Venom (comics)

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This article is about the Marvel Comics fictional alien Symbiote and its succession of human hosts. For the most well known Venom hosts, see Eddie Brock, Mac Gargan, and Flash Thompson. For the DC Comics drug, see Venom (DC Comics)
Venom
Cover of Peter Parker: Spider-Man depicting The Venom Symbiote, appearing before Spider-Man. Cover art by John Romita Sr.
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance as "The Alien Costume": The Amazing Spider-Man #252 (May 1984)
Symbiote Origin Story: Secret Wars #8 (December 1984)
as Venom: The Amazing Spider-Man #299 (April 1988)
Created by Randy Schueller (original idea)
David Michelinie
Mike Zeck (alien costume design)
Todd McFarlane (Venom's appearance)
In-story information
Alter ego Peter Parker
Eddie Brock
Ann Weying
Patricia Robertson
Angelo Fortunato
Mac Gargan
Flash Thompson
Species Symbiote
Team affiliations Spider-Man
Notable aliases Spider-Man, The Black Suit, Alien Costume
Abilities Grants the host all the powers of its first known host, Spider-Man. Greatly enhances physical attributes of its current host. Superhuman strength, ability to change form, and ability of the Symbiote to fight and defend itself when either the host or it is in danger.
Limited shapeshifting, undetectable by Spider-Man's "spider-sense". It can also turn its host invisible through camouflage.

Venom, or the Venom Symbiote, is a fictional character appearing in books published by Marvel Comics, usually those featuring Spider-Man. The character is a Symbiote, a sentient alien, with a gooey, almost liquid-like form that requires a host, usually human, to bond with for its survival, as with real world symbiotes, and to whom it endows enhanced powers. When the Venom Symbiote bonds with a human, that new dual-life form refers to itself as Venom.

The Symbiote's first known host was Spider-Man, who eventually separated himself from the creature when he discovered its true nature. The Symbiote went on to merge with other hosts, most notably Eddie Brock, its second and most infamous host, with whom it first became Venom and one of Spider-Man's archenemies.[1] According to S.H.I.E.L.D., it is considered one of the greatest threats to humanity, alongside Magneto, Doctor Doom, and Red Skull.[2]

Comics journalist and historian Mike Conroy writes of the character: "What started out as a replacement costume for Spider-Man turned into one of the Marvel web-slinger's greatest nightmares."[3][4] Venom was ranked as the 22nd Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time in IGN's list of the top 100 comic villains,[5] and 33rd on Empire Magazine '​s 50 Greatest Comic Book Characters.[6]

Publication history

Conception and creation

The original idea of a new costume for Spider-Man that would later become the character Venom was conceived of by a Marvel Comics reader from Norridge, Illinois named Randy Schueller.[7] Marvel purchased the idea for $220.00 after the editor-in-chief at the time, Jim Shooter, sent Schueller a letter acknowledging Marvel's desire to acquire the idea from him, in 1982. Schueller's design was then modified by Mike Zeck, becoming the Symbiote costume.[8]

Shooter came up with the idea of switching Spider-Man to a black-and-white costume, possibly influenced by the intended costume design for the new Spider-Woman, with artists Mike Zeck and Rick Leonardi, as well as others, designing the black-and-white costume.[9] Writer/artist John Byrne states on his website that the idea for a costume made of self-healing biological material was one he originated when he was the artist on Iron Fist to explain how that character's costume was constantly being torn and then apparently repaired by the next issue, explaining that he ended up not using the idea on that title, but that Roger Stern later asked him if he could use the idea for Spider-Man's alien costume. Stern in turn plotted the issue in which the costume first appeared but then left the title. It was writer Tom DeFalco and artist Ron Frenz who had established that the costume was a sentient alien being and also that it was vulnerable to high sonic energy during their run on The Amazing Spider-Man that preceded Michelinie's.[10]

Hosts

Spider-Man

The Venom Symbiote bonds to Spider-Man in Secret Wars #8). Text by Jim Shooter. Pencils by Mike Zeck.

