Friday, September 15, 2006

Oil and Gold (Marvel comics)
Iron Man #302 When: March 1994
Why: Len Kaminski How: Kevin Hopgood

The story so far...
What happens when you take a billionaire industrialist, and add a deranged killing machine who considers himself a 'lethal protector'?

Recent corporate decisions have brought Tony Stark to the attentions of the alien symbiote wielding anti-hero called Venom, and he wants blood.

Believing Stark to be little more than a cancerous pollup, fleecing hard-working innocents of their hard-earned dollars; Venom makes the march to Stark Tower to get a piece of hard justice.

Previous Form:
Iron Man (#4): Iron Man has gained victories over the likes of the Hulk, Captain America and Diablo.
Venom (#59): Venom has not yet participated in a conclusive battle.
Spider-man: Wearing the black symbiote, Spider-man aided Jim Rhodes in defeating Backlash.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Iron Man 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Iron Man 5 (Professor)
Speed: Venom 3 (Trained Athlete)
Stamina: Iron Man 6 (Generator)
Agility: Venom 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting Ability: Iron Man 4 (Trained Fighter)
Energy Powers: Iron Man 5 (Lasers)

First off, I just have to acknowledge how bizarre a combination this is.
Six degrees of Spider-man connect these guys quite directly, particularly in a world post-Civil War, but otherwise there's just no connection here. Which is probably what makes it so enjoyable.

Venom's statistics probably don't highlight how formidable a foe he is, even for Iron Man. While his strength and abilities are perhaps not as potent as the Iron Man armor, Venom still weighs in somewhere around the second or third tiers.

The irony of the stats is that Iron Man could very easily defeat Venom based on some of his simpler tools, even things as base as sonic radar.
That said, being so unfamiliar with Venom as a foe, it's entirely reasonable to expect Iron Man to overlook this kind of specific solution, and instead engage in more direct combat.

Conflicted: As much as he enjoyed his physical comedy stylings as Kramer, can Venom allow Michael Richards to go unpunished?Under those circumstances, Iron Man should still come out the victor relatively comfortably. However, Venom's capacity to barrel his opponents over with sheer strength and aggressions should not be overlooked.
The right kind of front-on attack could easily see the armor peeled open like a very expensive sardine can, leaving Venom to feast on the gooey goodness contained within.

Overall: Iron Man 31 (+7)
The Pick: Iron Man

What went down...
Having burst into one of the many highrise properties owned by Stark Industries, Venom has few bones about leaping all over his intended prey, and popping his head like an overgrown zit.

Fortunately for us, this decapitation reveals a ruse the likes of which would make even Victor Von Doom proud... If he hadn't done it a hundred times before, infidel!
The robotic LMD [Life Model Decoy - Mick Fury] serves only to stir Venom's rage further, but he remains clear of mind enough to deduce that "corporate scum" would probably be in the penthouse, if not the office.

A couple of broken windows later, Venom is again upon our moustached hero -- this time for real!

It's funny because he's crippled.This is the period when Stark was largely housebound, having one of his frailer moments. Which means Tony's a hoverchair bound sitting duck when Venom comes looking for a late lunch.

A bit of quick thinking sees Stark using his chair as a projectile, which nails Venom with such force, it sends him hurtling through the brickwork!

At a slow crawl, Stark makes his way to the express elevator -- commando style!
Still feeling the effects of his near-death experiences, Stark heads for the armory, but Venom is lurking not far behind.
Coming back in the way he went out, Venom is right at the elevator doors as they slam shut.

The symbiote powered anti-hero makes little work, tearing and mangling the doors, before descending down the shaft: "Going down: Men's shirts... House-wares... And dismembered corpses!"

Uh-oh Tone, I think he means you!
"There's a word for what you are now, Stark: Spam."
Yep, he definitely means you!

With the elevator holding up until they reach sub-level 3, Stark crawls his way through his identification systems, as Venom finally begins to rip his way through, moving at a stroll like any good horror villain. Another set of big metal doors coming between stalker and prey, just in the nick of time!

