Out this week is another Marvel-Verse trade paperback for younger readers — this time, it’s Venom’s turn to shine. It collects Spider-Man Adventures #8-10, Amazing Spider-Man #317, Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #35, and Spider-Man & Venom: Double Trouble. It doesn’t contain the most important Venom stories, nor does it have any of the important origin stories involving Venom or the Symbiote. So who needs it and who would want it? The answer might surprise you.
This book might be for the kiddo in your life who’s scared by some of the more adult stories involving Venom. Nearly half the book is devoted to Spider-Man Adventures #8-10, which is a kid-friendly introduction to the version of Venom that came from outer space. It was already reprinted in the digest format in November 2019, though, so younger readers may want to read that instead. So in that case, who should read this?
Anyone who is unfamiliar with Venom but wants a few different kid-friendly flavors could read this and find it enjoyable. The Spider-Man Adventures issues introduce the character while Amazing Spider-Man #317 reveals the time the Symbiote chose Spider-Man over Venom. In Spider-Man’s words, it’s literally in love with him! This is certainly an odd story to be collected in this work, though it’s a classic thanks to Todd McFarlane’s art and David Michelinie’s scripting.
That also goes for Fred Van Lente, Cory Hamscher, and Terry Pallot’s Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man #35, which also features a kid-friendly take on Venom. In this story, Venom wants to become a hero and he idolizes Spider-Man. They go on a tour of Spider-Man’s patrol. This story features a less bloodthirsty version of Venom who is a bit of a bonehead — he’s unclear on how to do the whole hero thing, which makes for a fun team-up. It also features a surprising ending. This is honestly the best part of the collection, especially if you’ve read some of these stories before. It’s a hidden gem and Van Lente kills it! You can pick up this issue for $1.99 here.
Closing out the book is the first half of the delightful Spider-Man & Venom: Double Trouble #1 (read my full review here), which is dubbed a “sneak peek” in this collection. It’s odd this is a “sneak peek” since the trade paperback for the Double Trouble story has been out since April, but they must mean it’s more of a preview. The issue collected here does a good job of establishing some slice-of-life aspects of Spidey and Venom. Spider-Man fights crime, while Venom fights it in his own way, or Spidey makes dinner, and Venom… well, you don’t find out since it only reprints the first half of the first issue. The general vibe is strong with each character as the creative team characterizes Spidey as fun-loving and quick-witted while Venom is a bit of a loudmouth and mischievous. Gurihiru draws these characters extremely well and each has an ever so slight creative twist that makes them feel original but totally respecting the source material at the same time.
So who needs this book? It’s hard to say since this is only a smattering of stories and none of them are definitive or necessary to understand Venom. Who would want this story? Maybe a young kid who wants to try out the character but isn’t sure where to start. Ultimately, this isn’t a great collection for new readers or longtime readers looking to revisit key stories. It’s a safe, basic, and somewhat uninteresting collection, though it has its moments.