Who Is Venom? A Look At The Villains In The Spider-Verse - Comic Years
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Who Is Venom? A Look At The Villains In The Spider-Verse

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BY December 20, 2021

The mid-credit scene of Venom: Let There Be Carnage shocked audiences. Spider-Man – the MCU Spider-Man – appeared on a TV screen in front of Venom. Of course, with that came a LOT of speculation. Will Venom be the final member of the Sinister Six in No Way Home? Or will Venom feature in the next Spider-Man trilogy? No Way Home answers at least one of these questions. But here’s another one? Who is – excuse me – who are Venom?

Real Name: Eddie Brock plus various other hosts.
First Appearance as Symbiote: The Amazing Spider-Man #252, May 1984
First Appearance as Eddie Brock: The Amazing Spider-Man #299, April 1988
Created by: Todd McFarlane, David Michelinie, and Mike Zeck

Venom is Not Eddie Brock, but Without a Host, Who is this Goo Monster from Space?

Who is Eddie Brock Looks cozy. (Image: Marvel Comics)

Long before the symbiote known as Venom bonded with Spider-Man, they were part of a hive mind and living planet, Klyntar. But Knlyntar isn’t a living planet the way Ego is. Instead, it’s made of trillions of symbiotes (also called the Klyntar) rolled into a ball. But who did the rolling? The would be Knull, the god of the symbiotes. He also has the honor of being the first living entity in the 616 universe. For eons, he just drifted along in the darkness, minding his own business, until someone turned on the light and ruined his slumber. The celestials have arrived from the previous universe and were going to turn Knull’s bachelor void into a place filled with life and, even worse, light.

Knull tried to snuff out the light, creating the symbiotes from pure darkness to bond with the new living being, and turn them back to the darkness. He battled the Celestials, but in the process, the symbiotes broke free and took Knull deep into Klyntar, where they locked him up for a few billion millennia. In fact, Klyntar means “cage.”

So, who is Knull to Venom? Part god, part grandpa. Like Middle-Earth’s Eru Ilúvatar, but evil. Read Donny Cate’s epic King in Black if you want to see how it all turns out.

Who Gave Venom Spider-Man’s Powers? Spider-Man!

marvel super heroes secret wars (Image: Marvel Comics)

One of Marvel’s biggest events was the original Secret Wars. Heroes and villains were all sent to a planet to fight each other. That’s essentially all there is to it. But from the pages of Jim Shooter’s story, we got Spider-Man’s black costume. The Symbiote enhances Peter’s powers, giving him a limitless supply of webbing too. Interesting publication note, though: Spider-Man was already wearing the costume in the comics months before Secret Wars #8 explained where it came from.

So, that explains how Venom got Spider-Man’s powers, but who was responsible for breaking the poor symbiote’s mind? That is none other than Deadpool. Revealed in the mini-series Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars, just before Spider-Man gets the symbiote, Deadpool tries it on – and immediately rejects it:

Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars (Image: Marvel Comics)

Yep. Deadpool wore the Venom symbiote for all of five minutes, and it was enough to drive them insane.

Who is Eddie Brock, the Longest Running Venom Host?

Much like Tom Hardy’s portrayal in Venom, Eddie Brock, in the comics, is also a disgraced journalist, though he screws up much worse in the comics. Believing he discovered the identity of Sin-Eater, he publishes an entire expose…only to find out the man confessing was mentally unstable and chronically “confessed” to crimes he didn’t commit. Instead, Spider-Man uncovers Sin-Eater’s identity. This makes Eddie go off the deep end in rage. He blames Spider-Man for his life going off the rails and starts bodybuilding. At first, it was a way to process his anger, but eventually, it fueled him.

Who is Venom? Deadpool, Klyntar? Symbiotes, Spider-Man, Eddie Brock, Marc Gargan, Flash Thompson, David Michilinie, Todd McFarlane, Marvel Comics, Spider-Man: No Way Home, Carnage, Lethal Protector, Anti-Venom, Agent Venom, Donny Cates, Rick Remender (Image: Marvel Comics)

However, along with his rage, his depression also got worse. Eventually, Eddie went to Our Lady of Saints Church to end his life. But instead of dying, Eddie met the toxic love of his life. Eddie’s church so happened to be the same one where Spider-Man separated from the symbiote. For a while, the symbiote lived in the rafters until he saw Eddie. Both had a strong hatred for Peter Parker, and through that shared animosity, they became Venom.

