Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Reader's Diary #1595- Rick Remender (writer), various artists: Venom, The Complete Collection Volume 1

Confession time:I didn't mind Topher Grace as Venom in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 3.

With that out of the way, and with hardcore Venom fans writing me off as a fraud and moving on, I'll also admit that Venom's not a character to whom I've paid a lot of attention. I used to think of him primarily as a villain, but I've since seen that he's sometimes considered a hero and well, all that has piqued my interest.

I do feel that Rick Remender's Venom gives a good sense of what the character is all about. Sort of. Venom is, in Marvel lingo, a symbiote. The name might be considered a misnomer considering that it triggers connotations of symbiosis rather than parasitism and Venom blurs that line. A sentient alien goo, it attaches itself to a human host and gives that person strength and shape shifting abilities. One also assumes Venom gets something from the relationship. So far, so good. But, if one leaves the goo attached too long (as Flash Thompson does from time to time in this collection), Venom begins to take over. It also seems to react to the hosts emotions and takes over when the host feels threatened or angry. Furthermore, human morals are not necessarily alien morals and when Venom takes over, the line between hero and villain is also blurred.

With such a unique and foreign concept as Venom then, it's a difficult character to pin down. Remender does what I assume most would in his case: focuses instead on the host. Enter Flash Thompson (not Eddie Brock of the aforementioned movie, though he does make an appearance). First introduced way back in the day, Flash was a high school bully to Spider-Man's Peter Parker. Here Remender fleshes out the character a lot more, giving him a background and what not. There's a pretty solid argument to make that he overdid the tragic angle (Flash is an alcoholic war amp with some pretty severe daddy issues) but this also makes the Venom angle edgier. If the symbiote reacts to human emotion, having him latch unto such an emotionally unstable wreck as Flash Thompson promises a lot of drama.

As a collection, it's pretty good, though calling it complete is not entirely accurate and there were a few moments when gaps were clearly filled in in stories not included here. Still, it's coherent for the most part and pretty solid exciting storytelling.

Despite the variety of different artists, the art is surprisingly consistent. Most seemed to have fun with the idea of an inky shape-shifting, slightly humanoid monster and went with it. The real task was honing in the chaos to still create something visually legible and they succeeded with aplomb. 

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