Watch as the acclaimed writer goes inside the tortured mind of Eddie Brock!

A primordial evil has been awakened beneath the streets of New York City, and with it, something equally evil has awakened in that most Wicked of Webslingers. On stands now, writer Donny Cates and artist Ryan Stegman‘s VENOM #1 has launched a groundbreaking new era for the symbiote.

Watch the exclusive interview above, as Cates teases this strange and exceptionally toxic chapter for Venom and Eddie Brock. “Something’s happening to the symbiote that terrifies him. It’s starting to speak in this other language that Eddie can’t understand and it’s driving him insane,” he explains. “The symbiote is starting to be very cruel and it’s starting to kind of operate without Eddie’s consent.”

Much like Eddie Brock, the writer himself has been empowered by the vicious might of the symbiote. “I’ve been let off the leash on this thing,” he says, “and I’m kind of going ballistic.”

Get VENOM #1, by Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman, at your local comic shop or online right now!

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Writer Mike Costa sets up a showdown with Kraven the Hunter!

Prepare to witness two iconic Spider-Man villains clash in VENOM #158!

On November 29, Eddie Brock must protect an underground civilization of dinosaur people from one of the most savage hunters of all time. Written by Mike Costa with art by Mark Bagley, Venom and Kraven go face-to-face.

We spoke with Costa about issue #158 and the Jekyll and Hyde duality of its title character. Venom has fought bad guys all across the galaxywhat about Kraven might make him uneasy?

Mike Costa: I think Kraven also has an utterly fearless approach. I think that’s one of the things that makes him scary—Kraven has always been supremely confident in what he can do. He is sort of the ultimate predator and you kind of can’t sneak up on him and you can’t get the advantage on him.

So, as you’ll see later in the story, Kraven comes prepared for his second encounter with Venom; the first was just sort of luck and it kind of ended in a draw, but the second time, Kraven will be much more prepared. Kraven understands his prey and he knows how to find their weak points and I think that makes him a very legitimate threat to Venom. What made you choose Kraven to be in this series?

Mike Costa: I’d also thought, if we’re going to include Kraven, it felt like a sort of a confluence of events, because editors Devin Lewis, Nick Lowe, and I wanted to do essentially a spiritual sequel to David Michelinie and Mark Bagley’s VENOM: LETHAL PROTECTOR. Obviously not a direct sequel, but an homage to it—a pastiche—because of Marvel Legacy and that’s one of the major stories that defines Venom. That served as the character’s first solo book and now we’re on the VENOM solo book and we felt like it would be nice to give a nod to that.

So what would that story be about? I had already set up this idea that Stegron the Dinosaur Man had created a bunch of dinosaur people down under the streets of Manhattan. And the original LETHAL PROTECTOR stories were literally about Venom protecting an underground society of people from this big developer who’s got villainous guys in giant drill suits. I didn’t want to go so direct with the parallel, but I already had built into my story an underground civilization of dinosaur people, so the next question became “Who’s the villain? What’s the threat?”

Nick Lowe suggested Kraven. Nick’s obviously been editing SPIDER-MAN for a long time—he understands the character and that world. One of the things about working on a book like VENOM that takes place within the Marvel Universe and within the Spider-Man corner of the universe is that you do have this vast canvas and a huge catalogue of characters and scenarios that are just pre-made for you. Kraven fit so well into what we already had, so it just seemed logical: “Who would be a threat to underground dinosaur people? Well, a guy who makes it his business hunting and taking trophies of exotic creatures.” Between Venom and Kraven, who would you say is more of a raging psychopath?

Mike Costa: [Laughs] Venom has this instability to his character on multiple levels. It’s a man who already has sort of a broken moral compass, hosting an alien from outer space that does not have the human conception of morals and ethics, also slowly being compromised by poison. So Venom seems like the wild card, but if you’re going on pure psychopath, probably Kraven. He’s in total control of his actions and makes a conscious decision. He’s very deliberate and he’s very implacable in that way; he knows exactly what he’s doing, he likes hunting things, he likes killing things, he likes bathing in blood and skinning things. He likes death and he creates it. That’s not true of Venom. For all of Venom’s faults, Venom does not celebrate death, but Kraven absolutely does. Can you discuss the process of getting inside the head of an antihero like Venom?

Mike Costa: It’s honestly a big challenge because Venom has always been a complex character that the editorial team and I had a lot of conversations about. He’s become even more complex because he’s really two people in one—two people meaning the suit and Eddie Brock. Then the person that they create—the character they create—becomes Venom, a combination of the two.

In any given scene, I might have Eddie’s internal monologue or the internal monologue of the symbiote or we might be reading the dialogue of Venom himself, who acts as a combination of the two. It’s an ambiguous idea—who’s truly speaking in those moments. Is it Eddie? The symbiote? Some combo of the two of them?

