To say that I’m a Venom fan is a bit of an understatement. For some reason, I’ve been a big fan of the huge black/purple/blue (Depends on the artist and colorist) Anti-Hero for as long as I can remember. There’s something about the all-black design with the big white spider that just looks awesome, almost like a Superhero version of a pro wrestler or something. But as I said, to say I’m a huge fan is an understatement.
I’m proud to say that I own a copy of Venom’s first appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #299 & the more valued (slightly damaged) Amazing Spider-Man #300 where the character actually debuted in the story. From there that obsession has grown into a LARGE Amazing Spider-Man collection that holds every appearance of Eddie Brock and his black oozing partner to date, along with several complete solo stories and many more stories that I’m still collecting in single issues. I own a LOT of Venom t-shirts, from the basic black with white Spider design to newer versions using images from the movie’s poster on the front. Hell, I’m so much of a fan that I used the white spider shirt as a top when I first broke into wrestling…
And for proof, here’s one of the only matches of mine on the internet that shows that piece of gear.
The first person to make fun of me will be chopped… HARD… Till you bleed to death. And yes, I can chop that hard.
I’m obsessed with Venom as a hero and a villain. I believe that stories of redemption are possible for many characters, and Venom has had a lot to go through. So in celebration of Venom hitting the big screen, I decided to go back into my own personal collection and share with you my Top 5 stories that any Venom fan needs to read. Unfortunately, excellent stories like Maximum Carnage, Venom vs Carnage, and a few others are excluded from this list since they just involve Venom and are not really Venom stories, which is why it is what it is. But for now, enjoy!
5. Venom (Ultimate Spider-Man #33-#38)
This version of Venom is different to the one you’ll see from the rest of this list. While this version does still involve Peter Parker getting a new black suit that ramps up his aggressive behavior, a disgruntled Eddie Brock who is out for revenge and ends up becoming a huge hulking creature that calls itself Venom; things are slightly different due to the time frame that the Ultimate universe puts itself in.
Peter Parker is still a student in Midtown High and when he discovers an old videotape of Uncle Ben and his parents along with a bunch of old notes from his father about something called “The Suit”, Peter is able to look up University student Eddie Brock, who is working with Doctor Conners at Empire State University on the last remaining sample of “The Suit” from when both of their fathers worked on the goop. After learning that The Suit could be the cure of all the world’s illness, Peter beings a fascination with the experiment and through an accident in the lab at night ends up covered in The Suit. For a short time, Peter experiences a much stronger version of his powers, till a confrontation with a random robber triggers his memories of the night Uncle Ben was killed and becomes a Venom-like monster for a moment. After getting rid of the suit, Peter takes it upon himself to destroy what he thinks is the last remaining sample of The Suit forever… But Eddie has a back up in another locker and knowing Peter’s Spider-Man secret, uses The Suit on himself to become Venom and fights Peter.
Probably the cheapest story set on this list with a full single issue collection going for as low as $30 on eBay with the collected edition being a harder find at about $50. A great modern take on how Venom came to be, but it was eventually rewritten later in the Ultimate Spider-Man PS2 video game so that The Suit was actually a Symbiote creature that was slowly eating away at Eddie who has to eat people to survive. There was also a War of the Symbiotes follow up to that which is worth reading. Not to mention the Clone Saga storyline which combined the idea of clones (including a female clone of Peter Parker) and Carnage with one of the best twists ever… And the Carnage story arc itself is good too. Well worth buying everything from that run.
4. Venom Lives (The Amazing Spider-Man #345-#347)
Venom lives is probably one of the best moments for Venom as a character. After returning yet again to New York City after escaping prison (and getting his Symbiote back) Venom goads Spider-Man into the ultimate one on one showdown with the winner being the only one left alive. Ending up on a deserted island the two do battle and thanks to a leaking gas line that explodes and some quick thinking from Spider-Man, Venom thinks a skeleton wearing Spider-Man’s mask and melted web-shooter is the real deal. With his revenge complete, Eddie and Venom both being a new phase in life without knowing that Spider-Man survived. This begins the transformation of Venom from foe of Spider-Man into the Lethal Protector that would be his mantle for the solo series he would eventually have.
A nice cheap story if you want to get it, with each book going for about $20-$30 average on eBay, and is also a part of the Spider-Man Vs. Venom Omnibus that was recently released.
