I think it is fair to say that our little symbiote obsessed community has finally put itself on the map! Cullen Bunn has decided to take time out of his busy schedule to answer some of our questions about Venom! A big 'thank you' goes out to all of you who commented and provided questions for me to ask Cullen. There was a TON to choose from so obviously I couldn't ask them all. I tried to select topics that everyone was curious about. I hope I did a decent job as the voice for this community. And now, TVS's exclusive interview with Venom writer, Cullen Bunn:
TVS: First off, thank you for taking the time to answer some questions from our little community. You hit the nail on the head when you said in Venom 23 'you freaks love your symbiotes.' Were you a familiar with Venom before you came on board this series? What drew you to take over the title from Rick Remender?
Bunn: Thank you for talking to me! I was absolutely familiar with Venom, from the earliest days of the symbiote’s first appearance. I remember it like it was yesterday… my friend Aric bringing his copy of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 252 to school. We were at an assembly… sitting on the bleachers… and he pulled this book out of his backpack. Immediately, I was drawn to that image of “the new Spider-Man!” Back then, I was buying most of my comic books at convenience stores and flea markets, but I did everything I could to track down Spider-Man issues featuring the symbiote. I loved the mystery of it all… and I loved how they built such a big concept all from the simple idea of “Spidey gets a new suit.” I followed Venom storylines here and there through the years, but I wasn’t a die-hard collector (not like you freaks). I knew who Venom was, of course. I knew who he was. When Marvel announced the new Venom series, I was immediately intrigued by the concept art and the notion of Venom as a “secret agent,” so I started reading the new series when it came out… and I loved it. When Stephen Whacker (whom I’d met at a convention or two) called me and asked if I’d be interested in taking over the series, I was thrilled. Here was my chance to put my own spin on a character I was genuinely excited about.
TVS: It seems like after working with Rick Remender on The Savage Six, utilizing The Circle of Four elements in Monsters of Evil, and now finishing the preplanned Minimum Carnage crossover, you are finally able to take the reigns and tell your own Venom stories. What can we expect from our favorite symbiote and its host in 2013?
Bunn: With issue 27.1 I start to look toward forging new ground and leaving my “footprint” on Venom. I’ll be introducing a number of new supporting characters, giving Flash a new job, redefining the Flash/symbiote relationship, etc. I don’t think it’s a secret that Toxin is coming back soon (like issue… uh… 30 soon) but I’ve been keeping how he will be portrayed pretty quiet, because it’s a new beginning for that character as well. I will be weaving back into the Descent storyline and eventually bringing that to a close, but it’s not going to happen immediately. You might see a certain master of crime show back up, but—again—my plan is to take my time getting there. And, yes, I’ve started putting together ideas for the “spawning” that has been teased forever, but that’s the kind of story I think I should definitely take my time with if at all possible. I know it’s been teased forever, but we’ll have to wait a while longer. And I’ll be introducing a new group of villains called (at least in my mind) the Symbiote Slayers. They’ll be appearing sooner rather than later.
TVS: With his departure from the Secret Avengers and Project Rebirth abandoned will there be any more sedating the symbiote or will Flash have to coexist with the alien at full strength?
Bunn:I was working on the “Toxic” arc recently, and I realized I had no idea where Rick Remender planned on leaving the symbiote sedation after the end of SECRET AVENGERS! So… I gave him a yell to see how the end of that book might play into what I was doing. I’m not going to spoil how the Avengers book ends, but I will say that the control of the symbiote will be completely in Flash’s hands… and it’s something he’s going to struggle with. There have been more than a few times now that the symbiote has instinctively saved Flash’s bacon. He’s beginning to wonder if he should treat the symbiote less like a “suit” and more like a partner.
TVS: How will Venom's membership with The Thunderbolts affect your series?
Bunn: I don’t think it will impact what I’m planning too much. Daniel Way and I are in contact, making sure we’re coordinating our stories so that everything meshes cleanly. I think most of the “big” Venom moments will occur in the solo book, but I’m really thrilled by what Daniel has planned. There’s always the possibility of a crossover, of course, but we’ll see.
TVS: Finally, before we head into some fan questions, I have to ask about Eddie Brock. Solicitations for next year hint that Toxin will be back. The last time we saw Brock he went from Anti-Venom, to symbiote hunter, to Toxin all in a few months. Any information you can share about Mr. Brock's future in Venom?