Other Hosts for the Venom Symbiote in Marvel Comics

Who is Venom? Deadpool, Klyntar? Symbiotes, Spider-Man, Eddie Brock, Marc Gargan, Flash Thompson, David Michilinie, Todd McFarlane, Marvel Comics, Spider-Man: No Way Home, Carnage, Lethal Protector, Anti-Venom, Agent Venom, Donny Cates, Rick Remender As Beast would say: oh my stars and garters! (Image: Marvel Comics)

Eddie Brock isn’t the only person to wear the Venom symbiote. In fact, comic geeks debate if he is even the best version of Venom. So, let’s take a look at the many hosts of Venom. Actually, we’re going to skip a few. Sorry, Angelo Fortunato and Patricia Robertson, you’re just not that interesting. Neither are you, Lee Price. We’re also going to skip the many heroes and villains who wore the suit, launching an entire line of “Venomized” Funko Pops (I have one or two…or twelve).

Here is a rundown of the various Marvel characters that looked awesomely marketable: Scarlet Spider, Wolverine, Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers), Red Hulk, US Agent, Deadpool (like we said), Groot, Rocket, Drax, Old Man Logan, Devil Dinosaur, Black Cat, Hammerhead, Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew), Hulk, Thor, Punisher, Spider-Girl, Human Torch, Mary Jane, Captain America, Kingpin, Hawkeye (Clint Barton), Norman Osborn, The Sentry, X-23, Gwenpool, Ghost Rider (Robbie Reyes), Doctor Doom, Black Panther, Ant-Man, Winter Soldier, Vision, and Galactus. Okay, Galactus didn’t actually wear the suit. It was one of Mysterio’s illusions. But look at how awesome that illusion turned out!

Now, the two most infamous besides Eddie Brock.

Mac Gargan – AKA The Scorpion – As Venom

Who is Venom? Deadpool, Klyntar? Symbiotes, Spider-Man, Eddie Brock, Marc Gargan, Flash Thompson, David Michilinie, Todd McFarlane, Marvel Comics, Spider-Man: No Way Home, Carnage, Lethal Protector, Anti-Venom, Agent Venom, Donny Cates, Rick Remender (Image: Marvel Comics)

Forget “Who is Venom.” This is more “who should have never been allowed to be Venom for more than ten minutes.” You know, after eating a head or two, somebody would have shut that down real fast. We left Scorpion off the list above because his stint as Venom lasted quite a while. He was part of Norman Osborne’s Thunderbolts. And when Osborne took over SHIELD in Dark Reign, he posed as Spider-Man on the Dark Avengers, but generally, Spider-Man doesn’t eat people. As Venom, Gargan made Eddie Brock look like a saint even at his worst. Unlike Brock, Gargan had zero impulse control. When he registered as a superhero during Civil War, SHIELD fitted him with implants that would shock him if he tried to eat anyone. At one point, while Morgana le Fay possesses him, Gargan ate Ares.

He ate a god. Well, he coughed him up later, but still impressive.

When Norman Osborne’s reign finally ended, the Venom symbiote was ripped away from him. The fact that SHIELD or anyone else even let Gargan be Venom shows just how lax their morals are. Gargan eventually resumed his Scorpion identity, but his time with Venom had a lasting impact, mostly on the psyche of the symbiote. Venom was already a dangerous alien, but Gargan is the one who made him a monster.

When Spider-Man’s Bully Flash Thompson Became Agent Venom

Who is Venom? Deadpool, Klyntar? Symbiotes, Spider-Man, Eddie Brock, Marc Gargan, Flash Thompson, David Michilinie, Todd McFarlane, Marvel Comics, Spider-Man: No Way Home, Carnage, Lethal Protector, Anti-Venom, Agent Venom, Donny Cates, Rick Remender (Image: Marvel Comics)

Ask any comic reader who their favorite Venom is, and they’ll struggle to choose between Eddie Brock and Flash Thompson. Flash is mostly known as the jock who bullied Peter Parker throughout high school. But, ironically, he also hero-worshiped Spider-Man. Flash eventually stopped being a dick to everyone, joined the military, and went to protect America. But on the battlefield, he lost both his legs from the knees down. Yet his hero days are just about to take off.

After SHIELD finally removed Venom from Mac Gargan, they found a way to exert some control over the symbiote. Venom is a powerful weapon, but the person who bonded with the suit had to have a strong will and a stronger sense of heroism. That person was Flash Thompson. It took maybe two issues for readers to go “Eddie Who?” and declare Flash the best Venom. What worked so well was how Flash influenced the suit instead of the suit influencing Flash. At first, the symbiote fought Flash’s control, but they grew to admire him over time and realized that they could be a real hero. The personality used for Tom Hardy’s Venom comes from this. Venom became kind of adorable as he tried to make Flash proud.

