Venom 13.1 is part 2 in the Circle of Four storyline, and it has hit shelves today!
So time for a quick rundown of how it's coming across. Part 1, if you read it, gave us a quite angry X-23 that's tired of being violated. It did nod some of her more recent stories like being an advocate for 'respect' towards women, but may have gone overboard on trying to make her sound poetic.
Part 2 though, so far is different. I was wrong about Ichor. He's the Antithesis to Ghost Rider. Glad to see they picked up and ran with his name's nod to blood of the gods. It's a bit of a shame he's knocked out of the fray so early though. Out of the 4, he was the only moderately interesting one and could have easily grown into something worthy of being part of the Marvel stable of characters. The rest are rather boring cliches as fitting as they may be. The alcoholic vs a preacher, military brute force against a psychic/empath, and the outcast vs a popular cheerleader girl. (I kid you not, she keeps cheering "I'm nuanced! I'm nuanced and you're not!" Hard to tell if that's a pot shot at the ongoing, or trying to play up the ongoing's commentary about self-professing being worthless to defining oneself. Actions speak louder than words. She plays up a lot of irony, but not enough to salvage the cheerleader as anything other than annoying.)
Ghost Rider really takes the spotlight in this issue more than the others, while other tidbits again are starting to feel mildly forced. X-23's parts in particular especially feel this way with the taunts thrown at her and the randomness of her stopping to ponder the moment. Flash fits to a degree and considering his personal arc, it's passable. Red Hulk's parts feel rather boring really. Overall, this comes across like a story thrown together by writers that only have deep knowledge of Ghost Rider and Venom. The rest feel way off the mark and ignoring their own personal histories from their comics.
Overall, this issue I hope doesn't reflect what's to come. If anything, it's starting to make me really miss the X-23 ongoing with how contrived and yawn inducing this characterization comes across. It borderlines on insulting, but it's hard to tell if that's intentional or not as yet. It could be because they are stretching Remender too thin across multiple titles. I'd rather not think this is intentional from the man that gave us the Dark Angel saga. Maybe it's being hampered by how it was seemingly group written, so everyone's style is coming out somewhat muddled.
This is only part 2 though. So be here next week as part 3 hits shelves with this title having nowhere to go but up!