, Alex Saviuk, and Adam Kubert

 Spirits of Venom (1993), written by Howard Mackie and penciled by Alex Saviuk and Adam Kubert, collects Marvel Comics’ Web of Spider-Man #95 and #96 and Spirits of Vengeance #5 and #6. Here, Spider-Man, Ghost Rider, and John Blaze battle Demogoblin, the Spider-Doppelganger, Hag, Troll, and a bunch of Deathspawn, plus Venom, in the high-ceilinged, labyrinthine sewers (standard comic book issue, of course) beneath New York.

There’s quite a bit going on here, most of it fighting – these four issues are little more than one massive action scene. The villains are all B-list and C-list (Ghost Rider’s rogues’ gallery tends to pretty obscure, even for serious comic fans), and the story never manages to feel significant. What little plotting there is is totally contrived: whoever needs to show up for the story to progress at a given point just drops in.

The dialogue is pretty rough, even by comic standards. Venom and Demogoblin are on one-note rants through the entire story (Venom’s like a wise-cracking zombie and Demogoblin’s a religious nut-job). Much of the rest is stiff and formulaic.

The art here is generally good, and, given the story, a definite plus. Saviuk’s long run on Web of Spider-Man was always solid, if never spectacular. Kubert’s art is more stylized, more detailed, more cinematic, and, overall, superior.

On the whole, Spirit of Venom is a passably entertaining mess, a model of quantity over quality. Unless you’re a huge fan of both Spider-Man and Ghost Rider, you won’t be missing much if you pass on this one.