While Venom started out as a villain to Spider-Man, that changed in 1993 with the release of his first solo comic. Venom: Lethal Protector sees Eddie Brock and the Symbiote leave New York to move to San Francisco, where they face a group of super-powered mercenaries. They wind up in the Life Foundation, where they and Spider-Man team up against five other Symbiotes: Scream, Riot, Phage, Lasher, and Agony.
It has been said that the Venom movie takes influence from Lethal Protector, and right away, it’s easy to see how. From the Life Foundation’s role to the San Francisco setting to multiple Symbiotes, the two already have a lot in common. Lethal Protector also begins Venom’s transition from villain to antihero, similar to how he’s an antihero in the film. Obviously, the movie is taking its liberties, most notably with Spider-Man’s absence, but that’s bound to happen with any adaptation.
Lethal Protector is a really strong story, serving as a highlight in Venom’s comic book history. It does a great job selling Eddie Brock as a solo character, depicting his duality with the Symbiote and his role as an antihero in San Francisco. David Michelinie’s writing is solid, while Mark Bagley’s artwork is nothing short of iconic. Bagley’s style fits Venom like a glove, and few artists since have matched it.
I’m a real sucker for standalone Venom stories, to be honest. While he works perfectly as a Spider-Man villain, I find him just as fascinating as a solo antihero. And they really nail that here. Spider-Man himself plays a key supporting role, whether it’s working with Venom or fighting once again. And the book touches on their history together. But he never overshadows Venom himself, which is really important. Seeing Symbiotes other than Venom and Carnage is also cool, and it makes the Venom-verse feel a lot bigger.
In summary, Venom: Lethal Protector is a must-read for any Marvel Comics fan. It’s a great introduction to Venom, and it shows why he works so well on his own. It has great writing, great artwork, and an intriguing story. After reading it, it makes perfect sense why the Venom movie would draw from this storyline. Let’s just hope that it’s at least half as good as the source material.