by Drew Baumgartner
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:
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?