Normally, Marvel’s point one issues are used as jumping-on points for new readers. But, for the month of February, ‘Venom’ is doing something a little different with the decimal numbering. There will be four weekly issues of ‘Venom’ this month, each with a “point” number. That means that, despite the numbering, this issue is NOT a good jumping-on point for new readers. Instead, it’s actually the second part of a 4-part arc. For the four parts of the ‘Circle of Four’ storyline, there will be 13.1, 13.2, and 13.3. If you want to jump into ‘Circle of Four’, go back and grab ‘Venom’ #13. That’s where this story began.

As this issue opens, Las Vegas has literally been turned into Hell on Earth. The demonic Blackheart has tricked the Ghost Rider into opening a portal that has allowed him to spread Hell into this world. Ghost Rider has managed to keep the Hellfires contained to Vegas through the use of a magic amulet that is keeping anything from coming in or, more importantly, getting out of the city.

For various reasons of their own, explained last issue, Ghost Rider, Venom, Red Hulk, and X-23 were all in Vegas at the time of Blackheart’s unleashing Hell. So the heroes are trapped inside Vegas and must put aside their differences to work together or all is lost.

Meanwhile, outside the city, Dr. Strange and Daimon Hellstrom have arrived on the scene but the amulet that is keeping Hell contained is also keeping the mystic heroes out. And to remove the amulet would allow Hell to spread.

Back inside Hell/Vegas (same place?), the unlikely “Fatal Four” are doing battle with the Antithesis, a group of four demonic villains that Blackheart has created to prey on the weaknesses of the heroes. The Hulk is fighting a giant brain creature while X-23 is battling a demonic cheerleader, Ghost Rider… an angel. And Venom a fire-and-brimstone preacher. As the conflict rises, the heroes must not only physically beat these devilish beings. They must also face up to their own worst fears and weaknesses. But can they do it before Blackheart finds a way to break the amulet’s seal?

Rick Remender has crafted a cross-over story that has kept me thoroughly entertained for the first two parts. Now, halfway through, I’m beginning to wish that this ‘Circle of Four’ would spin off into it’s own team book. Until this arc, I wasn’t really up on who X-23 or the new Ghost Rider were and my only experience with Red Hulk was over in ‘Avenging Spider-Man’ (where I absolutely love the character). The team comes across as a mix-up of the Fantastic Four meets the Midnight Sons. And Marvel… while you’re working on that dream team book, go ahead and toss Dr. Strange and Hellstorm into the mix and make them into Marvel’s own version of ‘Justice League Dark’, protecting the world from strange and demonic forces. I’d buy it!

Verdict: Buy

VENOM #13.1