I've been reading comics and watching cartoons for as long as I can remember. So yeah, I know a thing or two or three.
A Bit of History...
Let's face it, whenever just about anybody thinks about Venom, they usually think "Oh, he's bad Spider-Man, right?" Well... maybe not nowadays. Sure, now Venom tends to be an anti-hero instead of a straight up villain. But that wasn't always the case. Back with his initial conception, we was the antithesis of Spider-Man. His single goal in life was to KILL the webslinger. And considering that Spider-Man ruined Eddie Brock's career and what the Venom symbiote thought was a good relationship, you really can't blame them.
After some fighting and the revelation that Venom wants to protect the innocent, in his own twisted way, Spidey and Venom come to an agreement that Venom will leave Spider-Man alone, and the wall-crawler will let Venom do his thing. Kind of turning a blind-eye to murder and unnecessary violence. Which brings us to the beginning of Venom: Lethal Protector.
Eddie Brock/Venom has moved to San Francisco and is happily saving lives by killing people. Because you know... Murder is bad. Unless it's murdering bad people. And things are going swimmingly for Eddie until a couple of local cops recognize Mr. Brock at the bank. It gets hairy when Peter Parker sees a photo of Venom attacking the officers, prompting Spider-Man to take a trip to ol' Frisco to stop his old nemesis.
During an altercation with some "peace officers", Spider-Man breaks his truce and attacks Venom. After a couple of exchanged blows, Venom abandons the scene and joins a group of derelicts living in the tunnels below the city. As the only group that appreciates the good that he is doing, Eddie comes to befriend the homeless in San Francisco.
In a crazy twist, a group of heavily armored baddies finds their way into the tunnel and assault Venom and his new companions. As Venom retaliates, he and one of the Diggers fall through a massive hole in the ground, AND ALSO TIIIIIIIMMMMEEEE! But like, not really. It's very quickly established that it they have fallen into another chamber, and the armored baddies work for Roland Treece.
After facing off against the heavily armored team of symbiote hunters, the Jury, Venom is taken by the Life Foundation, and then all hell breaks loose. Turns out, the Life Foundation's plans for Venom, after taking inspiration from the birth of Carnage, is planning on creating a team of super soldiers using five new Klyntar offspring. Upon finding Spider-Man to be infiltrating the Life Foundation, Carlton Drake forcibly and violently separates Eddie from the symbiote. Realizing the threat these new symbiotes could pose, Venom and Spider-Man team up to bring the symbiotes down using sonic waves.
After "killing" these new symbiotes, as well as their hosts, Eddie escapes back to San Francisco to finish dealing with Treece, and lethally protect his newfound friends.
What's to Love?
Look, this may be one of the best Eddie Brock Venom stories. It gave us our first look at a more heroic Venom, as well as the new relationship dynamic of Spidey and Venom. Cap that off with the introduction of not one, not two but FIVE new symbiotes that are sure to be long-running villains in the Spider-Man mythos, right?
There are beautifully choreographed fight sequences, and seeing Spidey and Venom team up is always a thrill. With the genuine threat against Venom, it makes the stakes a lot higher, which makes this a solid page turner. The artwork is beautiful, and while it is a limited run, the series doesn't feel rushed. There is a solid story that plays out at a solid pace, and wraps up neatly, while also hinting at the future of Venom's story.
What Could Have Been Better?
Honestly, it would have been great to see more of the symbiotes in action. While it's fun to see Venom fight Spidey over and over and over and over and over and over and over again, throwing a few new symbiotes at the web slinger would be awesome to see once in awhile. While we have seen Spidey and Venom going up against Carnage, this force of FIVE new symbiotes could have been something spectacular.
What should have been a new group of villains ended up falling into relative obscurity. Aside from Scream (the yellow and red female), the other four symbiotes have only appeared in 21 main timeline appearances since they were introduced back in 1993. To say the least, this does leave something to be desired, at least from a reader's perspective. There is the opportunity for five new characters to develop, and get a following, that ends up falling short. Even the newer spawn of Venom, Toxin, has gotten more love than these other five children.
Alright, let's be honest, this story very much is a product of the 90s, but it does a really good job of setting Venom up as a protagonist instead of an antagonist. We get to see some good action, but as a whole, the story does leave something to be desired.
All things considered, I give Venom: Lethal Protector a 7.5/10.
Thanks for reading! If you think there's anything I should review next, leave a comment below! Until next time, stay frosty!