Carl takes a detour into the Spider-Verse for a rendezvous with the symbiote anti-hero Venom in James R. Tuck’s wonderful novelisation…
I’m really starting to like this.
Titan Books have again pulled an ace from up their sleeve. Authors are being commissioned to write novels based on classic graphic novels from both DC Comics and Marvel. Their recent range of DC books tying in with the 80th anniversary of Batman has been completely outstanding, bringing joy to Comic book lovers around the world. From the excellent novel of Batman: The Court Of Owls to the completely sublime Batman: The Killing Joke, they have hired writers who have completely nailed the projects they have been tasked with. Taking the whole graphic novel and filling out the story to tremendous effect, the books have been a revelation. Again, the commissioned novels of Marvel properties have been outstanding. I’ve had the great fortune to read many of them and have to admit, they have hooked me from the first page. The best of the Marvel novels has been the adaptation and updated version of Spider-Man: Forever Young by Stefan Petrucha. Here we have a novel of the best quality there can be. If you’re a comic book fan and have yet to read the book, get yourself a copy pronto as you won’t be disappointed.
Venom: Lethal Protector | by James R. Tuck
Now we have an adaptation of the classic Venom Graphic Novel, Lethal Protector. The original graphic novel by David Michelinie, Mark Bagley and Ron Lim was an enjoyable romp through San Francisco, following our Anti-Hero as he returned to the city of his birth. Again, if you haven’t read the original graphic novel, hunt down a copy and add it to your collection. Now, author James Tuck has written the novelisation of the comic. Tuck, no stranger to fantastic novels such as the Robin Hood: Demon’s Bane series and Arrow: Fatal Legacies in addition to his Mythos War trilogy written under the pseudonym of Levi Black has again produced a novel of the best quality imaginable. The book grabs you from the first page and never lets us go. Forget the recent Tom Hardy movie version of the character, here we have classic Venom, back to his rip-roaring best and with a smart-mouthed attitude to go along with it.
The story starts In San Francisco with an attempted mugging and rape. The attacker, realising his victim doesn’t have hardly any cash for him decides to get something else from the terrified young woman. Of course, Venom crashes the guy’s party, saving the young victim while handing down the ultimate punishment to the mugger. The victim grabs her phone to take a picture of the symbiote creature, which he happily poses for! So much for staying under the radar! The whole city knows that Eddie Brock is Venom and the Police are on the lookout for him everywhere. When Eddie tries to rent a room to stay in, the police find him and attempt to arrest him, thus unleashing Venom again. All the while in New York, Peter Parker sees the footage and hears the news reports. Spider-Man and Venom have an uneasy truce between them and when Parker sees the news, he immediately believes that Brock has reneged on their bargain and is back to his old ways. He decides to go to San Francisco and to bring Venom to justice once and for all.
Meanwhile, a vengeful father has concocted a plan to kill Venom for the death of his son during Venom’s escape from prison. He has hired five highly trained killers to exact his revenge, giving them high tech weaponry to complete his vengeance. Brock encounters a group of what appear to be homeless people who are being systematically harassed by a local developer, Roland Treece who sends his lackeys into the park where they are staying to either remove them or to eliminate them. His men start to attack the homeless with high tech mechanical diggers while Brock is walking in the park. Venom now has the mission to protect the innocent. He stands his ground against the thugs in his quest to protect the homeless but his actions keep being misjudged by everyone. During the course of his battle, Spider-Man arrives and attacks Venom, believing he is attacking people for no reason. When the realisation hits him, its almost too late. Venom falls through a hole in the earth, landing in a small town dating back over a century. Has he fallen through time? And what are the motives of Roland Treece’s attacks? Why does he want to clear the park of its homeless dwellers? What is Treece hoping to gain?
The action flows thick and fast during the course of the novel and you find yourself second-guessing every action that will take place. During the course of the book, Venom and Spider-Man join forces to combat the threats coming at them but awaiting them is an even deadlier prospect. The five trained killers hired to kill Venom gain Symbiotic suits like Eddie Brock’s, making them an even more lethal threat than anyone could realise. That is what makes this the ideal comic book to novelise. The back story is filled during the events of the book and helps lift it higher. We feel sympathy for Brock and his Symbiote. Both want to do the right thing, each using their gifts to achieve a peaceful result. But Venom is a massive creature whose every movement is viewed as hostility. No matter how hard they try, they can’t shake the police’s suspicion of them or the pursuit of others determined to bring him to justice. It gives the novel such clarity. We all try to do our best but sometimes our good intentions are misjudged. We all strive to be better today than we were yesterday but some people will always hold our past against us, refusing to let us move forward and better ourselves or to correct past mistakes. The book presents these themes to us all wrapped up in a comic book novel. In addition, it brings home the pain of estrangement between a father and his son.
The book is a joy to read. The characters we’ve come to know and love adorn the pages and we find ourselves engrossed in their adventures. Several other Marvel characters get an honourable mention and Mary Jane makes a guest cameo appearance during the story. Spider-Man makes for a great secondary character, bringing his sense of humour and his abilities to bear throughout the events depicted in the novel but this is Venom’s show. He grins at us from virtually every page, his quips giving us giggles and his actions are justified throughout the events. I loved the character when he first came about and I still love him today. But as I said previously, this is the comic book Venom and not the recent movie version. His birth in the film is completely different to how he was originally created. The Spider-Man 3 film, even though they wasted the character completely, is the film that gave us the faithful version of his creation. And that version, the original version, is referred to throughout the novel.
James Tuck has produced a marvellous novel. Venom leaps from the page as he rightfully should do and the action and events flow thick and fast. We swing alongside both him and Spider-Man into an adventure that never feels forced or boring. We join both characters into a story that resonates with us with every action and counteraction committed. If an author can or does write novels of the classic comic book stories, they will be hard-pressed to top this classic novel. Tuck’s writing is an inspired one and one I can only hope either he or another writer will continue down the line.
Until next time.
“WE ARE VENOM!”
Venom: Lethal Protector by James R. Tuck is published by Titan Books and is available to buy from all good retailers NOW.
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Carl Roberts is a Senior Entertainment/Books and Literature Correspondent for The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!