I’ll admit, I’ve never been much of a Venom guy. My first exposure to the costume was in the Secret Wars event that Marvel had in the 1980s. It was okAY, a new suit for Spider-Man. Considering the iconic look of the red and blue Spidey suit, I didn’t see this new look lasting beyond Secret Wars. Spidey would get back to earth, put on the backup suit waiting in the apartment and the webslinger would again swing around New York with his classic look.
I was only partly right. Turns out the suit was more than a suit, an evil alien symbiote that desperately wants to stay with Spider-Man. Eventually Spidey, with the help of Reed Richards, is able to free himself of the symbiote and the alien is confined. This being comics, the symbiote escapes and decades worth of high jinx ensue. The overall concept was novel, but the characterization never really grabbed me. I never found the art that interesting, kind of a steroided version of Spider-Man and what is with the tongue? Never got that. Most of all, “Venom”? Why Venom? As far as I could tell (and even consulting Wikipedia) the powers of the symbiote don’t include venom. It felt like a teenager looking for a cool nickname. So when it came to this character I’d pretty much taken a pass all this time.
Over the last thirty years, it has been a lot of material to pass up. Venom has appeared in countless Spider-Man titles, his/its own titles, an animated series, an appearance in the third Tobey McGuire movie and soon his own stand alone film in October. In the age of corporate vertical integration and branding, Venom: First Host #1 hit the stands to further push the product line. I’ll admit the trailer for the new movie intrigued me and I’m a fan of Tom Hardy, so I thought why not take a look at something new, or at least new to me.
Starting off the story in space brings the character (or costume?) back to its alien roots and in a stroke of genius, Mike Costa ties one of the best old-school events of the Marvel Universe to this new story, the Kree/Skrull War. In this first issue it’s only a brief appearance, but as the issue wraps up, it’s apparent that the Kree-Skrull dynamic will play a large part in the overall story. Bonus points: It appears that the tongue of Venom gets cut off, though I’ve got a feeling it can be grown back at any time. Another aspect of Venom that the Kree/Skrull War introduces is that the symbiote doesn’t have to be a Spider-Man knock-off. Venom as a Kree warrior was a welcome sight. Hopefully artist Mark Bagley will get to flex his pencils and give us some other Venom looks.
This was a fun read. While I was tangentially aware of some of the Venom cannon going in, it is not necessary at all (even for the Kree/Skrull stuff, you’ll figure it out.) Admittedly I’m most stoked by the nostalgic vibe of a good intergalactic story, the sub plots introduced are interesting as well. After this mini-series wraps up, I’m pretty sure I’ll be buying a movie ticket and maybe some other Venom titles as well.