"Venom #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Marvel Comics
Written by Donny Cates
Illustrated by Ryan Stegman
Colored by Frank Martin
2018, 32 Pages, $4.99
Comic released on May 9th, 2018
I've fallen off the Marvel train for a bit, so the publisher's Fresh Start initiative seemed like a good time to jump back on. What better way to do so than with Venom? Especially if it's written by Donny Cates, the writer of such horror hits as Redneck and Babyteeth. Add that to Ryan Stegman's artwork, and I'm so in.
So where does this new series have our anti-hero? The symbiote is back with Eddie Brock, and the duo is still trying to protect the innocent people of New York City, although their living situation is one step above a crack den. There's trouble afoot as the symbiote is having nightmares of terrifying attacks. For the first time, this thing seems scared and just a tad crazy. How can Eddie rely on it to swing through the air or defend him in combat if it's becoming unreliable?
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The first scenes with Eddie waking up are dark and grimy. The symbiote swirls around him, like a long snake that can't quite get away. It's unraveled around the bed and slowly pulls itself back to its host. This strained relationship is starting to pull on Eddie too. There's a telling panel where he holds up a beat-up straight razor. This would silence the alien voices in his head once and for all.
The details in Stegman's artwork are incredible. You can see each individual hair on Eddie's face and every crease in his furrowed brow as he struggles with his very existence. As impressive as this is, the shots as Venom are even cooler. The symbiote pulses around Eddie's body like a living suit of armor as he swings through the city in the rain.
As great as these scenes are, the action sequences elevate Venom to new levels. Seeing this hulking beast in attack mode is something else, but then you see what it's up against and you wonder if all that power will be enough. These are alien monsters capable of ripping a man limb from limb. You can feel each bone-crunching blow as the energy heats up towards the end of the issue.
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The tone in Venom is set with Frank Martin's colors. The shadows pool around Eddie, blending in with the symbiote as it unfolds around him. Light feels unnatural here. When it does shine, it exposes all kinds of monstrosities better left unseen in the dark.
Cates takes the character down an interesting path, asking questions that I never thought of but bring up some really awesome points. I don't know how Eddie ended up with the symbiote again since the last time I was reading Marvel comics he had a white version and was calling himself Anti-Venom. The symbiote was partnered with Flash Thompson and working military ops. This story notes that and ties it all together in a great way, so it simultaneously returns the character to his roots, pays homage to the ones that came between, and starts down a cool new journey to the future. That's a lot to accomplish in a single issue. I can't wait to see where it goes next.