There comes a time when even a storied supervillain needs a do-over, and that moment has arrived for Spider-Man arch-nemesis Venom. Well, sorta. The extraterrestrial symbiote — which most famously glommed onto embittered Spider-friend Eddie Brock — is classically depicted as a onyx-colored, cuspated shape-shifter. But Marvel decided the dude needed to lighten up, so they created an additional symbiote as a visual foil to their old standby: Here’s your first glimpse at the new, angelically hued…Anti-Venom.
What the heck’s an Anti-Venom? We’ll find out when The Amazing Spider-Man No. 568 — the first of a pivotal six-issue arc called ”New Ways to Die,” written by Dan Slott (Avengers: The Initiative) and illustrated by John Romita Jr. (Daredevil: The Man Without Fear) — hits stores in August.
NEXT PAGE: An early peek at The Amazing Spider-Man‘s summer storyline
There are still more changes afoot in the Spidey-verse. Take a gander at EW.com’s other exclusive first look — a collage teasing revealing ”scenes” (also drawn by the esteemed Romita Jr.) from additional Amazing Spider-Man issues, these hitting stores starting in June. Frenemy Eddie Brock, possibly still cancer-ridden, is back, as is Norman Osborn, better known as mad-genius nemesis the Green Goblin. Meanwhile, on the home front, Mary Jane Watson is in the house, so to speak. You may recall that she split from her Spidey sweetheart in a confused Faustian bid with Mephisto — the couple’s memory erased! — to save sweet Aunt May’s life in last year’s ”One More Day” storyline. A tangled web? We’ll say! — Nisha Gopalan
NEXT PAGE: Reviews of James Bond 007: Shark Bait and Haunted
JAMES BOND 007: SHARK BAIT
Jim Lawrence; Yaroslav Horak and Henry North
(Paperback; on sale now)
The latest installment in Titan Books’ anthologies of British Bond newspaper strips assembles a trio of 007’s racy three-panel adventures from the early 1980s. ”The Xanadu Connection” finds Her Majesty’s finest secret agent facing off against Mongol maven Kubla Khan (who, yes, has a stately pleasure dome), while the titular tale drops him into an ocean filled with hungry Great Whites and KGB divers almost as deadly — including Katya, a beautiful agent who makes détente in the bedroom. ”Doomcrack” rounds out the volume with a chase for an unstoppable weapon that falls into the wrong hands. In the Bond tradition, our hero finds time to drop deadpan one-liners and consort with topless females in between dodging bullets and blowing up Soviet helicopters. FOR FANS OF… Cold War intrigue; Roger Moore’s turn in The Spy Who Loved Me. DOES IT DELIVER? North’s photorealistic art on ”Doomcrack” is less gripping than the remaining work sketched by comic-strip mainstay Horak, whose depictions ooze with gritty action. Still, it’s the only weakness in a collection that will leave Bond aficionados shaken, not unpleasantly stirred. A- — David Greenwald
(Hardcover; on sale now)
The second solo effort from Dupuy — a celebrated French cartoonist who mostly collaborates with Charles Berberian (see Get a Life, Maybe Later) — Haunted tells the story of Philippe, a man who decides to jog for an hour every day in order to clear his head. Simple enough. Only his mind starts to wander, and he ironically gets weighed down by mental encounters with an assortment of random characters (a depressed wrestler, talking animals, his mother, an art-collecting duck…). Each hallucination, broken down by chapters entitled ”Run Movie 1,” ”Run Movie 2, and so on, get trippier and trippier until the final episode — when the ground literally crumbles beneath him. Make sense? It’s art, man! FOR FANS OF… French New Wave films; Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. DOES IT DELIVER? The black-and-white drawings are beautifully simple amid the freeing, out-of-panel structure. The dialogue is sparse and at times self-referential (”I spent my childhood crying out through my drawings. But my words got lost. All that was left were pretty pictures”), which places more emphasis on the visuals. The book is largely avant-garde and its plot sometimes meanders. But the final, cryptic message (”How far to run? There’s always the temptation to test your limits. To cross the line so you know you’ve found it. To feel the moment when things shift and you realize you’ve gone too far”) suggests a man literally consumed by this thoughts — which is something, oddly, you’ll find yourself Haunted by. B+ — Loren Lankford