The symbiote first appeared in Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #8 (May 1984), in which writer Jim Shooter and artist Mike Zeck depicted the heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe transported to another planet called Battleworld by a being called the Beyonder. After Spider-Man's costume is ruined from battles with the villains, he is directed by Thor and the Hulk to a room at the heroes' base where they inform him a machine can read his thoughts and instantly fabricate any type of clothing. Choosing a machine he believes to be the correct one, Spider-Man causes a black sphere to appear before him, which spreads over his body, dissolving the tattered old costume and covering his body to form a new black and white costume. To Spider-Man's surprise, the costume can mimic street clothes and provides a seemingly inexhaustible and stronger supply of webbing.[11][12]

Writer Tom DeFalco and artist Ron Frenz subsequently established that the costume was a sentient alien symbiote and also that it was vulnerable to both flame and high sonic energy during their run on The Amazing Spider-Man. It was in that storyline that the costume would envelop Peter Parker while he slept, and go out at night to fight crime, leaving Parker inexplicably exhausted in the morning. Parker had the costume examined by Reed Richards, who discovered that it was alive, and when Parker realized it was trying to permanently bond to Parker's body, he rejects it, and it is contained by the Fantastic Four.[13][14] The Symbiote escapes[15] and attacks Parker, who uses the sound waves from a cathedral's church bell to repel it.[16]

Eddie Brock

Eddie Brock premieres as the first Venom in the final panel of The Amazing Spider-Man #299

David Michelinie would later write the backstory of Eddie Brock as the alien's new host that would become the villain Venom, using the events of Peter David's 1985 "Sin Eater" storyline in Spectacular Spider-Man as a basis for Brock's origin.[9] Venom's existence was first indicated in Web of Spider-Man #18 (Sept. 1986), when he shoved Peter Parker in front of a subway train without Parker's spider-sense warning him, though only Brock's hand was seen on-panel. The next indication of Venom's existence was in Web of Spider-Man #24 (March 1987), when Parker had climbed out of a high story window to change into Spider-Man, but found a black arm coming through the window and grabbing him, again without being warned by his spider-sense. Venom made his first full, unobscurred appearance on the last page of The Amazing Spider-Man #299 (April 1988), when he terrorized Parker's wife, Mary Jane Watson. Spider-Man would confront him in the following issue, when Brock reveals that he was a Daily Globe reporter who worked on the Sin-Eater case, and that his career was ruined when it was discovered that the man Brock announced as the Sin Eater was a compulsive confessor. Forced to eke out a living writing lurid stories for venomous tabloids, Brock blamed Spider-Man for his predicament. He took up bodybuilding to reduce stress. It failed to do so, and Brock and sank into a suicidal depression. Seeking solace at the church where Spider-Man repelled the symbiote, the symbiote, sensing Brock's hatred for Spider-Man, bonded with the disgraced reporter. Brock took on the name Venom in reference to the sensationalistic material he was forced to traffic in following his fall from grace.[17][18]

Over the years, as the Symbiote gained more intelligence and moved to additional human hosts, the name began to apply to the Symbiote as well as its hosts. As Venom, Brock fights Spider-Man many times, winning on several occasions. Venom repeatedly tries to kill Peter Parker/Spider-Man—both when the latter was in and out of costume. Thus Parker is forced to abandon his "black costume," which the Symbiote had been mimicking, after Venom confronts Parker's wife Mary Jane.[19]

Venom escapes from the supervillain prison, The Vault, to torment Spider-Man and his family.[20][21] The Symbiote is finally rendered comatose after being subdued by Styx's plague virus, and Eddie Brock is subsequently placed in Ryker's Island Prison.[22] When the Symbiote recovers and returns to free Brock, it leaves a spawn to bond with Brock's psychotic serial-killer cellmate Cletus Kasady, who becomes Carnage.[23] Meanwhile, Venom and Spider-Man fight on a deserted island, and Spider-Man strands Venom there after faking his own death.[24] Soon after, however, Spider-Man brings Venom back to New York in order to stop Carnage's killing spree.[25] After being incarcerated once again, Venom is used to create five new Symbiotes, which are all paired with human hosts.[26]

