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Venom: Dark Origin #1 Review

Venom: Dark Origin #1 review by Donna Jackson

Written by Zeb Wells
Art by Angel Medina

Of all villains in the Marvel Universe, is Eddie Brock deserving of an origin tale? Marvel seems to think so. Zeb Wells, who has written for Young Avengers, Heroes for Hire, and Spider-Man, retells the early years of Eddie Brock, the second person to wear the venom symbiote. Contrary to the title, Venom never appears (except for the cover), and Spider-Man is only in it for a few pages around the end.

We learn that from childhood, Edward Allan Brock is deeply disturbed. He's a pathological liar, and does it so often, he develops the ability to tell when others are lying as well. He has problems making friends, going so far as to steal a neighborhood girl's pet cat just to personally return it to her himself. His behavior around the fairer sex may be rooted in the fact his own mother died while giving birth to him, something which his father harbors a quiet resentment towards his son for. Eddie grows up to be a socially awkward teenager, where his lies get him beat up by athletes and continued embarrassment around girls. His lies eventually do get him into Empire State University, where an admiration for journalism develops. Not surprising, since journalists have the ability to dictate to others what the truth is.

My main problem with the story is that Eddie Brock was never that interesting of a villain to begin with. It seems that there are two kinds of Spider-Man fans; those who hate Eddie Brock and those who love him. I see him as kind of a 90's staple. I think Venom still has a place in the Marvel Universe (I hear Warren Ellis has done great things with the character in Thunderbolts). But Eddie Brock is simply not cool enough to make me want to read more about what made him tick, and unfortunately, this book didn't change my mind.

If the pencils in Venom: Dark Origin seem familiar, it's a good sign you're a reader of early Spawn comics. Penciller Angel Medina brings his offbeat style to his characters, especially children, that teeters between adorable and downright creepy (at some points more towards creepy). With their big eyes and teeth, the art works well with the beginning of the book (and might be the only reason you feel pity for young Eddie), but seems more misplaced as the story goes along.

These 'Year One' sort of tales always work better when the character is some kind of a sympathetic person, as a method to understand his or her role better in their respective universe. Eddie Brock is pretty much a jerk from the first time we meet him, to the last lie he tells in the book. His smile is reminiscent of a sleazy car dealer; his social ineptitude is not so much dark as it is pathetic and sad.

Fans of Medina's art style and Eddie Brock will probably want to at least take a look at Venom: Dark Origin. However, it really could've helped to make Eddie Brock somewhat likeable. An unappealing loser who will grow up to be one of Peter Parker's most famous foes is still an unappealing loser. Maybe future issues will explain the need to make him such a prick, but for now, Venom: Dark Origin is an unnecessary title. Venom is undoubtedly popular among many readers, but they deserve a story with a better look at its star, a little less dismal, a little more Dark, and little less Origin.

Rating: 4

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