Marvel's Next Big Thing: Remender & Bunn on "Venom"

For the latest of its regular "Next Big Thing" calls with the press, Marvel Comics also made its latest creative promotion. Today, the publisher announced that writer Cullen Bunn - who's recently taken on "Wolverine" in addition to events like "The Fearless" and the indie hit "The Sixth Gun" - will become the full-time writer on "Venom" starting with issue #23 in August. Bunn has been co-writing the series of late with Rick Remender, who joined the call to talk about the handoff and his finale issue in #22.

The call started out talking about the "Savage Six" arc featuring a team of villains tailor made for the military Venom. "When I set up the book, [Steve] Wacker set me up a challenge to take some villains that weren't being utilized...and turn them into something." Calling it "The Bullseye Challenge" after Daredevil's famously formerly B-list for, Remender picked Jack-O-Lantern and Crime Master at the start of the series, and the Savage Six grew from them. He said that the addition members of the team like Toxin and the Human Fly had personal connections to Thompson that grew over the course of the series, making them ideal additions.

Editor Tom Brennan joined in to say that he admired the fact that Remender wouldn't just pass over characters that seemed silly or overly complicated on the surface due to their Silver Age roots. He called the series "insane, dangerous and scary" due to the wild backdrop Remender has given "Venom's" world.

The pair went on to discuss original Venom Eddie Brock's return as Toxin. "I think everyone responded well to Anti-Venom, but too many of the symbiots [have been played too] sympathetic," Remender said. He called Toxin "a revenge-fueled terror monster" rather than a guy with teeth who's kind of bad who will save your grandmother if needed. Overall, Brock's goal is to take out all the symbiotes created over the years at all costs.

Bunn noted how the symbiote's relationship with Flash mirrored the character's struggles with alcoholism. The writers credited artists Tony Moore and Kev Walker in creating a real sense of humanity, fear and even desperation into the characters on the page. Remender said that the coming story beats in issues #18 and 19 feel like a fast-moving horror story as the Savage Six move in for the kill on both Flash and Betty Brandt.

As for his own story starting in issue #23, Bunn said it will tell the tale of Venom for the first time truly deciding to be a hero and the blowback he gets from the heroic community about his intentions. In the arc, he'll meet up with Damion Hellstrom - a character who played a pivotal role in "The Fearless."

Speaking on how the handoff went between the pair, both writers agreed working together strengthened the shape of the book overall. "We developed a method of volleying the scripts back and forth, and it got the best of both of us. People who have read #17 have seen the result of that, and I'm very proud of that issue," Remender said. He noted that he got to "92%" of the stories he wanted to tell, and that he'd continue to write Venom as part of "Secret Avengers" so the one idea he didn't get to yet is still on the table. Bunn said that he was able to really get inside the voice of the main character that Remender established at the series start.

Bunn was asked about this incoming "Captain America & Hawkeye" story that also supposedly included symbiotes, but the writer said that the threats showing up there aren't Venom-like symbiotes in the way Marvel fans knew them. So there would be no real crossover between the two projects.

Asked whether moving off of "Venom" meant he'd have more other Marvel books coming soon, Remender said, "There's some stuff."

At one point, Remender made an off-hand comment on a "symbiote spawing season." Asked more about it, the writer said that maybe such an event could be in the offing and that it could "possibly even be earth-shattering." He said that since working on "Venom," he's been thinking more about the sci-fi possibilities of a race of aliens who take the form of inky monsters.

The writers clarified that Remender will write issue #22 solo as his swan song with the book, and when Bunn comes on for #23, they're crafting a new story where anyone can jump right in. The title of the arc will be "The Monsters of Evil" which Brennan said Steve Wacker came up with.

Remender and Bunn also spoke about the deaths of a few characters in the series and how that trend may continue. "That's the upshot of Flash versus Peter Parker," said Remender. "You read a 'Spider-Man' book, chances are Aunt May's going to make it out. The thing with Flash is that these characters don't have the same history ... so we can do things that benefit the story."

Bunn noted his approach to the book will get "a little glimmer of hope." "Flash is trying to grab onto that hope and make a different life for himself," said Bunn. "The thing we know about Flash is that he tends to screw things up terribly ... it's not going to be an easy road for him to get to that happy place. He's working towards a brighter future but it's not going to be easy at all."

Brennan followed-up and mentioned Flash is trying to be the hero that Spider-Man is a lot later in his life than Peter Parker.

The writers also spoke about the possibility of the symbiotes eating limbs. "For me, I've used that once and it was in an extreme situation with the hijacker," said Remender. "For what we've been doing and what's coming up towards the end of my run, you're dealing more with Flash than the symbiote."

"I think going into some of what I'm doing, Flash is kind of scared of that happening," said Bunn.

"Flash Thompson, he's gone through a lot, he's turned into a better person," said Brennan. "At his heart, there's a violent guy in there. The question becomes who is more dangerous -- the suit or the guy that wears it?"

After the participants mentioned Declan Shalvey will be drawing "Venom" #22 and Thony Silas will take on "Venom" #23, the call ended. Stay tuned to CBR for more on Bunn & Remender's "Venom."

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