Bunn: I think fans of Eddie Brock will be really happy once the “Toxic” arc rolls around. Brock will definitely be returning, and I think he’ll be seen as a very important presence as the series moves forward. My hope is to establish his identity as Toxin and make him a big part of the supporting cast. As you said, he’s gone through so many rapid-fire changes. I’d like to give Eddie some stability.
And now some questions from the fans!
Shockdingo: In the past we saw the emotional connection between the symbiote and Brock, and even at times Kasady and his symbiote. With recent developments for Flash, in the future, is it possible to give the symbiote more of a literary "voice" and see more of a connection between host and symbiote? Thank you.
Bunn: The relationship between Flash and the symbiote will be very important in the series. Flash is feeling pretty alone now, and the symbiote might be his only real friend. How he sees the symbiote… how he interacts with it… will change quite a bit. As for the “voice” of the symbiote, it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot. I do have some thoughts on how this will be portrayed. It might be different from what folks are expecting, but I hope they like it nonetheless.
WolfCypher: Do you feel that characters being shared by multiple writers makes consistency difficult? With Venom in your book, Secret Avengers, and soon Thunderbolts, are you afraid that the this same character will feel like he's being portrayed in three completely different styles, or that the way he's being used in other stories contradict his character in your book?
Bunn: That’s always a risk and a problem in big shared universes. And I don’t want to be a slave to continuity, but I think readers want to feel like these characters exist in the same world from book to book. The portrayal of Hellstrom, for instance, drives me nuts. I’ve established him as a villain and thrown him in prison, but he’s still running around in several other books. Sometimes, that can be explained as “the events in this issue occurred before Cullen was a jerk and made Hellstrom a big meanie,” but not always. And I feel like it’s my responsibility to make those disparate elements work together. Actually, that can sometimes present a fun challenge and open up some interesting doors. I can say that Rick and Daniel have always been interested in making the different books work together story-wise. We try to stay in touch and understand what we’re all working on. Of course, there will be minor differences in how the character is portrayed, but I think we’re doing our best to keep it together.
Mateia Andrei: will your stories on Venom focus more on magic and supernatural phenomenons or fictional technology?
Bunn: My hope is that I can show the versatility of the Venom character by putting him in a number of different genres. While the first arc was supernatural, the next arc was a science fantasy story. My next 3-issue arc is more of a straight forward super hero story. The upcoming “Toxic” arc is… I dunno… more of a street level story with some horror elements. So… the simple answer is “Yes, to all of the above.” There will be more supernatural arcs, more super-heroics, more crime stories, more horror stories… For as long as they let me write the book, I see switching things up fairly regularly. But my goal is to build connective tissue with recurring themes, returning villains, relationships between characters, the primary cast (being Flash and the symbiote), and the supporting characters I’m introducing.
KorkyJohnson: W/O knowing how Secret Avengers ends, does the relationship between Valkyrie and Flash end w/ the new Fearless Defenders series? Also, since you're the writer of both books, could you see any foreseeable crossovers between the two?
Bunn: The relationship between Valkyrie and Flash does not end with the end of Secret Avengers and the beginning of Fearless Defenders. In fact, you’ll see Valkyrie in Venom issues 28 – 30. The relationship may change over time (as all relationships do) but it will always be there in one form or another. For various reasons, I think it is far too important to be simply forgotten. I don’t have a crossover planned necessarily, but I already have a few Venom issues planned that will feature Valkyrie, and I came up with some fun ways to include Venom in the Fearless Defenders.
Yakscamelsandmules: Why do you think Venom is such an enduring character?
Bunn: I think the versatility and unpredictability of the character plays a big role in his popularity. Hell, you never know when the symbiote is going to be saddled with a new host, spawn some new offspring, or go berserk. Even after all these years, there’s still a lot of mystery about Venom, and that can fuel a lot of interesting stories and spark a reader’s imagination.
Thanks so much for talking with me, folks! Let’s do this again sometime!
Once again, thank you Cullen for stopping by TVS. I think it says a lot about a writer who listens and interacts with fans. So what did you guys think? Did these answers make you excited for what is to come in 2013? I know I'm pumped!
Also, the sneak peek (pictured on the top left) is a Declan Shavely panel from an upcoming issue that he Tweeted yesterday.