Though he spent the '90s as a solo star thanks to the explosive popularity of both scorned Daily Bugle photographer Eddie Brock and the tongue-wagging monster that is the alien costume symbiote, the collective character known as Venom has proven a more flexible concept in recent years. After a stint that saw the otherworldly creature who looks like a Spider-Man costume bonded to former villain Mac "The Scorpion" Gargan, Marvel Comics has announced plans for a new twist on "Venom" in a March-shipping ongoing series by writer Rick Remender and artist Tony Moore.
In this go around, the Venom symbiote will be combining with an as yet unrevealed member of the Spider-Man supporting cast at the behest of the U.S. military who will send the monster out on global peace-keeping missions with strange superhero encounters and collateral damage likely to follow. The character makes its debut in February's "Amazing Spider-Man" #654.1 – written by Dan Slott as part of the publisher's "point one" reader friendly issue promotion.
"You've got this character where the symbiote is not excited about being used for this purpose, which makes for great internal drama with the character wearing it," Remender told CBR News. "And he can only wear the thing for a couple of days at a time, and then the scientists who run the government program kind of say that if he doesn't take it off, they might just have a kill switch to blow him up. When you send Venom out into the world and the only thing holding it together is the tenacity of the guy inside it, you better have some fail-safes. There's a lot of ticking time bombs with this character, but it's such a powerful tool that the government can't stop themselves from wanting to try and use it for good."
The writer explained that the latest pairing of himself and Moore came somewhat unexpectedly but thankfully soon after the two had finished a set of long-gestating comics. "I had actually been pitching Steve [Wacker, the editor] on a few things, and we were talking about different projects," he said. "When this came up, it was similar to something Tony and I had been talking about, and it really got his art juices flowing. We were really excited about the premise and the basic setup. We'd just wrapped our 'Punisher' stuff, and Tony took the last few months to finish 'Fear Agent' which he'd been working hard on. The last issue of that is pretty well wrapped, though he took an extra few weeks to polish it because it's our baby. And now fortuitously, Wacker liked what we did on 'Frankencastle' and was happy to bring us onto this."
In both the "Frankencastle" Punihser story and "Fear Agent," Remender and Moore have combined hard-traveling heroes with some over the top monster action, and the writer expects the mix to be similar if a bit more ground level in "Venom." "One of the things that Tony and I always do is try to find a unique take – something that gets us excited in terms of the visual appeal and the potential for character stuff that hasn't been done recently or at all. I think in terms of this, it feels very unique. I used the term '00-Venomn,'" he explained.
"It's hard. Where as a lot of the things I've done recently have been kind of subversive, this is leaning into patriotism and a number of other concepts. I didn't want this to be a book about how the government is misusing them. It's not. With this '00-Venom' idea, the story is an opportunity to do something on a world stage – as opposed to just New York – where the kinds of places he'll be sent to and missions he's put up against are all over the Marvel Universe. I love the scope of that, and our villain is going to be internationally focused as well, so it feels like a James Bond/Borne Identity story tonally."
However, even though the book will carry an international espionage flavor, the ongoing will remain a part of the Spider-Man family of titles in some key ways. "That was really important. There's really great Spider-Man characters scattered around the globe right now as well as centrally located, and there are villains that haven't been used in a while. Something that Tony and I really like to do is grab the toys that maybe other people don't want to play with and go, 'Hey look! This is a really cool toy!' We've got some of both – some very recognizable people and some where you go 'Oh...that guy.' One of the things that Wacker said and something that I always try and do is think about what Frank Miller did with Bullseye. But rather than only go back and play with other people's interpretations of characters, what's exciting is to work with an editor like Steve and a buddy like Tony to take a villain or two who are under-recognized who we see potential in and try to make something of them. We try and give them the Frank Miller Bullseye treatment, as it were."
That, of course, begs the question of exactly which known Spider-cast member will be receiving the treatment, but Remender is play coy. "Let's see...what could I say? It's somebody you know and not a new character. It's one of those things that feels very natural. While it is a stretch, there is history to reinforce the decision. And if there weren't, I wouldn't jump to do this. All the pieces that Dan and Steve put together felt very organic to the process to me. Once I got into the potential of it, it very much fell in line with the kind of thing I like to write tonally as well as in terms of character building. This all falls into my wheelhouse."
And the writer stressed that the creation of this new Venom – both the character and the title – came as a team effort. "They had the high concept for the character before I came on, but then Dan and I talked with Steve to cook up the rules for how this is going to work based on our past knowledge of the symbiote," he noted. "There were a lot of conversations as to how the government was going to set this thing up were they to release it into the world. As we put it together, a lot of things like the setup, the supporting cast and the interconnectivity to other aspects of the Marvel Universe, which given the scope of the mission opens up some great possibilities. Once we got that foundation down, Dan went off to do his 'Amazing' story which will launch this into the 'Venom' #1.
"We're crazy excited. I guess the 'Carnage' series they did sold crazy numbers for a mini series. It's nice to see that groundswell for these characters. I was joking on Twitter that between Punisher, X-Force and this, it's up to me to take the '90s and try to modernize that stuff. This is all visual and iconic, and the concepts work very well. I'm happy to breath some new life into them."
"Venom" #1 ships to stores in March on the heels of February's "Amazing Spider-Man #654.1 from Marvel Comics.