As well as helping Eddie Brock to seek continued revenge against Spider-Man, the Symbiote also aids Brock in a sporadic career as a vigilante. He and the Symbiote occasionally share a desire to protect innocent people from harm, even if it means working side-by-side with the hated Spider-Man. This is especially true when Venom combats the entity he believes to be his spawn, Carnage. When Spider-Man helps Venom save Brock's ex-wife Ann Weying, the two form a temporary truce, though this falls apart after Weying's suicide.[27][28]

The symbiote is temporarily stolen by U.S. Senator Steward Ward, who hopes to better understand his own alien infection by researching the symbiote before it returns to Brock.[29] Now, however, it dominates its host, Brock, rather than vice versa.[30] Eventually, Eddie Brock and the Symbiote go their separate ways as the Symbiote grows tired of having a diseased host and Eddie rejects its growing bloodlust, leading him to sell the Symbiote at a super villain auction.

The creature that would become Venom was born to a race of extraterrestrial symbiotes, which lived by possessing the bodies of other life-forms. The parasites would endow their victims with enhanced physical abilities, at the cost of fatally draining them of adrenaline.[volume & issue needed]

According to the 1995 "Planet of the Symbiotes" storyline, the Venom Symbiote was deemed insane by its own race after it was discovered that it desired to commit to its host rather than use it up. The Symbiote was then imprisoned on Battleworld to ensure it did not pollute the species' gene pool.[volume & issue needed]

Mac Gargan

Mac Gargan as the third host, and the second Venom

The Venom Symbiote approaches Mac Gargan, the villain formerly known as Scorpion, and offered him new abilities as the second Venom.[31] Gargan bonded with the creature, which would later give him an extra edge as part of Norman Osborn's Sinister Twelve.[32] As the Avengers dealt with the rest of the Twelve, Spider-Man swiftly defeated Gargan, even with these additional powers, which Spider-Man suggests is attributed to the fact that Mac Gargan does not hate Spider-Man as much as Eddie Brock did.[33] Gargan later became a member of a sub-group of the Thunderbolts,[34] which was drafted[35] by the Avengers to hunt down the members of the fugitive New Avengers. It was then revealed that he had been outfitted with electrical implants by the government to keep the Symbiote in check.[36] When in the Venom persona, Gargan retained very little of his original personality and was controlled almost completely by the Symbiote, which drove him to cannibalism. When the Symbiote was dormant in his body, he expressed nausea and fear of the organism.[37] During a fight with "Anti-Venom" (Eddie Brock), he and his Symbiote were separated, and the Venom Symbiote was nearly destroyed. Blobs of it still existed in his bloodstream, however, so Osborn injected Gargan with a vaccine for Anti-Venom's healing powers, which restored the Symbiote by causing the remaining pieces of it to expand rapidly. Gargan dons a Scorpion battle armor over the Symbiote while it heals, causing him to become what Spider-Man calls "Ven-orpion" although when the Symbiote is fully restored it shatters the armor.[volume & issue needed]

After ingesting a chemical given to him by Norman Osborn, Venom transforms into a more human appearance similar to the Black-Suited Spider-Man. Osborn introduces him as The Amazing Spider-Man, a member of the Dark Avengers, while unveiling the team.[38] After the Siege of Asgard, Gargan and most of the Dark Avengers were taken into custody. While being held on the Raft, the Venom Symbiote was forcefully removed from him, ending his career as Venom.[39]

