ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN: VENOM | Comic Review

Our run-through of Ultimate Spider-Man continues, as this week Bendis and Bagley reimagine the origins of Venom!

Published by: Marvel Comics
Written by: Brian Bendis
Art by: Mark Bagley
Year: 2003

Collects: Ultimate Spider-Man #33-39

CONTENTS
– Background
– Plot
– Review


WHAT’s THE STORY?

Venom is the sixth volume of Ultimate Spider-Man, wherein the adventures of Peter Parker are reimagined for a new audience in a more updated setting than the classic comics.

In this particular story, we see the debut of Ultimate Eddie Brock and his infamous symbiote. Gone are the extraterrestrial origins, replaced with something more lab-based.

While his 616-counterpart (the designation of the universe most Marvel Comics take place in) has since become something of a hero, here, Eddie Brock are 100% villain…

VENOM

Real Name: Edward Charles Allan Brock
Affiliation: N/A
First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #299 (April 1988)

After being transported into space to fight for the Beyonder‘s amusement on the far off BattleworldSpider-Man returned to Earth adorned in a new, sleek black alien costume. However, after discovering the costume’s intent to bond with him, Spider-Man tore it off. Vengeful, this symbiote found a new host in the form of disgruntled reporter Eddie Brock, who also had a festering hatred of both Spider-Man and his alter-ego, rival photographer Peter Parker. Now gifted with all the symbiotes abilities, as well as the knowledge and powers it had adapted from Spider-Man, Eddie became a monstrous slathering man-beast out for revenge. Despite being stronger and more dangerous than Spider-Man, Eddie could never find a way to defeat him, and eventually gave up their quest for vengeance in favour of using his powers for good. In time, the symbiote passed on to various other hosts but in the end, it always returns to Eddie Brock, and together, they are Venom.


PLOT:

Fresh from his breakup with Mary-Jane, Peter is starting to spiral. But after he finds new focus in the discovery of some tapes of his parents, and a forgotten childhood friend, Peter begins to learn more about the work of his scientist father Richard Parker.

Reconnecting with childhood friend Eddie Brock, himself the son of Richard’s old business partner, Peter learns about their father’s mutual creation – the suit. Intended to be the cure to cancer, in true Spider-Man fashion, it actually heralds the creation of one of Peter’s greatest foes!


REVIEW:

After a much more down to Earth tale, Bendis and Bagley turn the craziness right back up with a reimagining of the ‘black suit saga’.

Streamlining the origins of the symbiote, Bendis lays the ground work of a lot of what would be touched upon in the Amazing Spider-Man movies in regards to Richard Parker and how his work would come back to haunt his son.

We also get an updated take on Eddie Brock, whose villainy comes from a very different, but very recognisable place this time around. His presentation as someone who feels like he’s owed something by the world is a very recognisable trait in contemporary society, whether that manifests itself in the way he scolds women for rejecting him, or lashes out against people who he falsely blames for holding him back from greatness.

The ensuing run-through of Spider-Man’s time wearing the symbiote, and Eddie’s eventual transformation into Venom make for a very bombastic read, with some great visuals from Bagley.

I’ve bemoaned some of Bagley’s work on this run so far (as well as praised it – I feel the quality wavers from story to story), but here he’s on fine form. His new take on Venom is the perfect mix of staying true to the classic design, while touching it up with a few horror elements that really make it pop.

As a whole, it does feel like the story is rushed through somewhat. Here, Peter only has the symbiote for one night before he rejects it, as opposed to the months he possesses it in the mainline continuity.

It does feel like something of a missed opportunity, but it still feels worth it when we get to Eddie’s own transformation.

The final Showdown could be a little better, but Peter’s subsequent talks with characters like Mary-Jane, Nick Fury and Curt Connor make for some interesting reads, and show an interesting array of how people in this universe view Spider-Man. It does get a little overly wordy at times, but we’re still yet to actually find a bad volume of this run.

All-in-all, I give Venom a…

Thanks for reading! Do you think Venom works better as a hero or a villain? Let me know in the comments below!

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