Since the alphabet is the building block of our language, the Powet Alphabet is the building block of what makes us geeks.
Rocky Balboa has Apollo Creed. Superman has Lex Luthor. Wolverine has Sabertooth. Batman has the Joker. 50 Cent has Ja Rule. Tupac Shakur has Biggie Smalls. Barack Obama has Sarah Palin.
If popular media has taught us anything, it’s that every hero worth their salt has an equal, but opposite adversary to fight, and so it was for Spider-man. A simple mistake made sometime ago would come back to bite him in the ass in a major way. Not only would this mistake spawn one of the greatest Spider-man villains ever, it would lead to the emergence of a second, along with even more extraterrestrial nightmares.
Spider-man was one of the many heroes whisked away by the Beyonder to the Secret Wars planet, Battleworld. During one of the many battles, Spidey’s costume is ripped to shreds. Thankfully, he is directed to a facility which houses a machine which can be used to repair costumes. However, while he was told where he could find the machine, he wasn’t told what the machine looked like. Thus he walked up to what he thought was the machine, and out popped a little black ball of goo. It covered his body giving him a new black look with a new white insignia. Figuring it was good enough for him, Spidey kept it, even after his return to earth, thereby creating one of the most significant costume changes for a character. Soon however, strange things started happening. He would become more violent, and the suit would even take control his body as he slept. Before long, he would learn about the costume’s true nature: it was in fact a sentient alien being who wanted to permanently bond with him and take over his body. With the help of Mr. Fantastic and the Human Torch, he was able to rid himself of this menace. However, this would not be the last Spidey would see of the alien.
Before we go any further, we should take a look at what these aliens are. Although their history has never been fully established, it was said that the Venom symbiote came from a race of alien beings that fed off emotions, draining their hosts dry in the process. They produce asexually, and their offspring retain the traits and memories of their parents. Galactus had once destroyed a planet that was either the symbiote homeworld, or a world the symbiotes took over, an incident which was written into the genetic memory of every symbiote offspring (this is why the Carnage symbiote takes off after the Silver Surfer when he encounters him, temporally possessing the Surfer). The symbiote that would become Venom didn’t want to bond with it’s victims just to drain them, but to create permanent links with its hosts. It was deemed a freak by the rest of the race, and imprisoned on Battleworld. The machine that Spidey thought would fix his clothing was actually the symbiote’s containment capsule. Their weaknesses are extreme heat and noise, although this is said to be reduced by each generation. It had the ability to negate (not cure) any physical damage caused by injury or illness, such as Eddie Brock’s cancer and Flash Thompson’s legs. It could also project thoughts and desires into the mind of its host.
Back to our story. While the symbiote has been rejected, it isn’t long before it finds someone else who has a beef with Spidey: Eddie Brock. Eddie Brock was an investigative journalist who had conducted a series of interviews with a man claiming to be the serial killer known as the Sin-Eater. However, when Spider-man had captured the actual Sin-Eater, it was discovered that Brock was only interviewing a nutcase who only thought he was the Sin-Eater rather than the nutcase who actually was the Sin Eater, causing him to be disgraced in the world of journalism. Like many other Spider-foes, Brock blamed Spidey for his misfortune. Actually it wasn’t Spidey’s fault, as he should have checked his sources before conducting the interviews, and really, if a guy tells you he’s a serial killer, why would you not turn him into police? Are you that desperate or are you that stupid? Years later, it would be discovered that Brock had cancer. It had already took his father, and doctors only gave him a few months to live (obviously being bonded to an alien symbiote extended this significantly). This put a whole new spin on his grudge with Spidey, as he saw held him responsible for stealing his one last shot at fame. Of course it’s still Eddie’s own fault though. Brock’s misfortunes eventually had him considering suicide. Instead he made his way to a church where he prayed for an answer. The answer would come not from god, but from a demon. An oozing black demon. With that, Venom was born.
