Most comic book fans have a pretty good idea what they’re going to buy every week when they visit their local comic shop. With that said, there’s still a lot of fun to be had just glancing at the week’s new releases and taking a chance on a book that looks promising. That’s where covers come in-a fantastic image can make the difference between trying something new or saying, “Nah, not this week.”
In anticipation of the upcoming Venom film, we’re publishing a special edition of Judging by the Cover. We asked our contributors Eric Cline, Trevor Richardson, and Forrest Hollingsworth to share their favorite Venom covers of all time. Here’s what they picked out:
Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #347
Cover art by Erik Larsen & Randy Emberlin
This cover is emblematic of ’90s Venom in the best (and grossest) ways. I mean, let’s be real, this is disgusting. All that green spit, those spiky teeth, and the long swirly tongue? The character is unnerving, and that’s what’s great about him. The Hamlet reference is a great comedic touch as well, made even better by Venom’s over-the-top speech bubble.
Venom: First Host #1
Cover art by Rod Reis
I chose this cover for our standard edition of Judging by the Cover when the issue first came out. As I said back then:
What a great cover to start off a new Venom series. I love how he blends in with the black background, and how Rod Reis hits all the character’s key visual motifs: the white eyes, the spider symbol, that gigantic tongue. This is nice work all around.
Venom (2003) #11
Cover art by Mike Deodato
My favorite aspect of Venom’s design is probably his long, twisting, slimy tongue. Deodato really goes for the gold here, honing in on just that pink appendage and all the giant globs of spit hanging off of it. The curl at the very end is just fantastic as well, and the white background allows the subject matter to hold the entirety of the viewer’s attention.
Venom (2018) #1
Cover art by Tyler Kirkham
When it comes to Kirkham’s cover, I come for Spidey swinging on Venom’s tongue, I stay for the insane details in the gums and spittle, and I start paying rent for Spidey swinging on Venom’s tongue. Those rows of teeth and the mercury-like eyes really sell Venom as a ferocious beast and the cover would’ve sold without Spidey, but his inclusion injects just the right about of humor to make me want to buy the book.
Venom (2017) #150
Cover art by Michael del Mundo
This cover by del Mundo is much simpler compared to Kirkham’s, but it does a ton with the details included. You’ll notice a theme in my (and everyone else’s) picks in how creatively Venom’s tongue is used. I love Venom rolling out the pink carpet for Eddie to make his return to the symbiote on. The little taste buds add a great texture to the cover and mix the grossness and humor for which I love Venom. His big milky eyes look almost closer to a cartoon rather than a monster, which makes the cover all the more fun.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (Vol. 2) #18
Cover art by Kate Leth
Saving my favorite pick for last here. The acorns. The sticky symbiote hanging all around the room. Is that a little Hellcat necklace hanging on the wall? All these excellent details with a Venomized, grinning Tippy in the middle make Kate Leth’s cover a variant I couldn’t live without when I saw it at my LCS. The cherry on top is that the Squirrel Girl logo is itself Venomized. As with my other picks, I like Venom covers to be as silly as they are Cool™ and this cover knocks it out of the park.
Venom: First Host #5
Cover art by Javier Garron & Dean White
The newest of my picks is this absolutely grisly variant cover for the Venom: First Host series. I love the rawness of this, the tautness of the symbiote skin peeling away from the skull dripping in nothing but, well…venom. It’s a gross, effective cover that exudes a singular vision and confidence for one of Marvel’s grossest and scariest sometimes-villains that I really appreciate.
Venom: The Enemy Within #1
Cover art by Bob McLeod
As Eric mentioned above, Venom is really a character built around a few key visual motifs and this cover nails all of them, I think. Simple, clean, and focused entirely on its titular attraction, this cover does a lot with few colors, sharp line-work, and smart spacing that keeps things digestible, instantly recognizable, and still vaguely threatening.
Venom: Separation Anxiety #4
Cover art by Ron Randall
Last but not least, we can’t forget that an identity crisis is often central to the Venom character. In the unlikely case you did forget though, this cover is here to remind you. You could argue this is frantic and confused and I wouldn’t say you were wrong, but I would also say that that’s the point. The blurred lines between Eddie and the symbiote’s bodies–the panicked wail on Eddie’s face, the vicious maw on his passenger’s–are fantastic in their energy and message. The literal separation in Separation Anxiety is a nice touch as well.