Amazing Spider-Man & Venom: Venom Inc. Omega Spoils Itself

by Drew Baumgartner

Venom Inc Omega

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

How do we feel about Marvel’s “alpha” and “omega” strategy to crossovers? That is, mostly embedding the crossover in already-running monthlies, reducing the event series to just the first and last chapters of the story. They’re harder to skip by design — where you might be able to simply ignore an entire event series, you might be pulled into a crossover if a book you’re following is participating — but that can be frustrating to otherwise disinterested readers. Another downside that I hadn’t considered is that the stakes of an omega issue are kind of necessarily neutered — their inessential nature means they lack the ballast to make any changes that would be too earth-shattering to its participating series. Any big changes must have already happened in the series it would most effect, leaving the omega to tie up the loose ends with as little disruption to the status quo as possible. I don’t love to lead with these kind of meta-critiques of an issue (honestly, most superhero story arcs wrap up with the same kind of predictable return-to-normal), but Amazing Spider-Man & Venom: Venom Inc. Omega seems determined to keep it at the forefront of my mind, stymying any tension at every chance it gets.

It starts on the very first page, as what should be a big page-turn reveal is spoiled with an inexplicable double-page spread:

Hey look! Maniac is huge!

Like the only way that “Maniac is a giant now” isn’t spoiled the second you open this spread is if you try not to look at it. I’m not sure if this page was drawn by Ryan Stegman or Gerardo Sandoval, but whoever it was tried their level best to keep our eye from wandering, overlapping the panels in an attempt to keep our eye from wandering to the right side of this spread, but it’s really no use — we’re just drawn to the biggest image on the page, so know how this bit of story ends before the rest of our characters.

Unfortunately, this kind of “final image is spoiled by dominating the page” composition is all over this issue. Some work better than others, but pretty much all of them would benefit by inserting a page turn into the spread. And I appreciate that changing those layouts would have demanded compromises elsewhere, but since most of this issue is a fight scene, failing to sell the tension and release of those little surprises really robs this issue of any stakes it might have had. Which I guess is really a microcosm of the lack of stakes we already got from seeing “omega” on the cover. We can pretend like we didn’t see it to try and feel surprised, but it’s not quite the same as actually not knowing what’s coming.

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

4 comments on “Amazing Spider-Man & Venom: Venom Inc. Omega Spoils Itself

  1. I thought there were some consequences here. Possibly consequences that were strongly implied last issue, but consequences nevertheless.

    1) Black Cat / Spider-Man are no longer on the outs! About damn time, the Black Cat heel turn never felt right. I’m not sure what’s in store for her, but I’m glad that she’s no longer going to be written as a ‘Get Power/hurt Spider” mentality.

    2) Flash is now Anti-Venom instead of Venom. That’s actually pretty huge. I skipped most symbiote stories the past 20 years so I don’t know exactly what this means, but it’s significant for a couple of reasons, mostly…

    3) Eddie Brock is back as Venom and HE might try to be a hero?

    These aren’t changes that affect the larger Marvel Universe, but they certainly affect the symbiote corner of the Spider-Verse.

    On the other hand, there’s a lot that has been written and can be written about the structure of serial comic books in the era of trade and digital reading. As a physical collector/reader, I prefer that titles are all in one title, whether it be mini-series or the regular story. These Alpha/Omega comics are hard to catalog and store. But the thing that hurts the suspense the most is the “the end” written on every comic that is titled “Omega” or “5 of 5” or whatever.

    • I’d argue beyond “strongly implied” — all of those things happened in previous issues (specifically, the issues of the series that those events will affect). Which mostly left this issue to play out the fight exactly like we expect it might. Not the most exciting.

      • Yeah, you’re not wrong. Maybe I just found the issue more interesting. Those things “happened” earlier, but I didn’t really expect the changes to stick (other than Black Cat, that wasn’t tenable as it was). I thought it was a good resolution to a surprisingly good mini-series.

        I’m not sure how often “things” happen in issues alpha and omega compared to middle issues. I guess I don’t pay that much attention to it, but that may have to do more with not remembering stuff and not reading in “trade form”.

        I guess I didn’t get that from you here. Did you like this Venom/Spidey team-up? Did the mini-series work for you as a whole?

        • I haven’t been reading Venom, so I’m not super invested in any of the big changes to Flash and Eddie. And while the Black Cat change will definitely affect Amazing Spider-Man down the line, this whole crossover felt like such a departure from the recent stuff in that series that it really could have happened at any time. Which left this thing feeling pretty disposable to me — if it had all been it’s own little event series, I would have skipped it and felt like I didn’t really miss anything. But again, that’s largely because I haven’t been reading Venom. It seems like this changed things there quite a lot, so I’m sure fans of that series will have a different reaction than I did.

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