He’s not a pure villain, he’s not a pure hero. I think that Eddie, in his own way, can be more amoral than the symbiote. Eddie made the decision long ago that he would do whatever necessary to get what he wanted. At the time, it was to kill Spider-Man, but he also has a very strict moral compass in that he does distinguish between innocent people and guilty people. But his definition of who’s innocent and who isn’t, can be a very particular thing and there end up being a lot of thorny questions surrounding that.

I feel like the symbiote, for a long time, got played as this sort of mindless creature motivated by anger and base emotions of hate and desire. I really tried to examine that in issue #154 because the symbiote, over the past 10 years in particular, has been through a tremendous amount of changes. It’s been bonded with Flash Thompson—an unambiguously good man and hero—and then it bonded to Lee Price—an incredibly evil man. I kind of view the symbiote as almost like a naive child that tries to understand the world and wants to do the right thing, but doesn’t know the right thing and sometimes takes the wrong lesson.

So, “Who is Venom?” We’ll address that questions even more specifically and fundamentally in the next year or so of VENOM comics. We’ll directly deal with the relationship between Eddie and the symbiote and nail down some of those answers in a much more concrete way going forward. Considering Marvel Legacy, how do you think each of these characters would like to be remembered in terms of their respective legacies?

Mike Costa: I think that Venom really would like to be remembered as a hero. I think that’s less important to Eddie to be a hero, but the symbiote ultimately wants to do good and the symbiote would love to be remembered as a force for good in the world. Eddie, I think, feels more ambivalent about that. He won’t refuse to do good, but the symbiote has become a part of him that he needs and that he missed tremendously when it left. He tried out several other symbiotes in the time between losing the Venom symbiote and gaining it back; there’s some part of him that yearns for it. He feels incomplete without that.

The only thing that Kraven wants in his legacy is to be remembered as the greatest trophy hunter who ever lived. Something within hunting and in predatory behavior is just about exercising power—that’s all it really is. These very wealthy people who go out and shoot a giraffe, they just do it to feel big and powerful. They just do it to say, “This beautiful, rare creature that most people don’t even get to see—I went out and took its life. I held ultimate power over it. I am so special that I removed one of these things from the Earth.” If Kraven were going to die which, right now, does not look likely [Laughs], I’m sure he would want a statue of himself holding up the carcass of a lion or something, saying, “I am the greatest hunter who has ever lived.”

VENOM #158, by Mike Costa and artist Mark Bagley, drops on November 29!

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Art legend Mark Bagley speaks on a return to the sinister symbiote!

Mark Bagley has drawn plenty of characters over the years, but many readers associate him with a certain Wall Crawler. The artist penciled many of Spider-Man’s adventures in the late 80s and early 90s before eventually moving on to team with Brian Michael Bendis on an epic ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN run.

It’s important to remember, though, that he also had a big part in bringing Venom into the spotlight during the character’s prime. Bagley drew the VENOM: LETHAL PROTECTOR limited series in 1993 and also helped introduce the Ultimate version later down the line.

Now the veteran artist finds himself working with writer Mike Costa to have Eddie Brock and his symbiote partner reclaim the “Lethal Protector” title in VENOM #155 on October 4 as he safeguards a group of dino-people and does his best to keep them safe against the likes of Kraven the Hunter! We talked with Bagley about returning to Eddie Brock’s world, working with Costa, and the inherent fun of drawing dino-folks! You’re no stranger to the world of Spider-Man, but what kind of challenges does focusing on Venom for this amount of time offer?

Mark Bagley: I really could say, “Same [expletive], different day,” but that is too simple. The process of drawing and storytelling is really the same no matter the subject. But it is always interesting addressing an abstract character like Venom. I’m having fun trying to approach this in new and different ways than I’ve done before. Does framing Venom as a hero change how you approach him at all?

Mark Bagley: Even way back in the original LETHAL PROTECTOR [limited] series Eddie/Venom saw himself as a hero. Let’s face it: he is a little nuts. I don’t want to portray Eddie visually as bent, though. I think it’s subtler than that. What I’m hoping comes across is that, 25 years or so later, my drawing and storytelling skills have improved. I think improving is the goal of most artists. A lot of people are excited to see your take on this new version of Venom, but how are you handling Eddie Brock? How has he changed given all of his recent experiences?

Mark Bagley: Really not much of a visual change to Brock. I resisted the temptation—easily—to add the mullet I had him sporting back in the original [LETHAL PROTECTOR]. That was a bad choice on my part! How fun was it designing dinosaur people and their environs under NYC?

Mark Bagley: What is not fun about drawing dinosaur guys?! Really, I just approach them as doodles. I start the drawing with an idea of the dino-guys’ general size and then just start noodling away. It’s a lot of fun. Often I have a particular species of dino in mind, but most often I just start whacking away. This story will find Venom facing off against Kraven the Hunter. How is it balancing the very human and primal Hunter against the symbiote?

Mark Bagley: Venom is violent, dangerous, and a bit unhinged. Kraven is just evil. He is quite a bit of fun to draw because there is no subtleness to him. I mean, check out his pants! In a lot of ways he is more monstrous than Venom. How has it been jumping onto this train with Mike Costa who’s been driving since this volume launched?

