Marvel Platinum: The Definitive Venom | comics review
It all started so well...
Book summary: Brings together the very best tales from the Lethal Protector's 30-plus year history, including covering some of their greatest and most pivotal battles. (Amazon.co.uk)
I'll be honest and admit that Venom has never been one of my favourite characters outside of his first few encounters with Spider-Man, where he was a new type of antagonist who felt like a genuinely serious threat to the wall-crawler. Since then, he's felt like an immature edgelord's favourite, mostly acting as a vicious antihero but occasionally lapsing back into villainy and back again - over and over and over again.
Fortunately, this Definitive Venom reflects that by starting out strong with Spider-Man picking up a new black suit during the 1984 Secret Wars event, learning it was alive and wanting to bond with him, before rejecting it and giving rise to Venom as a character in his own right. All of that stuff is great and I both thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and would recommend it to others interested in the character too.
I would have to offer a word of warning with those stories though: events absolutely rocket by at an unbelievable rate, with most issues containing enough plot points to last half a year these days. In one sense it's great, because everything is so laser-focused that it's incredibly difficult to get lost or misunderstand things; on the other hand, it would've been better to maybe flesh some stuff out.
It's the later, more recent stories that make that doubly apparent, because so much of how the Venom symbiote's background is left untouched and meant that future creators could just make up whatever they felt like and it really shows, with the modern Venom constantly slaloming back and forth from antihero to villain and back again according to whatever stories the particular creative team wanted to tell at that time.
There's been so little stability or consistency with the character's depiction over the decades(!) he's existed now that rather than there being a clear idea of who or what Venom is existing, he's simply now a more animalistic and aggressively violent black-suited Spider-Man. To be fair, that seems to be quite popular, as proven by the two Tom Hardy movies, which I have never seen and have zero desire to ever see.
Different depictions of characters will always resonate differently for everyone, but I can't help but feel that The Definitive Venom simply highlights how dreadfully misused the character has been for a long, long time now compared to just how fantastic the first few stories are that feature him.
I wouldn't have read this if it hadn't been a gift, and it just made me want Marvel to wind the clock back to when Venom felt like a driven purposeful character and not just a release valve for frustrated creators wanting a malleable character they can invent powers and background for on the fly to fit the story they want to tell.
Marvel Platinum: The Definitive Venom perfectly reflects Venom's history as a character: it starts off pretty great with the origin and first few clashes with Spider-Man, before falling off a cliff into a never-ending series of changes to the point that the character is now unrecognisable from how he was first introduced. the more recent stuff is for die-hards only.