Venom: First Host #1 Review

by Harlan Ivester on August 29, 2018

Writer: Mike Costa
Penciler: Mark Bagley
Inker: Andrew Hennessy
Colorist: Dono Sanchez-Almara
Publisher: Marvel Comics
         Poor Mike Costa. He made some pretty big changes to Venom in his own time on the book and all anybody wants to talk about is Donny Cates. I was sure the newborn symbiote he introduced was indeed dead on arrival in the real world, even when I heard that he’d be writing for the character again. Venom: First Host seemed like it would focus on major retcons (or revelations, if you prefer) rather than giving Costa the chance to finish what he started, but perhaps there is happy ending to be found here.

         Right off the bat, First Host seems to be taking itself pretty seriously based off the presentation of the title. I don’t know how well it deserves it, and I’d like to give Costa the benefit of the doubt, but some tones are I think undeniably conflicting. For some people, this isn’t such a bad thing. Costa seems to be channeling his inner David Michelinie now that he’s been given a second chance, and I think it will help him reach a higher rank among Venom writers. How much higher, who’s to say? I only know that I got a kick out of seeing the entity’s sense of humor and naivety make a return. If Cates’s run has been a little too dark and moody for you, then maybe First Host will be able to satisfy your symbiote cravings instead, as long as we don’t have klyntar-level retcons to come. After all, Costa’s wasn’t perfect, but it surely had its moments. I really liked that he gave the symbiote a voice, and it’s thanks to him that we even have Eddie as a protagonist in a series that finally is proving that Venom isn’t just a relic of the 90s. Who knows? Maybe First Host will finally wrap up the loose ends about the FBI agents that separated Flash in the first place… but I’m doubtful.

         I know I don’t even need to say it, but Mark Bagley drawing Venom is always a treat. Makes me want to pop in Ultimate Spider-Man on my Gamecube and just wreck everything. Of course, with Bagley comes the slight downs of his art – specifically the similar faces throughout the book, but anyone should expect that going in. And everything else is just too good to care.  Andrew Hennessey adds a bit of a… “scratchy” filter to the art, but that’s not to say he doesn’t do a good job of helping to define everything physically. Dono Sanchez-Almara pays extreme attention to lighting and it pays off. The angle that a street light shines on Venom as he swings away, the glare of the sun on a window – things like this often go unnoticed, but when they do catch your eye, you’ll appreciate the effort that went into making the book feel more realistic. Thoughtful lighting makes art feel one step closer to being alive.

         If there’s anyone I can easily recommend First Host to, it’s fans of Mike Costa’s Venom (there’s dozens of you!) or maybe even Michelinie’s. It’s fair to suspect that Costa might have been cut short on his time with the character, so if you wanted him to see it through, this may be your last chance. Barely enough actually happens to warrant picking up this issue instead of waiting for the next, but the writing is entertaining enough to make up for it. Mark Bagley’s Venom is an automatic approval and I don’t think many will argue with me there. All around a pretty solid start that I don’t think you’ll regret checking out.

Our Score:


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