Flash Thompson

Main article: Flash Thompson

On December 9, 2010, Marvel Comics announced a new "black ops" Venom owned by the government. The new Venom will be featured in a new series called Venom in March 2011. The birth of the new Venom can be seen in The Amazing Spider-Man #654.1 in February 2011.[40] On January 28, 2011, the identity of "black ops" Venom was revealed to be Flash Thompson.[41][42] Flash is hired by the government to be a special agent wearing the Venom symbiote. Flash is only allowed to wear the suit for up to 48 hours, or risk a permanent bonding with the symbiote. The Government is also equipped with a "kill switch" designed to take Flash out if he loses control. Along with the alien, Flash is equipped with a "Multi-Gun" designed to change into any type of gun Flash needs. Flash has battled Jack-o-Lantern, fought to stop Anti-Vibranium, and fought Kraven the Hunter in the Savage Land.[43]

Other hosts

Ann Weying

Ann Weying, the bride of Venom

Ann Weying first appears in The Amazing Spider-Man #375. She is Eddie Brock's ex-wife and a successful lawyer. Weying assists Spider-Man by sharing some of Brock's history. Later, she follows Spider-Man to the amusement park where Venom had Peter's (fake) parents. She confronts Brock and manages to convince him to end his feud. After Sin-Eater shoots Ann as part of a crusade against social injustice, Ann becomes She-Venom when the Venom Symbiote temporarily bonds with her to save her life. She-Venom lashes out against the men who had hurt her, and Brock becomes afraid for her (and of her) and compels the symbiote to return to him. Ann is left distraught at her actions while bonded. Later Ann is arrested on a false charge as part of a trap for Venom. She manages to warn Brock who sends the symbiote to her, allowing her to become She-Venom and escape custody. Some time later, Ann, traumatized by her experiences with Venom and the symbiote, commits suicide after seeing Spider-Man pass by her window in a black costume, believing it is Brock returning for her.[29]

Patricia Robertson

Main article: Venom (comic book)

The story follows U.S. Army communication specialist Patricia Robertson.[44] During a supply run to an Ararat Corporation owned outpost she discovers everyone at the installation dead except for one scientist. It is revealed that the Ararat Corporation is run by an alien colony of miniature spider robots led by an entity named Bob, that have infiltrated the American government. The Ararat Corporation has cloned Venom to facilitate the extermination of humanity, but the clone ravages its hosts. The clone is responsible for the death of the outpost crew.[45]

Robertson finds an ally in the Suit, a mysterious individual made of the same miniature robots as Bob, revealed to have been accidentally brought to Earth by Reed Richards.[46] The suit modifies Robertson while she is unconscious to allow her to control the clone if it bonds with her. The Suit sabotages Wolverine, the clones favored host, forcing it to bond with Robertson. One of Bob's agents convinces Robertston to kill the real Venom to save humanity, causing her to free the incarcerated Venom. She and Venom fight, but Venom escapes. Bob remotely deactivates the technology allowing Robertson to control the clone forcing her to rely on willpower. Later, Robertson and Venom again fight, and Venom absorbs the clone.[47] Venom decides to carry out the clone's mission given to it by the Ararat corporation. The series did not continue and the plot remained unresolved as of 2012.

Angelo Fortunato

Angelo Fortunato first appeared in Marvel Knights Spider-Man #7 and was killed in issue #8. Angelo is the son of Don Fortunato, a prominent Mafia capo. His frail physique and shy attitude leave Angelo frequently bullied and humiliated by his father. Don attends a supervillain auction and purchases the Venom symbiote from Brock for $100 million. Brock warns Angelo of the symbiote, but Angelo rebuffs that he has nothing to lose.[2] After bonding with the symbiote, Angelo discovers the secret identity of Spider-Man, and attempts to kill him to prove his worth. Spider-Man ultimately defeats Angelo and when he tries to escape, the symbiote abandons Angelo for his cowardice while he is leaping between buildings, leaving him to fall to his death.[48]

