First Impressions: Sarah Palin and Venom
TITLE: Sarah Palin Versus The World
AUTHORS: Joe Dunn, Fred Perry, Brian Denham
ARTIST: Ben Dunn
PUBLISHER: Antarctic Press
RELEASED: March 9, 2011
By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder
If you’ve followed Sarah Palin’s career even loosely (i.e. you’ve caught various news bits, or even if you just watch The Daily Show), you know what you need to do with this book? Buy it, and save it for a really bad day. Because this book will cheer you up, A LOT.
In a world filled with crappy parodies, THIS is truly a parody. It obviously plays off the Scott Pilgrim series, which saw a teenager try and win the love of a girl by fighting through her seven evil ex-boyfriends. In this issue, Sarah Palin tries to make her way to the White House, doing battle with various media personalities and politicians in the process. Katie Couric, John Boehner and Kate Gosselin are just a few of the enemies she has to go through.
I’m not sure what Scott Pilgrim fans will think of this book, but I loved it. It even uses the video game-style stats and scores that are synonymous with the Scott Pilgrim books and movie. Palin also busts out some pretty cool attacks, like the “Mama Grizzly Hug,” and “going rogue” on enemies with her book. Most of the jokes are pretty obvious, but it’s still great satire.
The big drawback to the issue is that in order to be as good as it is, it unabashedly references parts of Palin’s career that some people might not be familiar with. For instance, if you don’t happen to know that Kate Gosselin was a guest on Sarah Palin’s reality show on TLC, you might feel out of the loop. If you don’t know who Levi Johnston is, consider yourself lucky. But yeah, same deal.
The curious thing about this issue is that, like the cover to Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life, “Vol. 1″ appears in the lower right hand corner. Personally, I’m hoping this was just done for the sake of being consistent with the Scott Pilgrim book. Technically, it’s a one-shot, but successful one-shots can obviously lead to additional issues. I for one want them to STOP right here, and let this book stand on it’s own. In 20 years, Mike Bessler will be spotlighting this issue in “Hidden Gems.” Because that’s truly what it is.
And now for an entirely different brand of Venom…
Flash Thompson, once a bully at Peter Parker’s high school, went on to serve in Iraq, and tragically lost both his legs in the conflict. Now, using that all too familiar black symbiote, Thompson continues to serve his country as “Agent Venom.” Unfortunately, if he loses his temper, the symbiote takes control, and Thompson becomes much more like the Venom we’ve come to know over the years. This issue sees Agent Venom take on a supervillain in Eastern Europe.
I was skeptical when I first heard about this new take on the the Venom character, but Flash Thompson is a nice choice for the role. He’s obviously got a history with Peter Parker, which creators can cash in on later. But Thompson’s character is deeper than I originally realized. He’s a war veteran who’s lost both his legs, has a history with alcoholism, and idolizes Spider-Man yet has a checkered history with Peter Parker. Throw in the Venom angle, and you’ve got A LOT to work with. This is a title where our main character can regularly walk the line between hero and anti-hero. Despite his past as a bully, Flash Thompson wants to do the right thing. Venom simply wants to feed. That’s a GREAT Jeykll/Hyde contrast.
There’s also a great sequence at the end of the book where Flash is wheeling down a street, and sees that there’s a wheelchair ramp leading up to a bar, and a flight of stairs leading up to a church where an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting is being held. The book ends with a quote by Charles Buxton: “Bad temper is its own scourge. Few things are more bitter than to feel bitter. A man’s venom poisons himself more than his victim.”
How AWESOME is that?
All in all, Marvel’s got something good on their hands with this one. We’ve got a military that’s trying to control the uncontrollable, and a character whose mental stability is often in a state of flux. Plus, a showdown with Spidey is inevitable. Not much to complain about. I’m sure this book will be swept up in all the Fear Itself stuff that Marvel’s going to be doing soon. But as long as it’s centered around Flash, this series should have a decent run. I’m looking forward to see where they go next.
Front page image from comicsalliance.com.