One of the most well-received character revamps in the Amazing Spider-Man run of the last two years has been Eddie Brock as Anti-Venom, the revision introduced in last year's six-issue story arc, "New Ways to Die."
Anti-Venom is the name given to Eddie Brock's more heroic identity after being cured of cancer and rejecting the Venom symbiote he once embraced.
Now Spider-Man webheads member Zeb Wells and artist Paulo Siqueira telling a new chapter in the Anti-Venom story in Amazing Spider-Man Presents: Anti-Venom - New Ways to Live. In a story of addiction that portrays how difficult it is for Brock to adjust to his new heroic role, the mini-series is two issues into its three-issue run, just in time to see The Punisher confronted by Anti-Venom.
For this installment of Newsarama's Weekly Webbing, we talked to Wells about the themes explored in his Anti-Venom story and what's coming next for both the character and Wells himself.
Newsarama: Let's just start by reviewing what's happened so far in Amazing Spider-Man Presents: Anti-Venom - New Ways to Live, since this is a fairly short mini-series. It looks like we're heading for a showdown here?
Zeb Wells: Yeah, the story started with Eddie Brock reformed once again and trying to be the good guy. He's working with a drug addict that he "cured" of her addiction by getting rid of the drugs in her system. And at the beginning of this series, they're fighting crime, and one thing leads to another, and she gets kidnapped by some drug dealers. The Punisher shows up, and Eddie and the Punisher have to go down to Mexico to rescue her from some Mexican drug dealers.
Nrama: I assume we'll have a confrontation at the beginning of Issue #3?
Wells: Yeah, the third issue is basically one big battle, which was really fun because Paulo is doing such a good job on the art, so it's really cool to see him cut loose in the third issue.
Nrama: Why did you want to write an Anti-Venom story? When you saw the way he was being set up in Amazing Spider-Man, did you want to explore that character more?
Wells: There's just something about him trying to be a good guy that I find very interesting and almost laughable with the history of the character. He obviously deals with some terrible compulsions that he has. He seems to always try to be good but he is constantly failing. And I thought there was a good juxtaposition between him and Jenna, who is an addict.
If you've ever known an addict, the idea that she's "cured" of her addiction because the drugs were taken out of her system is almost equally as laughable as Eddie's situation. So I thought it would be interesting to tell a story about two people's compulsions, as they're trying to better themselves. That's never as easy as it looks.
Nrama: What has it been like for you to throw the Punisher in that mix?
Wells: Yeah, because while I wanted to explore the subject of compulsions and addictions with Anti-Venom and Jenna, at the same time, it's a three-issue Venom mini-series. So I didn't want it to be all about people talking about their feelings and navel-gazing.
When the Punisher shows up he doesn't give two sh-ts about Eddie's childhood or Jenna's struggle with her addictions. He sees the world black and white, so he shows up and keeps the story moving.
Nrama: Do you see the Punisher and his black-and-white view echoing the type of attitude you see in general from some people about addiciton?
Wells: Exactly. There are two types of people. There are people who see an addict and want to help. And those people are usually constantly disappointed. But sometimes they do help. And then there's the type of person that sees it and just can't understand what the problem is and has no time to listen to it. Either someone is good or bad from their point of view. So like you said, the Punisher really works in that regard and gives an added capacity to the story. He shows up, and you can see that viewpoint and understand it.
Hopefully, all this subtext comes across. I did want this story to be kind of a lurid comic book, dealing with seedy issues, because I think Paulo's great at drawing that stuff. He can draw so many different types of things. But it's always great when you can make a story about something as well as being a superhero/villain story.
Nrama: You mentioned earlier that you only had three issues to tell the story. Do you kind of wish you had more?
Wells: Well, yeah. On one point it makes it harder to stick to three issues, but I did want to deal with these complex issues of addiction and compulsion. But again, it's an Anti-Venom story, and I didn't want to slow it down. I think an Anti-Venom story should be an action story. So the length almost forced it along super quick, which I think probably worked to its benefit because it works as a popcorn sort of story. And the subtext of the addiction stays subtext, which I like.
Nrama: Will we see more of Anti-Venom after this story?
Wells: Yeah. The mini-series is kind of a statement on his character and explores how he's trying to be better and trying to be a good guy, but his story will continue in some stuff that Dan Slott is planning for Anti-Venom down the road. So this kind of cues it up for that.
Nrama: Where will we see your work next?
Wells: I'm doing a Lizard story beginning in, I believe, April of next year, with Chris Bachalo on art. I worked with him on the first Amazing Spider-Man arc I did. I'm writing this Lizard story right now, and I'm super excited about it. I've started seeing artwork from Chris, and I think he's going to do some amazing work.
Nrama: Is it kind of a new take on the Lizard? Or are you just bringing him back for the Gauntlet after his absence?
Wells: It's going to be a little of both. The story works so that you get some of your basic Lizard, but there's a twist halfway through that sort of changes his status quo. I don't want to say too much because I'm not even done writing it yet, but I think it's going to be a lot of fun.
Nrama: Then just to finish up, Zeb, with the third issue coming out next week, what can we expect to see?
Wells: The Punisher and Anti-Venom fighting together, tearing through a full compound of drug dealers. Eddie trying to rescue Jenna and save her from herself. It's just a lot of great drama and action. Honestly, people should just check it out for Paulo's artwork. It's amazing.