Let me start by saying that Remender is a very talented writer and he can write very good stories. Then what's my problem with him?
"Beaten to death in a gutter." -Rick Remender on the fate of Pat Mulligan, Toxin's former host. "It took place off panel, but Blackheart killed him to acquire the symbiote."
"I think everybody responded well to Anti-Venom, and it was cool, but a lot of the symbiotes have become too sympathetic. We wanted to give Venom his own Venom. You've got Carnage out there, but we wanted one more. Eddie Brock as Toxin is a revenge-fueled nightmare monster." -Rick Remender
This pretty much sums it up. It's probably the last time I will ever read anything concerning Rick Remender. It made me think back to a lot of things and that opened my eyes. Now, I have the irresistible urge to take all my issues of Uncanny X-Force, Venom and Secret Avengers and to throw them in the trash, because that's exactly what he is doing with all of our beloved characters. Don't believe me? Then read on! (ps: If you are lazy, just go to the CONCLUSION)
(WARNING: There may be some spoilers below)
The reason why I started reading his other books. It's really a great series but some things bugged me ever since the beginning.
- In the first arc (The Apocalypse Solution), Apocalypse is reincarnated in the form of a kid... Yeah, I get that it's a book about a hit squad but to use a character who was never written to his full potential in 616 and transform him into a kid just to kill him off for shock value was cheap. Then, there's the odd reactions of the characters to this situation: Wolverine (and even Deadpool!) who didn't want to kill the boy when it was already too late because he was fully endoctrined, and the stupid idea of Fantomex with the cloning of kid Apocalypse. Taking the risk of cloning the threat that he just ended just to prove his point about the Nature vs. Nurture theory (or to ease his conscience is more like it) is probably one of the stupidest thing that I ever read. And now that they did this and introduced Genesis, we will probably never see the real Apocalypse again.
- There's no denying that The Dark Angel Saga was really a great read, but at what cost? I admit that all this story with Archangel and the death of Warren at the end was really wonderful (of all the recent deaths, it was probably one of the most beautiful along The Death of Spider-Man in the Ultimate Universe) but it's sad to think that a character with all this history is definitely gone and was replaced by some sort of clone who acts like an angel. Sadly, it doesn't end here because a lot of secondary characters didn't have the same treatment as Warren. Nearly all the things that people liked in the Age of Apocalypse Universe were destroyed, wiped out in a horrible way: Weapon X as the new Apocalypse, Bobby Drake as a traitor, nearly all of these X-Men killed and the last two depowered... Sure, AoA Nightcrawler joined the team and yeah, it's a really cool character but his very existence in 616 means that the chances of seeing our Nightcrawler return are almost non-existent (similarly to what happened with AoA Blink and the defunct Exiles Mimic who are now in comic book limbo while Marvel is trying to tweak their 616 counterparts).
- The Otherworld storyline was an odd one for me. I admit that I never had the chance to read a Captain Britain or Excalibur comic before (but I will probably do so when I will have more time) but I thought it was pretty lackluster (and the art wasn't great but that's an other story). And from the little I know about the Captain Britain mythos and what I've read online, it seems that Remender changed quite a lot of things which will probably upset some fans. It was still pretty confusing to me and I found the ending to be quite disturbing, way more than in The Apocalypse Solution.
I was excited about this series since it was announced and The Amazing Spider-Man #654.1 proved me that the concept could work. The first issue didn't disappoint me and the first twelve issues were pure awesomeness, nothing more to say about them. Sadly, what happened next really disappointed me.
The Circle of Four storyline was a huge step back. I know that Remender wasn't the only writer working on it but some characters really seemed off (like X-23 and the "New" Ghost Rider for example) and when I was reading it, I couldn't help but think that it was all unnecessary because it didn't feel like the same book anymore. The interactions between Rulk and Venom were interesting but that's the only thing that I enjoyed in this arc.
