I mentioned that I’ve picked up quite a few versions of Venom over the years, but not all of them are the classic Venom. Like I said, the Venom symbiote gets around a lot in the Marvel Universe. After it abandoned Eddie Brock when he got cancer (gee, maybe the symbiotes are somehow biologically related to Newt Gingrich), it floated around the Marvel Universe for a while. It was bonded with a mob boss’s loser son for a while, it bonded with Mac Gargan (another Spider-Man villain known as the Scorpion and man did the symbiote look ridiculous with a scorpion tail), but then the government got their hands on it after Norman Osborn’s Thunderbolts team (with Gargan-Venom) self-destructed fabulously. The military decided it was time to resurrect the super-soldier program and found a way to drug and control the Venom symbiote. The symbiote was then given to Flash Thompson (Peter Parker’s high school nemesis turned adult friend). Thompson had joined the military (though how he did that I’ve never been quite sure—the last Thompson story I remember before he showed up fine was one where Norman Osborn got him drunk, forced him to crash a truck into the school Peter was teaching at and resulted him being left in a permanent vegetative state, but hey, who cares about continuity when it’s a bad story with god-awful art by Humberto Ramos) and then lost his legs. The symbiote gave Thompson the ability to walk again and he became Agent Venom. His tenure as a superhero hasn’t been great, but he’s definitely a popular enough character to warrant some attention from the Marvel Legends line. Like Black ANT (who he served with on a Secret Avengers team), Agent Venom was a Walgreens exclusive, in fact the first Marvel Legends to be released that way. He’s an excellent representation of a so-far underutilized Marvel character and I really do like having him in my collection.
Flash Thompson was always a pretty big guy. After all, he played high school and collegiate football for a long time and even after he lost his legs while serving in the military, he made sure to stay in shape. Agent Venom uses the same molds as the Marvel Legends Bucky Captain America Hasbro did after they revamped the line a few years ago. However, Agent Venom gets a lot of add on parts to separate him from the first super soldier. The lower legs and lower arms are new pieces to reproduce the symbiote armor that he had plus there’s a piece to cover his torso to further distance the look from Bucky Cap and recreate the symbiotic flak vest Agent Venom wore. The great thing about dealing with the symbiotes is that it allows artists a great deal of freedom in their design. Since Flash Thompson was a former soldier, it makes sense that the symbiote would manifest itself in a very military fashion. There’s a lot of detail packed into these pieces and it really helps make the character look like he stepped off the page. Bucky Cap is a great base for Agent Venom because it’s a very poseable mold, though I’m personally not a fan of the balljoint and swivel hips. I’ve just always found them to be a bit more awkward to move than a standard action figure hip joint. As it stands, Agent Venom has joints at the ankles, knees, hips, waist, abs (though that joint is restricted quite a bit by his chest armor), shoulders, elbows, wrists and neck. Up top, Agent Venom also has a new head sculpt. Truthfully, Hasbro probably could have just used a Spider-Man head and called it good. The head looks like Spider-Man’s in the comic so they could have just done it here. The eyes on the mask are a raised element and it adds some nice depth to the figure’s face. This is a very military-styled figure and I love that about Agent Venom’s overall design. There are just enough elements to make him look like an alien (like the crab-like armor on his shins and shoulders) but he doesn’t look that much different than an independent military operator. The original character designers should be credited for that and Hasbro should get some credit for translating that look so well to action figure form.
Because Agent Venom is still using the Venom symbiote, that means he’s got a pretty restricted color scheme. Venom always uses black and white, so that’s what Agent Venom does, too. The figure is black from head to toe with white used for the detailing. There are white stripes on his thighs, though it is missing on his left hip. It seems to be missing on just about every sample of Agent Venom I’ve seen personally and on the ones I’ve seen in reviews. However, I don’t think it’s necessarily an error, but rather due to the fact that the belt hangs low enough on that side of the figure’s body that it doesn’t really matter if it’s not there. Agent Venom has the same large white spider on his chest, though it is a bit more jagged and stylized than even the original Venom had. The paint coverage can be a little weak on the chest and there can be some bleed through, but it’s still solid. White is also used on the shoulder armor, and that’s a detail that varies from artist to artist. Finally, the outside of Agent Venom’s eyes are outlined in white. This can be a hard area to work with but the paint team did it well. I never rejected an Agent Venom for bad paint work around the eyes. I passed on a few because of some slightly stronger black bleed through on the chest piece, but paint is generally not an issue for this figure. Working only in black and white can be a bit difficult because stray paint marks will show up very easily. Thankfully, Hasbro made sure their paint team brought their a-game on this figure. The paint work is exceedingly sharp and it make Agent Venom look even better.
I’ve mentioned before than the Marvel Legends line doesn’t generally do a lot with accessories, however, Agent Venom bucks that trend. I honestly wonder if he was slated for a mass market release and got cut from a different wave somewhere along the line just because of all the extra stuff he has. Retailer exclusives generally don’t come better equipped than mass market releases, but Agent Venom is one of the most accessorized Marvel Legends figures I own. Since Agent Venom is a soldier, it makes sense for him to come with quite an impressive arsenal. Agent Venom has three pistols (two of one design and a third with its own look) and a small submachine gun. This is perfectly in line with how Agent Venom operated in the comics. Yes, he had superpowers, but he didn’t rely on them exclusively in the field. Where Agent Venom goes from good to great is that he also has a backpack that can plug into him with four tentacles. Agent Venom can hold the guns either in his hands or the tentacles. When a mission went bad, Agent Venom would use those tentacles just like this, grabbing as many guns that were lying around as he could and really cutting loose with them. Not all the tentacles hold the guns well, but he can still carry all four of his weapons at the same time, and I love when an action figure can carry all his accessories on him so I don’t have to worry about them falling off my desk and disappearing. While Marvel Legends may not be well-known for accessorizing their figures, when they do, they always do an excellent job and Agent Venom is a perfect example of that.
Much like Black ANT, Agent Venom is a fairly recent addition to the Marvel Universe and hasn’t done a whole lot yet. He had his own series that lasted for about 50 issues, which isn’t anything to be sneezed at. However, he’s still not that well known. He did some things during the slightly-too-long Spider-Island crossover event and he’s recently joined up with the Guardians of the Galaxy. That really raised his profile and now he’s got his own series Venom: Space Knight, where he’s finally gained full control of his symbiote after a visit to its species homeworld (this is where we finally learned the symbiote’s species). It will be interesting to see how Venom does as a space knight, but I’m still a big fan of the Agent Venom look and I think it’s impressive at how much attention this look got from Hasbro since retailer exclusives generally don’t get a lot of new parts because they’re, at their core, cost-saving figures. Marvel Select apparently made an Agent Venom, but it was a Disney Store exclusive and therefore is exceedingly hard to get on the secondary market. You’ll have a much easier time finding this version of Agent Venom and I think that’s good enough. At least at Walgreens, he’s much closer to a mass market release and he’s a nice addition to my collection. While I didn’t intend to get so many different versions of Venom, it’s kind of interesting watching the character evolve and change each time it gets a new host.