Venom wins (again) in "First Host"
The Venom books have been fantastic lately. Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman, JP Mayer, Frank Martin, and Clayton Cowles have been killing it on the main title, and it’s one of my favorite comics being published today. But for five weeks, their predecessors—namely Mike Costa and Mark Bagley—have taken us on a cosmic journey of discovery—touching on primal, universal themes like parenthood, loyalty, and punching the Kree in their arrogant blue faces.
So what was First Host about? Long ago, during the Kree/Skrull War, the Kree had a special super soldier who bonded with the Venom symbiote and used it to help him infiltrate the Skrulls and wreak havoc from within (how do you like that, Skrulls?). In an effort to free some of his people from captivity, he shed the symbiote and caused a distraction, getting himself caught in the effort. Now, many years later, he’s come to Earth to reclaim his old friend.
I thoroughly enjoyed Costa and Bagley’s previous Venom work, so I was delighted to see them working on this project. Bagley’s Venom looks very 90’s—in the very best way—and Costa writes the relationship between Eddie and his other quite well. They also introduced a third dimension right at the end of their run: a child. Venom has spawned some spawn, and now he and Eddie are trying to look after its welfare. That thread is picked up here in First Host, and the child plays a major role in the events, ultimately obtaining its first host by the time things wrap up.
The story is simple, without a great deal of intrigue. After a somewhat predictable twist at the end of issue #1, it really is just a struggle between parties, with lots of fighting and awesome symbiote action, and really, what more could you ask for? First Host doesn’t make me think my deepest thoughts, but it’s thoroughly entertaining, adds to Venom lore, and gives us some new characters that I would love to see pop up again in the future. For all of its simplicity, the plot rises and falls along a nice curve, and there’s plenty of suspense to keep you engaged. There are even a few moments for laughter—something I’ll never say “no” to.
Become the next host of First Host…or something
If you missed First Host, you may still be able to find all five installments at your local shop. If you can’t, I’m sure the trade will be out soon. While I would never make some blanket pronouncement against digital, I think some books just look better in print, and I think this is one of them. All-in-all, it’s a quick, entertaining read that scratches a lot of nerdish itches, so if you’re a fan of Venom, you absolutely ought to pick this up.