Continuing with the legacy numbering that Marvel has announced, this past week gave us Venom #1. Wait, that doesn’t make sense, according to the cover this is #1, Legacy #166. Regardless, it’s a new fresh start with a new creative team. So how is this new #1/166? Read on to find out.
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Ryan Stegman
Inker: JP Mayer
Colorist: Frank Martin
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: May 9, 2018
Previously in Venom: Eddie Brock bonded with the alien symbiote after Spider-Man refused to be its permanent host. At some point, Eddie got sick (died?) and Flash Thompson was using the symbiote to go on top secret missions for the government. Now Eddie has the symbiote back, but not everything is as it should be. (Click here to watch the new Venom movie trailer!)
FEELS LIKE SOMETHING FRESH
I’ve been reading Venom off and on for years. Sometimes, when a new title comes out or I like the creative team, I’ll pick it up. I read a majority of the previous run, but stopped shortly after Eddie Brock regained the suit. It seemed as if they were going to be retreading old ideas and I had no interest in reading redundant Venom comics. Yet, when I saw Donny Cates would be writing the new series, my interest was piqued.
For those who don’t know, Cates is/was the writer on various independent titles such as God Country, the Paybacks as well as Marvel’s Dr. Strange and Thanos to name a few. It wasn’t until Babyteeth, from Aftershock Comics, that I really became familiar with Mr. Cates. His work has a dark tone but never gets bogged down and there are enough moments to lighten the mood. That is also the case for Venom #1 as Eddie Brock is not only struggling with the symbiote’s voice in his head but nightmares that seem to relate to the alien parasite’s past. I liked that for once Eddie was struggling with the Venom suit and taking antipsychotics to drown out its voice. The symbiote has gotten much more aggressive. Donny Cates writes good exchanges between Eddie and the suit and it was refreshing to see the suit scared for once. There are some great moments that I don’t want to spoil but Venom takes on a different look at one point, one Eddie can’t control, and it may be some connection to another entity is at play.
For those who care, Cates doesn’t throw all continuity out the window. Eddie meets a man who is aware of the missions Flash Thompson was using the symbiote for. This man was also part of a special ops team, each who had their symbiote and now needs Eddie’s help in rescuing the men. A great action scene ensues and it seems the men’s symbiotes are different and speak ancient tongue. Not to spoil the ending, but Cates appears to be adding to the symbiote lore some of the dark religious aspects that his other writing has. It’s a thick book, and at $4.99 I expect it to be, and there is enough good story that I not only felt I got my money’s worth, but I’ll be back for issue #2.
I really enjoy Ryan Stegman’s artwork, and it seems to only have gotten better. His take on Venom, particularly the symbiote, is something I don’t recall seeing before. Based on the emotion of Eddie and/or the symbiote, the alien’s appearance takes a different form. When Eddie wakes from his nightmare, the symbiote resembles water running down Eddie’s leg, as if his clothes were turning to liquid. Once aggressive, the tendrils are thick like tree roots and more violent. Stegman has no trouble making Venom look terrifying and the eye gouging scene (yes, you read that right) is something straight out a horror movie. It’s the kind of imagery and scenes I like in my Venom comics. Detail is extremely well done and packs every panel. This is a dark book all around, and the coloring is no exception. Most bright colors come from explosions or lightning. While I never had much of a problem making out the art, some may have trouble and I suggest reading this with the best lighting possible.
BOTTOM LINE: GREAT START AND WORTH THE BUCKS
Most likely those that hate Venom will have already made their mind on this book but I highly suggest anyone who has or had a slight interest in Venom pick this up. Fans of Donny Cates will enjoy his signature writing style and Ryan Stegman’s art is detailed and kinetic as ever. The team looks to have something special up their sleeve and I believe it might just be something refreshing. While $4.99 is a tough pill to swallow this issue more than makes up for it with page count and artwork alone.