Venom #32 cover. The Sixth Gun's Cullen Bunn has been a part of the Venom creative team since joining Rick Remender as co-writer last year, and took the book over solely a few months later with issue #23. Now he's steering the series into a new era, with Venom and Flash Thompson moving to Philadelphia, and Toxin and Eddie Brock following him there.
After a stint as the (mostly) heroic Anti-Venom, Eddie Brock was transformed against his will into the latest incarnation of Toxin — who Bunn says will be "solidly an antagonist" for Venom and Flash. That's not the only familiar face popping up in Venom's new surroundings, as both Valkyrie and Daimon Hellstrom will continue to play (very different) roles in Flash Thompson's life. Bunn also hints, quite strongly, that the new Superior Spider-Man — you may have heard a thing or two about him here and there — will also be showing up sooner rather than later in the series.
With issue #29 out earlier this week, Newsarama talked about all of it with Bunn — whose Helheim, with artists Joëlle Jones and Nick Filardi, premieres from Oni in March — including raising the ire of Daimon Hellstron's uniquely passionate fanbase, and building an ersatz "Cullenverse" between Venom and the February-debuting Fearless Defenders. Courtesy of Marvel, we're also debuting a couple of pages of Declan Shalvey's interior art from February's Venom #31.
Newsarama: Cullen, right now you're entering into a new era of Venom, with the title character moving to Philadelphia. How has that phase of the book gone for you so far?
Cullen Bunn: I'm really enjoying it. Venom's been sort of a weird project for me. I've enjoyed everything I've done on it, but in a lot of ways, it feels like I've been writing limited series within Venom, even though it's an ongoing book. I co-wrote the "Savage Six" arc with [Rick] Remender, and I knew we had a job to do; we had this story to tell. When I came on as a solo writer on the book, I had three issues before we went into the "Minimum Carnage" storyline.
Now, coming out of "Minimum Carnage," we've got Venom moving to Philadelphia, and it really does, to me, feel like a fresh start on the character. This three-issue arc — #28, #29 and #30 — in a lot of ways, it feels like a brand-new Venom. He actually makes the move in #31, and there are new supporting cast members, Flash has a new approach to being a hero, and [we] introduce some new threats that I think will really shake things up. Venom fans — and I'm talking about the die-hard Venom fans, and the die-hard symbiote fans — are going to go crazy, especially starting with #31, and get some things that they have been clamoring for.
Nrama: Is one of those things the return of Toxin?
Bunn: It is. You'll start getting glimpses of him before issue #31, but in #31, Toxin returns.
There are a lot of people who say, "Eddie Brock should be the only Venom. He's the only person worthy of being Venom." My goal, as lofty as it may be, is, I really want people to forget about Eddie as Venom. What [artist] Declan [Shalvey] and I are trying to do is, once we tell this story, I want people to associate Eddie Brock with Toxin. It's a lofty goal, because he has such a big history with Venom, but a lot of people really liked when he was Anti-Venom. We want to make Toxin a viable, interesting, dynamic character on his own — the Eddie/Toxin combo, or "Broxin" as I've seen him referred. [Laughs.] Our goal is to really make people love and hate and fear Toxin, and Eddie Brock.
Nrama: So it sounds like Eddie Brock will be pretty solidly a villain this time around, maybe more so than he has in the past?Venom #31 cover. Bunn: When Eddie and Toxin were bonded in "Savage Six," he was almost like this mindless killing machine. That is not the Toxin you are going to see. I don't want to say he's solidly a villain, but for Venom, at least, he is solidly an antagonist. The one thing that Eddie and Toxin have in common is that they both hate Venom — both the symbiote and the man. That solidifies their partnership to some degree.
Nrama: Valkyrie has a budding romance with Flash Thompson, and you'll be writing her in Fearless Defenders. So will she remain a part of Venom's life going forward?
Bunn: She's definitely a big player in the current arc, #28-#30. She appears in every issue there.
