I'm just going to be honest out of the gate here: I've never really liked Venom. He was a cool villain for Spider-Man early on, but, for the past several years, he's just been sort of... boring. The character is usually bland, the stories often stale, and it often seems like Venom exists solely because he looks cool. All that to say, even with a solid creative team, I was not excited that we were getting yet another solo Venom series.
Then I read Venom #1, and I've never been happier to be proven wrong. This new Venom is seven different shades of badass.
Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman team up for this new Venom series that puts Eddie Brock and his lethal protector back into the spotlight, trying to solve a symbiotic mystery that dates back centuries. This first issue peels back the curtain on the Symbiotes, letting the readers know that there is so much more to the history of this race on Earth than we ever knew, all while setting the stage for a Lovecraftian mystery that one would never expect in a Venom series, but is more than a welcomed change of pace.
A lot of that description sounds completely different from every Venom series you've likely read in the past, and that's one of the biggest reasons this book works so well. Like he did with his Thanos series this year, Cates finds a brilliant and unique way to change the narrative for Eddie Brock and his Symbiote, introducing a completely new piece of their history that keeps readers on edge as they flip from page to page. When you combine this new history with the cryptic bits of Symbiotic mythology sprinkled throughout, Venom gets a seemingly fresh and original start without losing any of the character's rich comic backstory.
While this new direction is certainly reason to praise Cates' work in Venom, it's not even the most impressive thing he does in the issue. What Marvel's newest hitmaker captures so well, that a multitude of other Venom writers never fully grasped, is the complicated relationship between Eddie and his "other." Instead of the Symbiote being written as a monster in Eddie's head, or some obnoxious issue that he needs to deal with, this comic paints a vastly different picture. Here, the alien and Eddie truly operate within one another, needing the strengths their partner can provide and the dynamic inner-dialogue highlights that relationship perfectly.
Often times, the best comics are born from a brilliant marriage between creators, and that's extremely true of Venom. Not only is Stegman a perfect fit for Cates' dark and terrifying tone, but the artistic partnerships on this book only elevate his stellar art.
I cannot stress enough how fantastic inker JP Mayer and color artist Frank Martin are in this book. With slightly brighter colors, or heavier shading, Venom would not be the home run that it is. When the finite details of a conversation between two human beings are just as impressive as the debut of an ancient alien Symbiote, you know you're looking at something special, and the entire artistic team deserves the praise.
This is the best Venom we've had in years, plain and simple. Fans of the character and doubters alike will find something to love in these pages, and we're all probably hooked for the long haul.
Published by: Marvel Comics
On: May 9, 2018
Written by: Donny Cates
Pencils by: Ryan Stegman
Inks by: JP Mayer
Color Artist: Frank Martin