Throughout the course of Spider-Man’s long and storied history there have been many spinoffs, but none have come close to approaching the popularity of Venom. Ever since making his big debut as a villain in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man #300, this symbiote has been a consistent fan-favorite. He took everything that was popular in superhero comics during the 1990s and synthesized it into a singularly compelling illustration of muscles, teeth, and tendrils that could tear criminals apart. While not every solo series or miniseries to feature the character has been a hit, it’s rare to see a monthly lineup from Marvel Comics that doesn’t feature Venom in some form.
Following the events of “Venomverse”, the publisher is relaunching the character with a brand-new creative team and #1 issue. As Marvel Comics enters a summer of new series, Venom #1 encapsulates a lot of what makes the publisher’s restart exciting, whether it’s on a Spider-related anti-hero or their biggest titles like Captain America. We are particularly excited for what this change in direction means for Venom though, and are here to tell you exactly why that is with eight distinct reasons...
Venom has been doing a lot of interesting things over the past decade. He has been a government agent molded to Flash Thompson in a Suicide Squad-like pact. He has been a Guardian of the Galaxy and solo space hero fighting alien menaces. He has even been a multiversal leader in events similar to those of “Spiderverse.” While all of this has been a lot of fun, it’s a big set of alterations on the core elements of the Venom mythos. Just like having Doc Ock in Spider-Man’s body, it can be fun while it lasts, but eventually there has to be a return to a relative normal. That’s what this series represents with a focus on the core elements that originally built a fanbase and have made Venom popular across multiple decades.
Eddie Brock is a very bad man. Even his recent attempts to reform have revealed him to be a zealot at best, incapable of empathizing with those he may hurt while pursuing whatever his current cause may be. That ugliness and toxicity is one of the most fascinating elements of the Venom story. It provides creators a chance to examine a perfectly imperfect man with power and how that power is wielded. In this situation the Venom symbiote isn’t an excuse or antagonist, but a force that allows us to look at an uglier form of humanity through the metaphor of the superhero. Eddie is a very bad man, but a perfect fit for Venom.
Before Venom was a well-defined character, he was a monstrously designed villain whose presence captured every Marvel’s readers attention when placed on a cover. As a child of the '90s, Venom is as much about being depicted in a big fashion as the story behind those depictions. Ryan Stegman is an artist capable of delivering on all the promise of this alien threat. His ability to exaggerate and propel action sequences forward are bound to make the new Venom a thrilling read. Both his silhouette and rows of teeth make for an impressive display in early previews, and we can’t wait to see more.
Stegman is paired well with Donny Cates to make this new series work. Coming off the very popular tails of his recent Thanos run, Cates has shown a real knack for understanding and refining Marvel Comics’ greatest villains. He approaches them with a heavy metal mentality, never admitting there’s such a thing as enough when it comes to superhero baddies. If Venom is meant to be the protagonist of this series, that will be because Cates has dreamed up threats so nightmarish that even Venom looks preferable. We can’t wait to see how he makes that happen in the first arc of the new series.
What makes Stegman and Cates a killer combination on Venom is that they’re likely to bring out the best in one another on this character. Venom works best when he exists as the unrestrained id of Spider-Man, a creature thirsting for justice as defined through the most horrifying lens imaginable. That means lots of blood and violence, and this new series looks set to deliver. It already has previewed some of the meaner villains in Marvel Comics and its version of Venom doesn’t even appear to be aware of the definition of restraint. However, things go down in Venom, it’s bound to be as unheroic (or at least, as anti-heroic) as possible.
That potential appears to be wrapped up in a big, new mystery villain for the first arc. Early solicits promise a primordial threat that is at least as old as Venom ready to rise from beneath the streets of New York City and wreak havoc. Imagining another monster that has been around longer than a millennium provides some very potent soil to till. Whatever it is that Venom is looking to face will have just as much experience, weapons, and survivability as the original symbiote, if not even more. Whatever this thing is, it’s bound to be ugly.
One of the things that Venom has always done best is to explore the dark side of Marvel Comics. With the Thunderbolts and Flash Thompson, Venom showed us what the black ops and conspiracy side of government looked like. Venom has regularly fought with monsters crawling beneath the city and throughout the cosmos. And Venom has hunted serial killers and the cruelest villains in existence ever since his first series. For fans of the darker side of superhero comics, there’s no better place to start than with Venom.
That also means returning Venom to his hometown of New York City. It’s not just the place where most of the action at Marvel Comics goes down, but the home to many of the series worst villains and most terrifying lore. There’s no better place to kick off a back to basics approach on this character than in the alleys and sewers of Manhattan. We can’t wait to see what goes down on and below the streets of New York City in Venom #1.