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Welcome back superhero enthusiasts, 1990s arts and culture enthusiasts, Marvel Comics fans and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the year 1993 and explore a part of Marvel Comics’ universe through the first-ever limited comic book series featuring one of Marvel’s most iconic villains – Venom.
To put things in perspective, the origin of Venom started within the events of the 1980s series Secret Wars which took place in a far-away planet. As a result of that series, Spider-Man returned home wearing the alien symbiote as a costume which turns out to have a mind of its own. After Spider-Man successful separate himself from the symbiote (again) using the loud bells of a church, the living costume eventually found a desperate Eddie Brock and bonded with him to form Venom. In the late 1980s comics of Amazing Spider-Man, Venom became the deadliest enemy Spider-Man ever faced.
Going into the early 1990s, Venom’s popularity continued to grow tremendously. He became one of Marvel’s most popular non-hero type of characters and helped sell a lot of comics for the publisher. Knowing they had something to sell, Marvel approved a 6-issue limited series showcasing Venom. It was also the most anticipated comic book among collectors right after DC Comics killed Superman with Superman #75 (1993).
With those details laid down, here is a look back at Venom: Lethal Protector #1, published in 1993 by Marvel Comics with a story written by David Michelinie and drawn by Mark Bagley.
The story begins in San Francisco, California. Deep within the city, a man cornered a lady at the dead end of an alley. Just as he was about do something bad to her, Venom leaps in at them. Totally surprised, the man was easily grabbed by Venom who lifted him and hit the wall bodily. Using his costume, Venom then chokes the man to death through the mouth and nose. Venom then picks up the lady’s purse and gives it to her. As soon as Venom leaves, the shocked lady runs away screaming.
Venom swings and leaps as he travels through the city. While traveling, Eddie Brock tells his living costume that while their hatred towards Spider-Man got reconciled a bit, the said superhero also helps the innocent. Eddie then reveals that he was born in San Francisco and they can start a new life together in it. Secretly, Venom turns into Eddie Brock in his civilian form. As Brock walks down the sidewalk, police officers nearby recognize him. It turns out. Eddie Brock was listed by police as a wanted person…
Focusing on the plot, this story took place after the events in Amazing Spider-Man #375 (1993) which was released AFTER this particular comic book. As a standalone Venom story, this one clearly portrays him more of a vigilante in the sense that he goes up against a new force of evil that happens to be pouncing on people that Venom believes to be innocent and powerless. Unsurprisingly, Venom does not seek the help of law enforcers to help the innocent but rather he takes violent action to help the victims, going as far as to kill the so-called bad guys. The bad guys in this story work under a powerful man whose son was killed by Venom a few years prior. Within the context of this comic book, the new force of evil was introduced in subtle ways.
With extensive experience writing tales about Spider-Man and Venom, David Michelinie clearly redefined Venom’s beliefs here. Venom believes in protecting the innocent but he is much more violent and is relentless with cruelty which makes him a clear opposite of Spider-Man. Yet in a way, Venom sure talks and acts in a rather psychotic way and this alone makes him a very unlikable comic book protagonist.
Along the way, the iconic Spider-Man got a rather huge chunk of the spotlight in this comic book making him the 2nd lead next to Venom. I remember back in 1993 when there were Venom fans who complained about Spider-Man literally stealing the thunder away from his greatest enemy while there were a few Spider-Man fans who defended the icon’s guest participation in the story as he has always been linked with Venom’s origin. Considering the lack of depth in the plot, I can say Spider-Man appearance her served as a somewhat helpful filler.
Venom: Lethal Protector #1 (1993) is a comic book that can be alienating, especially when you are not a Venom fan. I find Venom too evil and too unbelievable to be a heroic figure even though he strong believes in protecting and helping the innocent. In my view, he is more of vigilante living with the delusion of achieving something worthwhile as he interacts with people who happen to be not assisted by the many, many Marvel Comics superheroes. It is not surprising that Venom definitely will never be a good role model. He is a murderer and the act of helping victims never justifies murder. The comic book’s plot lacks weight and Mark Bagley’s art looked a little rushed. What made this comic book interesting are Venom and Spider-Man themselves. Yes, there is a lot of superhero spectacle here but don’t expect anything new when you see Spider-Man and Venom resume their violent rivalry. This comic book is unsurprisingly a warm-up of things to come within its series. It is not a terrible literary work. It’s just not really good and it did not deserve the hype and sales of its time.
Overall, Venom: Lethal Protector #1 (1993) is serviceable.
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