This week the Heroes in a Half Shell reteam with the Dark Knight, and the Amazing Spider-Man and Venom crossover kicks off with Venom, Inc. Alpha!
Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II #1 (of 6) (DC Comics/IDW)
The original Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles crossover was a massive success for DC and IDW, so it’s only natural that the two publishers would want to make a sequel. Bringing back original writer James Tynion IV and artist Freddie Williams II, Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II is a welcome return to the worlds of these two mega franchises, but like the original series, it does take a little while to get the plot moving.
Taking place after the events of the original miniseries, the Ninja Turtles are hard at work dealing with the repercussions of putting Shredder in jail. After Donatello is defeated by a Foot Clan ninja, he decides that he needs a little more training to measure up to the fighting skills of his brothers. Knowing that Batman has both the intelligence and fighting skills that he requires, Donatello sets out to send the Dark Knight a message using a portal that jumps between dimensions. Unfortunately for Donnie, the message arrives when Batman and Robin and are fighting Bane, and a mishap causes Donatello to enter Gotham City, while Bane takes his place in New York.
James Tynion IV’s script spends a lot of time setting up the reasoning for this next crossover, and while it’s really good, it does take quite a while to get to the crossover. That being said, it is really interesting to see Tynion reflect on the events that happened in the first crossover and the ramifications of that conflict on both sides. Tynion’s characterization of all of the characters is in fine form, though there is more of a focus on Donatello in this issue than the other turtles.
Freddie Williams II’s art is actually even better than the previous miniseries. While his Batman still looks a little off, his designs for the Turtles, Robin, and Bane are fantastic, and he’s able to jump between the two different worlds with ease. There’s a ton of major splash pages that Williams plays with, ranging from huge action set pieces to quiet moments with the turtles in their lair. It seems to be that Williams II’s art is going to be even better here than it was the last time.
Usually sequels kinda suck, but Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II is a welcome return to the original series. The fact that these two franchises are interacting with each other is still pretty weird, but this is the third time they’ve crossed paths now (the second being the animated worlds tie-in), so it’s getting more apparent that this is a crossover that makes fans happy and sells really well. You’ll probably going to want to read the first miniseries before this one, but for fans of the original crossover, there’s plenty to enjoy here.
Amazing Spider-Man: Venom, Inc #1 (Marvel Comics)
It’s been about a year since the last big Spider-Man story arc, so it’s about time for another one. Luckily though, Venom, Inc is looking to be way more interesting than Clone Conspiracy, mainly because this storyline looks to answer some of the lingering questions regarding Eddie Brock, Flash Thompson, and the Venom symbiote. As the first installment of the “Venom, Inc” crossover that will bounce between Amazing Spider-Man and Venom, Venom, Inc Alpha #1 sets the stage with both Amazing writer Dan Slott and Venom writer Mike Costa, and it features art by the stellar Ryan Stegman.
Flash Thompson desperately wants the Venom symbiote back, and he’s turning to Peter Parker for help. Even though he doesn’t have any superhuman abilities anymore, Flash knows that Peter can ask his old pal Spidey to help him get it back. The two make it to Alchemax, where Eddie Brock has arrived to receive the medication that helps keep his symbiote in check. Naturally, the symbiote freaks out, causing it to try and attach to Flash and Eddie at the same time, leaving Flash as the new Anti-Venom. Oh, there’s also a new symbiote monstrosity known as Maniac is building his army.
Both Dan Slott and Mike Costa do a great job setting the stage with this storyline, and their writing abilities mesh up really well, so much so that I didn’t even notice who wrote what part. Trying to piece together the story of Flash Thompson and Eddie Brock isn’t going to be an easy one, but if anyone can make it work, it’s Slott, and Costa’s proven himself to be a rising star with the current Venom series, so this crossover is in good hands writing wise.
As good as the script for Venom, Inc is, the art is what really seals the deal here. Ryan Stegman is an artist that I’ve followed since he started at Marvel a few years ago, and he’s easily one of the top Spidey artists Marvel has. A great mix of Todd McFarlane and modern comic art, Stegman delivers some truly dynamic panels and sequences in this issue, the stand out being a jaw-dropping (and hilarious), splash page right when the symbiote is choosing between Eddie and Flash.
While comic fans may not want to shell out money for another crossover, the good news is that if you are already getting Amazing Spider-Man and Venom then you don’t need to get any other issues (aside from the Omega special finale issue). Plus, you could do worse having Slott and Costa handle this event (providing that Slott can actually stick the landing this time). As it stands right now, Venom, Inc looks to be another cool Spidey event that’s worth checking out.