Venom was the perfect combination: Eddie Brock who had (in his mind at least) been disgraced by Spider-Man and the Symbiote, who had been rejected by Spidey. It was invisible to Parker’s Spider-sense, could create webbing out of its being (just like it did with Spidey), and worst of all, it knew Spider-man’s secret identity of Peter Parker. Spider-man and Venom battled each other a lot through the early to mid-90s. The two came to an uneasy truce when Spider-man saved Brock’s ex-wife. The two have also teamed up to battle even greater menaces such as Carnage (more on this later). For a while, Venom retreated to San Francisco to serve as a ‘Lethal Protector’ to its homeless population (not to mention star in a series of horrendous mini-series).
Towards the end of the decade, Eddie increasingly began to dislike the costume’s presence, as his cancer was beginning to flare up. The symbiote also wanted to be separate from Brock as it didn’t want to be bound to a host whose body was being wracked by disease. The symbiote separated from Brock and went in search of victims whose bodies produced a special kind of adrenaline, mostly attacking cancer patients. However, Spider-man stopped the symbiote and reunited the two against their wishes, as they believed that their next bonding would be permanent. This wasn’t meant to be however, as Eddie was able to separate from the symbiote long enough to auction it off to mobster Don Fortunato. The mobster gave it to his son Angelo Fortunato hoping he would make something out of himself. The new Angelo Fortunato/Venom pursued Spider-man, but Spidey was able to get away from him. When Fortunato gave up pursuing him, the symbiote abandoned him when it got disgusted by his lack of perseverance. I should add, that the symbiote gave up on him in mid-flight. As you can imagine, it wasn’t pleasant.
Before long, the Symbiote found another host, Mac Gargan, formerly known as the Scorpion. Hired by Norman Osborn to kidnap Peter’s Aunt May, Gargan instead found the symbiote and the two were attracted to each other. Gargan became a member of Osborn’s Sinister Twelve and later the Thunderbolts (it was around this time Tony Stark had the brilliant idea of recruiting super villains to aid in the superhuman Civil War). The Symbiote gains cannibalistic tendencies, at one point eating the arm off Z-lister The Steel Spider. After Osborn is made head of national security, Venom joins his Avengers team under the guise of Spider-man, with Osborn giving him a pill which allows the symbiote to easily mimic Spider-man’s appearance, although he can change into his more monstrous form at will. The pill had some strange side effects on his behavior however. After Osborn’s Siege of Asgard, Gargan is stripped of the Symbiote, and the U.S military gives it to Flash Thompson in an attempt to make him into a black ops agent.
Where are they now?
Eddie Brock was able to recover from slashing his wrists. After an unsuccessful attempt to kill the hospitalized Aunt May, Brock seemingly overcame his dark side. After the events of ‘One More Day’, everyone except Peter Parker, Mary Jane, and Deadpool forgot Peter Parker’s identity as Spider-man, including Brock. After Matt Murdock gets him acquitted of his crimes committed as Venom, philanthropist Martin Li (a.k.a crime lord Mr. Negative) gets him a job at his F.E.A.S.T charity centers. When Li, as Mr. Negative touched Brock, the dormant pieces of Venom within him caused him to become Anti-Venom, a white Venom-like creature with the ability to heal people. He teamed up with Spider-man to battle the Thunderbolts and battled against the Punisher while helping a drug addict. Brock is expected to go to war with Mr. Negative in the pages of Amazing Spider-man.
Having been separated from the Venom symbiote left Mac Gargan in dire straits, as his original Scorpion costume was molecularly bonded to him. Without a substitute (such as the Venom symbiote), Gargan was left dying. Thankfully (for him at least), Alistair Smythe provided him with a new an improved Scorpion suit as part of a plot against J.Jonah Jameson.
Although Spider-man gave up the symbiote, he still wore the black costume from time to time, although this time it was made out of cloth rather than a sentient being. He gave it up after Mary Jane said it scared her (Kraven the Hunter attacked her wearing a similar costume when impersonating Spider-man after burying him alive). he wears it on special occasions, such as when Aunt May was hit by a sniper’s bullet during ‘Back in Black’ (*groan*) and even more recently when he has target by the Kravinoff family during the ‘Grim Hunt’.
