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Thursday, April 27, 2017

[GBM] "The poet's purpose is Marvel"

The post title translates Giovan Battista Marino's famous manifesto statement "È del poeta il fin la meraviglia." Yep, a great admirer of Ovid -- "no one ever soared so high as him" -- Marino would probably have liked the character of Venom, which not only is metamorphic in itself, but has taken on all kinds of shapes in these last decades: the many variants of Spider-Man's costume, the different men who have been called Venom, Carnage, Anti-Venom, Peter Parker's girlfriends, the Scorpion, a Tyrannosaurus, etc. A true triumph of Venom metamorphoses can be enjoyed in the 2015 "Guardians of the Galaxy" story The Planet of the Symbiotes, text by Brian Michael Bendis, art by Valerio Schiti.* Here the critter appears, in order, as a Medieval cloak, as a sort of manta ray (picture above), as Groot ("I am Venom!"), as Rocket Raccoon, as Drax, even as a wise and benevolent alien entity (Klyntar) like those in the movie The Abyss, and finally as the new armor of Flash Thompson. And each time, fascinating.

From a Baroque viewpoint, Venom's effectiveness as a symbol lies in various of its features.
It is ever-changing like Reality.
It is something powerfully physical, with super-developed senses, and a great hunger.
It is a dangerous war machine, equipped with both natural and hi-tech resources.
And, it is beautiful in its horror. Like Reality.
Not by chance, two passages from Dante that are often implied or hinted at in Marino's poem Adone are Inferno 17 (Geryon) and 25 (where Dante expressly competes with Ovid). But the main shape-shifter, either in himslef or as a cause in others, is- - -Love, who shares all of Venom's features listed above. And one of Love's most frequent epithets in Adone is precisely "venom."

* Ora disponibile in Italia nel cartonato Guardiani della Galassia: Ritorno dall'oblio, Marvel / Panini Comics, 2017, euro 12

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