Review: Venom (2018) #1 gives us a fresh start with the character


Venom’s fresh start rejuvenates the character with mythos-expansion we didn’t know we wanted.

Writer: Donny Cates
Penciler: Ryan Stegman
Inker: JP Mayer
Color Artist: Frank Martin
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Artists: Ryan Stegman & Frank Martin

Venom’s really lacked consistency in the past couple years.

Flash Thompson’s time as “Agent Venom,” written first by Rick Remender and then by Cullen Bunn, redefined the symbiotic antihero in some truly thrilling ways. However, post-Secret Wars, he’s been all over the place: Flash as “Space Knight”; Lee Pace as Venom; Eddie Brock back with the symbiote; Venomverse; crossover with Amazing Spider-Man; crossover with X-Men: Blue. Sure, Tradd Moore’s Venom #150 ruled, as did the issues drawn by Mark Bagley. Still, for all the strong moments, nothing has fully made an impact.

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Insert obligatory comment on Marvel relaunches here, but I really hope this series gets room to breath. Based solely off this first issue, Donny Cates is poised to give Remender’s “Agent Venom” and David Michelinie’s “Lethal Protector” a run for their money.

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The world-building and spectacle are massive, complete with both military ties and a mythic mystery. (What’s that ancient symbiote language? And, does Venom on earth predate Amazing Spider-Man #252!?) Though, like all good Venom stories, the unhealthy relationship between Brock and Klyntar remains at the heart of this issue.

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Venom stories don’t always have the best visual track record, whether you’re talking the 90s or the past couple years. Thankfully, penciler Ryan Stegman (joined here by inker JP Mayer) is putting in the best work of his career. The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows artist handles vikings, costumed villains, soldiers, and horrific aliens with equal ease. As for Venom himself, Stegman draws the malleable protagonist more like Todd McFarlane’s original design than anyone else. Frank Martin’s muted, but far from dull, coloring is the perfect final touch.

A+. . Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman, JP Mayer, Frank Martin. . Venom (2018) #1

I have no idea how long this story will last or where it’s going, but I’m all in. This is exactly the kind of relaunch this character deserves for his 30th anniversary, especially with his first solo film on the way. Check it out!