Reading List: Venom Volume 1
Well, it has been a while since I’ve written a Reading List post, so I guess it’s about time. Today, we’re going to take a quick look at the first on-going Venom series, which began in 2003 and ran for 18 issues. It wasn’t particularly long, and only lasted for two years, but it, like a lot of things marvel was doing at the time (see my post on the Captain Marvel book of that era) was completely and very entertainingly insane. The series starts somewhere in the arctic, in a a lonely, frozen outpost which is staffed by a handful of stalwart roughnecks and is largely cut off from the rest of the world. If this is starting to sound a little bit like the film The Thing, well, just wait. An army lieutenant named Patrica Robertson, who is stationed there, travels to a research lab a few miles away to return and borrow some VHS tapes, but when she gets there, all hell has seemingly broken loose and nearly all of the scientists have been brutally murdered. There is one survivor, and he is incoherent, so Pat brings him with her back to the military outpost. The survivor is, of course, carrying the Venom symbiote, but this is a somewhat different version of Venom than we’ve seen before.
Eddie Brock isn’t around, and the symbiote doesn’t know what or who it is or what it’s even doing. It has seemingly lost its mind and has been going on a killing spree. This Venom is also doing something else that we haven’t seen before. It is jumping from host to host at a very rapid pace, just using them up and swapping them out left and right. It seems that the symbiote has not only become more aggressive outwardly, but is also more dangerous to its human hosts, who are consumed within hours. The first storyline in this series is a complete homage to The Thing and it is done really well. It’s dark, paranoid, and the reader really has no idea what is going on at this point. Some people would call that a negative quality, but I love it when things don’t make sense.
Venom is being pursued by a mysterious figure who is only ever refereed to as ‘The Suit’. This guy has no eyeballs and is filled with little metal spiders. He regenerates rapidly and can manufacture pieces of technological equipment with his spider-bots. With this guy’s help, Patricia is able to escape the arctic outpost alive, and her and the suit continue to track Venom south, where the shit really hits the fan.
Yep, we run into Wolverine. After a brief scuffle, and a few lines concerning the fact that Wolverine can survive being bonded to Venom because of his healing factor, the two are bonded and with Venom almost completely in control of the pairing, continue with the killing spree. At this point, Venom is now also being pursued by S.H.E.I.L.D. and a group called the Ararat Corporation. Ararat, which I’ve not heard mentioned in any other Marvel anything, consists of a bunch of female clones, as well as some males who are also full of little metal spiders. They are of the same race as ‘The Suit’, but seem to be at odds with him. So, after a bunch of fighting in Canada, Patricia steals some Ararat tech that will allow her to control a symbiote once she bonds to it, makes nice with Venom, bonds with it, and heads to New York looking for answers concerning these Ararat bozos. First, we are treated (finally) to a few issues of flashbacks that explain what has happened to Venom and how it got to the arctic.
Then, we get to NYC, when things just go positively bananas. Also, Spider-man and the Fantastic Four get involved. As far as I’m concerned, this little series has it all. It has a lot of characters, some of them at their most bad-ass. This time period was a really good time for Marvel Heroes being bad-ass. We also get to see a lot of the classic venom tricks, like shape-shifting and web-slinging, as well as some imaginative new ones, like riding bullets, throwing crystallized shards of itself, and even bonding with a colony of cock roaches to survive a tactical nuke. Yeah, really.