I kind of lucked out. A lot of times when you have romances with two characters, you have one writer writing one of the characters in the book, and another writer writing another character in the book, and sometimes the puzzle pieces don't seem to fit. I have gotten into a situation where I'm writing the main books for both of these two characters, so I get to play both sides of that relationship. You'll see Venom in Fearless Defenders; you'll see Valkyrie in Venom — not every issue or every arc, but there will be a presence in those two books.
Venom #30 cover. Nrama: You'll get to build up a mini-Cullenverse.
Bunn: Right! The Cullenverse. I like this.
Nrama: I've seen on Twitter that you've been getting some grief from Daimon Hellstrom fans, about making him evil — have you been surprised at all by that reaction?
Bunn: [Laughs.] When I did that, in Fear Itself: The Fearless, I wrote to the editorial team, and to Matt Fraction and Chris Yost, who were helping me write that series, and said, "I'm going to rain on every Hellstrom's fan parade, and I'm going to make him evil." In the grand scheme of things, it's just a handful, but they're a very vocal handful of people who were upset that I made Daimon Hellstrom a bad guy.
I've had people say, "Cullen Bunn is such a terrible writer, because he made Daimon Hellstrom bad." I think that's sort of a funny critique — there are plenty of other reasons to call me a terrible writer. But a lot of people don't like Daimon Hellstrom as bad. I love the character. I remember very vividly reading the first appearances of Daimon Hellstrom when I was a kid — I remember the room I was sitting in. I was visiting my cousins in Georgia, and they had those issues with Daimon Hellstrom in it, and I remember reading those and just being amazed. This is not a matter of me not liking Daimon Hellstrom. I think he's a character who goes beyond good and evil. I think people don't remember that in the short-lived Druid series, he burned Dr. Druid alive and put him in a trashcan. He's a character whose concept of good and evil is a little bit different. I try to think about the long game and what I'm going to do in the future, and I've got a plan for Daimon Hellstrom, and a lot of people who hate what I've done can't even picture what I've got planned for him in the end.He's kind of a bad guy now, he's done some terrible things, but I think Hellstrom believes that the only way to combat ultimate evil is with an equal amount of evil, and that's kind of his goal — that's why he's taken this heel turn that he's taken.
The complication that I've had is that since he's made his heel turn in Fear Itself: The Fearless, he has appeared in a number of other books as a good guy. A lot of times that's written off as, "Well, this book takes before this book, and this book takes place…" — they do some chronology magic to make it work. This is not a situation where it works. He's been in too many places. He had a significant role in Journey Into Mystery; he had a significant role in the end of New Avengers. That's confused a lot of people, and frustrated people, and I will say that I will make that all make sense.
Nrama: That's pretty frank of you to admit that it doesn't make sense right now.
Bunn: Those things frustrate me just like they do any other reader. I get it. I have a tolerance to some degree when I'm reading comics, because I know that there are a lot of different people writing these books, and a lot of people involved, and not everybody reads each and every thing. But this is one that, because I'm involved in it, I have a dog in this hunt. In the pages of Venom, I will make the multiple appearances of Hellstrom make sense, and the seeming multiple-personality disorder.
Nrama: Maybe that will get some of the Hellstrom fans off of your back?
Bunn: I'm certain that I will make people more angry. When I was really getting a lot of email, and seeing on forums people who were frustrated with Hellstrom, I'd put a tweet out and say, "Daimon Hellstrom stole your girlfriend this morning," and things like that, just to mess with people. Because it's kind of funny. I know that people love these characters, but when you stop and think about it, it's a little funny to get so frustrated about what's going to happen with these characters, especially when you know, it's not like they're reading the final book that features Daimon Hellstrom. Hell, right now, they're not even reading the only book that features Daimon Hellstron. [Laughs.]
Nrama: You would think that since he's the Son of Satan, he'd naturally have some evil tendencies.
Bunn: If you use that defense, though, people will give you this whole rundown of his lineage, and that makes my head spin. As much as I like the character, his frequently retconned and revised origin gives me a headache.
Nrama: To wrap up, with the new Superior Spider-Man era starting, can readers expect to see some interaction between the new Spidey and Venom at some point relatively soon?
Bunn: I would say that it's a certainty.More from Newsarama:
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