I just finished reading the current issue of Venom (check "Dusting Off the Pull List" for a review!) and figure I would make this week's Suggested Reading about one of my all-time favorite Marvel characters.
Yes, I am aware that, for the most part, Venom is a terrible character. I've accepted that and am moving on.
These are five "Venom" runs with Eddie Brock behind the wheel that I think you should read:
|Venom: The Madness (3 Issues)|
This run does NOT feature the best writing, or the best plot. In fact, the plot is absolute crap. What it does have, however, is a pretty awesome match-up between Venom and the Unstoppable Juggernaut. Two powerhouses that are usually, but not always, considered villains pounding the crap out of each other? I think so! Also, this is the peak of the symbiote going nuts. Do to some TMNT-style goop, Venom literally begins to go insane, physically manifested as addition Venom-heads, each with their own personality.
I'm a huge fan of the over-the-top, larger-than-life, more-dashes-please symbiote costume, and this is a perfect example. And, now that I think of it, probably half the reason I dislike the current series of Venom.
|Venom: Separation Anxiety (4 Issues)|
This run is better than "The Madness", but not by much. It is typical '90s Venom when he is still trying to be a hero (or at least anit-hero). The twist is that Venom gets captures and the symbiote is experimented on, resulting in FIVE new symbiotes! You can never have enough symbiotes, right? Well, Venom (and guest stat Spider-Man) feel differently.
This series also gets a special nod because there is a Genesis game, "Separation Anxiety" that, while a sequel to the Genesis game "Maximum Carnage", follows this story line -- more or less. And yep, it was equally as frustrating as the first game!
|Venom: Carnage Unleashed (4 Issues)|
My favorite comic book showdowns have to be between Venom and Carnage. You get terrible one lines, over developed plot-devices just so they can meet, and some great action scenes. Carnage Unleashed delivers all of these. Carnage fins a way to use the Internet (I'm not kidding) as a means of travel for his symbiote to unleash his special brand of destruction.
Yes, there is a virtual showdown between Venom and Carnage, because who in the '90s didn't love video games?
This series in particular has some amazing art and I absolutely love the covers; every good Venom book should have an awesome cover.
|Venom: Planet of the Symbiotes (5 Issues... Kind of)|
Ok, technically I'm cheating here. The Planet of the Symbiotes arc is a "super special" crossover between several Spider-Man titles and one Venom issue. It does, however, continue the story thread left off in Separation Anxiety. That being said, it features Spidey, Scarlet Spider, and Venom having to fight an entire city and then planet of symbiote controlled people/creatures.
Oh, and a 100 foot tall Carnage also makes an appearance. Because, when I want some Deus ex Machina in my book, I want it big. And Carnage-y.
Additional nod because each issue, along with having a great cover, is a flip book (two comics in one, each cover the beginning of the respective story) with a Scarlet Spider vs Lizard story line (that is beyond terrible) featured.
|Venom: Finale (3 Issues)|
This run is on here for a few reasons. First, it ends the Venom series that this list is compromised off. Second, it's got solid art throughout. And third, it has a few important story implications.
Venom had recently been hired by a secret branch of the US Government to perform missions as they saw fit (hmm, sounds familiar). At the beginning of this run, they've become concerned with Venom's vicious tenancies and have decided to terminate him via the thermite bomb they planted in his chest. Venom finds out and is not pleased with this, leading to a NYC rampage and the involvement with Spider-Man.
"Agent" Venom is not a new thing, obviously. The last issue of this run is especially noteworthy because it features the death of the symbiote, leaving Eddie Brock alone once more.
But, you know, not for terribly long.
Honorable mention: Venom: The Enemy Within Issue #1 has a phenomenal cover, shown below.
The worst Venom? Tooth and Claw. Sure, it features Wolverine, which is something I'd normally enjoy, but the story is an insane mess that I refuse to even explain here (if I'm even capable of doing so. SKIP IT!).
This isn't the last you'll see of Venom on here -- this was strictly for the "Venom" series title. He has some other great appearances that I'll get around to at some point.
I recently just stumbled upon this review of Venom throughout his beginning and the end of the Lethal Protector series, which is a pretty good read if you want to learn about Eddie Brock and Venom. The writer is very detailed and gives justified opinions on the character and stories: check it out here!
Next Week: Sci-Fi/Fantasy novels -- I feel like switching it up a bit.