I have liked Venom for a long time, but it’s fair to say he hasn’t changed much at all. That’s usually a good way to make folks dislike a character since they get boring and run out of steam. The integration of Flash as Venom took the character on new and unique journeys, but Eddie Brock is back as Venom and I’ve been deathly afraid Marvel was going to do the same old thing with him. That said, Donny Cates is taking over and he’s proven via Thanos that he can flip a character on its head with crazy original ideas. It’s safe to say, after reading this issue, Venom #1 will blow your mind.
So what’s it about?
Read our preview.
Why does this matter?
This book is drawn by Ryan Stegman who has cut his teeth on Spider-Man for some time now. The dude seriously gets the vibe of Spidey but also offers a darker tone with a look that suits this anti-hero.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This story blew my mind. Now, Venom purists may cry foul and those who want the Symbiote’s origin to simply be a costume making machine Spider-Man found in Secret War, but in my mind the Symbiote race is too simple. Characters have learned about their home world, but given how other alien races have such rich histories, why can’t folks like Cates explore that? And explore it he does, with an opening dream scene that suggests the Venom Symbiote may be much older and had many adventures we never knew about. I’m saying no more to avoid spoilers, but Cates is beginning to reveal a whole new world for this alien that will change how we view it forever.
This issue also utilizes other Symbiotes by way of flashbacks and Eddie being directly attacked. Cates mixes things up right out of the gate by having Eddie quiet the Symbiote with pills–something he’d never do in the ’90s–as the alien is losing its mind. My guess is there may be some kind of puberty or transformation going on for the alien, but we’ll see. Either way, something is messing with it, whether it’s outside forces or a transformation that has been a long time coming.
This comic also does a good job opening up the world of Venom and the history of Symbiotes on Earth itself. For the most part Venom has been a singular character who gestated other Symbiotes, but was always top dog and tamped them down. We knew other Symbiotes were out in the universe, but in a vague sort of way. It’s clear Cates is developing this in a way that enriches the character and, hopefully, makes it last longer than just another teeth baring drool machine.
Speaking of teeth, Stegman does a great job with the art, maintaining a dark tone throughout. The looks of Venom change quite a bit throughout the issue, from a normal smaller head like McFarlane did originally to the tongue wagging drool monster we’ve come to love. There’s a new look too and the use of texture and detail makes it quite a wild look indeed. There are also great dramatic scenes like an interrogation that keep your interest due to the well framed panels and some inventive uses of sound effects. All that said, this book’s art looks like an event-level title, not skimping or looking unfinished in the slightest.
It can’t be perfect can it?
I’m going to take a guess and say purists may be annoyed with some reveals in this. That said, how often can we say a comic reveals something and it actually seems to matter? I will say this though, for all this history we’re learning about it’s a bit perplexing we’ve never heard a lick of it till now. Maybe there will be an explanation for that, but it does read a bit like a rewriting job is being undertaken.
Is it good?
This comic kicks off a Venom story that’s taking huge chances — so huge I can’t believe Marvel is letting Donny Cates run with it. That’s exciting and should get comic book fans amped for what is to come. Make no mistake, this will change how you think about Venom forever. All-new, all-different, and incredibly exciting.