But the worst part is what he did with Toxin and Eddie Brock, he destroyed all I ever liked about these characters:
- Toxin was really an underused character with a lot of potential and when I say "Toxin", I'm talking about Patrick Mulligan and his childish but deadly symbiote. The character faded into comic book limbo and it's a real shame. I always hoped that a good writer could see all this potential and make this character shine. Seeing what Remender did with Venom, I had high expectations but when I read the piece of dialogue with Blackheart about the Toxin symbiote, I couldn't believe it. Killing Patrick Mulligan off panel, "Beaten to death in a gutter." That's one of the most infuriating things that he ever did (but not the only one, sadly) and killing him was really unnecessary. If he really wanted to use the Toxin symbiote this bad, he could've left things vague, and another writer could still use that chance to write about the character. I don't know, something like "they left him for dead after stealing his symbiote and killing his wife but he might have survived". That could be enough to make him a Punisher-like character who will do whatever is necessary to save Toxin, go after the bad symbiotes like Carnage and beat the crap out of Blackheart (way more credible than what Remender did with Eddie in my opinion).
- Eddie Brock... Probably one of the characters who suffered the most because of Remender. He had a lot of potential as Anti-Venom (even if the writers didn't see it) and I didn't understand why Dan Slott depowered him following Spider-Island but I guess that he didn't have much choice in the matter: Remender wanted to use the character so what happened kind of makes sense now, sadly. Eddie was the first Venom and one of the best hosts for the symbiote which made him into an awesome villain/anti-hero. After some time, people got tired and he wasn't Venom anymore. When he became Anti-Venom, that was just awesome but the writers didn't use him at his full potential and except for his mini-series and some cameos, nothing really happened with him until Spider-Island and its aftermath. That's when Remender ruined the character for me. He made him into a homicidal maniac who didn't mind killing symbiote hosts, innocent or not (Scott Washington is another character who clearly didn't deserve this fate).
In Venom #17, Eddie Brock was turned into the new Toxin against his will. And the only thing in his mind is "Kill.... VENOM!" *sigh* How original! Even if the whole appeal of the real Toxin was the fact that it was one of the few symbiotes who wasn't really bad (and who was educated by Patrick Mulligan). And Eddie Brock was way past the point of being a mindless killing machine, he was a damn good anti-hero as Anti-Venom (only killing criminals) and finally became a real hero in Spider-Island.
It's a huge step back for these characters and for this series in general. For me, this story ended after the twelfth issue.
At the time it was announced that Remender was taking over this book, I was still willing to give him a chance. I still regret it.
Three issue in and he killed Eric O'Grady, the Irredeemable Ant-Man. WTF! I still buyed the following issues to see what this was all about, it couldn't be true, it just couldn't. At the end of the next issue we see him alive and well, which is strange because he was just beaten to death! In the last issue of this arc, in the last few panels, we finally discover the truth: Eric O'Grady was dead all along and was replaced by one of the bad guys...
O'Grady was not a regular superhero, far from it. It was a jerk but a lovable jerk. He tried his best to be a true hero and when he was finally on the path to becoming one, Remender just discarded all this character development and just killed him off.
That's definitely the worst thing that he ever did, the most infuriating and probably my breaking point.
Here it is, True Believers! The conclusion to my terrific rant. If you had enough willpower to read it in its integrality, then you truly deserve a Green Lantern ring. If not, I understand because just looking at it makes me tired ;p
Anyway, my real problem with Rick Remender is that he just doesn't care about the characters he writes about. Sure, if it's the main characters in his book or if Marvel explicitly tell him to let a character live, no problems. But if it's a secondary character or one with a lot of potential but in comic book limbo, he just doesn't give a damn and kill them off for shock value!
I wouldn't have any problem with it if it wasn't for the fact that his books are in continuity, in the main Marvel Universe! I read the books in 616 because it's entertaining, I love a lot of these characters and even with the more serious books, I can still care about them without fearing that they will all die in meaningless ways. If I wanted something like that, I'd be re-reading The Walking Dead or the Ultimate Universe comics. People are often complaining because a lot of characters die only to be resurrected some months later, that doesn't mean that they want great characters with a lot of potential to be killed off permanently.
Now, I understand that a lot of people love his work, it's a really great writer who can write awesome stories. But his habit of ruining every single character I care about is just too much for me. I read comics because I love the stories but also the characters and with all he has done, some of his victims will probably never be able to be brought back.