Every Spider-Fan knows how Venom was created when the alien symbiote Peter Parker rejected bonded with Eddie Brock – a disgraced reporter, who blamed his fallen fortunes on Spider-Man, whose capture of the serial killer known as The Sin Eater revealed that Brock’s article identifying the Sin Eater as someone else was a sham. The devout fans will recall how the symbiote later found discharged soldier Flash Thompson and allowed him to enter the action once again as Agent Venom. The truly devout fans will tell you that Deadpool encountered the symbiote before it bonded with Spider-Man and that’s probably what drove it crazy in the first place. Yet in all of these stories, nobody has ever explored the history of the symbiote between the time it was taken from its homeworld and when it was discovered in Secret Wars. Until now… Meet Tel-Kar – soldier, spy and the titular First Host of the symbiote that would become one-half of Venom. The first half of this issue details how Tel-Kar worked deep-cover during The Kree-Skrull War, with his symbiote “partner” enabling him to replicate the natural shape-shifting powers of The Skrulls. This is a brilliant conceit on the part of writer Mike Costa and one can easily see them doing an entire series based around the idea of a Kree spy playing a dangerous game working among his people’s sworn enemies while struggling to maintain control of himself and his other half in the name of the greater good. Unfortunately, after this promising start, the second half of the book is largely devoted to the same-old Venom shenanigans and establishing a status quo that is remarkably similar to the plot of the upcoming Venom movie. We see Venom stop a convenience store robbery in his usual gory fashion and discover how Eddie Brock is paying the bills by allowing a bio-tech company to study his symbiote’s latest “baby” to develop new miracle drugs. This section of the book isn’t bad, but we’ve seen this sort of thing done before in earlier Venom comics and it’s something of a step-down after the introduction gives us something new and original using the symbiote in an outer-space setting – another odd rarity given its alien origins. That being said, whatever issues this book’s story may have, the artwork is fantastic. This is no surprise, given that it’s by Mark Bagley, who I’m fairly sure has drawn more Spider-Man comic books than any other artist in history at this point. Certainly he’s done a lot of them, even apart from his work on Ultimate Spider-Man. The book’s layouts are fantastic, but the inks by Mark Hennessy are a little thick at points and obscure the original line-work. All in all, Venom: First Host is a solid work that does what it set out to accomplish. For those who are new to the character, it tells you everything major you need to know about Eddie Brock and his better half. For long-time fans and Marvel history buffs, it shows us something we’ve never seen before and establishes a fascinating new character in the form of Tel-Kar. And it will prove an interesting first comic for anyone who comes to the comic shop for the first time wanting more after Venom arrives in theaters in five weeks. 7/10 Venom: First Host #1 releases on August 29, 2018!
Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.