3. Planet of the Symbiotes (The Amazing Spider-Man Super Special #1, Spider-Man Super Special #1, Venom Super Special #1, The Spectacular Spider-Man Super Special #1, Web of Spider-Man Super Special #1)
Planet of the Symbiotes was one of the first real major crossover title stories for MARVEL. Taking 4 of the Spider-Man books that were out at the time and the solo Venom book and using their Specials to tell a sub-story about the history of the Symbiotes, where they came from, why they need hosts and eventually Carnage fucking the whole thing up. This opened up the Symbiotes as characters for the first time and for fans like me, this was awesome. Though there have been a lot of changes to the canon of this special mini-series since it’s release; sending the Symbiotes from a warrior race who consume their hosts and dominate from planet to planet, to more peaceful creatures who lost their way (See Venom Volume 4 aka Venom in Space) that ended up being corrupted by a singular Symbiote god who mind controlled them all into being evil (See the current Venom series). Outside of the main draw of the Planet of the Symbiotes storyline, each book also has a few nice stories that relate to that series main storyline at the time, which did involve some Clone Saga stories.
Not a bad series IF you can track them all down. The whole set goes for around $100 on eBay if you want to buy them as the original single issues, but they are getting re-released as a part of Venomnibus Vol 2 in Feb 2019 along with several other stories for the same price, making that the better buy.
2. Venom: Lethal Protector (1993)
This was Venom’s first solo outing after leaving the Amazing Spider-Man series. After discovering an underground city that keeps homeless people of San Francisco, Eddie Brock tries his hand at being a protector of the people instead of the eater of brains. After a not so friendly introduction with the city’s council, Venom ends up taking on Treese Enterprises after they also discover the city and try to take things over, not to mention that Spider-Man follows Venom to San Fran for their first encounter since the Amazing Spider-Man series. Eddie and Venom end up doing the right thing and help the people of the underground city, but in the end it’s the weight of their sins that keep them from being accepted into the city, but that doesn’t stop them from becoming the protector of the innocent in the area for a while.
This series is a great read, full of action and character development that takes Venom from villain to hero and laying the groundwork for so many more stories to come. It’s recently had a reprinting for the first time in years, so it won’t be too hard for you to track down a copy of. However, for the hardcore collectors, it’s well worth looking for single issues. Issue 1 is particular is a nice blood red shiny cover that it worth investing in. You’ll be looking at a minimum of $50 for issue 1, and close to $150+ for the full set.
The recent Venom movie uses this as a major plot point really raised the price of these ones. But luckily, Venomnibus Vol 1 has you covered at a much cheaper price if you want to go that route.
1. Alien Costume Saga/Birth of Venom (Secret Wars #8, The Amazing Spider-Man #252-263, The Amazing Spider-Man #298-#300, The Amazing Spider-Man 2018 Annual)
How could I go past how things began as the top Venom story out there? From the discovery of a black costume by Spider-Man in a weird lab during the battles waged in the very first Secret Wars, to the slow takeover and discovery that the costume was alive and trying to bond with Spider-Man, leaving Peter Parker to work out if his change in attitude and actions are really his own, to Eddie Brock having a moment of desperation that would change his life forever when he bonds with the Alien Costume and becomes Venom for the first time. Some of the best and most compelling origin stories in Spider-Man and Venom history. This is the same origin for Venom that is used in every medium since then.
From the 90s cartoon to the terrible Spider-Man 3, and beyond; this origin has stuck around for a reason. Heck, it’s been so popular that in a moment that tries to latch onto the attention that the Venom movie is getting, MARVEL actually went back to this period in time and showed us some of the nights during the Symbiote’s time with Peter Parker from the alien’s point of view, ending with it captured, alone, afraid and wanting revenge. That is some staying power. Even now, the Birth of Venom trade paperback is one of the top-selling titles MARVEL produces and is one of the rare few that is constantly in print. It’s well worth a read if you want to see the real origin of the world’s best anti-hero.
However, it does come with the drawback of being one of the most expensive stories sets out there. Secret Wars 8 hovers around $80 as an average on eBay. While Amazing Spider-Man #252 is about $250 average, Amazing Spider-Man #298 is around $95 average, Amazing Spider-Man #299 is around $120 average. With Amazing Spider-Man #300 being he most expensive with a $400+ average. But Amazing Spider-Man Annual (2018) #1 is the cheapest at $10 average online. If you don’t have that type of big cash available, then maybe you would be better off with the Birth of Venom graphic novel at around $30 which collects these stories and more.
So there we go, a nice collection of Venom stories that I think everyone should either have a read of,or if you are a hardcore comic collector (Especially if you collect Amazing Spider-Man or Venom stories) you should own in ssingle-issueformat. These stories all have something that made the big guy a star in the eyes of comic book readers.
For more Spider-Man related content, maybe you would like to check out the review for MARVEL Spider-Man on PS4. While the game doesn’t star Venom (yet) it’s a good game.