The very first Venom Annual arrives today thanks in large part to Donny Cates who has energized this character from his very first arc. I can’t say I’ve ever seen so much buzz around the character between the movie and the comics, and it’s nice to see the character get an honorable extra-sized annual.
So what’s it about?
Read our exclusive preview.
Why does this matter?
This is one of the better story structures for annuals you’ll find, using a reoccurring backbone story to sprout the other stories. Set at the bar with no name, Cates opens this story up so that villains can share their Venom tales with each other. You can imagine how that goes.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue is basically four Venom stories all sprouting from first-hand recountings from villains who have encountered Venom in passing. Artist Kev Walker backs up Cates’ bar scenes which set up each story and then wrap everything up. The art style has a slightly cartoony look to it which helps make their pathetic nature more believable. It’s nice to see Cates drop details about what has been happening in the story which could turn new readers on to the series.
The first story told focuses on Black Cat and is written by David Michelinie and drawn by Ron Lim. Somewhat surprisingly, this is more of a Black Cat story than a Venom story, though it does dip into the somewhat strange hero/vigilante/villain thing Venom has dipped into over the years. Black Cat is written in a human way which makes Venom even more strikingly scary and powerful.
Next up is a story by Jeff Loveness and Tigh Walker focusing on an encounter between Wolverine and Venom. Having just reviewed “Tooth and Claw” I was hesitant to like this, but Loveness and Walker really pull it off. It’s a fight comic to be sure, and it is incredible, with highly entertaining action and the choreography is fun to follow. Underneath it all, there’s a lesson and it actually suits these characters to end the way it does.
Finally, James Stokoe drops a hell of a battle between Juggernaut and Venom. Breaking from the mold, this story is told by an untrustworthy narrator which makes the images (which are accurate) not match up very well with the captions (total lies). If you’re familiar with Stokoe’s work you’ll really love this as he brings a detailed look that’s colorful and at times surreal. There are also very cool images of Venom and some hilarious bits of visual comedy in regards to Juggernaut.
It can’t be perfect can it?
I wasn’t a huge fan of the Black Cat story, which seemed more interested in focusing on the heroine than Venom. The point of it is nothing that new either. The next two stories amount to fights, so they are quicker reads that make this annual zip by. The bar scenes don’t add a hell of a lot either. Is this a fun time with Venom? Sure. Is it a necessary must-read for Venom fans? Nah.
Is it good?
A good time with four different recountings of Venom that should make any action fan very happy. Just don’t expect any relevant stories in regards to the current stories or any new revelations.
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!