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Menace/Anti-Venom

Minimates
by yo go re

We will probably never stop picking on Spider-Man's "One More Day" storyline, because it truly is one of the worst things to ever happen to the character. Not because it ended Pete and MJ's marriage (that's just one more piece of evidence in the mounting case that Joe Quesada apparently hates his marriage and wishes he were still single) - it's just poorly planned, poorly written and insulting to the character's nearly 50-year history. On the other hand, the followup "Brand New Day" did exactly what it was supposed to do: told exciting new stories with interesting new villains.

Desperate to help her father become mayor of New York City, Lily Hollister used stolen Osborn tech to transform herself into the maniacal Menace. As her mental state deteriorates, the Goblin serum grows stronger.

Uh, whoops? Er, spoilers. Yeah, well, whatever. Every time Marvel introduces a new Goblin, they try to make the identity a mystery. We talked before about how long the Hobgoblin mystery went on, but many fans forget that was merely an extended version of what they'd done with the Green Goblin when he was first introduced. Of course, they did the same thing with Menace, though with a faster payoff - Lily figured that a supervillain attacking her dad's campaign would garner public sympathy and help him win the election.

Menace was designed by Salvador Larroca, and certainly looks creepy. The costume was probably meant to be gender neutral - we weren't even supposed to know the person in the costume was a woman - so we get a baggy burgundy smock with silver gauntlets (reused from Juggernaut) and a studded belt that has the lower edge of the shirt hanging below it. The spiked greaves are painted onto the legs, and the headcap is a new mold, with long hair, a lumpy forehead and short, broken horns.

Yes, "headcap." Menace's mask can be removed to reveal the human Lily beneath. Actually, the Goblin serum she was exposed to creates a physical change - she doesn't wear a mask. The set includes a new blonde hairpieces for Lily, and human hands to complete her transformation. Her skinton is darker than average, since her dad is black, so if you want to put her smirking head on another body to make a civilian Lily, it'll have to be someone who's mostly covered up.

Menace gets one other accessory, and it's a huge shocker. For years Art Asylum has been telling us that their license forbade them from creating any vehicles for the Marvel Minimates, but Menace gets her Goblin Glider. This is a first-ever accessory, but it's one fans have wanted since the first GG came out. [wrong: the Series 17 New Goblin came with his glider, as well. --ed.]

It's an impressively detailed piece, with a stud on top to accommodate the C3 feet, a separate faceplate that will allow the look of the piece to be changed if they want to use it for future Goblins, and a clear flight stand that plugs in underneath. There are two downward-facing engine vents in the back and small blasters underneath the wings.

Dying of cancer, Eddie Brock's dormant Venom symbiote was reactivated by the mysterious Mister Negative - curing his cancer and transforming the symbiote into it's total opposite - an Anti-Venom.

Anti-Venom isn't the most original idea for a character ever, but then, neither was Venom: like Erik Larson claimed when it was pointed out that Todd McFarlane wasn't the creator, all writer David Michelinie did was "swipe" the preexisting symbiote and its powers to place it on a character with dumb motivations. By that measure, all McFarlane did was give him Joker's mouth, so maybe he should just shut up, huh?

Anti-Venom has now had both a Marvel Select figure and a Minimate, but no Marvel Legends or Marvel Universe releases - how often does that happen? The figure uses the same bulky chest first seen on Hercules, and the new hands with the spiky fingers. His big black chest-spider is painted cleanly, as are the matching lines on his arms and legs. Lots of fine black lines are painted on the limbs, to suggest the wild spikes that cover AV's body, but it's very disappointing that they're not continued on the back of the legs. Time to pull out the Sharpie again!

The standard Minimate head isn't very kind to Anti-Venom's long, pointy looks, but the design does its best to fake it. The angry black design on his face is painted more like horns than Spider-Man mask eyes, but the mouth is red (which allows the sharp, fang-like teeth to be seen) and his eyes are yellow. Like the legs, the back of the head is lacking any detail. He does have a very furrowed brow, however.

"One More Day" was a terrible story, primarily because of editorial interference. Writer J. Michael Straczynski had it so that Harry Osborne went into rehab for his drug problem, so MJ never broke up with him and started dating Peter, and that's why they were no longer married. Two issues into the series, Quesada decided to change that, so the final two issues had to be hastily redone, which does a lot to explain why JMS began publically disavowing the work as soon as he was able. All because Quesada misses his own single life, and the writers apparently want to do stories about Spider-Man trying to get laid. Oh, and Quesada's reasoning for the change? He "didn't want to undo existing continuity." Then what the hell do you call erasing the wedding? At least the Stan Lee-supervised newspaper strip bowed to fans and kept Pete and MJ together.

Menace and Anti-Venom are perfect examples of what's wrong with the current Spider-book: they're both decent characters, but nothing about any of their appearances required Spider-Man to be single. They both exist independently of the marriage, so when it's invariably repaired, there's no reason they can't continue to be a presence in the books.

-- 10/18/10


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