New York Comic Con is a celebration of geekdom, fandom, and creativity, but it's also about advertising. All the shows, movies, and comics that fans line-up to get a taste of are there at least in part because they want convention-goers to purchase a copy or a ticket. That's fine — it's a synergy between art and commerce, a tale as old as time. But, on Thursday night, at a pop-up event a couple blocks away from the main convention center, that balance was perfected.
Venom had thrust his long, slimy tongue into a vat of Brisk Iced Tea to create "Symbiote Dark Cherry Limeade," and there was a special event to honor this momentous collaboration.
Here's the thing about Venom — Venom is kinda dumb, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Originally conceived as merely a different-colored Spider-Man suit, the symbiote would go on to become one of Spidey's fiercest foes, and certainly his most "extreme" one. Venom, with his hulking muscles, overstuffed mouth full of razor-sharp fangs, and slick black color scheme, isn't exactly subtle. Sure, there have been some great Venom stories, but the character is easy to like for the most low-brow reasons.
And then there's Brisk, the drink that exists to serve the needs of every kid who really wanted Mountain Dew, but whose parents wouldn't buy them soda. Brisk, whose normal flavor can best be described as "uncanny," projects a "brand identity" that is "cool" and "extreme" without much to back it up. Again, no shade on Brisk or people who enjoy it, but it all feels contrived, which, shouldn't be cool.
That PepsiCo teamed up with Sony for the Venom movie to create Symbiote Dark Cherry Limeade, a red-black liquid that tastes pretty good even if there is a lot going on, flavor-wise, is perfect. Maybe if Spider-Man had been in this Spider-Man spin-off, there would've been a Pepsi variant, but Brisk feels like the perfect choice for a Venom standalone. Venom and Brisk belong together.
At Thursday's event, bartenders mixed Symbiote Dark Cherry Limeade into cocktails including a sangria and a margarita. All of them tasted pretty much like Symbiote Dark Cherry Limeade, because Venom is more powerful than tequila. The event space, peppered with a few props from the film, was meant to look like the Life Foundation from the movie. Riz Ahmed, who plays the villainous head of the Life Foundation Carlton Drake in Venom, was not there.
At one point I ate an hors d'oeuvre that was small, squishy, and black. It tasted like a deviled egg except there was nothing about it, visually, that made that make sense, and it was briefly a very terrible dining experience. I mention this only because it was the only moment of my stay at the "Life Foundation Symbiote Training Center (Curated by Brisk)" that was unpleasant.
Seeing Brisk and Venom team-up was a beautiful bit of corporate synergy, the real-world equivalent of Peter Parker's black suit. The symbiote bonds with Peter (and later Eddie Brock). It makes them stronger. Together, symbiote and man become something more, something powerful. In comic books, it's the stuff of superhero fantasy, but in the real world, it's just brands being brands.