Yet, though Flash lost the symbiote (they eventually went back to Eddie), Marvel found another way to have their new fan-favorite character: Agent Anti-Venom. Anti-Venom has a strange background. It’s the combination of part of the Venom symbiote left in Eddie Brock and the Lightforce powers of Mister Negative. But, more importantly, it can hurt real Klyntarians on touch. Either way, it’s good to see Flash in action again.

Six Sinister Stories That Show Us Who Venom Is – Or Is It “Are”?

Who is Venom? Deadpool, Klyntar? Symbiotes, Spider-Man, Eddie Brock, Marc Gargan, Flash Thompson, David Michilinie, Todd McFarlane, Marvel Comics, Spider-Man: No Way Home, Carnage, Lethal Protector, Anti-Venom, Agent Venom, Donny Cates, Rick Remender (Image: Marvel Comics)

Venom is one of the hardest characters to pick just six stories for. But for the first two, we’re going to cheat. Instead of two stories, we’ll just say this: read Donny Cates’ and Rick Remender’s entire runs. Cates takes Eddie Brock and Venom to depths the character(s) has never seen. Starting with Venom: Rex and ending with King in Black, Cates brings us Knull, a cult that worships Carnage, Eddie Brock’s unknown son, and more. It’s the boldest direction a writer has taken Venom in years.

Rick Remender gave us Agent Venom, but don’t skip Remender’s Secret Avengers, since Flash is part of that team as well. While Cates’ story gets pretty dark, Remender’s is downright harrowing. It will take an emotional toll on you. Now, for the other four stories.

Venom: Lethal Protector, When Venom Became a Hero. Kind of.

Who is Venom (Image: Marvel Comics)

After years of terrorizing New York City, Eddie Brock moves out to San Francisco to attempt heroism. But, of course, both Eddie and the symbiote aren’t heroic themselves (not yet, at least). It seems that David Michelinie’s main goal was to write the first crazy AF Venom series ever. This story gave us a whole new lineup of symbiotes, including Riot, Phage, Lasher, and our first two women to wear a symbiote, Scream, and Agony. The series also manages to include one of the best Venom/Spider-Man team-ups and one of their best battles. If Cates and Remender are getting a little too dark for you, this is a fun one.

Spider-Man: Carnage, Featuring Venom and Spider-Man’s First Team Up

Spiderman carnage (Image: Marvel Comics)

For a while, Venom was as terrifying as it gets. But then came Carnage, the symbiote bonded to a homicidal maniac. This was not a villain Spider-Man or Venom could defeat alone, so for the first time, they teamed up. But their chemistry/animosity was pure magic. After all, Eddie knows Peter quite well thanks to the symbiote, so he knows what buttons to push. That dynamic gave us this amazing moment, as Venom sings “Strangers in the Night” while he and Spider-Man look for Carnage:

 Todd McFarlane Venom (Image: Marvel Comics)

Spider-Man: The Hunger, Which Made Venom Terrifying Again

Who is Deadpool (Image: Marvel Comics)

Like many popular characters, Venom hit a slump, especially in the late nineties, early aughts. But then came Spectacular Spider-Man Vol 2 #1, and the storyline that would forever change the course of Eddie Brock and Venom. Eddie discovers two things that nearly destroy him, but also bring him back to the dark side. First, he has cancer, and the only reason he was alive was that the symbiote constantly healed him. Without Venom, Eddie Brock would have died long ago. But then the next blow. The symbiote wanted to bond with Peter Parker again. Paul Jenkins and Humberto Ramos made Venom a much more complex character in The Hunger, and every story since stems from this arc.

Spider-Man: New Ways to Die Showed Who Needed Whom More, the Man or the Symbiote?

Who is Symbiotes (Image: Marvel Comics)

We could talk about the introduction of Anti-Venom, and Eddie as its first host. Or how Norman Osborn returned as the Green Goblin. Or how Spider-Man had to break Bullseye out of prison. But instead, we’ll just say this: Eddie Brock versus Mac Gargan, in all their symbiote glory. It’s ridiculously epic.

Spider-Man: No Way Home releases in US theaters on December 16, 2021. 

However, as we said before, there are many great Venom stories. What would you add to the list?

(Featured Image: Marvel Comics)

COMICSMarvel

Roman Colombo finished his MFA in 2010 and now teaches writing and graphic novel literature at various Philadelphia colleges. His first novel, Trading Saints for Sinners, was published in 2014. He's currently working on his next novel and hoping to find an agent soon.

Anti-VenomCarnageDavid MichelinieDonny CatesEddie BrockFlash ThompsonKing in BlackRick RemenderScorpionSpider-ManSpider-Man: No Way HomeTodd McFarlaneVenomVenom: Let There Be Carnage

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