At the end of 1984’s Secret Wars, Marvel’s first company-wide event, Spider-Man came home with a brand new costume. It was black and was able to do some amazing things, such as shoot webs without web-shooters and change its appearance. But it also had its downsides as well, when it was discovered that it was alive, in fact, it was a symbiote, and was trying to take over Spidey’s body. While he was able to get rid of it, it wasn’t the last time we saw it. It would soon rear its ugly head as Venom – Spider-Man’s deadliest foe.
In this list, I’ll explore some of the best Venom comics. Whether you’re into Venom as a villain, anti-hero, or even a secret agent, there’s something for everyone in this list. Along the way, I’ll let you know where you can read these stories any other information you might need to know.
Written by David Michelinie. Art by Todd McFarlane.
What begins as a pretty standard Spidey romp takes a left turn when Spider-Man’s alien costume makes a return – and wants vengeance. That costume, as mentioned in the introduction to this post, is the frightening Venom. The way he’s introduced is just plain scary – with McFarlane tricking readers into thinking it’s your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man before revealing a horrible monster.
Written by Zeb Wells. Art by Angel Medina.
If you’ve read Venom’s early appearances then you’ll have a gist of his origin story. The disgraced journalist, Eddie Brock, merges with the Venom symbiote that Spider-Man rejected when he realised his alien costume was alive. The pair becomes Venom and team up to take out Spider-Man due to their mutual hatred.
Although, a lot of this is told off panel. Venom: Dark Origin takes Venom’s origin and expands it significantly. We get Eddie Brock’s childhood, his misdeeds as a journalist from his point of view and finally how he comes to meet the symbiote.
If you’re looking for a comprehensive origin story then this is the comic for you.
The Bride of Venom
Written by David Michelinie. Art by Mark Bagley.
After Venom’s first appearance, everyone’s favourite Symbiote would come back on an almost yearly basis looking for revenge on Spidey. In this particular return, we get a shift in their relationship when the two finally make a reluctant truce.
It’s a truce that expands Venom’s potential and sets him up to be a solo act – especially with the next story on this list.
At the same time, we get a window into Eddie Brock’s life before Venom and how his hatred for Spider-Man altered it.
Written by David Michelinie. Art by Mark Bagley and Ron Lim.
Venom has gone solo in his very first miniseries. And it’s one jam-packed with action with threats coming from every direction. Venom has shipped off as far away as he can from Spidey, San Francisco, but trouble seems to find him in every direction. This series sees Venom take on The Life Foundation, other symbiotes, his past mistakes, and an evil land developer.
It’s also a tonal shift for Venom, who plays the hero in this tale. Although, he does dish out the justice in his own unique and sometimes deadly ways.
Written by Howard Mackie. Art by Ron Randall.
Captured by the government, Eddie Brock and the symbiote have been separated. This four-part yarn sees Eddie and symbiote attempt to reform. Although, it won’t be that easy when they’re pursued by the government and a group of symbiotes.
Separation Anxiety explores the relationship between Eddie Brock and the symbiote and how they need each other in order to function properly.
Written by Len Kaminski. Art by Ted Halsted.
Eddie Brock and the symbiote have been separated yet again, but this time by choice! Why, you ask? Well, Brock has decided that Venom has gone too far with his unique brand of justice. But the separation doesn’t stop there, it only gets worse. Brock has always been portrayed as unhinged, but this story dials it up a few notches to explore his psyche in an allegory for mental health.
Out of all Venom comics listed, The Hunger is by far the most surreal. Ted Halstead experiments with panel layouts and the way that characters are drawn to reflect Eddie Brock’s crumbling psyche. It’s a fascinating approach to Venom, especially when you consider that most artists who drew Venom in the 90s tried to out-do one another with extreme styles.
Operation Rebirth 2.0
Written by Rick Remender. Art by Tony Moore and Tom Fowler.
If Eddie Brock is too macho for you then you might enjoy the Flash Thompson era of Venom instead. Operation Rebirth 2.0 is the open arc in a sizable run of Flash Thompson stories which sees Venom take a more government agent approach. After losing both his legs, Flash Thompson volunteers to use the Venom symbiote to go on covert government missions. The only catch is, Flash can only use Venom for 48 hours at a time or the symbiote will take over.
For his first mission, he must take down a criminal organisation that has a large shipment of weapons made from vibranium. Along the way, he’ll have to take on Jack-O-Lantern, Kraven the Hunter, and Spider-Man himself.
I personally enjoy the Flash Thompson over Eddie Brock as he has more dimensions to him. He’s a flawed character, who whose drivers for partnering with the symbiote are far more interesting than Brock’s.