Ultimate Spider-Man #123 written by Brian Michael Bendis, pencils by Stuart Immonen
This issue of Ultimate Spiderman tells a done-in-one Venom story. It’s kind of a Forrest Gump situation, as Eddy Brock sits on a Park Bench, and tells a story to whoever comes along and sits next to him. I kinda doubt that anyone would sit next to a guy on a park bench who’s telling a story on how he used to be a big-toothed monster, but I’ll let that pass. The story is kind of slight, because all of the action within it has ‘already’ happened. The one interesting thing is that Bendis actually writes about Venom as if there are two consciousnesses inhabiting the same body, which has always been the idea. But instead of Venom simply being something that makes Eddy Brock crazy and hungry, while giving him the means for revenge, this issue presents a different side of the story. Perhaps Venom’s desire for Peter Parker is something completely different, and this desire overpowers Eddy’s will. The art is great, and I’m probably giving this issue a pass that I wouldn’t give it if Mark Bagley, with all his occasional Bagley-awkwardness, was drawing it.
RASL #2 -Story and Art by Jeff Smith
I was surprised to see another issue of Jeff Smith’s less-than-monthly post-Bone series, but once I saw it, I had to snap it up. The issue opens with an attempt at hard-boiled narration as Rasl drives up to a city that appears to be Las Vegas, and takes a Picasso from an alternate Earth to the house of a prostitute. It seems that they know each other from earlier, and that allows us a few glimpses into Rasl’s backstory. Jeff Smith sets up the idea of Rasl’s post-dimension-jump debauchery sprees, as Rasl drinks, has sex, and goes to a topless bar. Smith presents the content in a tasteful way, but it’s still kind of shocking to see from the creator of the kid-friendly Bone series. We also see that the freak with the gun from issue one is trailing Rasl, and going after the people he cares about, but that’s about it. The art and the storytelling are great, with Smith’s signature inky stretches of black, his stark expanses of white dotted with nervous tick marks, his warm, humanistic figure work, and his gracious, leisurely pacing. The storytelling may be a little too decompressed to fully enjoy in the floppy comic book format, but for now, I’m too intrigued to wait for the trade.