VENOM: FIRST HOST #1 Mike Costa, Mark Bagley, Andrew Hennesy, Dono Sanchez-Almara, and VC Clayton Cowles
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
In the debut issue of VENOM: FIRST HOST, we discover that Eddie Brock is not the first person to successfully bond with the Venom symbiote.
95 %
An Epic blast of Past, Present, and Future
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Spider-man, Eddie Brock, Mac Gargan, and Flash Thompson have all been hosts (victims?) for Venom. He’s even been a homeless man at one point. Venom has certainly been a rolling stone. In VENOM: FIRST HOST #1 we go back in time before any of the other characters were born to witness a brand new symbiote story.

In the debut issue of VENOM: FIRST HOST, we discover that Eddie Brock is not the first person to successfully bond with the Venom symbiote. This is a fantastic new series by comic writer Mike Costa with artist Mark Bagley and Andrew Hennesy.

VENOM: FIRST HOST #1

VENOM: FIRST HOST #1 takes us a few decades back in time on an unknown planet where we see two mysteriously masked spacemen surveying life in a place called Eden. During their discovery, they come into contact with a symbiote that they think is “damaged.” We are left to wonder what becomes of the two discoverers, and the story fast forwards to a few years into the future right smack in the middle of a war between the Kree and the Skrulls. Aboard a Kree vessel, we see about a dozen Kree civilians who are about to be executed by a couple of Skrulls carrying heavy artillery.

In an ironic turn of events, just as the Skrulls are about to kill the Kree, one member turns his weapon on the rest of his own men, revealing himself to be a Kree in Skrull clothing. (See what I did there) In a moment of sheer awesomeness, the impostor Skrull shapeshifts into what looks like an ’80s version of the agent Venom suit.

venom: first host #1
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

From One Venom to the Next

The Kree reveals himself to be Tel-Kar, a Kree warrior thought to have deserted his people long ago. He tells his people that he used that information to infiltrate the Skrulls and hide amongst them using the symbiote. The Kree are attacked by another wave of Skrulls and to create a diversion for his people Tel-Kar and the symbiote separate. The symbiote doesn’t stick around to see how things pan out and bails from the ship.

We then flip to the present where we see Venom taking down a couple of punks in an attempted store robbery. Venom is still dealing with the Alchemax corporation and Liz Allan. Liz is in possession of a Venom offspring that she is using for financial gains. She and Eddie clash on the way she is handling the symbiote.

Eddie gives Liz a very clear warning and leaves. We also get the vibe that Eddie and the symbiote are having some inner conflict themselves that may be some foreshadowing somewhere down the line in the story. Yet, Eddie continues to be the heroic Venom we all know and love from Costa’s VENOM run.

First Impressions

I’m going to have to read a few more issues before I believe Tel-Kar is the first host. The opening scene in VENOM: FIRST HOST #1 where we see the two masked space travelers kind of threw me for a loop. I keep asking myself why keep the explorers’ identities a secret? Why did it flash forward to so many years into the future?

I hope Costa plans to go back and explain. I want to know what happens in between the time jumps. Also if Tel-Kar really is the first host, why is he not consumed by the symbiote?  It also appears that Tel-Kar is in complete control of the symbiote as well. I also love the play on words with the title first host. It gives the plot a “six degrees of Kevin Bacon” kind of vibe.

Parts of VENOM: FIRST HOST #1 may confuse some comic readers if you haven’t read Costa’s earlier work on VENOM from 2016. Marvel cut short Costa’s run when they restarted a lot of different series, but it’s still worth checking out to get fully up to speed.

There’s not much action that takes place during this issue, but the pacing breezes the story along with nicely. Early on in the book, we know the Skrulls are involved in a battle with the Kree. I’m already wondering what their connection at the end of the story is and why did they attack Eddie Brock?

venom: first host #1
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Writer

Mike Costa adds an interesting yet historic imprint on the Venom legacy. We were always under the assumption that Spider-man was the first to bond with the alien symbiote. Then came along writer Donny Cates’ VENOM run where we found out that the symbiotes predated back to the medieval times.  In the newest additional storyline, Costa seems to be focusing on events that occurred even further back in time. My gut tells me there’s definitely more to this story than Costa is leading us to believe in the first issue.

Venom is a character riddled with conflict both externally and internally. It will be interesting to see how Costa plays with the loyalty of the symbiote.

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Art

VENOM: FIRST HOST #1 artist Mark Bagley adds his amazingly cool retro classic look to this book. Reading this book transported me back to the ’90s When I was ten years old my mom would buy me comics all the time. Bagley’s work had an awesome impression on me then and now. The depth of Mark Bagley’s work always makes you feel like you’re watching something epic unfold in the palm of your hand. It’s great to see Mark Bagley and Mike Costa back together again as I love their work together. I can’t wait to see what this power team have in store for us in the issues to come.

Final Thoughts

Overall, this is an awesome first issue. I’m a little bummed that the first arc is only five books. Any story though that includes Venom and the Skrulls definitely has my undivided attention and my four bucks easily. I can’t wait to see how this whole thing continues to play out. The Skrulls are not playing around at the end of this issue. What’s Tel-Kars real agenda? Is he friend or is he foe? I guess we have to keep reading to find out: who is the first host?

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