(Warning! Spoilers below)
After wrestling with the death of a young girl due to his inability to shift a huge boulder, Batman succumbs to employing chemical means of strength augmentation, that is the titular Venom pill. This eventually leads to a numbing of the Dark Knight’s morals and places him in a difficult position of having to take orders from his drug supplier, a corrupt chemist whose daughter’s death was shown in the very start of the book. The plot thickens as it appears there is some sort of arrangement between this chemist and a US army general.
The first part of the book ends with Batman forcing the chemist and the general to flee to a Central American island followed by Bruce forcing Alfred to lock him in the Batcave for a solid month in order to go cold turkey from the highly addictive substance.
The second part documents Bruce’s recovery from his addiction, his return to strength and tracking down the plotters from the first half of the book. Meanwhile, in South America it’s become clear that the plotters were intent on creating a completely compliant army of super-soldiers through chemical and surgical implants (including one of the guinea pigs being the general’s own son)
With the assistance of Alfred, Batman swoops in and puts a stop to the plot before the soldiers are unleashed.
I found the storyline started well and addressed the motivations behind getting hooked on performance enhancing drugs. It also showed Bruce’s decline symbolically as he stops using the Batman persona altogether probably because he knows deep down that what’s he’s doing is fundamentally against the core ethos of the Dark Knight.
It felt as though the story started well although the General’s son, Timmy was very two-dimensional and so I lacked any empathy for him in the second half during which he is transformed into a ruthless killer. During this section in Central America I felt the characters became caricatures. I did enjoy the section where Bruce is given the opportunity to escape by taking the Venom drugs again or by using his own skills and strength (which this time he does). At one point, however, he does tip a boat of henchmen into shark infested water to buy him and Alfred time to escape. I felt this was very out of character for Batman and found it jarring. The second half is also a lot more violent (maybe needlessly?) Lots of innocent villagers are killed simply to test the super-troops. In the end, the bad guys lose (as you’d expect) and I felt a bit disappointed.
That said I really did like the artwork which I found reminiscent of more classic era Batman
Overall rating: 3 out of 5