David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane made Venom a household name with issue 300 of Amazing Spider-Man, and since then Marvel Comics has tried its best to destroy the fan-favorite character with insane storylines and ridiculous spinoff characters. Now, 30 years removed from the Venom’s first appearance, Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman approach the new series with perspective, amazing art, and great storytelling.
Cates throws everything he has at the first issue, giving the book a familiar feel with dark horror overtones. Eddie Brock is back with the symbiote, and Cates modern esthetics work well with the chaos in Eddie’s head. Cates takes the best parts of the past 30 years of Venom stories and adds to the origin in a very organic manner. The book is also accessible to new readers as the story hits the ground running and the reader learns information from Eddie’s perspective.
Stegman understands the complexities when it comes to Spider-Man, and this translates very well with Venom #1. McFarlane changed the game when it comes to Spider-Man, from how you draw webs, to angles, and perspective of the characters. When artists understand the elements needed to make Venom pop off the page, it’s mind-blowing what he or she can do with the character. See the above image and look at the layers of details in the webs, the rain, and Venom himself. Venom will be an enjoyable book with Stegman handling the artwork.
There are few things that didn’t work in the artwork that was more a personal preference. The motion blur and Instagram filter blur feel inorganic and distracting as they take the reader out of the moment. The artistic team worked really hard on this book; don’t cover it up with a Photoshop blur. Plus, Venom isn’t a speedster and it’s not needed. Frank Martin’s colors are brilliant in the first half the book with the rich black tone of the story, but something gets lost in the second half with the reds and oranges. Clayton Cowles usually knocks it out of the park with the lettering, but the sound effects felt unfinished in this issue.
Overall, Venom #1 is a great launch to the series with over-the-top 90s inspired writing from Cates and McFarlane-inspired art by Stegman. The cliffhanger at the end will compel you to read the second issue as well.