The Superior Spider-Man #22 "Darkest Hours," Part 1 Review | Fanboys Anonymous

The Superior Spider-Man #22 "Darkest Hours," Part 1 Review

Posted by Orion Petitclerc Friday, November 29, 2013
As you're going to learn through each of my reviews for The Superior Spider-Man: "Darkest Hours," I am an ├╝ber Venom and symbiote fan or, as I like to call fans such as myself, a Venomaniac. If you've been following my previous articles here on Fanboys Anonymous, then you probably already know this and what to expect from me. Considering this, I highly recommend brushing up on your Agent Venom history with one of my aforementioned previous articles. Good-o? Then we can move on.

Read Superior Spider-Man on Comixology and the Marvel Comics app
The Superior Spider-Man #22 begins the first of a four-part story arc called "Darkest Hours" in which Spidey and Agent Venom finally meet up. It's been two years since Eugene "Flash" Thompson—one of Spider-Man's oldest cast members since his first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15 as Peter Parker's high school bully turned best friend and the world's biggest Spider-Fan—became the symbiotic Secret Avenger Thunderbolt and (if my predictions come true) future Guardian of the Galaxy, so tensions are expected to be high.

The four-panel overview of previous events at the beginning of the issue claims that Spidey and Agent Venom had never crossed paths before. This claim is technically both true and false. Spidey and Agent Venom did cross paths in Rick Remender's Venom #3–4, but technically Flash had lost control of the symbiote at the time and had reverted back into the familiar, bulked-up, slobber-toothed Venom form. Thus he wasn't Agent Venom for that short time. In addition, Doctor Octopus as the Superior Spider-Man (who mind-swapped with Peter Parker before his old body died and became SpOck, as I'll refer to him for the rest of the review) technically had never crossed paths with Agent Venom before this issue. Take it as you will.

There are a lot of good things about this issue in my perspective; however, in just about any other Venomaniac's opinion—especially those who've never read or don't care for The Superior Spider-Man—this would probably be a boring set-up issue. We (Venomaniacs) would love Agent Venom to be the star in this story arc, but remember whose name is on the cover! Naturally, Dan Slott is going to focus a lot more on SpOck's story than Agent Venom's, especially when he's been weaving these huge overarching plots: the return of the Green Goblin and the rise of the Goblin Nation; SpOck's establishment of Parker Industries; and Carlie Cooper's and Yuri Watanabe's (a.k.a. the Wraith) joint investigation of the connection between Doc Ock and Spidey. Let's not whine over the lack of symbiotic epicness, shall we?

Read Venom: Savage Six collected in trade paperback, now available at your local book and comic shops
Oh no! Flash lost his legs again, along with his lower half!
I guess he and Cletus Kasady have something in common now, huh?
One thing I like that Slott honors about Agent Venom's canon is Flash's former relationship with Spidey mainstay Betty Brant, which he plays upon early on in the issue. I like this not only because he remembered that Betty and Flash were a thing once upon a time, or that they broke up and Betty ended up despising Flash, but also because he touches upon a Venom plot thread that ended with the breakup and entwined Flash and Betty's destinies. Pre-breakup, Agent Venom had earned himself a bitter enemy in the Crime-Master, an old Spidey foe with a new twist: this iteration of the mob boss turned out to be Betty's brother, Bennett, whom everyone thought was dead. Not long after Crime-Master revealed his true identity to Betty, she killed him to protect Flash, upon whom Crime-Master had sicced his Savage Six. Slott reunites the alienated exes using the Crime-Master plot, which I believe is a nice way to bring Agent Venom back to New York City and into The Superior Spider-Man.

Follow the establishment of Parker Industries in Superior Spider-Man on Comixology
Who else gets a Dr. Horrible vibe from
these moments?
After that introduction, the Venomous bits of the story get shelved while Slott continues the aforementioned Superior plots. I've been keeping up with SpOck since his debut in the final pages of Amazing Spider-Man, and I love what Slott's done with the character. Crucify me now, all ye Slott haters. SpOck has become my favorite version of Spider-Man since last he donned the black suit in "Back in Black," mainly because I hated goody two-shoes, "no killing" Peter. (Which, in hindsight, probably stems from my love of Venom.) The continuation of the plots that have been building since The Superior Spider-Man #1 continues to please, especially the Peter/Anna Maria bits—a favorite character relationship of mine next to Agent Venom and Valkyrie's.

Follow Humberto Ramos in Superior Spider-Man
Ramos gives Spidey a cuter tooter!
Soon after Slott has his fun time with SpOck's life, he gets back to the juicier bits with Agent Venom, and we finally get to see the start of the showdown of the century: Agent Venom vs. SpOck. Slott makes good on his knowledge of Spidey/Flash/Venom canon and appropriately makes SpOck unknowing of Flash's relevance in Peter's life. He also makes good of Flash's idolization of Spider-Man during the fight, setting Agent Venom up for a surprise as SpOck draws first blood. The issue ends decisively, but I already have an inkling of what'll happen next based on experience.

The Superior Spider-Man #22 is a great continuation of SpOck's misadventures and the beginning of what is sure to be a fun Venom story with a semipredictable ending. Slott loves his pop culture references and in-jokes, and we get both in the form of Watchmen and Venom: License to Kill bits. Humberto Ramos continues to rock The Superior Spider-Man, and it's nice to see him drawing Agent Venom again after two years. Even though I have already expressed that it's a moot point to complain over the lack of Agent Venom in this issue over SpOck and his superior endeavors, I still dock my rating a point and give this issue a 4 out of 5 stars. It's simple, Slott: more symbiote on the pages equals a happier Venomaniac.

Like this issue? Love it? Hate it? Tell us what you think in the comments section below, and I'll see you again next Wednesday for another review!

If you would like to join the team as a contributor or are interested in sponsoring a post on this site, purchasing an ad, becoming an affiliate, or taking part in any kind of promotional opportunities, please use this contact form to send us an email and we will get in touch as soon as possible with more information.