Sunday, February 27, 2011

Why Venom?

Much like he's done with the Punisher, Venom is set to rise from the ashes of its once derisory hole with Rick Remender's upcoming series. False bravado? Not at all. Trust me; it's going to be awesome. Venom's popularity has oscillated over time. He entered the world of Spider-Man as a mega-popular antagonist, maintained that popularity for a period of time, but eventually lost his luster. Take note, Deadpool, the effect of over -exposure.

Venom's recent published history has helped the character reacquire at least a fraction of his prior esteem. Warren Ellis added Venom to his Thunderbolts roster and Brian Michael Bendis made him a member of the Dark Avengers. But Remender's take - turning Venom into a 007-esque secret agent hosted by Flash Thompson - looks set to redefine the Symbiote and breathe life into a character who is, let's be honest, in desperate need of an overhaul. 

But y'know what - whatever Rick Remender can do, we can do just as well. I believe that. Read over the hundreds of tenured scripts and play-at-home scripts since Thought-Balloons' inception and you'll believe it too. So let's see what you've got, ladies and gentlemen; once again, it's time to step up and show the world how good we are.


  1. I love the look of that new Venom suit... though I also loved the old Venom... I guess I just think Venom's cool no matter what :P

    NOTE: This statement refers to comics only. The Venom in the Spider-Man 3 film just didn't cut it :)

  2. Venom – Lola Loves Squishy - MK Stangeland Jr.

    (5 Panels)

    Panel 1: The scene is night, in New York, up high on the side of one of the cities many skyscrapers. The current angle of the panels should be right side up.

    LOLA, currently wearing VENOM, is standing on the side of the skyscraper as if she were on the ground - new character, no reference, but since she’s currently wearing Venom, the only thing that really matters is that she’s roughly in the range of eight or nine years old or so and her hair is shorter in length.

    She’s currently looking ‘up’ towards an angle at SPIDER-MAN, who is hanging upside down by a webline from a outcropping higher up on the building. SPIDER-MAN looks ‘down’/inward at LOLA. LOLA’s arms are crossed in front of her, as might be expected from a little kid who’s determined to get their way.

    SPIDER-MAN: Kid, would you mind telling me exactly what you’re doing wearing that thing?

    LOLA: Squishy? He’s my pet!

    SPIDER-MAN (1): Your…

    SPIDER-MAN (2): Squishy? You named Venom “Squishy”?

    LOLA: He’s my pet! I can name him whatever I want!

    Panel 2: Panel should be closer up, focusing more the upper bodies of SPIDER-MAN and LOLA. The panel should be angled as to put LOLA right side up, which leaves SPIDER-MAN hanging in from the side of the panel.

    SPIDER-MAN has his arm half-extended in order to point towards LOLA. LOLA has one hand on her hip and is using the other to point to herself with her thumb.

    SPIDER-MAN (1): (‘Squishy’. She named him ‘Squishy’.)

    SPIDER-MAN (2): Look, kid…is there a name I can call you?

    LOLA: My name’s Lola!

    Panel 3: Panel looks out towards SPIDER-MAN from behind LOLA’s head. SPIDER-MAN holds his index fingers on the inner edge of his brow as he realizes he didn’t think his previous question out very well and needs to remember he’s talking to a little kid.

    SPIDER-MAN (1): No, kid, Lola, I didn’t mean…

    SPIDER-MAN (2): Look, Lola, rule number 1 about running around in a costume. Never tell anyone your real name. Take it to heart from someone who’s been doing this since before you were born.

    Panel 4: Panel is positioned at an angle behind SPIDER-MAN, and is angled to put SPIDER-MAN right side up (effectively ‘hanging up’). LOLA points at SPIDER-MAN with one hand and holds out the other arm wide.

    LOLA: But you’re a hero, Mr. Spider-Man! I can trust you!

    SPIDER-MAN (1): As much as I appreciate a fan, trust me, it never leads anywhere good.

    SPIDER-MAN (2): Second, you can’t keep Venom…er…”Squishy” as a pet!

    Panel 5: Panel is positioned right-side-up as SPIDER-MAN leaps from his web line to the side of the building. LOLA has her arms crossed in front of her and looks rather upset, even through the VENOM suit – this is as much VENOM as LOLA, as neither one of them are happy about the idea of SPIDER-MAN making them try to separate.

