In part 1 I covered the horribly underrated Avengers run by Geoff Johns, and in part 2 I covered Ed Brubaker’s fantastic run on Daredevil.
Today I am going to briefly go over a run that really went under the radar, and it’s too bad because it was awesome, and that’s Rick Remender’s Venom.
Flash Thompson: Venom
While he gained popularity with runs on books like Uncanny X-Force (so good), Secret Avengers (soo good), and more recently Uncanny Avengers (sooooo good), Remender really got my attention with Venom.
Starting in the 90’s, Venom’s popularity rivaled even Spider-Man’s. So Marvel took him from being a scary ass villain and made him a watered down anti-hero. It sold a lot of books, but it took the character’s direction away from him for years and years. Then Mark Millar gave the Venom symbiote to Mac Gargan, the former Scorpion, in his awesome “Marvel Knights Spider-Man” (which I need to go over one day soon). This was a nice change, and it looked like the character was going to be revitalized, but then he got stuck as a bit player in Warren Ellis’ Thunderbolts and Brian Bendis’ Dark Avengers, and nothing of note was ever really done with him.
In the last part I looked at Geoff Johns’ Avengers, and this part is somewhat similar, in that the writer is also a big name for other projects, and the character is pretty popular.
In the early part of the 2000’s, Marvel launched their Marvel Knights line, which was headlined by Kevin Smith writing Daredevil, with art by Marvel Knights editor/comic artist/eventual Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada, which saw Bullseye, Daredevil’s longtime enemy, kill Karen Page, Daredevil’s longtime girlfriend. Following their run was the hugely popular, highly acclaimed run by Brian Bendis and artist Alex Maleev, which saw Daredevil get married to a blind girl named Mila, Daredevil ‘dethroning’ the Kingpin and getting both Kingpin and Bullseye arrested. Oh, it also had Daredevil’s secret identity as blind attorney Matt Murdock revealed to the world. Following up their run would take something special, and maybe just as importantly, someone willing to pick up where Bendis left off, namely having Matt Murdock disbarred and placed in prison for being Daredevil.
Enter: Ed Brubaker. His first arc, ‘The Devil in Cell Block D’, is as good a Daredevil story as you can find.
A lot of creator runs on Marvel characters are highly celebrated, and rightfully so, but a lot of times someone will come along and tell a great story or stories, and for whatever reason they simply fall through the cracks, so to speak, and don’t seem to get the recognition they deserve.
I want to point out a few of them here in the hopes that anyone that reads this might be encouraged to give them a try. Each ‘volume’, if you will, will focus on one particular run, in order to give each one the room I need to do them justice.
So, first up:
-Geoff Johns on Avengers-
Not long before he was as well known as he is today, Geoff Johns spent some time at Marvel while he was doing freelance work for DC. His Marvel works largely were solid, but unspectacular, including a Vision mini-series and a Thing mini-series. But it was his work on Avengers that really showed what he was capable of. Featuring a variety of artists, his run including work by Kieron Dwyer, Steve Sadowski, Scott Kollins (who he would work with on Flash quite a lot over the years), Gary Frank, and Olivier Coipel, on the story that really launched Coipel into the position he is at today, which essentially allows him to pick and choose whatever projects he wants.