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.
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.
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: Venom #15-22
Writer: Rick Remender & Cullen Bunn
Artist: Lan Medina
Rick Remender had a short, but very memorable, run piloting the character of Agent Venom - who was secretly long-time Spider-Man frenemy Flash Thompson. The former bully was now a disabled veteran of the armed forces, but he continued to be put through the wringer in this series, culminating with this story arc in which his many enemies team up to destroy him.