Graphic Novel Review: Marvel Platinum: The Definitive Venom/Venom: Dark Origin/ Venomized
PUBLISHED: 14:15 04 October 2018 | UPDATED: 14:16 04 October 2018
Forget the lacklustre Spider-Man 3 with Topher Grace in the role of Venom, the symbiote is set for certain celluloid success this year with Tom Hardy stepping into the black costume, which means an onslaught of graphic novels featuring the character.
These three volumes offer a cross-career look at the Lethal Protector, from his roots during the original Secret Wars event through to his current role as an anti-hero who might just be responsible for saving the entire universe from interdimensional conquest…
In the tradition of previous releases in the range, the Marvel Platinum book offers a greatest hits selection of Venom stories, including extracts from the Alien Costume Saga which saw Spidey becoming the unwitting host of the extraterrestrial symbiote, his battle to free himself, and its eventual bonding with failed reporter Eddie Brock.
There are also stories revealing the origins of psychopathic symbiote Carnage, and tales of subsequent hosts Mac (The former Scorpion) Gargan, black ops soldier Flash Thompson and smalltime gangster Lee Price, ensuring this is a perfect package of parasitic power for fans of Venom new and old.
Although Brock’s backstory is revealed in the issues collected therein, it is given a much greater depth in Zeb Wells’ seminal Dark Origin storyline, which not only flashes back to Eddie’s childhood, but looks in detail at his time as a crime reporter with the Daily Globe, breaking exclusive interviews allegedly with the serial killer known as the Sin Eater, only for him to be revealed as a copycat after the true perpetrator is unmasked by Spider-Man.
Sacked from his job, his marriage over and his life in tatters, the devoutly Catholic Brock considers suicide before he encounters the weakened symbiote, and they are fused by their shared hatred of the web-slinger, becoming the immensely powerful Venom for the first time, and seeking revenge by striking at Peter Parker’s beloved Mary-Jane...
Artist Angel Medina draws in the style of Venom co-creator Todd McFarlane, all exaggerated poses, excessive webbing and big eyes, which somewhat distracts from Wells’ script. There is also an argument that the narrative misses the point of the character as a good man whose life was tragically ruined by bad luck, rather than being the manipulative jerk he is here.
Finally, Venomized wraps up the long-running storyline which was collected in Edge of Venomverse, Venomverse and the X-Men crossover Poison X, in which we see the threat of the Poisons - a deadly new species capable of subsuming symbiotes and their hosts in a greater hive mind - finally reaching Earth.
Leading the frontline in the defence of the planet, Venom recruits symbiote-charged allies from the ranks of the world’s superheroes, aware that consumption by the Poisons will spell their downfall, but with no other options left on the table. Brock’s actions further cement his restored role as Lethal Protector, prepared to do whatever is necessary to keep the innocent from harm.
The stakes are raised to world-shattering levels, but unfortunately Cullen Bunn’s storyline never really delivers on expectations, with excessive fight scenes barely kept in check by the odd moments of characterisation, and far too many occasions where the reader is expected to know obscure details from other Marvel titles (Kid Kaiju I’m looking at you!).
The biggest flaw proved to be trying to identify Venomized heroes and those tainted by the Poisons, with the designs barely recognisable, leading to battles which were for the most part impossible to keep up with.
Hopefully the main outcome of the storyline is to assert Venom as a major player in the wider Marvel Universe, with links beyond his obvious Spider-Man associations, yet how this will play out remains uncertain for the time being.
A mixed bag of Venomness then, with the Marvel Platinum volume definitely the highlight of the bunch.