I was there, you know. Back in the 90’s. At a time when every month saw long-standing comic series rebooted with new #1’s, when hologram and foil covers were the order of the day. When it didn’t matter if a comic artist knew how to draw feet, the secret to success lay in a preponderance of belt pouches, grossly exaggerated musculature, enormous energy firearms and horrifically distorted spines. I witnessed the Dragon Seed Saga, Wolverine with no nose, the breaking of the bat, any number of Elfquest spin-offs. I was there to see an enormous, slavering monster whose primary goal in life was to eat Spider-Man’s brains, get rebranded as the Lethal Protector. Venom went from villain to anti-hero in one shiny red foil cover. Now, over two decades later, we get to push him around the tabletop and make both slobbering -and- thwip noises.
Painting the Lethal Protector was at once a joy and nerve-wracking. Much as with Black Widow, the bulk of themodel was painted black and highlighted with dark blues that very rudely decided not to be hugely evident in the photo. Defining the spider logo on his front and back – stark white against a black background – meant I had to pretend my hand was actually steady, and was only made even slightly achievable by the logo detail being raised on the surface (thank you, Dallas). I was able to cheat a little with they eyes, flooding the recesses with thinned white paint to get them nice and stark. The tongue has to look more organic, requiring a different technique again to give it depth, and layering colour onto the tiny, spiky teeth made me go somewhat crosseyed, but overall I’m pretty well pleased with the end result. He looks great on the tabletop.
Speaking of, Venom has a Threat rating of 4, marking him as a heavy hitter when he hits the table. His speed isn’t huge, but both of his melee attacks – Symbiote Tendrilsand We Are Venom – have a healthy range of 3, and he can make use of terrain with Klyntar Rage, or drag an opponent to him with Web Snare. is Symbiotic Instinctsmean opponents can’t modify defense dice when he’s attacking, and So Many Snacksis winner – As long as you have the Power, anyone attacking you risks being smacked right back in the face if they’re within range 3 – again, the same range as both of his melee attacks.
We Are Venomis a huge deal for our favourite symbiotic psychopath. Not only does it roll an very respectable 7 dice, but it heals damage from Venom for every point it deals. Venom already has one of the highest health totals in the game and a very solid defense against physical attacks, but the ability to heal ramps up his survivability beautifully. Admittedly, his energy defense is bleh, but remember that it can be triggered by So Many Snacks in response to an attack as well. Keep him fueled with power tokens, and Venom will be a right royal pain in the proverbial for your opponents game after game.
I’ll admit, I may not have expected to like Venom as much as I do, but he’s a lot of fun to play, at the same time challenging and enjoyable to paint, and somewhere out there an opponent’s going to field Spider-Man against me and I’m going to get to eat his brains. Hit up your preferred online retailer or FLGS for symbiotic goodness.