Monday, September 24, 2012

Venom: Lethal Protector #1

Do you know what the hardest part about writing about anything is? Not having the required material. There's a lot of things I'd like to write about, but I simply don't have the material to do it. I'd like to write about Eddie Brock and Toxin, Minimum Carnage, etc. but what's the point of just making a bunch of "what ifs" and simply telling you that I don't know about one certain topic so, "blah blah?" As a compromise I'm going to start talking about old symbiote appearances but with my own twist in an attempt to buy myself more time. Right now I plan to take one story arc, talk about one issue per week, then add another Flashpoint post, and rinse and repeat. One thing I know I want to do is if there's a fan art page or letters column, I'll scan those pages, post them, and talk about them. That should be pretty fun.

As I said I would on the last post, the first symbiote related title up for discussion is VENOM: LETHAL PROTECTOR. Let's get some background first. Venom was the brain child of writer David Michelinie who had to bring the symbiote back from the dead after it "died" in "Web of Spider-man #1" to make this character happen. Todd McFarlane drew Venom for the first time, but his "creator rights" are confusing and probably something I should talk about later... or avoid. Anyway, Venom shot off; he was big. Any Spider-man book that featured the word "VENOM" on the title sold like hot cakes, but is it really that surprising? Everyone loves the dark version of the hero, there certainly weren't any Green Goblin or Doctor Octopus series WERE THERE?! After a few years of popularity, in one of Venom's side stories "First Kill" (that took place in certain Spider-man annuals) the final issue (Web of Spider-man Annual #8) sports a messaging revealing Venom to get his own SERIES in 1993 by David and the genius of Mark Bagley. Just five years after he first appeared in 1998, that's pretty good if you ask me. It took Wolverine eight years to get his own series so, "Suck it Wolverine."

Then in February 1993, it happened. The first issue of Venom's first series had been released, sporting a beatiful looking Venom by Mark Bagley. Seriously, are we looking at the same cover here? It's just so amazing... and shiny. The normal cover sports a red holographic web pattern in the background (similar to the Amazing Spider-man #375 cover) and a variant with a golden background. Did you also know that there are two other super-ultra-duber-rare variants that sell for big bucks? Well there are! And the best part is that you can make them at home! Simply take your precious copy of Venom: Lethal Protector #1, steal your mom's hairdryer, ??? spray that puppy down on full blast, and profit for hundreds of thousands of dollars! A red cover yields a black variant and a gold variant yields a white variant that was hidden underneath WHO KNEW?! Now I've only heard this on the internet so obviously I'm skeptical, and I'd rather kill myself than mess up my comic books, but if you have the balls to do this FOR SCIENCE please be my guest, but I won't be liable for anything... It's possible that these covers actually are legit but were misprinted without the foil, and it's possible that blowdrying it does remove the foil to accomplish the same affect, but what do you want from me? This isn't a professional blog, PFFFT.

Enough about the sweet cover, let's talk about the story. First words in the book are, "San Francisco," right off the bat you should be saying to yourself, "Wait whaaaat? Doesn't Venom hang around New York?" Well yeah... the problem with this issue is that it came out before ASM #375 which would explain why Venom is where he is, even though the issue doesn't tell you specifically where he's going. Anyway, the issue opens up with robbery and attempted rape so automatically you know this story is gonna be dark and edgy amiright? Our pal Venom comes just in the nick of time preaching the good word of VENGEANCE, and kills the guy "All Access Superman" style by choking him with the symbiote. He returns the lady her purse, pats her head, and doesn't even get a "thank you," how rude. The pair start recapping their history together as customary with any new series with the whole: journalism, Spider-man rejected me, kill Spider-man, make up with Spider-man (yep, they spoil the BIG 30th ANNIVERSARY ISSUE right then), protect the innocents, moving to where Eddie was born, the whole shtick. What was that? Oh, nothing? Because that last part was a pretty big deal. Maybe not a huge deal, but Eddie being born in San Francisco was never mentioned before and seems like something that should have been mentioned prior to this series. I assume what they had in mind was that if Spider-man was going to be from New York then Venom should be WEST COAST REPRESTIN'! I apologize...

As long as we know how to love...
Eddie gets recognized by some cops who are confused at first with his brand new, glorious MULLET! Just as Eddie is trying to get a place to live, the two cops place him under arrest and Eddie is forced to take them out all in self defense of course. As Venom is making his leave, a pedestrian who recognizes him from "60 Minutes" of all places takes a photo of Venom which surfaces to the attention of one Peter Parker a few hours later. Peter goes into even more detail about Venom's origin because there's always two sides to a story and some other reason I guess, and decides to go after Venom after they just made a deal. Here we get some amusing dialogue between Eddie and his... head... and it's one of the main reasons I love Venom. The symbiote didn't talk early on, but Eddie appears to talk to himself. It's pretty fun to make up your own little conversation that the symbiote could be saying, I'LL SHOW YOU! Eddie: "Man, I can't even get a hotel room in this city anymore." Symbiote: "Why don't we contact your dad then?" "What are you stupid?!" "It was just a suggestion... maybe we could lay low for a little while then..." "Do you hear yourself right now? Just shut up, we need something to do." See how fuuun that was? I enjoyed that...

Take your stinking tendrils off me, you damned dirty symbiote! 
Just then the two spot a group of guys beating up on some homeless people. Lethal Protector mode turns on as Venom starts delivering the lethal pain to protect the innocents annnnd Parker shows up. Spider-man of course automatically assumes Venom is attacking FBI agents and turns on him. Venom is upset that Spider-man already broke their arrangement, but should he be surprised? Spider-man did the same thing in Carnage's origin story. As Spider-man handles the thugs Venom runs off with the homeless. A man named General Orwell Taylor in Oregon sees Venom and Spider-man on the news and asks his mysterious squad leader to assemble the team (more on that later). Venom has escaped with the homeless into the sewers, which acts as a kind of "sanctuary" for the homeless, and as always there's that one guy that doesn't trust Brock, and this is also where we meet Elizabeth (we'll see more on her later as well). As they're walking along, two huge, man powered machines called "Diggers" who are funded by Roland Treece that are sent to track down the homeless in the sewers attack Venom and his pals. These Diggers are armed with the works: diamond drillssound shovels... whatever that means, and laser cutters. Must be overcompensating for something. The sound shovel manages to weaken Venom and as one Digger slams Venom into the ground they fall into blackness to THE PAST! WOOOooooOOOooooOOOOH!

You've just crossed over into... The Twilight Zone.

Well that's the first issue of Venom: Lethal Protector for ya. It's pretty good, really just more of a set up issue but still manages to get some good ole' Venom goodness thrown in there even if it does sponsor Spider-man, which is understandable. Sure Venom issues in ASM sold well, but Marvel probably wasn't sure he would hold up on his own... which we know now to be WRONGO! And should also be taken as a lesson to Marvel to time their book releases correctly. So what do you guys think of the first issue? Do you have any of the variants? Would you happen to have a gold variant you'd like to give me? Maybe? Please...? Just be sure to stay tuned in for issue #2!

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