AGENT VENOM (2014)
Anything that happened before I was born seems old and anything that has happened since me seems relatively current. I feel that way about pretty much anything. For example, the Beatles are old, and the Vietnam War is ancient history while Nirvana is modern rock and the fall of the Berlin wall can still be filed under current events. That mentality might have worked when I was young but I’m pretty old now myself (nearly 40) and I no longer think I can consider things that happened when I was a kid , or stuff that was cool when I was a teenager, as “in the now”. Regardless, I have the same perspective when it comes to comic books; everything published before I started reading them is vintage, while everything since is modern. I consider Spider-Man’s classic villains to be Doctor Octopus, Green Goblin, the Vulture, Electro, and any of the other 60s/70s baddies. Some might consider Venom a classic Spidey villain but I cannot view him in the same light as I view those others because he first appeared after I started collecting, though his first appearance in 1988 came not long afterwards. Venom is 26 years old now which would probably seem really old to some kid just getting into comics and they probably wouldn’t see any distinction between Venom and Doc Oc. But Octopus had already been around 25 years when I bought Venom’s first appearance so to me Venom still seems like a relatively new kid-on-the-block.
Despite his “newness” Venom has gone through quite a few changes since he first showed up on the last page of Amazing Spider-Man issue 299. Those who think the status quo never changes in comics need only scan Venom’s Wikipedia page to know that isn’t the case. Venom was originally Eddie Brock, a failed reporter who had a beef with Peter Parker, joined with the alien symbiote that Peter once wore as a costume (that’s a whole other story). Venom was one of the few villains that knew Spidey’s secret identity so he could torment him 24 hours a day. He could have killed Mary Jane or Aunt May to get at Peter but he never did (though he threatened to) because he wasn’t an evil guy per se. Venom was never a “rob the bank” or “take over the world” type of villain, Eddie and his alien underoos just hated Peter Parker.
Venom popped up regularly in the Spider-Man books after that first epic show-down, usually as a villain but sometimes as a reluctant ally. He was extremely popular with fans and he even got his own limited series’ a few times. I liked Venom but he did seem rather one-note after a while and I didn’t read most of his solo books.
Eddie had briefly lost the symbiote a couple of times over the years but never for more than an issue or two. The first real shake-up of the Venom character is when the separated symbiote was put up for evil auction and purchased by Mac Gargan, the classic Spidey villain, Scorpion. Eddie was sick of cancer at this point and was happy to be rid of the thing though he later got better and became the anti-hero, Anti-Venom (but that is, yet again, a whole other story). Mac remained Venom for several years, serving as a member of Norman Osbourne’s Thunderbolts and later, in the guise of the black-suited Spider-Man, as a member of the Dark Avengers. The Gargan Venom was a bigger jerk than the original but less insane. I enjoyed reading the adventures of Venom #2, in part, because the Scorpion was always a favorite villain of mine.
With the fall of the Dark Avengers and the dawn of the Heroic Age the Venom symbiote was forcefully commandeered by the U.S. government and Mac went back to being the Scorpion.
The government felt that if they could pair the alien with a suitable host then they could control it as a weapon. They selected Flash Thompson, the bully who used to pick on Peter Parker in high school but had since become Peter’s legless, drunk, war veteran, school teacher friend (another story for another time, don’t ya just love comics).
Flash was dubbed “Agent Venom” and given a brand new look and an on-going series. The sleek new costume was a mix of black-suited Spider-Man and a soldier with random bits of crustacean thrown in for good measure. It was a radical change but I dug it. The long tongued, slobbery beefcake Venom had been done to death and knocked off so many times over the years that I was ready for something new. But, the toothy beefy Venom appeared whenever Flash was away from his handlers for too long and he lost control of the symbiote. That way the book could appeal to fans of both the old and new versions of the character. It’s a shame the series got cancelled. I bought the whole run and while it was never great it had lots of potential. However, cancellation didn’t spell the end of Agent Venom. Flash has since went on to become a member of the Secret Avengers and more recently the Guardians of the Galaxy.
This Walgreens exclusive Marvel Legends figure captures the look of Agent Venom brilliantly. Apparently, it was supposed to appear in the main ML line but got pulled for some reason. Thankfully it got resurrected as a store exclusive. We don’t have Walgreens in Canada (at least not in Nova Scotia) so I had to order mine online. It’s a real shame this figure isn’t available for wide release because I’m sure anyone who collects Legends will want one.
The sculpt on this figure is great. There’s a ton of detail in every piece, from the treads on the boots to the crab shell texture of the armor. His belt is especially cool with sculpted pouches, a knife, grenades, a canteen, and more. Paint apps on this figure are few but it looks exactly as it should. I’m glad they didn’t add any blue highlights as they tend to do with most black-suit Spider-Man figures. Everything is very well proportioned and the joints are well hidden despite the many points of articulation. The head sculpt is simple but very well done. Hasbro could’ve cheaped out and re-used a Spider-Man or Scarlet Spider head but this is a new piece with perfectly sized sculpted eyes. This figure looks like it leapt off the page.
For accessories Agent Venom comes with a set of symbiote tendrils that can be attached to his back. Each tendril is pliable but not posable. He also comes with 4 different guns that he can hold in his hands or in the “hands” at the end of the tendrils. Each gun is nicely sculpted and fits securely in the hands.
I really can’t say enough good stuff about this figure. Get to Walgreens or get online and grab yourself one before the prices skyrocket. 10 out of 10.