Venom Vol. 3: Blood in the Water review
I didn’t read Spider-Man comics as a kid, but I knew who Venom was. He had the capabilities of Spidey, but with a beefier build and a way-cooler suit. I never drew much, but I would draw Venom.
Flash forward to 2013. I start reading comics and regularly visiting my local shop. I notice Venom appearing in several titles, but he’s not the Venom I remember. He’s an Agent with a more refined costume. He’s a Space Knight flying around the cosmos. Where was the Venom I remembered, swinging around New York City making things difficult for Spider-Man?
I stopped buying Marvel titles around the time they canceled Fantastic Four. I needed to free up some budget space anyway, but truth be told, I didn’t like much of what the company was producing. When Legacy was announced, I figured it was just another All-New, All-Different gimmick. When I read about what was in store for Venom, however, I was intrigued. And now that I’ve had the chance to read the first volume, I’m thrilled, and I want more.
Blood in the Water joins—in progress—original Venom host Eddie Brock and his symbiotic love as they struggle to stay on the right side of wrong. They have done good, saving a race of genetically modified dinosaur people and leading them to shelter in the sewers; but they also deal with the constant pull of the symbiote’s baser urges. When Kraven the Hunter discovers that there’s exotic game beneath the streets of New York, Venom’s efforts to stay clean face a massive challenge.
As you might expect, writer Mike Costa and artist Mark Bagley provide plenty of action. Bagley's Venom looks so magnificently 90's, with big, round muscles that—in my opinion—are way cooler than the edgier look he had been sporting prior to this volume. I felt like a kid reading this, rediscovering the creepy, awesome aesthetic that drew me to the character in the first place.
What I did not expect, however, was the interesting dynamic between Eddie and the symbiote. The earliest appearances of the symbiote made it seem like a malevolent force that tried to turn its hosts toward evil. But here, it works through questions of morality. It learns, and wants change. It struggles against those baser desires and needs that I alluded to earlier. Eddie seems at times more like a parent, trying to do what's best for his love, even though the symbiote doesn't always understand why Eddie's actions are necessary. It's a compelling relationship—far more complex than what I remember—and I'm hoping that the new Venom book announced for June explores similar territory.
Venom Vol. 3 gives me what I've wanted since I was a child, but in a form that has matured, even as I have. The big, bursting-with-muscles shots of Venom stand my hair up, but Costa makes the book far more than just a pretty face by exploring the relationship between the two well-intentioned, but confused souls that make up the Lethal Protector known as Venom. Here's hoping we get much more like this from the character in the future.