Who is Venom, the Symbiotic Spider-Man?

Assassin: “What the hell are you!?
Eddie Brock: “We…” [The Symbiote envelops Eddie]
Venom: “…Are Venom.” – Venom (2018)

Venom (2018, Marvel)A gang of criminals runs for their lives as screams echo from the slower members. Bones crack. The screams stop. A malicious laugh fills the night air in an alley. The gangsters reach a safe house and barricade themselves inside.

Guns appear at the windows and doors as the gang members pray for salvation. None of them pay attention to the dark spot on the ceiling. They don’t see a slavering maw split into a smile. They hear laughter above them as a tendril wraps around a man and drags him to his doom. The remaining thugs open fire, missing their target, and shredding their friend.

Another tendril smashes the lights. Flashes of gunfire illuminate scenes of the gang being torn apart.  Something sticky ensnares the boss and drags him further into the darkness.  A flash of lightning reveals the monster Venom as he lunges at the boss.

Venom is one of Marvel’s scariest characters. A shape-shifting alien with all of Spider-Man’s powers and more. So who is Venom? How did he get to Earth? How did it become an anti-hero? Let’s find out.

Symbiosis: Venom’s Backstory

Spider-Man: “It’s the symbiote. It’s changing me. Taking over my life. I have to get it off.
Symbiote: [mentally] “Stop Pete, c’mon. You’re overreacting. The suit, the symbiote, it’s made life better and there’s no one else we need. Not MJ, not Gwen…
Spider-Man: “Not even Aunt May?! Those weren’t my thoughts!” – Spectacular Spider-Man, “Intervention” (Season 1, Episode 12)

Venom debuted in The Amazing Spider-Man #300 in 1988. He was created by Roger Stern, David Michelinie, and Todd McFarlane. Though Venom first appeared in 1988, his story truly began in 1984 with the event story Secret Wars.

Spider-Man’s costume was shredded during a war on an alien planet. His allies pointed him to a replicator that could create a replacement, but Spidey accidentally  released a black ooze. The ooze bonded to Spider-Man’s costume and repaired it, giving him several new abilities. He returned to Earth with this upgraded costume when the war ended.

Spider-Man enjoyed the suit’s new capabilities, but soon realized that it lowered his inhibitions and made him more aggressive. The suit even hijacked his body to attack criminals while he was asleep. Spidey brought a sample of the suit to Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four to figure out what was going on. They learned that the ooze was a symbiote, an alien that wanted to permanently bond to Spider-Man.

A desperate Spider-Man figured out that the symbiote was weakened by sonic vibrations. He traveled to a nearby church and used the church bell to remove the symbiote. The story would have ended there if Spider-Man and the symbiote had been alone…

Poisoned Pen: Venom’s History

Venom: “You may call me Venom, for that’s what I’m paid to spew out these days. I’m your victim, Spider-Man! The innocent you ruined!
Spider-Man: “But I still don’t know who-
Venom: [symbiote recedes] “Perhaps this will help!”
Spider-Man: [thinking] “Mask flowing from his face. He looks familiar. Like… [out loud] Eddie Brock!?” – Spider-Man #300

Eddie Brock was a journalist who seemingly hit the jackpot. A man claiming to be the infamous serial killer Sin Eater confessed to Eddie. He published an exposé about the Sin Eater, only for Spider-Man to catch the real killer soon after. Eddie had been tricked by a serial confessor.

Eddie’s mistake ruined his life. He was fired and could only get a job writing at tabloids. His father disowned him, his wife divorced him, and to top off the crap sundae, Eddie learned he had cancer. He decided to commit suicide and went to a church to pray for forgiveness.  While there, the symbiote infected him, giving him all of Spider-Man’s memories and powers.

The pair, united by their hatred of Spider-Man, decide to kill him and takes the name Venom. The unstoppable duo pushes Spider-Man to the limits, but are ultimately tricked into thinking they had killed him. Venom then leaves New York to find peace.

Maximum Carnage: Venom’s Modern Stories

Spider-Man: “You ensnared another human being?!
Venom: “Someone better suited to our gifts! And our goal: destroying you for rejecting us. From now on, we’re poison to Peter Parker and Spider-Man! We’re Venom!” – Spectacular Spider-Man “Nature vs Nurture” (Season 1, Episode 13)

Venom eventually learned Spider-Man was alive and returned to kill him. Fortunately, Spidey had planned for their return and created a sonic gun to stop them. The symbiote seemed to die and Eddie was arrested, but the symbiote recovered and returned to Eddie again becoming Venom.

When Venom escaped from the jail, a bud fell from the symbiote. It bonded with Eddie’s cellmate, a serial killer named Cletus Kasady. The psycho took the name Carnage and went on a rampage. A guilty Venom tracked down Spider-Man and offered a truce in exchange for his help in stopping Carnage. Together, they succeeded.

Venom tried assassinating Spidey many times, but finally made peace with the web-slinger after he saved Eddie’s ex-wife. Eddie/Venom moved to San Francisco and became an anti-hero. He has since swapped between being an anti-hero and a villain seemingly every other week.

Separation Anxiety: Venom’s Powers and Personality

Venom: “You know nothing about us, but we know everything about you. You’ll see us everywhere you go. Even in your nightmares.” – Spider-Man “The Alien Costume” (Season 1, Episode 10)

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Venom is terrifying.  He’s a nightmarish cross between Spider-Man and John Carpenter’s The Thing. Symbiotes can shapeshift, camouflage themselves, create tendrils and tentacles to attack enemies, enhance their host’s abilities, and give host’s the abilities and memories of previous hosts.

The Venom symbiote has all of the above and has copied Spider-Man’s powers. Venom can lift 50 tons, create organic webbing, wall crawl, move with superhuman agility, and even has his own Spider Sense. Venom does not register on Spider-Sense and is one of the only beings able to sneak up on Spider-Man.

For all of Venom’s power, he has some glaring weaknesses. Symbiotes are vulnerable to fire and sonic weaponry. They also feed on adrenaline and an organic chemical called phenethylamine that acts as a stimulant. The latter is found in chocolate… and human brains. Venom has to wolf down ridiculous amounts of chocolate or dine on literal brain food to stay sane and healthy.

Eddie Brock is a pious man who believes in helping others.  Even before he made peace with Spider-Man, he went out of his way to save children and those he considered innocent. The symbiote was driven mad when Spider-Man rejected it and still wants to kill him, which explains why Venom’s character alignment constantly shifts.

The Actors who play Venom

Venom made his screen debut in 1994’s Spider-Man with C.D. Barnes and Hank Azaria voicing him. Brian Drummond took the reins for Spider-Man Unlimited. Benjamin Diskin voiced Venom in Spectacular Spider-Man. Finally, Venom appeared in Ultimate Spider-Man with Matt Lanter providing the voice.

Venom made his film debut as the main antagonist of Spider-Man 3, with Topher Grace in the driver’s seat. There were plans to spin a Venom series out of the Maguire Spider-Man trilogy and the Amazing Spider-Man duology, but it never materialized.

Venom finally gets his self-titled spin off in October 2018. The Dark Knight Rises’ Tom Hardy will star as Eddie Brock with CGI playing Venom. The movie is aiming for a hard R rating and the script removes all references to Spider-Man. Looking at the rest of this article, I have no idea how they plan to make that work.

Didya get all that?

Spider-Man’s dark reflection.

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