Ahoy, ’90s fans! Ready to revel again in the evil of your favorite brain-eater in this brand new series? Well hold on, let me catch you up…
Venom: Space Knight #1 (Marvel Comics)
So after Venom helped Spider-Man for a while, the symbiote left Eddie Brock in favor of a woman and a decrepit gangster before returning to Brock and THEN deciding to split for good because he was a sick, sad sack. Then Mac Gargan — you know, the Scorpion — ended up getting the symbiote somehow, but didn’t wear it with his Scorpion gear, except for that one time, and THEN it was stripped from him by the government after Norman Osborn painted his face inside an Iron Man suit. The military put the symbiote on Flash Thompson, Spider-Man’s old bully (did I mention he lost his legs in Iraq? Or was it Afghanistan at this point?), who for some reason decided to run missions for them, became an Avenger, became a Guardian of the Galaxy and had his symbiote (excuse me, we call them KLYNTAR now) “purified” (their word) so that it doesn’t hate Spider-Man anymore (but keeps aping his style like an obsessed ex), and now Flash/Venom runs through the cosmos giving six-eyed alien monsters the Heisman pose while arousing anthropomorphic owls in halter tops.
Man, you just GOTTA love comics!
Is It Good?
Still with me? Once you see those beautiful Ariel Olivetti pencils, you’ll be glad you took the journey. Olivetti’s gone on record saying that Venom’s been one of his bucket list characters to draw, and while the hulking, fangless agent in Venom: Space Knight #1 might be the monkey paw fulfillment of his wish, it’s clear the awesome Argentine is still having the time of his life. Olivetti’s fielded criticism that his artwork often appears too “stiff,” and you still get a bit of that here, but there are plenty of glass-smashing panels and symbiote-line swinging to mostly erase that stigma.
Pulling the strings is rising writer Robbie Thomspson, whose terrific work on another spider-title, Silk, has sort of flown under the radar so far. Thompson’s chops are like those of a seasoned veteran, directing Venom to show the audience all the things his symbiote can (and can’t) do as he crashes through different crises. Like any good player/coach, he knows to lay the basic plays down and then let Olivetti, the team’s franchise player, earn his money and make the big score. (Yes, there are a lot of football analogies in this issue.)
Venom: Space Knight #1 is a fun romp from a top-flight creative team with obvious chemistry that sets up a cute but curious status quo moving forward. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but if the market were still artist-driven, Ariel Olivetti’s penciled masterpieces would be enough to keep the book going strong. With writers typically being the bigger sell now, though, Thompson will have to get over his trepidation and bring the goods we’ve seen in Silk to make sure this latest in a long line of Venom incarnations doesn’t go the way of Angelo Fortunato and Mania (don’t ask).