The symbiote showed up in other forms of Spider-man continuity, most notably the 90s Spider-man series and the Spider-man 3 movie. There, it’s the form of an alien substance that comes on a meteorite. In Ultimate continuity, the symbiote was one of the final projects of Peter Parker’s father, and Peter was a childhood friend of Eddie Brock, as their fathers were colleagues. The symbiote was intended as a cure for cancer, with the suit protecting the wearer from internal and exterior injury, long as it was worn by whomever it was intended for genetically. Peter was able to control it for a while due to the fact that the suit was keyed to his father’s DNA. Despite what form the symbiote takes most of the time it has the same effect: Peter wears it until he discovers its true nature and gets rid of it only for Eddie Brock to find out.
Other people have worn the symbiote in alternate futures as well. Kron Stone, half brother of Miguel O’Hara (Spider-man 2009) encountered it aster nearly being killed by Punisher 2099. He used the symbiote to torment Migeul, even murdering his girlfriend. In Earth X, the symbiote tried to take over Peter’s daughter May, only for her to overpower the symbiote’s will. Not only can she control it, but she can also communicate with it.
Out of all the Symbiotes, besides Venom, none are more famous than Carnage. During a battle with Styx and Stone, Venom fell prey to Styx’s cancerous touch causing him to lose the symbiote, enabling authorities to apprehend him. His cellmate was the serial killer Cletus Kasady. Eventually the Venom symbiote recovered and broke him out, leaving behind a seed. This seed attached itself to Kasady, turning him into the serial killer known as Carnage. While Venom had at least some sense of justice, Cletus was committed to being a serial killer believing that anyone could kill if they had the guts for it. In one of his most famous rampages, he teamed up with Shriek, Doppelganger, Demigoblin, and Carrion to spread fear and chaos throughout New York until he was stopped by Spider-man, Venom, and a group of superheroes. He even combined with both the Silver Surfer and Spider-man( Ben Reilly). He was ripped apart and thrown in space by the Sentry. It was thought for sure he was dead, but the symbiote kept him alive, nearly starving itself to death in the process. An inventor of cybernetic prosthetic limbs retrieved him from space, and in an incredibly stupid move, healed Kasady with prosthetic limbs and used pieced of the symbiote in his devices.
Carnage isn’t the only spawn of Venom either. The Life Foundation, a group of billionaires living in fear of nuclear war between The United States and Russia constructed an underground city and a security force to guard anyone rich enough to live in the city. In order to enhance this force, the Life Foundation forcefully 5 symbiotes from Venom and grafted them onto 5 of their guards. After failing to defeat Venom and Spider-man, they went on the run, hoping that Eddie Brock can teach them to control their symbiotes. However, one of the hosts, codenamed Scream, killed off the others in a fit of insanity. The 4 hostless symbiotes combined with a man named Scott Washington, and took the name of Hybrid. These symbiotes were of a different breed, as unlike Venom and Carnage, the four symbiotes were peaceful and actually held him back from violence. This was helpful, as it’s crazy enough with 4 voices inside your head. As you can imagine, these were all remnants of the 90s and after the decade was up, none of them were mentioned again, aside from Scream being listed as an ‘enemy combatant’ and Hybrid being listed as a ‘potential recruit’ for the initiative in the Civil War Battle Damage Report. Payback of the True Believers had a similar symbiote, although this one wasn’t like Venom or Carnage, and it was activated when she was in a state of bliss. Another symbiote was part of King Vulcan’s Imperial Guard. This particular symbiote attached itself to the starjammer Raza.
Eventually Carnage had a spawn of his own, named Toxin. When Toxin was ‘born’, Carnage wanted to kill the symbiote to prevent another threat to him while Venom saw a potential ally against Spider-man (however, after he saved some innocents, Venom wanted to kill him as well). Eventually Toxin bonded with police officer Patrick Mulligan, who is doing his best to keep the symbiote’s urges in check.
And that is the tale of Venom, one of Spider-man’s deadliest villains. I leave you with but one simple warning: If you ever come across a black ball of goo that responds to you, LEAVE THAT SHIT ALONE!
BTW: Yes, I know there was another Venom that had its own ongoing series. However, it sucked, made no sense, and no one bothered to follow up on it. If you must know about it, read about it here.