2. VENOM (Marvel Comics)
In 2011, Rick Remender & Marvel Comics revitalized the Venom character concept with a new ongoing title, VENOM. But this is a very different kind of Venom. First off, the symbiote is now joined to Flash Thompson, Peter Parker’s high school bully-turned best friend. The Venom symbiote is just one on a long list of things that Peter and Flash have shared over the years, including ex-girlfriends and Spider-Man suits. Secondly, the symbiote is now owned and controlled by the US Government, through a team called Project Rebirth 2, named after the same team that created Captain America.
This new Venom is used as a covert black-ops agent to tackle missions too dangerous for normal soldiers. For those that don’t know, Flash Thompson lost his legs while serving in the Army, so naturally he jumped at this chance to serve his country. With this new bond formed, there are conditions. First, the symbiote and host can only be together for 48 hours at a time, before they need to be separated to keep the Venom symbiote from possibly gaining full control. Secondly, the soldier using the suit is only cleared for 18(?) missions before a new host takes over the duties, also to keep the suit from gaining control. The main team at Project Rebirth 2 headquarters has wired the suit with internal explosives which can be activated to destroy the symbiote should it ever take full control.
Ever since launching the new #1, the VENOM team has done a remarkable job at revitalizing a character that hasn’t been very relevant since the 1990’s. Along with its own storyline, and instrumental participation in the “Spider-Island” event this past year, Venom has been renewed for new and older readers alike. With its first mini-event starting this month called “Circle of Four” (also starring Red Hulk, X-23, and Ghost Rider), and the [SPOILER ALERT] apparent return of Eddie Brock (the original Venom) to destroy the symbiote, things are shaping up to be a rough year for Flash Thompson and the Venom symbiote, which should have all us Venom and Spider-Man fans happy for a while.
3. BATMAN (DC Comics)
With the New 52 now firmly in place at DC Comics and the introductory stories concluding early this year, it is now time to delve into some book-spanning events. Although most of the Batman mythology (along with Green Lantern) stayed mostly the same after the relaunch, this book is still a great read. One of the biggest ones, if not THE biggest, is the “Night of The Owls” event beginning to take place in the New 52 Batman-family books (not including Detective Comics). Almost all of the main Batman titles will be involved in the story, including NIGHTWING (one of my favorites of the New 52), BATGIRL, BATWING, and BATMAN & ROBIN, to name a few. While most of these will be tie-in issues, the main story will take place in BATMAN.
The story began its roots in New 52 relaunch in September 2011 in BATMAN, when a man was killed by a dangerous assassin called Talon, a member of the Court of Owls, a group once thought to be mere urban legend. The Court was apparently instrumental to the development of Gotham City decades ago, along with Wayne Family. Up until now, [SPOILER ALERT] Batman has discovered Owl “nests” in many of the most notable buildings of Gotham. It appears as though many important people in Gotham’s history may have a connection to the Court, including the Wayne Family.
Many members of the Batman family, including Dick Grayson (Nightwing), Barbara Gordon (Batgirl) and Tim Drake (Red Robin), will be joining in the event, along with the sole member of Batman, Inc. to get their own title, Batwing (my favorite new character DC has created). The lead up in BATMAN has been incredible, with Scott Snyder’s writing being the best part. Snyder, in my opinion, is the quintessential Batman writer of the last 3 years, including handling Dick Grayson’s run as Batman in Detective Comics last year. This is possibly the biggest event DC will have this year, and I can’t wait to read it.