Clawing at the doors, Venom is hurled backward as they blow out!
There, standing amongst the smoke and rubble is the symbol of hope and capitalism - gleaming like an golden angel -- IRON MAN!

Venom recovers and fires webbing over the eyeslats of the armor, forcing Tony to go to ultrasound viewscans. Thus, Venom inadvertantly brings IM a moment of the upperhand!

LITTLE KNOWN FACT: Iron Man's ultrasound visuals are actually generated by high frequency output of his own personal Enya playlist.
Unfortunately for Iron Man, the low frequency device is not enough to directly assault Venom, sending him into a deranged frenzy.

With the webbing away from his eyes, Iron Man holsters the red muleta, as Venom pins him to the ground.
"You're crunchy on the outside -- chewy on the inside!," Venom taunts.

Apparently tired of his foul mouth, Iron Man snatches Venom's wagging, saliva laced tongue and channels an electrical charge through his gauntlet.

If you want to confront evil, Venom... Explain your involvement in the nineties!Whilst verbally defending himself, he throws a punch to back up his strong words, sending the symbiote clad maniac through various generic set pieces.

A barrage of repulsor rays keep Venom pinned down, while Stark attempts to turn the psychological fight around. He accues Venom of being the very evil he claims to police, via his own demented ideals.

"You want to confront evil, Venom -- Take a good long look in the mirror."

Though Venom doth protest, he does so too much.
The psychological blows prove to be the most effective, and the psycho agrees to give Stark length of rope long enough to hang himself.

With that, Venom retreats into the shadows, and Stark lets him go, too weak to have a hope of giving chase.

Next time, Gadget. Next time...The hammer...
Well, given that Venom really left of his own accord after giving Iron Man a pretty tough time of it. I think the best I can do here is call it a draw.
On points I'd probably go Venom, but gosh darn it. Gotta give IM something for effort.

It's been about three or four weeks since I last updated, I think.
I had a big tidy recently, and when I dragged my crammed longboxes out again to see what I might find, this was the gem that popped up. Well, actually, this was the second gem, after Ironman #259 - the issue I was actually looking for.

I decided to scrap the original issue planned for this entry, just to get a post done on enthusiasm. Yes, that's right. I was enthusiastic about a comic from the mid-nineties that featured Venom in an obtuse guest appearance.

The crazy thing about what Len Kaminski does here is not the mere inclusion of the guest character. It's the fact that, beneath the fairly typical execution, lies a sound concept!

One of the things that has me most jazzed about Sam Raimi's inclusion of Venom in the upcoming Spider-man movie is the nature of the character. Though often portrayed more as a psychopathic anti-hero, Venom has the basic fundamentals of a really scary, horror style menace.
This applies even moreso where Spider-man is concerned, with one of Venom's most deadly qualities being the fact that he has Peter Parker's entire history on tap.

Couple that with supreme camouflage abilities, spidey-sense immunity, super strength, and all those other wacky powers -- and Venom becomes a pretty frightening prospect.

It's interesting then to see the character's distorted mobility used as the driving force for a chase comic, like this particular issue of Iron Man.
Like many comics featured on Secret Earths, it's not going to win any awards, but it's a fun a propsect.

Despite Venom's ultimate warning, I don't think the comics ever had him cross swords with Iron Man again. Which, in a way, is a bit of a shame.
Villain-of-the-week appearances like this really didn't help sustain the interest in the character, and highlight some of the missteps taken in the nineties as the character was finding his way in the Marvel world.

I guess an ironic conclusion to this entry is the current course being taken in Civil War. The contrast of Stark's character aside, Mac Gargan is among the villains being employed by Iron Man and the registration crew.
Mac Gargan, better known as Scorpion, has been in posession of the venom symbiote for the last year or two.

The Fight: 4 The Issue: 4.5

NEXT: Whatever tickles my fancy!

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