“Venom: Lethal Protector” is the first solo series for the popular Spider-Man foe. The comic released in 1992 as a six-part series. Venom’s story takes place in sunny San Francisco, California. David Michelinie changes Venom from menacing villain to powerful antihero. Michelinie implements one distinguishing characteristic for this new Venom. Venom still hates Spider-Man, though he believes in helping humans.
Mark Bagley is the artist for the first three issues (parts) of the series. His Venom is huge with defined muscles and facial features. An example is when Venom saves a woman from a mugger. Venom smiles at her in his own frightening, yet heartfelt way. Bagley’s renderings of Venom’s face is sharp with strong line work.
Eddie Brock, Venom, is trying to start over in San Francisco. However, this proves difficult as he is wanted for murder. The cops give chase to Brock, who turns into Venom in order to escape police custody. A civilian takes a photograph of Venom, which makes its way to the Daily Bugle in New York via a U.P.I. wire. Michelinie and Bagley use a flashback sequence with white and black panels to detail the vicious rivalry between Spider-Man and Venom. These panels stand for the moral grayness that is Venom. A man, Eddie Brock, and an alien symbiote that both hated Spider-Man for their own reasons. Hatred made Venom evil, then Venom/Eddie Brock changed their heart when Spider-Man saved Brock’s ex-wife. Venom vows to not come after Spider-Man as long as Spider-Man doesn’t come after him. However, Peter Parker/Spider-Man heads to California after the Venom photo surfaces.
Towards the end of the comic, there’s a beautiful contrast of the two characters. Venom is in a park where he’s fighting a gang of mobsters, who are being hateful to a crew of homeless people. Spider-Man appears–assuming that Venom is attacking innocent people. Spider-Man is in the wrong as Venom is doing what he promised in his agreement. The morally sound character, Spider-Man, lets the grayness of Venom confuse him. Their relationship calls in to question the gray matter of what defines a hero. A strong point to build around.
Final evaluation– Lethal Protector is a great start for a Venom series. The analysis of the Spider-Man/Venom relationship drives this comic forward with strong art by Bagley.
Overall rating: 4/5.