Mark Bagley: I love Mike’s approach to this arc. It’s really just a fun comic book story. It’s really reminiscent of older comics that were primarily about fantasy and adventure with a good dash of human drama to top it off.

Mike Costa and Mark Bagley team-up to tackle VENOM #155, coming October 4!

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Take a sneak peek at Venom-ized Marvel heroes and more courtesy of artist Iban Coello!

The Poisons threaten the entire multiverse and only one force can stand in their way: Venom and the symbiotes! Not a fully altruistic endeavor, the Lethal Protector understands that this new threat intends to consume anyone carrying a symbiote and turn them into a force for no good in VENOMVERSE by Cullen Bunn and Iban Coello.

Led into by the EDGE OF VENOMVERSE series of character spotlight issues, the September-launching, five issue limited series pits Eddie Brock and his symbiote partner against the Poisons, who seem to be more than a match for him and a group of Venom-ized heroes.

We talked with Coello about working on some of his all-time favorite characters, symbiote trickiness, and more EDGE OF VENOMVERSE leads right into VENOMVERSE. How was it working with some of these Venom-ized heroes first presented by other creators?

Iban Coello: It was really fun. The other creators did a great job with the Venom-ized characters and I tried to do the same. I hope to have achieved it! Did any of the Venom-ized characters take more getting used to than others? Did any offer you surprises you weren’t expecting?

Iban Coello: I have some troubles with Rocket Raccoon, but I really enjoyed drawing Venom Spider-Man webslinging everywhere! What can you tell us about the Poisons and the design process that went into bringing them to life on the page?

Iban Coello: It was really challenging because they are the opposite of the symbiotes. They have some kind of crystalline armor and spikes. How was the collaboration with Cullen Bunn? 

Iban Coello: Working with Cullen was great as always. He gave me a lot of pages with great action scenes and I love to draw them. And he knows it!

Book your trip to VENOMVERSE #1 with Cullen Bunn and Iban Coello for September 6!

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We throw a party for Eddie Brock to celebrate his symbiotic reunion!

Every Friday we use the powers of Marvel Unlimited to look back at the very first appearance of a major character, place or object that made waves this week.

Some lives remain so intertwined that you can’t imagine them separating for too long. That’s the case with Eddie Brock and his Spider-Man-hating symbiote. Together they’ve menaced the Web-Head, played hero, and split up only to get back together in the pages of this week’s VENOM #150. With these two back together, it’s the perfect time to look back at their complicated history. The symbiote itself actually appeared first back in 1984’s SECRET WARS #8, covering Peter Parker in a black costume after his traditional one got shredded. Upon returning to Earth, the Wall-Crawler kept the alien duds for a while.

Eventually, thanks to some tests performed by Reed Richards, Peter came to understand he wore an actual living being as a costume, one that did not take kindly to being removed from its host and briefly held in Mr. Fantastic’s lab. After being broken out of the extra-terrestrial contamination containment tube, the symbiote searched for a new host and possessed Peter only to separate after being exposed to extreme sonic distress in a bell tower as seen in WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #1.

For a while after that, Spidey found himself assaulted by a mysterious assailant who did not set off his Spider Sense. The culprit came to the forefront in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #299 and #300 when Eddie Brock made the scene as the symbiote-clad Venom! Brock explained why he hated Spider-Man so much: he had been a reporter for the Daily Globe, working on a series of stories about the Sin-Eater based on the confessions of a man named Emil Gregg. Just after his last piece hit, revealing Gregg’s identity, Spidey defeated the villain and unmasked none other than…Stan Carter. Humiliated and fired, Brock developed a rage-filled opinion of our hero that attracted the symbiote and they built a partnership based on their shared hatred.

The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #300

The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #300

  • Published: May 10, 1988
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: May 26, 2008
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Venom became one of the most popular characters of the late 80s and early 90s, returning on many occasions to plague Spider-Man. Many years later, Brock sold off the symbiote for $100 million and eventually suffered from cancer and delusions that Venom still controlled him even though they had separated. Though the U.S. Government eventually bonded the symbiote with Flash Thompson, who would go on a series of space adventures that seemingly healed the angry alien, but when the latest VENOM series launched, it saw a new person filling the suit until Eddie Brock came back into its life!

Flash Forward

For a time, Eddie and Venom played hero together, but eventually fell off the wagon, so to speak. After selling the symbiote, Brock found himself bonded with another, this one called Anti-Venom. Not long after that, the former Lethal Protector took it upon himself to kill any and all symbiotes he came across. After succeeding with Scream and Hybrid, he failed to kill Flash Thompson and wound up attached to Toxin, Carnage’s offspring. Brock used that symbiote in his efforts to kill his own “child” over the course of the CARNAGE series. Who knows what will happen between those two now that they’re both back in symbiotic action?

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