Graphic Novel Review: Venom: Lethal Protector – Blood in the Water; Venomverse

Venom Lethal Protector: Blood in the Water

Venom Lethal Protector: Blood in the Water - Credit: Archant

The renaissance continues...


Venomverse - Credit: Archant

(Panini Books)

It’s the ‘90s all over again, as the symbiote enjoys a renaissance the likes of which it hasn’t seen in decades. With Eddie Brock back in the black suit, the Venom anti-hero aspect is also thrown back into the spotlight, mimicking similar themes seen back during the character’s heyday.

Having established his new status quo as an agent of Alchemax, the black science corporation which developed the serum that stabilises the symbiote’s more aggressive urges, writer Mike Costa is free to explore the other sides to the character(s), including what the alien Klyntar gets up to when Eddie’s asleep, and catching up on the activities of its most recent host, the incarcerated veteran Lee Price, adding a depth and detail which was certainly lacking during Venom’s ‘nineties run.

The main storyline in this volume, however, focuses on Spider-Man foe Kraven the Hunter targeting the race of intelligent dinosaur-beings Venom previously encountered living beneath the streets of Manhattan. Employed by NY Mayor Wilson Fisk, the former crimeboss known as the Kingpin, Kraven is tasked with eliminating these monstrous creatures, regardless of whether they pose a threat to his citizens.

Once again adopting the role of lethal protector, Venom is caught in the crossfires of Kraven’s hunt, with devastating consequences…

Perhaps the best take on the character for years - at least since Rick Remender’s early Flash Thompson run - this series has taken everything good about the concept since its creation and filtered it into a perfect dose of distilled Venom…

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There’s nothing obvious about what Costa is doing with his protagonist, and a real sense of anticipation in discovering just what he has planned next. Outstanding.

Meanwhile, the Venomverse saga picks up on the previous lead-in prologue volume and continues the transdimensional tale of parallel symbiote hosts being brought together in order to fight a foe which threatens their existences across the multiverse.

Venomised versions of Captain America, Old Man Logan, Wolverine, Rocket Raccoon, Black Panther and other heroes are the last line of defence against a deadly new species known as the Poisons, which are capable of consuming the symbiotes and their hosts to create a new creature which forms part of a greater hive mind…

In contrast to the ongoing Venom run, this mini-series is pretty much a violent slugfest from beginning to end, and as a result of which pales in comparison. It’s by no means a bad book, despite the delibrate comparisons to the recent Spider-Verse epic, but just doesn’t achieve the heights of brilliance seen in the parent title.

The strength of the aforementioned Spidey saga was discovering the back stories of the assorted web-slingers featured therein, which included the likes of break-out character Spider-Gwen, but there simply isn’t the level of development in the equivalent Venoms, who seem to be duplicates of mainstream characters merely given an alien costume makeover.