November 7, 2011
By The Cultural Communist
Not long ago I bemoaned the fact that Hollywood had turned the United States soldier into a constant, ruthless bad guy. They are presented as a symbol of fascism in the truest sense; a person without soul who would commit any jack booted atrocity simply because they were told to. Movies like X-Men: First Class and Super 8 exemplify this, but there are tons of other examples. Just look at any cliché zombie film. When Romero did Day of the Dead as a critique on militarism, and the overall cold war complex it was cutting edge. Now it’s just old! The counter culture changed our countries popular culture into one that was anti-military. Somewhere people lost touch with the fact that the United States military is made up of free people and not mindless zombies. For a fantastic look at an anti-U.S. military flick check out James Cameron’s Avatar where the bad guys all have American Flags on their arms. Where would the madness end?! Where would the United State’s soldiers become good guys again? One would certainly not predict in the notoriously liberal medium of comic books; but that is exactly where it has occurred.
The most patriotic and perfect comic of this new decade has to be Venom. It follows the story of bully turned war hero Flash Thompson. Spiderman fans will instantly recognize him as Peter Parker’s high school rival, but the character has grown in countless ways since his creation. For one thing he lost his legs fighting for the United States army in the Middle East. He came home to this country a veteran without a purpose. So when the U.S. Government offers him a chance at rebirth as a super hero he jumps at it. Thompson is given access to the Venom Symbiote which once partnered with Eddie Brock. He is tasked with completing his missions prior to losing control of the suit which is constantly eroding his control of it. He reminds me of the way Captain America should be. A government lackey trying to do what’s right whilst battling political red tape and super villains. He is kind of like General George S. Patton a bit in this respect too; constantly chewed out by the top brass but always delivering in the clutch.
Now throw in problems with his father, fiancé, and best friend…Peter Parker and you can see why this comic is a winning recipe. Marvel has done an exceptionally excellent job with the comic’s Spider-Island story ark. Venom must protect a trapped fiancé, try to be there for his dying father and stop the spread of a virus that turns humans into spider like creatures. Oh yeah and he has to confront and eventually team up with the original government super soldier; Captain America. The most exciting part is that this is all done while not degrading the U.S. army; in fact they help him! I know, it’s almost unheard of!? I daresay Venom is a pro-U.S. hero dedicated to the things Superman used to stand for. Ok, so maybe Venom isn’t all about truth, justice and the American way, but he does kick ass for the U.S. Government while not devolving into a thug. Although he does live with the constant threat of the Venom symbiote turning him evil.
Marvel Comics I commend you on your willingness to embrace an image of the U.S. as good! You win the award for most outstanding display of patriotism in a popular media, and I hope you keep up the good work! I honestly cannot say enough good things about the comic.
The art style stays fairly consistent through the first eight issues. It has a very slight surreal quality that keeps the panels just a bit out of focus. It’s as if the artist is trying to say that although Venom is a retro type of hero he still fights in a world that is tainted by the moral relativism that makes up today’s culture. Venom himself wears a costume that represents the exact opposite of this. He has no moral ambiguity as he is quite literally black and white. When he is out of the Venom Symbiote Thompson is thrust back into a world of complex moral issues. Issues like how to react to an abusive father near the end of his life. How the character comes to terms with his father before he dies is every bit as gripping a story as the overall battle against the amazing villain The Spider Queen.
She is written amazingly in issue eight of Venom. She flirts with her prey and gets off on carnage and destruction. She is rather fun and maybe even a bit campy for a Marvel villain but her traits all seem to blend into one extremely imposing villain. There is also the dichotomy drawn between Captain America and the new Venom In these issues as well as the one drawn between Venom and the former Venom and current Anti-Venom Eddie Brock. Thomson must get the suit to stay with him instead of leaving him for Brock at one point. Again layers and layers of gripping story here. Returning to Captain America we find that Venom is the new super soldier, Captain America is the old. Captain America is a symbol of an old United States, Venom is the Captain America for the modern generation. He is a hero to get people interested in rooting for the United States again.
Thompson must also constantly keep himself in control for the symbiotes’ dark evil nature can turn on him at a moments notice. When it does his suit deforms from a sleek military outfit to a raging monster. Oh yeah? Did I mention he has no legs and never lets that hold him back illustrating the capitalist free market can do spirit that truly made the United States the super power it is today?! In other words Venom is a self made man who is looking for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. HOORAH! U.S.A. U.S.A!
No one really knows all that much about this mysterious fellow who calls himself “The Cultural Communist”. He comes and goes erratically, showing up with an article and demanding we publish else our families be subject to intense interrogation, forced famine, years in the gulag, and/or complete eradication from the annals of history. So we appease and accommodate.
More from The Cultural Communist