Venom #1 (Marvel Comics)
The Marvel relaunch train is gearing up, and after last week's Avengers #1, we've now got the Lethal Protector himself, Venom, getting a brand new shiny #1. But like Earth's Mightiest Heroes before him, the appeal of the creative team helps offset any quibbles one would have over the renumbering. Rising star Donny Cates is at the writing table, and Marvel artist supreme Ryan Stegman is handling the art, which means that we're in for a very different, and very cool, new take on Venom.
Venom has been having nightmares. Not Eddie Brock, though. The symbiote is the being that's having bad dreams in the dark. Plagued by visions of a monstrous creature that's very similar to him, Brock is thrust into a mystery that goes back to almost the beginning of modern civilization. And when the symbiote refuses to respond to his commands when he's out on patrol, it's a problem that quickly becomes more and more dire as time goes on.
After stellar runs on Thanos and Doctor Strange, the hype around Donny Cates coming onto this book is pretty large. Cates ably lives up to those demands though, and his script is teasing out some really interesting things about the symbiote and it's connections to hosts. What's surprising about this new series though is how much it feels like a horror comic as opposed to a superhero one. There's certainly a lot of horror elements that can be gleamed from Venom, and going this way with the character actually leads to be a pretty cool and unique take that gives the character a brand new lease on life. Cates' characterization of Brock and the symbiote isn't anything new, but the premise behind this new series invigorates that relationship as well.
When it comes to fantastic Marvel artists, Ryan Stegman is at the top of the list. A style that mimics Todd McFarlane and Mark Bagley, Stegman's art is bombastic and full of motion, and like Cates' script, it ends up being a surprisingly good fit for this book. I was curious how Stegman would handle a horror-themed Venom series, but I'm happy to report that he handles the script with ease. Stegman is known for some delays and inability to stay on books for long, so hopefully there's enough issues in the can where that won' be a problem for Venom.
Venom #1 is a prime example of what I'm hoping Marvel's “Fresh Start” initiative will be: a new spin on a character that reinvigorates them. I never thought of doing a horror book for Venom, but it works really well, and helps to make his book stand out from the other Spidey titles on the rack. It's also continuing the hot streak that Donny Cates is on, which is a plus. Here's hoping for big things from not only this title, but for the rest of Marvel's new line too.