With the start of “Marvel Legacy”, I can’t help but wonder why Venom returned to its highly-dubious “Legacy numbering” five months ago, as opposed to this month. It’s not as if the list of regular monthly Venom issues even added to 150 when tallied in that issue’s cover gallery, (they had to add .01 issues and a “Super Special” to get to that number, and still ignored an entire mini-series), so why go through all the trouble to essentially have a dry run on the Legacy branding? Heck, even the covers of issues 150 and 155 are conceptually the same, with Venom posing triumphantly over a pile of downed opponents. Sometimes I don’t get you, Marvel.
That aside, “Lethal Protector, Part 1” centers around Eddie Brock acknowledging in-universe something that’s been bugging me for a couple of months now: this title hasn’t had a status quo since Eddie’s return. For the past five issues, Venom has been highly reactive, thrown from one crazy situation to the next without any apparent forethought or planning. While it certainly does ring true to Brock’s character that he’d immediately prioritize murdering street criminals over little things like getting a job or even eating, it’s nice to see him address the issue head on.
In keeping with the idea of “Legacy” returning characters to their roots, it’s an amusing irony that Brock would return to a trashy tabloid as a place of employment, although it does seem like he doesn’t quite understand the type of paper he’s applied to. Really, the whole theme of the issue appears to be Eddie trying to appeal to everyone’s better instincts, be it the editor, the symbiote, or the dinosaur people. This is admittedly not a great position for a bipolar control freak like Brock to be in; if the voice of reason in any situation is the man who used to brag about eating Spider-Man’s brains, something has gone terribly, terribly wrong.
It will be interesting to see if that theme carries into the next chapters of this story, particularly considering the teased return of both Lee Price and Kraven the Hunter. Eddie and Lee haven’t had the chance to meet face to face yet, and Kraven has developed a reputation since his return for bringing out base and primal emotions in his opponents. Kraven is also seen speaking with a man named “Dimitri”, which may speak to an appearance by the Chameleon as well. Either way, I’m more enthused for them than Stegron.
This issue marks the return of Mark Bagley to a Venom title, and the official loss of my objectivity regarding the artwork. Bagley is my favorite Spider-Man artist, so I’m glad to see him work with any character from that menagerie. He seems to be hewing towards the same sensibilities as Sandoval in regards to Venom’s many varied designs, with the more restrained, human jaw being the “default” appearance, and the crazy fangly face and tongue only coming out when Venom is losing control of himself.
While I generally approve of that concept, I’m not sure it’s one that Bagley is entirely used to employing. The enraged Venom is much more in keeping with how Bagley drew the character in the 90’s, and looks much more natural under his pen. The more restrained Venom looks a bit stiff and awkward, particularly when he’s trying to converse normally. This is ultimately a minor complaint, but I did want to maintain some level of critical objectivity. I still loved the art in this book.
Ultimately, this book served to toss several interesting balls in the air, and while Marvel press releases have already spoiled one potential development for us, they’re all still plots I want to see juggled. The “Legacy” branding may have been a bit redundant or nonsensical when applied to this title, but the actual stories it’s introducing are welcome.
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Venom is trying to find their place in the world as "Marvel Legacy" kicks off, and the threats lurking around the corner makes the reader want to come along for the journey.