Marvel has unveiled a brand new look for Flash Thompson's Venom, courtesy of artist Valerio Schiti, and it's great. Schiti is currently the penciller on Guardians of the Galaxy with writer Brian Michael Bendis, and Thompson, a long-time part of the Spider-Man supporting cast, is now riding around space with the crew as the Avengers' official emissary. In this week's Guardians Of The Galaxy #23, he got a symbiote upgrade and an even newer gig as... an agent of the cosmos. And with that job title comes a spiffy new outfit.

Schiti's sketches show that he went through a few different takes on the new design before settling on one that keeps the spider motif central and distinct, but also gives Venom a much more sci-fi feel. Venom is as big as ever, but with an armored toughness and an awesome helmet design. The overall look evokes a Warhammer Space Marine.


Click to enlarge


If I may speak heresy for a moment; I'm not a huge fan of Venom in usual circumstances. I love the black Spider-Man costume; I like the Venom design; but I never thought Venom was a good fit as a Spider-Man villain, and the endless cascade of spin-off symbiotes were a symbol of superhero comics' willingness to dilute success through derivative reproduction.

But teamed up with fellow Spider-Man antagonist Flash, Venom makes a lot more sense to me. Flash is a soldier, a wounded veteran who lost his legs in... whichever war is sufficiently recent in Marvel's sliding continuity. The symbiote has become not just his replacement legs and thus his rehabilitation, but a metaphor for his post-traumatic stress. The dangerous symbiote that he has to control now represents a dark twist on the relationship between power and responsibility.

Venom is the product of an obscure and long-forgotten Marvel event called Secret Wars, and as an alien entity it makes sense to take him back to space. For Flash, the new location and the updated identity allow Bendis and subsequent writers to explore the character's identity as a soldier in a sci-fi setting, removed from the complexities of real world war. Taken away from Earth, and the urban paramilitary look of his previous Venom costume, Flash becomes a much more compelling character.

(The new design also includes a new 'casual look' Flash Thompson, allowing him to wear Venom as a stylish and form-fitting shirt and pants that says, "I'm never off duty when it comes to saving the world and looking good doing it, ma'am.")

A lot of the great costume redesigns we've highlighted on ComicsAlliance have been about putting female characters in costumes that they might choose for themselves, rather than costumes that a male artist might want to see them in. The same rule applies to any character; a great costume is one that makes sense to the person wearing it. With this new look for Venom, Schiti has knocked it out of the park.