Venom Funeral Pyre Issues 1-3
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Venom : Funeral Pyre is a Venom Solo Story and Three Issue Mini Series.
It is written by Carl Potts, Pencilled by Tom Lyle, Colorist is Ed Lazellari, Inks by Josef Rubinstein and with Lettering by Richard Starkings. It was published throughout 1993 by Marvel Comics.
Venom, Spider-Man’s Nemesis
Venom has often been slated as the evil arch nemesis to Peter Parker’s Spider-Man. An interesting choice if any, when every time I’ve opened a Venom comic book or turned the page in an Eddie Brock story arc, I’ve found Venom to be the quintessential anti-hero amongst Spider-Man’s gallery of rogues. I feel enamoured by the Venom storyline and Eddie Brock’s jealousy turned unrelenting obsession towards Peter Parker. After all, at least Peter kept his job at the Daily Bugle.
At this point The Venom Symbiote, The Carnage Symbiote, The Symbiote God and the entire race of Symbiotes are the stuff of Marvel legend. Initially starting with the original “black ink” Symbiote that corrupted Peter Parker and gave him his Black Spider-Man suit. A suit that would turn out to be an intelligent alien life form and Spider-Man’s worst nightmare when introduced to the likeness of Eddie Brock. Who, like Peter Parker, was a struggling journalist except jealous of the Peter Parker/Spider-Man connection.
The Symbiote gave Brock the foresight to acknowledge Peter Parker as the infamous wall crawler, Spider-Man. This fueled his unrequited rage towards Spidey for years to come. Though, what was interesting in the annals of 1990s comics, was this notion that Eddie Brock despite his burning hatred of Spider-Man was able to influence the Symbiote in ways that Parker never could. This played out, albeit subtlety, across most of the Venom mini series.
Eddie manipulates the Venom Symbiote
For me, it was Venom Funeral Pyre, where Eddie Brock’s control of the Venom Symbiote had more control. Brock’s wanting and needing to do good was in the driver seat, despite the split personality lamentations of a hideous monster. For some, the argument can be made that this is the new dual personality experiencing growth. But it’s hard to maintain that position when the core motivations of Eddie Brock’s character are what drive Venom throughout this Mini Series.
The story of Funeral Pyre is set against a backdrop of gang related violence. A stereotypical, if not lazy writing solution, used as a drastic attempt to elevate the threat and tension of the story. Because what’s deadlier than a Gang War in the 1990s? Everything and nothing it appears.
The guts of the story revolves around Venom and his search for a Journalist who has gone deep undercover with a street gang. As the street gang’s HQ may or may not be where a former Hydra science laboratory used to be. A lab that houses another chamber to create a Super Soldier in the vein of Captain America. Marvel, right?
Descending deep into gangland territory, Venom comes across Punisher who is on a similar mission (except to kill the journalist and the gang he’s now a part of). Like all great comic book crossovers, this results in a battle between the two anti-heroes. Frightened for his life, the journalist locks himself in the Hydra Super Soldier chamber and re-emerges as Pyre. And you’ve been reading Marvel Comics long enough to figure out who is going to come out victorious in this battle of titans.
The biggest problem with this Mini Series is the air that Marvel Comics and the Venom creative didn’t know what they wanted out of this relationship. Carl Potts’ ham-fisted approach to writing Venom like an Incredible Hulk-ish character in Issue One and then like James O’Barr’s The Crow character in Issue Three shows a lack of understanding and devotion of character development.
Funeral Pyre feels like Venom was still being written for children and not the Adult Audiences that rushed to the Venom film of yesteryear. While artistically, Tom Lyle’s work sings throughout this entire run – it wouldn’t surprise me if the Animators on Spider-Man TAS, had used Lyle’s work as a direct reference point in episodes like The Alien Costume.
Overall, Venom Funeral Pyre reads as a victim of the 1990s. A schlocky teen action thrill ride filled with the right amounts of bubble gum moments that filled a 10 year olds heart with pride. A time where Mullets and Machine Guns seemed to have been the corporate agenda on Marvel’s 1993 roster. While, the relentless massacre that Venom and Punisher waylay on every third panel adds a statement that violence, no matter how terrible, is acceptable for 10 year olds crowded around a comic book stand.
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Venom in Cartoon or Venom in Film?