    LOLA: Why not?

    SPIDER-MAN: Lola, you said you can trust me, right?

    LOLA: Yes, but…

    SPIDER-MAN: Well, then trust me when I tell you that this is for your own good.

    LOLA: But…

    SPIDER-MAN: Lola…

    LOLA: But…

    (END PAGE)

    First, I should point you towards Loli Loves Venom (, a fun, quirky, absurd (and, sadly, dead) webcomic which gave me the initial idea for this script, since I’d say the author of that deserves at least some level of credit for what you see here.

    Second, I don’t think I’ve ever wished I had more than one page to work with than I do right now, because there is so much more to this little bit that I wish I could use, but unfortunately had to be dropped due to space.

    Third, yes – the name ‘Squishy’ came from Finding Nemo.

    What can I say? I love Pixar.

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  5. @MK - great all ages page - man, that story could go all sorts of fun places. The panel descriptions were kind of dizzying (one page you'd really need to see) but the dialogue rang true for me. Loved it.

    @Aryah - Spider-Man just doesn't feel right. He's unimpressed, upset, in complete disagreement, but he's not really doing anything about it at all. That doesn't seem right for the character, he'd take the fight to Venom to stop him once and for all, surely, not just walk away.

    But, I love where you then take the page. Venom's final line is really strong and the build to it, two 'people' ruined by the myth of Spider-Man works very effectively.

  6. Regardless of Spider-Man's portrayal, I definitely have to agree on you've done a great job with the parallels between Venom and Flash, and I like what you've done where both of them want to effectively become something that's realistically out of their reach, at least as far as their current mindsets go.

    Lot of great potential with the idea you have going there.

  7. Hm. Well, glad you both liked the part of the script I really wanted to get right. The Venom/Flash character bit was definitely what I focused on most, probably at the expense of the Spider-Man parts. I just didn't know how Spider-Man could reasonably "take the fight to Venom" given how he's sanctioned by the U.S. army. They give him lethal weapons, they probably expect him to use lethal force. Spidey doesn't have a huge amount of ground to stand on. But you're right that he should be more proactive. I'll probably toss up a revision later today.

  8. @Aryeh: I'm with Ryan on this one. The line, "You’re no hero. Not one like me," seems a bit too arrogant for Spidey. However, I also agree with MK in that you made a great connection with Flash and Venom both idolising him. In all, a rather cool pay-off.

  9. Revisions! I'm going to be taking down my first draft to avoid confusion, although if anyone's dying to see it, I can put it back up. I think I improved both the Spider-Man pieces and the overall flow of the script, although, at the end of the day, it's not my opinion that matters the most.

    Mission 19

    Five rows. Panel 1 takes up a full row. Panels 2 and 3 make up Row 2. Panels 4 and 5 male up Row 3. Panels 6 and 7 make up Rows 4 and 5 respectively. Both FLASH and VENOM dialogue come from the same person, but FLASH is traditional black-on-white. VENOM is his usual white-on-black, squiggly balloons.

    Panel 1: In a back alley SPIDER-MAN smashes FLASH (in full Venom gear) in the face with a haymaker, more out of anger than any real desire to hurt him. The impact should be the focal point of the panel. FLASH’s body language should be surprised, defenseless. He was expecting congratulations and high-fives. SPIDER-MAN’s body language is tight, angry, pained. He genuinely likes Venom. FLASH’s black-and-white armor is covered in splashes of bright, red blood.

    SPIDER-MAN: Dammit!

    Panel 2: Front view of SPIDER-MAN holding FLASH up against the wall with one of his forearms. FLASH is barely resisting, still stunned, although part of that might be the thin crack in FLASH’s mask. The reader can see a blood-stained bowie knife hanging limply from his hand. Attacking SPIDER-MAN is the furthest thing from his mind. SPIDER-MAN is as tense as ever, trying to sort through his own rage and disappointment, until the ‘drip’ sound effect interrupts his speech bubble.

    SPIDER-MAN (1): Those cultists had no clue what they were doing! And you cut them up like it—like it was no big deal!
    SPIDER-MAN (2): I’ve seen you work. You’re better with that thing than Eddie ever was.
    SPIDER-MAN (3): Than I ever—

    Panel 3: Close up of several drops of Venom fluid splashing onto SPIDER-MAN’s feet, with several more on the way. The drip sound effects are positioned so that they interrupt his speech-bubbles (and by implication, his train of thought).

