Sinister Spider-Man #1 = Slightly Silly Story

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Marvel had a big week this week, releasing several new limited series as part of their overall Dark Reign story line. Perhaps too much of a good thing can only explain the silliness that is Sinister Spider-Man #1. Focusing on Venom AKA Spider-Man, this mercifully four-issue series will follow Mac Gargan, the man formerly known as the Scorpion who now wears the symbiote once housed by Eddie Brock, the man most people associate with the character of Venom, as he cavorts around New York on his own, apparently, hilarious misadventures. Perhaps it's been for the best that Venom/Spider-Man's activities have been kept to the pages of Thunderbolts and Dark Avengers until now, as this first issue of Sinister Spider-Man doesn't quite hit the mark of being "sinister". While it is quite nice to hear Venom's thoughts and perspective on the world around him unfiltered, they're not particularly inspired thoughts or ideas, which, from a character (Gargan) who's been around since the Silver Age, is a bit surprising. A particularly annoying element that keeps reappearing throughout the story is the fact that *shock!* Venom likes to eat human flesh! Oh no! What should be a creepy element to his character comes across here as simply a quirk, one that a recurring character in a sitcom may have. It's played to the point of being obvious, and the poor "villain" he terrorizes in this issue, General Wolfram, doesn't even make interesting lunch. His telling a group of women ogling over him that he could, "just eat them up," is a groaner of a line not even worth writing. Norman Osborn's scant few panels in this issue seem to be played for laughs as well, as he admonishes Spider-Man about going out in public without permission, a Mr. Wilson type telling Dennis the Menace to stay out of his rose bushes. We're treated to a fart joke in this exchange as well. Lucky us. The only redeeming piece to this seems to come at the end, when Gargan plants a nasty surprise for Mayor J. Johan Jameson, revenge for what Venom perceives as Jameson's hand in his wretched life. What may come next seems intriguing, but there's just very little depth to what Venom/Spider-Man has to say in his premier issue. Add to that mix a villain (?) named the Redeemer, who makes it his job to cure evildoers of their wicked ways, as a potential adversary, and the story gets a little more odd. Even he can't be taken seriously, and a throwaway question he asks about the Punisher makes that even more apparent. If there is one limited series to deem unnecessary during Dark Reign, it would seem to be this one. Venom was an intriguing villain for Spider-Man, particularly when he first appeared, but Mac Gargan doesn't have the same depth to him as a character and that painfully comes through here. Venom in this guise works well in addition to the other members of the Dark Avengers, but solo, his shortcomings become glaringly obvious.