The Philosophy of Venom goes on sale next week, on the 13th.
We’re told the 128-page hardback is a chance to get into the mind of the original symbiote anti-hero but is that wise?
I don’t mind the eat, save, kill and repeat. I don’t mind the hero or villain question or even the psychotic horror or vulnerable visitor duality. I just can’t quite understand the book, and as this is supposed to be a review, that’s a bit of a problem.
It’ll help if I explain my confusion.
Flipping through The Philosophy of Venom is liking scrolling through a talented and obsessive Venom fan’s Instagram account. Pages are bold square posters of colours and, generally, Venom looking cool, or confused, or terrifying, or timid.
My copy of the book is a reviewer PDF with “TITAN COMICS” stamped across each page, so the experience is even more surreal. As much as I’d like to, I can’t make my Instagram feed look as cool as Venom. Oh, except for the authorised stills released for that purpose, which you can see in this review.
Would it work as a hardback?
I don’t think the Instagram vibe would be as strong. Instead, I imagine The Philosophy of Venom is what you hand your visiting nephew so that he shuts up for a while, thinks more highly of you, and you risk a frown from his dad.
Got some time to kill while you’re waiting for the last member of the gaming group to turn up? This book will do the trick. If I ran a dentist or a geek blogging consultancy and needed books to put on the waiting room table, I’d absolutely pick something like this. It would go missing in a week.
With my review copy, the digital copy, I just wish every page had a “Send me the poster of this” button to press. Then again, perhaps it’s a good idea that it doesn’t.
There is some order in the chaos. At least, there’s a table of contents with 13 chapters spread across the book. Here they are;
- Who is Venom?
- The soul behind the symbiote
- Alien attire
- Symbiotic strength
- Say Venom!
- Symbiote snacks
- Blood is thicker
- Friends like these…
- Venomous villainy
- Taking out the space trash
- All creatures
- The Us in venomous
- Wonderful world of Venom
I suppose the book kinda follows that order. There are no essays to read, just the occasional comic strip speech bubble. While I flicked through the pages and thought, “That looks awesome,” and “Oh boy! I want to read that story” (like; just where did that pink t-shirt Panda hulk thing come from?), I’m just not sure if I learnt much.
I think that’s a fair criticism. If you know Venom only through the movies, say, and you wanted to read more, especially before the next cinema hit, then I’m not sure this is the book for you. Not if learning is your goal.
On the other hand, if you’re already a Venom fan and just want to delight in the hijinks of alien action – or the philosophy – as the title puts it, then yeah, treat yourself to this colourful escape.
It’s also worth noting that Eddie Brock barely gets a look in. This is Venom’s hardback. If you didn’t know Venom very well, I suspect this hardback would lead you to believe there’s tension between the anti-hero and Spider-man, but perhaps in the same sort of way, there’s tension between him and Deadpool.
The original idea of Brock being a disgraced and suicidal man with an irrational hatred for Spidey long before he encounters the symbiote really doesn’t come through. But perhaps it doesn’t need to. As I’ve conceded, this book isn’t a deep dive into the character’s history; it’s barely a surface scratch. It is, instead, a dive into the mind of a character that’s become far more charismatic and empathic over the years.
Don’t look to be enlightened; look to be illuminated by solid colour and poster-perfect panels.
The Philosophy of Venom is for fans, not researchers. You’ll whisk through all 128-pages in no time, like a sugar rush of paper.
I think the hardback is gift material and not treat-yourself material.
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