Venom Annual #1
Writers: Donny Cates, David Michelinie, Jeff Loveness, and James Stokoe
Illustrators: Kev Walker, Ron Lim, Tigh Walker, and James Stokoe
Inker: Scott Hanna
Colorists: Chris Sotomayor, Rachelle Rosenberg, and James Stokoe
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Cover Artists: Paulo Siqueira & Rachelle Rosenberg
Variant Cover Artist: Bill Sienkiewicz
At the Bar with No Name, several super-villains sit down together to have a bit of R&R. As they all discuss recent events, one lethal protector seems to be on all of their minds. From then on, they start to share stories and experiences they’ve had with the man and alien known as Venom, as various writers and artists pitch in several short stories about the web-slinging anti-hero!
This issue was absolutely fun and entertaining to read, and you can tell that the writers and artists have a genuine passion for the character of Venom. Each short story within the book was executed very well, and the different art styles worked beautifully. The characters presented are a lot of fun, as well, with Scorpion being one of my favorites from the issue, especially after the “diet Spider-Man” joke.
Out of all the short stories, my favorite had to be “Nobody Does it Better,” in which Venom attacks a bar back in his early days, only to come face-to-face with a similar animal of brutality. I won’t reveal who it is, but anybody who’s played a certain game in the mid-2000’s will easily pick up on the reference and adore it. The character has some brilliantly written retorts against Venom, and ones to the point that I nearly died laughing. I would say it’s absolutely the stand-out part of this issue.
The other stories are definitely good, but are somewhat forgettable, aside from the main one with everyone at the bar. I’d have to say my least favorite was “Unstoppable,” which recounts one of Venom’s battles from another perspective. The ironic humor in it seemed to be the only thing it relied on, and it’s unfortunate because after the first few text boxes, it gets old very quick. The art is definitely great, but the writing felt somewhat half-finished. It had potential to be great, but it didn’t really get up to bat.
All in all, if you’re a fan of the character, you should definitely consider checking this issue out. It isn’t necessarily the deepest of his stories, especially as of late, but it’s a fun and entertaining tribute to one of Marvel’s most break-out characters in the past few decades, and I definitely look forward to many more years of our lethal protector.