Ahsan: Philly adds a super citizen

Ahsan explains why Philadelphia will be a perfect fit for the new-and-improved superhero, Venom.

Naveed Ahsan

Naveed AhsanOn Dec. 19, Marvel Entertainment will be moving one of its superheroes to Philadelphia.

The superhero is Venom — an alien symbiote infamous for creating scenes of devastation and utter destruction in New York City and being the occasional sparring partner of Spider-Man, who is eager for a fresh start.

So is Philly the right fit for the villain-turned-hero, Venom?

For those of you who don’t know, Venom is the brutish reptile who bonded with Flash Thompson, an Iraqi war veteran who lost his legs in battle. He is abandoning his former past to start new, in one of the country’s most significant cultural epicenters.

While in Philadelphia, Venom is hoping to no longer waste his energy on senseless violence, and more on things constructive.

Writer Cullen Bunn believes that a new city like Philadelphia will be an important part of the growth that Venom’s seeking.

“Now, he’s trying to do the right thing,” Bunn said. “He’s reassessing what it means to be a hero. And he’s looking for a fresh start…He’s changing his approach to being a superhero. And he’s looking for a change of scenery.”

The move is mutually beneficial, however. While moving out of the city he once terrorized will help Venom start a new life, adding a superhero to the streets of Philadelphia will help add cultural relevance to the city. This puts Philly on par with the hero-laden hotbeds like New York City and Los Angeles.

Bunn had this to say about Philadelphia.

“It’s gritty and tough, but it’s a city with a lot of heart. There’s all the hustle and bustle of the big city, but Venom won’t get lost in the shuffle of all the other super heroes crowding the streets.”

Venom’s already paid his dues in the Big Apple so he’ll fit pretty comfortably in the “gritty and tough” urban society of Philadelphia and hopefully living in a city with a lot of heart will be valuable for someone willing to clean up his act.

Bunn also makes sure to point out Philadelphia’s extensive cultural background.

“The city has a rich history, stunning architecture, diverse neighborhoods and people, and more than a few urban legends — which, for me, is just the icing on the cake.”

It’s these types of astute assessments that inspire faith that moving Venom was the right decision. Philadelphia is indeed a vibrant tourist destination but also lives and breathes full of honest working people. It can also be described as a melting pot, a major center of immigration, with a large Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, Italian, and Middle Eastern population, among others.

Maybe the idea of being able to intermingle with people from various different backgrounds and cultures will be more inviting for Venom.

But, most importantly, Philly is a city that knows how to embrace a hero. It’s unusual that not too many superheroes are natives of the same city that’s home to Rocky Balboa, one of the country’s most enduring and beloved characters. A symbol of sheer determination and will to the masses that is considered one of the city’s own.

Comparisons between Venom and Rocky aren’t unfair, either. Venom will also have the odds against him. He’s transforming himself from that thuggish anti-hero that he once was, into one who will help bring change rather than destroy.

Hopefully this transformation will be permanent because Philadelphia needs a superhero, someone that people can identify with. A man who’s a symbol of willpower and fortitude. And Venom needs the city just as much. He doesn’t want to be a villain anymore. He’s seen the chaos and madness he’s created in New York and he does not want to go that route again.

We’ll all know for sure when the first issue hits stores in December. Hopefully, when all is said and done, Mayor Nutter and Venom will become buddies and fight crime together. They’ll create a spin-off series and embark on vigilantism as partners, or maybe that’s only in my dreams, but we’ll see.

Naveed Ahsan can be reached at naveed.ahsan@temple.edu.

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