Middle-Chapter Blues in Amazing Spider-Man 792

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

The middle chapters of multi-issue storylines sometimes suffer a bit. They’re not a beginning, they’re not an ending — sometimes all they can do is move a few plot points forward, hopefully in the most entertaining manner possible. The Amazing Spider-Man 792, the second installment of Dan Slott, Mike Costa, and Ryan Stegman’s “Venom Inc” crossover, is decidedly one of those middle chapters, but even in comparison to other middle chapters it suffers a bit.

Serving its purpose, the issue does move its story forward, if only by baby steps. Spider-Man and Flash Thompson/Anti-Venom team-up and track down Mania’s stolen symbiote. Eddie Brock gets free and swears to hunt them down, despite the fact that he can no longer sense the Venom symbiote. Lee Price/Maniac takes control of the Black Cat and her entire gang. These are all no doubt important points for this storyline, but it all too often feels like Amazing Spider-Man 792 doesn’t have much to offer besides getting things rolling for the rest of this crossover.

That wouldn’t be the world’s greatest problem if these events packed a bit more punch, but even significant developments play out with workman-like inevitability rather than any sense of urgency. Maniac taking control of Black Cat’s gang one-by-one should be terrifying. There should be a sense of real panic and dread. Instead it just kind of happens, quickly and with little fanfare, and the most important of Maniac’s acquisitions — Black Cat herself — takes place completely off-panel. The creative team missed an opportunity to add some real atmosphere to the issue with this scene, further emphasizing the idea that they’re more interested in setting up future installments than making this issue stand out on its own.

Understandably, then, the only moments where this issue really seems to come alive is when Slott actually takes the time to dive into his characters’ minds and motivations.

Even taking all of the bad experiences he’s had with the symbiote into consideration, Peter’s zealotry against it has seemed extreme — especially since, as Flash rightly points out, he’s recently redeemed the symbiote and used it as a tool for good. But pointing out that Peter feels personally responsible for all the lives Venom has hurt makes his actions a lot more understandable — of course he might go a bit overboard where personal responsibility comes into play. This kind of specificity and personal perspective is sorely missing from the rest of the issue, and would go a long way to making it feel special, rather than just a list of plot-points that need to be checked off before we can get to the real meat of the story.

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

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3 comments on “Middle-Chapter Blues in Amazing Spider-Man 792

  1. I liked this a lot more than you did. I like Flash and Peter together (although I guess it’s technically Flash and Spider-Man, since Flash doesn’t know the secret identity, and how is that possible at this point? If JJJ now knows, Flash should know). I used to like Black Cat before she turned into whatever Slott has her now.

    And I like the conflict created in destroying/saving the symbiote. It’s now showing personality and is even puppy like in wanting to be pet by Flash. But, Pete has a point. The Venom symbiote has been responsible in some way for so much death (and Carnage!) through the years. But it’s also been an Avenger. And now it’s staying in Bobbi Morse’s tub while Pete and Flash go looking for the other symbiotes.

    And the new Mania’s power is spitting on people?

    • I’ll admit that I may have been slightly harsh on this one — you’re right, the banter and admiration between Flash and Spider-Man is one of the issue’s best qualities by far, and great in its own right. It’s something I wanted to go into but didn’t really have space, so thanks for pointing it out.

      But coming only a week after Part 1 of this story and featuring almost identical characters, dilemmas, and even locations, it just felt like it didn’t accomplish all that much on its own. The two issues really run together for me, which isn’t great.

  2. “The two issues really run together for me, which isn’t great.” – You know, that’s a good point that I totally missed because…. I read them back to back in one sitting. I missed Venom last week and only picked it up because of the tie-in, so it was one continuous story for me. The similarity in the two didn’t mean as much to me because it was one consecutive story.

    But yes, I think we can agree that the next issue better progress past where these two have now ended up.

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