Angelo appears in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance as a Marvel Knights skin for Venom. In the Game Boy Advance version of Spider-Man 3, Eddie Brock dies in a similar manner to Fortunato, having the Symbiote abandon him in mid-fall.[citation needed]

Powers and abilities

Though it requires a living host in order to survive, the Venom Symbiote has been shown to be adept at fending for itself independent of a host. The Symbiote is capable of shapeshifting abilities, including the ability to form spikes or expand its size,[49] as well as mimic the appearance of other humanoids after it has obtained a host. The organism can additionally use its shape-shifting abilities to conceal itself by altering its coloration or by becoming completely invisible. It also contains a small "dimensional aperture," allowing its hosts to carry items without adding mass to the costume. The Symbiote also exhibits telepathic abilities, primarily when it needs to communicate with its host.[citation needed]

Because of its contact with Spider-Man, the Symbiote grants all of its subsequent hosts that hero's powers and cannot be detected by his spider-sense. As Spider-Man's fighting style is partly dependent on his spider-sense, his effectiveness was somewhat hampered when he battled Eddie Brock. Retaining its memory from the time it was bonded with Spider-man, Venom is also capable of producing webbing similar to Spider-man's own variety created from itself.[17]

Venom exhibits some immunities to the supernatural powers of others such as the Penance Stare of Ghost Rider or Spider-Man's extrasensory spider-sense. Some incarnations of the Venom Symbiote have shown it able to replicate itself. This ability is shown in the 2005-2006 miniseries Spider-Man: Reign, when Venom recreates his own Symbiote to combat his loneliness. This ability is also used by Venom in Spider-Man: Web of Shadows when he discovers the ability to copy his Symbiote and uses it to take over Manhattan.[citation needed]

The Venom Symbiote is vulnerable to fire and sonic waves, causing it great pain and exhaustion if it sustains enough exposure. It can sense and track all of its offspring symbiotes except Carnage—which learned how to block this ability shortly after bonding with Cletus Kasady and confronting Venom/Eddie Brock for the first time.[25]

Other versions

As a fictional character, Venom has appeared in a number of media, from comic books to films and television series. Each version of the work typically establishes its own continuity, and sometimes introduces parallel universes, to the point where distinct differences in the portrayal of the character can be identified. This article details various versions of Venom depicted in works including Marvel Comics' Ultimate universe and What If issues.

