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Venom Spaceknight & Mania

Marvel Legends
by yo go re

To protect high school student Andi Benton, Flash Thompson accidentally bonds his symbiote to her, only learning later that the Venom symbiote had passed on his demonic Hell-Mark to her.

His what? Back in 1990, the Fantastic Four comic took the opportunity of the booming speculator market to boost its sales by killing off the main team and having Sue Storm recruit a new Fantastic Four: Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hulk and Ghost Rider. It was just a fun stunt, meant to poke fun at those kind of superfluous "guest appearances," but it was memorable. 22 years later, it was homaged when Agent Venom, X-23, Red Hulk, and a different Ghost Rider nobody remembers today all found themselves fighting Blackheart. In the process they were all killed and resurrected, which left them with a mystical mark identifying them as potential future rulers of Hell.

Not that that has anything to do with this Venom. Rather than re-releasing the Agent Venom figure nobody got because it was an exclusive, they've chosen to re-release the Venom: Space Knight Build-A-Figure nobody wanted. Why? WHY? This thing was unpopular junk when it was released, there's been no aftermarket demand for it, the design has nothing to do with the other figure in the set... of all the things you could possibly do, this is probably the worst one you could potentially pick. Just a dumb, dumb decision.

The only point in its favor is that it's not a direct re-release. We get an alternate head that has big sharp teeth instead of a segmented plate on the front of the face, and a pair of big symbiote blades that snap onto the wrists. The smaller blade can go on either arm, but the larger can only go on the right, because it's hollow underneath and if you put it on the left arm you'd be able to see that. So you can either have the exact same figure you definitely didn't want before, or you can have nearly the same figure you didn't want before, but also with a few different pieces that don't make it look any better, really.

At some point, Flash Thompson became a high school gym teacher in Philadelphia, a perfectly natural job evolution to go through for a guy who went AWOL from the Army. That's where he met Andrea Benton, who was one of his students. When his old enemy Jack O'Lantern tracked him down, Flash absolutely covered this teenage girl in his goo (a sentence you normally only hear about Hal Jordan or Republican congressmen), and was surprised when the symbiote bonded with her instantly.

Actually, it was just part of the symbiote. Kind of. In the 2003 Venom comic, the Ararat Corporation got a piece of Venom's severed tongue and cloned the symbiote. Venom eventually absorbed this clone, but apparently Venoms are like sea sponges, and can re-form themselves even after being fully deaggregated and mixed with others. So Andi got the cloned symbiote, the cloned symbiote had the Hell-Mark, and Andi was so angry all the time that the Hell-Mark moved from it to her.

Mania is a teen girl, so she uses the teen girl body. There's a a lot of new, though: since she was basically a spin-off of Agent Venom, she gets his kind of spiky forearms and shins. And big, chunky boots. And a spiked belt. And Gwenom's clawing hands. She was kind of drawn with anime hair - you know, the kind that's big and spiky, but meant to just magically swap sides when she turns her head a different direction, something that will never work on a physical figure. So sculpting three points sticking up on the right side of her head and one point hanging down on the left is a decent approximation, just make sure you keep her looking at the left side of your display.

Mania is, naturally, mostly black with a big white spider logo on her chest. Mania actually appeared in the 2017 Marvel's Spider-Man cartoon, as a fully alien character, but with some pretty cool design tweaks: six eyes, and a chest symbol that kept the same basic shape without being a direct copy. But that's not the comics, though, so what this figure gets to make her more than just a black and white figure is some metallic purple on her forearms and shins, and grey on the spikes for her belt and bracelets.

Nobody anywhere was asking for a rerelease of one of the biggest duds of a BAF ever. This Target-exclusive set might as well have had Titus or Caliban for all the appeal Space Venom brings to it. But, you've gotta pay for a double-dip on him if you want her, so at least he's not just a straight re-do; the extra head and pointy bits aren't much of an addition, but they're better than nothing. I wouldn't have really wanted another Agent Venom, either, but at least he would have been a former exclusive and not a readily available mass market BAF, and had something to do with Mania; the only connection between Spaceknight Venom and Mania was that he abandonned her on Earth when he went to space, leaving her with no mentor and no one to help her when she got in trouble. Dick move, Flash. Alternately, this could have been a chance to remake Scream with the correct colors and with adequate paint on her this time.

-- 02/26/24

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