Saturday, December 17, 2011
Retro Review: Amazing Spider-Man #316
There's something a lot of media tend to follow. When a character is a big hit, they usually bring him/her back sometime later. This issue is a classic example of that. I don't know if David Micheline had long term plans for our favorite Symbiote, but sixteen issues later, he returned. Or as the cover puts it, "Venom is back!" Technically, he appeared in the previous issue escaping from prison, but this issue was his next big appearance in the Spidey world. While this issue isn't known as a modern classic like #300, it's still an amazing issue and demonstrates how the Spidey comics should be.
Interesting enough, I wasn't exposed to the Todd Mcfarlane era until not too long ago. I liked Venom through the 90's cartoon, I mean, how do you not like a crazy evil Spider-Man? My first Spidey comic with Venom, wow, I can't even think of what it is. I believe the first single issue I got was Spider-Man Family #2. I had read a few Spidey comics from the Mcfarlane era, but the comics I mainly read were some from the 70's and late 90's to mid-2000's. It wasn't until I bought the Todd Mcfarlane Visionaries when I realized that was the definitive Spidey era. I had actually read this issue before, I had rented the trade paperback "Birth of Venom" a couple of years back. But I decided now was the time to add it to my collection. #316 is an example of how to bring a villain back and keep things fresh.
It's interesting to see how Venom was portrayed early on before becoming the most used character in the 90's. The scene where he suffocates a rat to explain something was something else. It was creepy. It was brutal. It was Venom. None of that Lethal Protector nonsense, this is what Venom was meant to be. A hardcore villain. It makes me a bit sad to think that they made him a bit of a joke in some of his mini-series later on. (I'm looking at "The Madness" and "Sign of the Boss" specifically.) Same with Spidey, looking back at these issues, the comparison to the current series is too unbelievable to do. This Spidey is sure of himself, knows what needs to be done. He doesn't act like a wisecracking fool like nowadays. His wisecracks back in this day, were genuinely funny. For a dollar, you get a main character you could root for and is likable, great art, and stories that define the character. Today, for four dollars, you get a juvenile character, inconsistent/inferior art, and sometimes good stories. How sad.
Talking about the issue, it features everything the Spidey comics at the time had. There's a lot of drama since Peter and MJ lost their condo. Wow, these two are just a perfect match. If Peter ever gets married again and it's not MJ, there will be a problem. I love the scene where Peter walks into Aunt May's house and the ladder telling him that MJ seems upset. Then when Peter walks in to see what's the matter, she says "He's back." I love the little box where it says "horror has a name." However, the most dramatic and brutal scene of the comic was when Black Cat had an encounter with our Symbiote friend. Wow, even reading it now sends a bit of a shudder down my spine when Venom smashes her face against the wall. You're thinking at that moment, "Did he just...." I still cannot get over that scene. That is what Venom does. Not to mention the great dialogue, "Tell me where he is! Now! While you still have a face!" Venom's obsession with Spider-Man can't be better explained, that scene is proof enough in showing how crazy he is. I think the whole scene should go down as one of the most dramatic and brutal in all comics.
Overall, #316 is one of the greatest Spidey comics I've ever read. I actually enjoyed it more than #300. Venom was back, and would be back a thousand times, but this issue is special. The dialogue is top-notch. The current series has plain bad dialogue when compared to this. I especially liked the scene where Spidey was on the search for Venom, and just when he's about to give up, Venom comes in saying "Quitting so soon?" Spidey replies. "Er, f-finally found me, eh?" "Find you? We've been following you! For hours!" That line goes to show you how he just likes to mess with Spidey like no other villain does. However, the second most dramatic scene in the issue was when Spidey threw some heavy machinery on top of Venom, then escaped, saying, "I just can't beat Venom one-on-one. I'll need a plan, maybe some help!" Spider-Man rarely flees a fight, but he did here. It's something else. Then the final scene where Venom emerges finding a paper saying where Peter and is staying and his gruesome smile at it is just one heck of an ending. Amazing Spider-Man #316 is great issue, I am proud to have it in my collection.