In other media

Television

Venom (Eddie Brock) in Spider-Man: The Animated Series standing before Dr. Ashley Kafka.
  • Venom appears in The Spectacular Spider-Man, with Spider-Man voiced by Josh Keaton and Eddie Brock voiced by Benjamin Diskin. In the episode "The Uncertainly Principle", the symbiote arrives on Earth by stowing away on the space shuttle. After being rejected by Spider-Man, it bonds with Eddie in the episode "Intervention", and is ultimately defeated in the episode "Nature vs. Nurture". Venom reappeared in the Season Two episodes "First Steps", "Growing Pains" and "Identity Crisis", where he attempts to expose Spider-Man's secret identity but his plans are foiled.
  • Venom appears in the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series, with Harry Osborn voiced by Matt Lanter and Goblin-Venom voiced by Steven Weber.[50] In the episode "Venom", Doctor Octopus creates the Venom symbiote from a sample of Spider-Man's blood. After it escapes from its creators, it temporarily fuses with a number of characters: Flash Thompson, Nova, Power Man, Iron Fist and finally Spider-Man.[51] Harry uses the organism in the episode "Back in Black" to dress in the Black Suit Spidey and attracts positive public attention. However, Harry gradually turns into Venom until Spider-Man electrifies the suit off Harry. In the episode "Venomous", the Venom symbiote takes control of Harry again but Spider-Man and the other heroes are able to free him thank to an Anti-Venom. Unfortunately, Venom reappears in the episode "Rise of the Goblin" with Harry still as its host. Harry manages to shake off the Venom suit via electricity, providing Green Goblin to take the suit and vowing to find someone more deserving. In the episode "Carnage", Green Goblin kidnaps and forcibly injects Peter Parker with the Goblin/Venom formula which transforms the boy into Carnage. When Carnage defeats Spider-Man's team and attempts to kill them, Harry stops Carnage then rebonds with the symbiote which reverts into its original Venom form. Venom finds and attacks Green Goblin, intending to kill his father. However, Peter manages to convince Harry to get rid of the symbiote to which S.H.I.E.L.D. manages to capture to ensure that it won't cause any more harm. In the episode "Venom Bomb", Green Goblin unleashes a small piece of the Venom symbiote that he kept with him that reunites with its other half. After breaking free of its containment, the Venom symbiote proceeds to bond itself with nearly everyone on the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier. Green Goblin later bonds with the Venom symbiote but maintains control over himself as Goblin-Venom. Spider-Man has a lengthily battle with Goblin-Venom but Doctor Octopus eventually creates another Anti-Venom that saves the S.H.I.E.L.D. personnel as well as separating the Venom symbiote from Green Goblin and also turned the host back to normal. Separated from its host, the Venom symbiote is presumably destroyed by Spider-Man in space. However, Doctor Octopus's Spider-Soldiers in the episode "Second Chance Hero" are an amalgam of Venom-like drones and OsCorp's armor technology. The Spider-Soldiers fight Iron Patriot and Spider-Man. While Spider-Man takes Harry away to safety, the Spider-Soldiers are destroyed by Iron Patriot. Flash's Agent Venom persona will appear during the third season.[52]
  • Venom appears in the Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. episode "The Venom Inside", voiced by Benjamin Diskin (Skaar), Eliza Dushku (She-Hulk), Clancy Brown (Red Hulk) and Fred Tatasciore (Hulk).[55] Doctor Octopus creates a new version of the symbiote that gradually assimilates Skaar, She-Hulk, Red Hulk and finally the Hulk to help dominate but also to destroy Spider-Man. However, the Hulks and Spider-Man eventually manage to defeat the Venom symbiote but it's unknown if the organism is still alive.

Film

  • Venom's first appearance in a motion picture was originally planned for a titular film written by David S. Goyer and produced by New Line Cinema, in which Venom would have been portrayed as an antihero and Carnage as the antagonist. By 2007, the film rights to Venom had reverted to Sony.[56]
  • The Eddie Brock version of Venom appears as an antagonist in the 2007 feature film Spider-Man 3, played by Topher Grace. In the film, the symbiote, after being rejected by Peter Parker, joins with Brock after the rival freelance photographer is exposed by Parker to have used a fake photograph, which ruins him publicly. Venom seeks an alliance with Sandman to kill Spider-Man, but is thwarted in his plans, and killed by one of the New Goblin's pumpkin bombs.
  • In July 2007, Avi Arad revealed a spin-off was in the planning stages.[57] In September 2008, Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese signed on to write,[58] while Gary Ross will direct.[59] Variety reported that Venom will become an anti-hero, and Marvel Entertainment will produce the film.[60] In March 2012, Chronicle director Josh Trank negotiated with Sony about his interest in directing the film.[61] In December 2013, Sony announced two spinoffs of the Amazing Spider-Man film series, which are Venom and Sinister Six with Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Ed Solomon writing and Kurtzman directing the film.[62] Kurtzman told Comic Book Resources that they are considering different incarnations of the character.[63]
  • Eddie Brock/Venom appears in "Truth in Journalism", a short film by producer Adi Shankar and director Joe Lynch, starring Ryan Kwanten as Brock. The film is described as "a darkly comic combination of 1980s era Spider-Man comics and the cult Belgian mockumentary Man Bites Dog".[64]

Video games

Venom is a playable character and boss character in a number of video games across several platforms.

Toys

  • Venom is included as a collectible figure from the board game Heroscape featured in a Marvel crossover set.

See also

References

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