By Dan Slott, Mike Costa, Ryan Stegman, Brian Reber, and Joe Caramagna
A new event from Marvel this winter is a Spider-Man versus Venom event in Amazing Spider-Man & Venom: Venom Inc. Alpha #1. There are some Venom classic faces like Eddie Brock and Flash Thompson all merging together in one event that has been years in the making from some top Spider-Man creators. The current Amazing Spider-Man and Venom books are going to merge storylines for the next two months to deliver this epic next installment in the Spider-Man/Venom tale. It seems the Venom symbiote is running wild; he is reunited with Eddie Brock, which has left Flash Thompson without the symbiote and in a desperate search to get merged back with it. Remember, Flash became a hero with the symbiote and made the Venom symbiote empathetic while finding out that it is a living, breathing thing with some kind of conscience. With Brock, the symbiote indulges into all of its violent urges, becoming a murder-hungry avenger running around New York trying to stop crime, but more concerned with handing out ass-kickings. Brock and Thompson meet up in this issue and force the symbiote to choose between the two men. This interaction only gets heightened when Spider-Man shows up with only the intention of killing the symbiote once and for all. These three men, all with three separate pasts with Venom come together by the end of the issue.
The writing this issue is from dual writers Dan Slott (Amazing Spider-Man) and Mike Costa (Venom). These two come together to merge stories together in one cohesive story that makes sense from both the perspectives of Venom and Spider-Man. It is so nice to finally see Spider-Man again as he was meant to be: not as a millionaire running his own successful business, but as a down on his luck average guy trying to scrap by. Yeah, it was kind of fun to watch him live the life of Tony Stark for a while, but that’s not what makes us love Peter Parker. We love to see him crashing at his girlfriend’s house, working at the Daily Bugle, and worried about how he can afford next month’s rent. He has become the everyman again, so when we see him confronted with the Venom problem again, he won’t have the financial backing of Parker industries to find a solution. He will have to figure it out like an ordinary man with ordinary means, which makes him much more of a relatable figure.
Meanwhile, Eddie Brock is trying his best to contain and control the symbiote and seeks the help of a chemical company, Alchemax, to develop a serum to suppress the violent urges of Venom. Flash Thompson is the tying factor that brings these two together; he asks Parker for help to get in touch with Spider-Man in his attempts to find the Venom symbiote while Flash follows Brock to Alchemax. This is the location of where the three come together, all with different motivations and intentions revolving around the Venom symbiote.
The art in Amazing Spider-Man & Venom: Venom Inc. Alpha #1 is from Stegman with colors from Reber and letters from Caramagna. The art from Stegman is super fun throughout this issue. It’s always fun to see different artist’s interpretation of these two iconic characters and the one we get from Stegman is super detailed and a classic interpretation of these two classic characters. There is a particularly impressive splash page featuring the debut of Spider-Man in the issue: we see him crouched in a ceiling about the take down some baddies. The action panels are great as we get words like ‘Va-Woosh” to accompany all the action that is taking place, another great classic Spidey callback. Of course, Venom is not to be outdone; he is as impressive as ever with huge muscles and a very detailed tongue that seems to catch your eye in every panel. The colors we get from Reber only emphasize the art and detail, especially so with the Venom symbiote. With a character that is all black, the colors and details can really help to create movement and detail. There is also great detail is a page with snow, where there’s movement with the flakes enveloping the page, but it does not distract from the dialogue and action in the panels.
This book did not disappoint. Unlike many other crossover events Amazing Spider-Man & Venom: Venom Inc. Alpha #1 felt like it had a purpose and a story to tell that went across two separate stories. The blending of the writing and the storylines feels seamless, while the art elevates the entire issue with its traditionally inspired interpretation of Spidey and friends. If you are a fan of Spider-Man or Venom, this issue is a must-have. There is so much promise for this series; we have Peter Parker back where he belongs in New York, working for the Daily Bugle and representing the Average Joe. With Eddie Brock and Flash Thompson fighting over the symbiote, there is an eternal battle over who has the best intentions for Venom. There are more complexities to this series than one would initially think, but it is something that veteran writers, Slott and Costa will surely explore over this event.