While I was reading “The Amazing Spider-Man” when the mysterious black suit was first introduced, I concluded my regular reading of the comic books about the time Peter Parker finally severed his link with the suit, leading to the creation of Venom.
So that may be part of the reason I don’t really consider Venom one of the great villains in the Spider-Man pantheon along side the likes of Doc Ock, the Green Goblin or the Scorpion (I’m still dreaming of a big-screen adventure with the Scorpion as the main adversary. I have a feeling this will not be happening any time soon).
Reading this collection of stories center on Venom’s returning time and again, a thought struck me–in many ways Venom is to the Spider-Man comics what the Master was to 1980’s Doctor Who. He was the villain you kept thinking was gone for good only to crop up again a year or so later to menace our hero yet again.
“The Vengeance of Venom” collects four Venom arcs together and each time we see Spidey barely defeat his “greatest foe” and each time hoping that Venom is gone for good this time. It’s all well and good until we need to bring Venom back to sell some more comics (I recall a Ren and Stimpy comic of this era with a Spider-Man crossover in which our hero contemplates having a foil-embossed cover with Venom on it to increase sales….funny because it’s true!) and then the symbiote and Eddie Brock are back for more mayhem and threatening Spider-Man’s very existence.
I suppose had I read these stories over the course of a couple of years instead of all in one big gulp, I might be more inclined to like them. Or maybe if I thought more of Venom as a villain and character, I’d be more intrigued. Instead, most of what we get here has the feeling of “been there, done that.”
The one intriguing twist on the standard Venom comes back story is from Peter David. The one issue “Trial of Venom” brings up some intriguing ideas about Venom and I found myself wishing these had been explored a bit more. Instead, we have a few interesting ideas brought up before everyone has to start pounding on each other again.