I should preface this review by saying I’ve never been the biggest fan of Venom. The character is an interesting idea, but I honestly think he’s been overused and overexposed by Marvel since his creation.
So why, then, would I pick up this collection of stories focusing on Venom?
Call it an impulse check-out from my local library.
After reading this collection of five comics, I find myself wondering just who the target audience is for this collection. Is it young readers to introduce them to the character of Venom (in case you’ve just discovered comic books, I guess)? Or is it older readers to give a quick overview of Venom’s origin? I don’t necessarily think it’s anyone who has only seen the big-screen, live-action version of Venom with Tom Hardy because that storyline doesn’t include Spider-Man as part of Venom’s origin.
The question of just who this collection is for was on my mind a lot reading this. The first three parts are an adaptation of the Venom story from the ’90’s Spider-Man cartoon. As a way to introduce the symbiote to the Spider-Man universe without delving into the Secret Wars aspect and the long burn that was Spidey’s alien costume and the creation of Venom, it works fairly well.
Then, the collection gives us a Todd McFarlane Venom story that I’ve read elsewhere involving Spidey and Venom meeting on a beach to duke it out and Spidey figuring out a way to trick the symbiote as a way to defeat Venom. My reaction to this story is the same as I have to a lot of McFarlane’s run on Spider-Man — his art is great, but his stories just don’t quite seem to have the same depth as those from Stan Lee or other Spider-writers I read growing up. I know I’ve lamented that a lot of comics these days feel like as single Stan Lee issue stretched out to six or eight issues, but I can’t help but feel that this story would have benefitted from a bit more time to stretch its legs and breath a bit.
The final story was the one that held the least interest for me, though I hadn’t read it or experienced it before. Honestly, I came away from this one feeling like it’s more of the same and reminding me of why I’m not the biggest Venom fan — the character feels too one-note at times for my liking.
There is a short little comedy add-on at the end, that may end up frustrating some — I know it did me. It’s a six-page story that serves as little more than a preview for more to come and encourages you to go out and buy another volume (which comic books have been doing since the dawn of time, but still….). The comedy gold of contrasting Spider-Man and Venom singing his famous ’60’s cartoon theme song and then possibly being Odd-Couple-like roommates seems like it could be a lot of fun — though, I don’t necessarily think I’ll be running out for the next installment.
Your mileage on this collection may vary. If you love Venom, odds are you’ll like it.