The Free Comic Book Day Spider-Man/Venom comic shifted its release date and coming a week after the FCBD X-Men, but it’s now in comic book shops. This free book contains two stories, one by Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman and the other by Jed MacKay and Patrick Gleason. Typically this book is a means to tease an upcoming story and get new fans hooked on the series. Do they pull it off? More or less.
The first story is a Black Cat and Spidey adventure by MacKay and Gleason with colors by David Curiel and letters by Clayton Cowles. The Vulture is the big bad, and it’s a team-up between Black Cat and Spidey with plenty of flirtatious back and forth between the characters. Gleason does a great job throughout with striking images of Spidey kicking, hanging, and swinging. The big eyes are a nice touch, and it sets his version of Spidey apart. I’m not a massive fan of the layout design, but it’s overall a very visually appealing story.
Following this is a story by Cates, Stegman, inker JP Mayer, color artist Frank Martin, and Cowles on letters. It’s an appropriate time for the book to drop as it reveals Virus with plenty of the pages Marvel showed off at C2E2 earlier this year. I imagine the release of this issue was likely supposed to come out before Venom #26 since Virus appeared in that issue, and this is more of a splashy first introduction, but it’s still a good fight scene. This scene reminds us the Symbiote can heal Eddie, Virus has a lot of tricks up his sleeve, and why he’s fighting Venom is still a complete unknown. The book looks great and certainly will make folks pick up Venom.
Both stories are good at giving readers a taste, but aren’t necessarily jaw-droppingly good at making you want more. I’m grateful Marvel got these out at all after the pandemic, but I can’t say there’s a cliffhanger or twist that’ll have you on the edge of your seat.
Your enjoyment might vary based on your expectations and how many Marvel Comics you read. I suspect readers new to MacKay’s great Black Cat or Cates/Stegman’s edgy and horrific Venom will be bowled over. Plus, you can’t beat free!