    FLASH : I’ve spent my—
    FLASH: —my entire—
    FLASH: —my entire life trying to live up to your standards!

    Panel 4: Over-the-shoulder shot from behind FLASH. SPIDER-MAN looks down, alarmed, at the symbiote dripping onto his foot. FLASH’s free hand is pressed against the crack in his mask, and his posture has shifted, reflexively stiffening to deal with the immense pain. Symbiote fluid runs down his arm.

    FLASH (1): I fought in the Gulf! I went to Iraq!

    Panel 5:Same angle. SPIDER-MAN, shocked at FLASH’s words and wary of the Symbiote goo, has released FLASH and taken a few steps back. His eyes are wide—he’s finally put the pieces together. FLASH is hunched, racked with pain, barely visible near the bottom of the panel.

    SPIDER-MAN (Tiny): Flash?

    Panel 6: Close-up on FLASH’s chest-plate. Not only has it cracked substantially, it’s starting to become more fluid, warping the formerly angular symbol. His speech balloons have shifted to VENOM coloring.

    VENOM (Tiny): We even kept the spider. After all this time.

    Panel 7: Close-up on FLASH’s mask. His fingers have sharpened to points, and his eye-marks are marred by three long scratches. The coloring is dark, moody. The word balloon is massive and dominates the panel.


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  11. MK - I enjoyed this, though the exchange about Lola keeping her secret identity seemed unnecessary. I wasn't sure what you were going for with that, but I doubt Peter's concerns would extend to her not revealing her real name when his number one priority is getting her out of the costume. Other than that, I like the concept and would be interested to see where you went with it.

    Aryeh - I missed your original draft, but this seems a well-thought-out execution of the inevitable confrontation, were Flash to give in to the darker aspects of the Venom personality. I definitely think there's a lot of mileage in placing Flash in the suit, given his history with Spidey, and I hope they don't ignore that in the new book.

  12. So this one's a little late, but I didn't want to miss the week completely. It's hard to compete with all the great scripts that went up for the character, so I tried for a change of pace.

    Three rows. Rows 1 and 3 are of equal height, but row 2 is taller to give more space for the scenes going on within them. Panels 1 and 2 are on the first line. Panel 1 takes up about two thirds of the space, while panel 2 is smaller and in the remaining space. Panels 3 through 5 are on the second line, and they are equal widths. Panel 6 takes up the entirety of the last row.

    1 – An exterior shot of Flash Thompson's apartment. It's really late at night, or really early in the morning, depending on your definition. The scene is dingy and a little sordid. One of the parked cars has a broken window. A homeless man sleeps on the sidewalk. Some drunken figures stumble home after a long night at the bar.

    CAPTION (FLASH): I've had some rough patches.

    2 – Interior of Flash's apartment. The panel is above Flash's bed, focusing on him. He is lying on his back, looking up towards the reader, completely awake.

    CAPTION (FLASH): ...a lot of sleepless nights.

    3 – Change the angle to something closer to a 3/4 shot, a little further back, but close enough to show the characters' expressions. It is now clear that Flash is in bed with Betty, who is sleeping soundly. Flash has moved up onto his elbow and looks down on her, a small smile on his face.

    CAPTION (FLASH): But I'm not alone anymore. Betty hasn't been with me every step of the way, but she's always been there when it counts.

    4 – Bring the shot in a little closer. Flash moves his hand to Betty, caressing her softly. His smile continues.

    CAPTION (FLASH): She's always thought the best of me.

    5 – The shot is a little closer still, focusing on Flash as he leans over to kiss the still sleeping Betty. She wears a sleepy smile.

    CAPTION (FLASH): Maybe it's about time to show that her faith isn't misplaced.

    CAPTION (GENERAL DODGE) (low on the panel): Colonel Thompson? Eugene?

    6 – Scene change. Interior of an office. General Dodge sits at a well-organized desk. Flash sits across from him, looking pensive and a little tired.

    GENERAL DODGE: Why do you want to participate in Project Rebirth 2.0?

  13. Grant - I like how you take what's actually quite a touching and tender gesture and use our secret "but it's Venom, Flash, you lunkhead - this is NOT a smart move" knowledge to cast a shadow over the scene. Strong work.


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