Few comic book movie projects have been more controversial than Sony’s attempt to get a Venom movie off the ground, but it looks like the film is finally moving forward, so it’s as good a time as any for fans to re-familiarize themselves with the very best Venom comics available to read. Like any character born out of the extremity of the ‘90s, Venom has had his publishing ups and downs, but there are still a number of Venom story arcs and Venom graphic novels that will make any Marvelite form a symbiotic relationship with Eddie Brock’s personal history.
Of course, Eddie Brock isn’t the only individual to wear a symbiote, and the list of Venom’s greatest adventures includes a bunch of Venom storylines with someone else occupying the suit. However, whether it’s Brock, Flash Thompson, or even Mac Gargan wearing the alien threads, there are a few things readers can always expect to encounter in a Venom comic - violence, confusing usage of pronouns, and an unbridled hatred for all things Spider-Man!
Issues: Venom: Lethal Protector #1-6
Writer: David Michelinie
Artist: Mark Bagley
Venom became so popular in the ‘90s that it was practically inevitable an attempt would be made to rebrand him into an “anti-hero,” and that’s exactly what Lethal Protector did. This series portrays Eddie Brock as a vigilante dedicated to protecting the innocent, even if he has to do so with some excessively violent and gruesome methods.
Spider-Man: Birth Of Venom
Issues: Secret Wars #8; Amazing Spider-Man #252-259, #298-300 & #315-317; Fantastic Four #274 & Web of Spider-Man #1
Writer: Various Authors
Artist: Various Artists
Few comic book characters have as complex a backstory as Venom does, and the entire sordid tale is conveniently collected in the Birth of Venom graphic novel. Taking readers from a war on an alien planet to the belfry of a church tower, the story of how Spider-Man gained, and then lost, his symbiotic suit makes for a dark and twisted origin tale.
Issues: Amazing Spider-Man #378-380, Spectacular Spider-Man #201-203, Spider-Man #35-37, Spider-Man Unlimited #1-2, & Web of Spider-Man #101-103
Writer: Tom DeFalco & Terry Kavanagh
Artist: David Michelinie & JM DeMatteis
The ‘90s were an era of massive, sprawling crossovers that took over multiple titles, and Maximum Carnage is one of the most memorable examples. When the murderous maniac Carnage assembles a team of villainous symbiotes bent on destruction, Venom must reluctantly team-up with the hated Spider-Man to prevent wholesale slaughter.
Issues: Venom #1-5
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Tony Moore
The world was introduced to an entirely different version of the symbiotic anti-hero in this series, which saw a friend, and former bully, of Peter Parker step into the role of Venom. Flash Thompson may have been a jerk in high school, but he grew up to be a war hero who lost his legs saving troopmates in the Middle East, making him a perfect candidate to become a government-sponsored Agent Venom. Of course, the benefits of wearing a symbiote always come with a catch or two.