Top critical review
Frustrating little collection
3 July 2007
When I was a kid and Marvel UK was putting out reprints of the Spider-man comics, one of the subplots was Spidey's alien costume. Because I lived in the middle of nowhere and had only a limited amount of pocket money which would depending on my whims be spent on a variety of titles in rotation, from Transformers to Star Wars to the Beezer, I only read bits and pieces of the storyline and it remained one of those things that seemed very cool to me as a kid and that I really wanted to read in full.
Birth of Venom seemed like my chance. And to be fair, it's probably a fair representation. The story goes from the point in Secret Wars where Spidey replaces his tattered red and blue pyjamas with his living suit and then follows his return to Earth, his increasingly violent nature and discovery that there is more to the costume and then jumps to Eddie Brock and the birth of Venom. So it pretty well lays out the saga.
It isn't comprehensive. We get selected issues from the time Spidey was wearing the costume and in the stories we get, there is a running subplot about the Hobgoblin, which is pretty compelling in itself but which is not the focus of the tale so is not resolved. We then jump forward to the period when Eddie Brock became Venom, there's a big shift in Peter's lifestyle, insofar as he is now married to MJ and this is only covered by a text page. Obviously Marvel couldn't put five or so years worth of comics into one book, but because of that the book isn't a smooth read.
It's a quibble, I know. Generally the quality of stories is rather good. The art style differs quite comprehensively with contributions by Ron Frenz, Rick Leonardi and Todd McFarlane, to name but three, but it is generally rather good too. And if you haven't read the saga of the alien costume, this does a pretty good job of giving you the history of this element in Spider-man's life.