Who needs new characters when you can take some preexisting ones, add in a new concept, and have an awesome result? Rick Remender does just that in Venom: Volume 1.
This new take on the super popular villain/antihero has longtime Spider-Man supporting character Eugene “Flash” Thompson bonded with the Venom symbiote. Things are different this time. Thompson, an amputee Iraqi war veteran, is given a chance to serve his country again by serving as a host for the symbiote, which gives him the usual Venom powers and abilities. The catch is that the can only stay bonded for 48 hours; after that, the two creatures become inseparable. Obviously, he doesn’t want that and neither does the government, who have installed an explosive device to ensure they stay separated.
This first volume has Venom facing the aptly named criminal mastermind Crime Master (the latest version of this long recurring villain). Venom fights with Jack O’ Lantern in Eastern Europe and gravels to the Savage Land to prevent Crime Master from getting a shipment of vibranium–the super metal used in Captain America’s shield–which he plans on using for munitions. Since this is a super hero story, things only get more difficult as Kraven somehow gets involved, wanting to fight Thompson, who he believes is Spider-Man.
Things get worse for Thompson, as Crime Master informs him that he is aware of his secret identity and has dispatched Jack O’ to kill Thompson’s on again, off again girlfriend Betty Brant, if he doesn’t the vibranium. To make matters worse, his 48 hour period of being joined with the symbiote is coming to an end, and Spider-Man is hot on his trail, as a new Venom tearing through New York looking for Betty (one of Peter’s friends) is alarming to say the least.
Remender did a great job weaving together a fairly complex plot, but really shines with Thompson’s narration to build the relationship between himself and the symbiote. Tony Moore’s art is fine, and you can tell that he was having fun thinking of ways to have Venom’s tentacles use machine guns and other weaponry.
The final story in this collection gives a glimpse into Thompson’s past, showing why he was portrayed as being an asshole all those years. Thompson had a terrible relationship with his father growing up, and this shows how that took its toll on him throughout his life.
So yes, I really did enjoy this. It was the most fun I’ve had reading a Venom story in a longtime and I can’t wait to check out the next volume.