Review: Venom #1

In the wake of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s collapse, an ancient and primordial evil has been awakened beneath the streets of New York, and with it, something equally evil has awakened in that most Wicked of Webslingers – Venom! Still a Lethal Protector of the innocents in New York, this never-before-seen threat could force Venom to relinquish everything it holds dear – including Eddie Brock!

Venom restarts with a new number one that’s frankly fantastic. Writer Donny Cates kicks things off with some mysterious flashbacks and a bit of insertion of history and delivers a comic that feels like it breaks from the normal Venom formula and delivers something that’s new and interesting.

The issue opens with a flashback and nightmare of sorts with a style that’s more reminiscent of something we might see from Esad Ribic. From there we get running as Eddie must deal with his symbiote which is having some issues in both its function and… is afraid!? Eddie’s attached to an alien and that alien is having some issues. How does Eddie deal? What’s going on? That’s the mystery that drives this first issue.

Cates humanizes the alien in ways I haven’t seen before (not that I’ve read every Venom comic) and it’s actually interesting. I at times felt sympathy for what is essentially alien goop. The creative team seems to have spent a lot of time focusing on “humanizing” this pivotal piece instead of just focusing things through Eddie and saying “we” all the time. That humanizing of the alien is juxtaposed with Eddie himself who is struggling to stay under control and not let the beast out. This trauma is something I hope Cates explores more as the two concepts pulling against each other creates an interesting mix.

Cates also adds in some history of the symbiotes on Earth and while it feels a little shoehorned it’s also entertaining  and rather interesting. While it’s something I feel like we’ve seen a few times, there’s a weaving of this reveal into Marvel’s history that works and does so well. It’s hard to discuss more of this as this is a direction I wasn’t expecting and the results of it all is what I enjoyed. Going in cold it felt fresh and was rather surprising.

The art is fantastic. Ryan Stegman delivers the pencils with inks by JP Mayer and color by Frank Martin and it all together comes together in a way that is absolutely stunning. I’ve enjoyed Stegman’s work but this issue is some of the best I’ve seen from him. The depiction of Brock at times, you see a broken man who is near bottom and trying to start over. There’s a horror sense of it all with great use of inks to create shadows and build tension. That’s all helped by Clayton Cowles‘ lettering which too emphasizes the emotion from the symbiote and is particularly interesting when an alien language is introduced.

There’s a lot packed in here and it works really well delivering an issue that has a fresh aspect to it all that’s entertaining and will get you questioning the relationship between Eddie and his alien pal. There’s some solid questions asked and good reveals that are interesting each in their own way. This first issue builds upon what has come before and does so in a way that honors that past and takes us into a new direction and future where Venom will become more than the monstrous version of Spider-Man who occasionally is a hero and eats people. This is a Venom I’m finding interesting and can’t wait to see where this all goes.

I’m not normally a fan of Venom but this first issue has really caught my attention and could easily make me one.

Story: Donny Cates Art: Ryan Stegman
Ink: JP Mayer Color: Frank Martin Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.5 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

General DC