Review: Venom #1

Published on March 14th, 2011

Leave it to Rick Remender (who happens to secrete awesomeness from his pores) to take a 90’s villain, whose popularity and relevance have dwindled a bit lately, and revamp him into an unprecedentedly interesting new character.

venom1Written by Remender with pencils by Tony Moore, Venom #1 tells the tale of Flash Thompson, Peter Parker’s former bully, who has been given the Venom symbiote by the US government.  Flash, a soldier in the US Army, lost his legs in combat a while back and the symbiote gives him the ability to walk again (creating prosthetic legs for him) while he wears it, along with all the powers of Venom.  He has also been administered a drug that allows him to resist the symbiote’s urges to bond with and control Flash.  Although, if Flash gets overly emotional, he can lose control and the symbiote can get in the driver’s seat.  To protect against that possibility, the government put a “kill switch” in Flash’s brain that will kill him, leaving Venom alive for the government to us on another agent.  How thoughtful of them.

This first issue shows agent Venom dropping into an ethnic cleansing in the totally real Eastern European nation of Nrosvekistan, or as I call it, “Buy-A-Vowel Land.”  The genocide is led by Jack O’Lantern, whom I haven’t seen since Punisher blew his head off way back in Civil War.  The bulk of the issue is Venom fighting Jack O’Lantern and attempting to save as many refugees as possible.  It’s cool to see Flash utilizing the symbiote in a combat scenario; there are panels where he’s running from attackers, carrying refugees in his arms, while symbiote tendrils fire machine guns at the enemy.

Remender has created a great, new direction for Venom, who has become a little one-note over the years.  There are lots of interesting, little plot points that I’m sure Remender will utilize as the series develops, such as the fact that Flash in only allowed 20 missions with the symbiote to keep him from becoming too dependent upon it.  This should prove to be interesting because the only way Flash can walk is when he’s wearing the symbiote.  Another interesting point that was revealed in Venom #1 is the fact that there was apparently another agent using the symbiote before Flash, who the government had to use the kill switch on.  I’m really curious to find out who this mysterious person was.

Moore’s pencils are really exceptional.  It really reminds me a lot of his early Walking Dead stuff.  He does a great job with the dark, gritty characters who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.  For those unaware, a number of the original pages for this book were stolen after Moore sent them, via messenger, to be inked.  I’d love to know which pages those were to see if there’s any discrepancy in the printed issue between those pages and the others.

My one complaint about the art is with the colors by John Rauch.  As a whole, they’re perfectly fine, as a matter of fact, they’re really good.  But, I don’t like when colorists use blues and purples as highlights on characters that are supposed to be black.  Throughout this issue, Venom looks like he’s blue instead of black.  I much prefer when they use grays and white as a highlight.  The worst offender with this was Ultimate Spider-Man, where Venom was almost completely purple.

Overall, Venom looks like it’s going to be a really cool series that reinvigorates a somewhat tired character.  Get your hands on this now before that asshole messenger steals it again!

Ian Candish