The Many Hosts of Venom
The new Venom/Flash Thompson made his appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #654. The latest incarnation of the popular character is a far cry from Venom’s beginnings. The suit was not even created by Marvel, but by a fan. Randy Schueller wrote in to Marvel about a new black suit created by Mr. Fantastic as a writing contest entry. Read his story here. Randy’s origin idea was modified and the black suit for Spider-Man was in the Marvel universe (Secret Wars #8). Upon it’s arrival back on Earth a new character (Brock) and a popular artist/writer (McFarlane) would begin the career of a new ionic Marvel villain, Venom. Let’s look back and those that have donned the black alien symbiote that takes a host to become Venom.
Peter Parker (Amazing Spider-Man #252): Spider-Man was the first to come in contact with the alien symbiote. During the Secret Wars he wore the alien suit. Thinking it to be simply an an advanced costume, Peter brought the alien back to Earth where it’s true nature was discovered. Parker’s rejecting the suit is something the symbiote never seems to get over.
Eddie Brock (Amazing Spider-Man #299): Weight lifter, reporter, and Catholic. All of these (maybe not lifting) led to Eddie getting fired and praying at the Our Lady of Saints church where Spider-Man had forced the symbiote off of himself. Becoming Venom for the first time. After a obsession with Spider-Man and the parenthood of Carnage, Venom would go from cannibal to a warped protector and even Spidey team up partner. Having cancer and trying to atone for all the hurt caused by him, Eddie finds himself the owner of a new symbiote. Anti-Venom.
Angelo Fortunato (Marvel Knights: Spider-Man #7): Son of a Mafia Don and sick of being a frail weakling, Angelo paid 100 million for the symbiote. A repentant and dying Brock sold the symbiote to raise money for charity. The alien however was not fond of the weak Angelo and left him to die in mid jump between buildings. This was the fist instance of the alien showing a murderous preference for strong willed hosts.
MacDonald “Mac” Gargan (Marvel Knights: Spider-Man #10): Already known as super villain the Scorpion, Gargan was no stranger to augmentation. When the opportunity to possess even more super powers presented itself in the form of alien symbiote Gargan ran with it. Becoming Venom and then a “Sinister” Spider-Man. With the end of Norman Osborn’s “Dark Reign” as government agent and leader of the Dark Avengers so did Gargan’s tenure end. The symbiote being forcibly removed by the government.
Eugene “Flash” Thompson(Amazing Spider-Man #654): Long time bully and always the Spider-man fan Flash has had some ups and downs. Bully to war hero and back Flash has had a lot go wrong. Through it all Flash was always able to come out a good guy in the end. Now after losing his legs and being given the symbiote to wear as a government agent, he will have a whole new set of challenges – from himself, the govenment, and the symbiote.
These are not the only ones to have this alien all over them. Ann Weying (Eddie Brock’s ex-wife), Patricia Robertson, Carol Danvers (Ms. Marvel), and even a quick Fantastic foursome. Temporarily bonding with Franklin Richards, Reed Richards, Susan Richards, and She-Hulk.
As part of a race that uses hosts for food and moves on, the symbiote is a thinking organism. All this body hopping shows a method to the Venom symbiote. Seeking power and vengeance the Venom symbiote is clearly interested in more than just sustenance. Venom fans tend to see Brock as the symbiotes home, but he was a rebound after Spider-Man. Patient and spiteful, time after time again the alien finds a way into Spider-Man’s life. Via friend or foe the alien shows little interest in other super powered beings and gravitates back to Parker. Perhaps all this running around is simply a case of not “getting over your first love”.
Alternate universe examples of the alien intelligence at work here include What if…? 44# and What if…? #4. In #44 the Punisher bonds with the alien. Giving the alien an ultimatum of compliance or death, the Punisher becomes the “lethal protector” Brock as Venom never could. In What if…? #4 the alien takes over Parker completely and then goes after Hulk and Thor, until Black Bolt and Black Cat put an end to the Black suit. Both are examples are a reasoning sentient being. In any Marvel universe (Ultimate, MC2, ..etc), the symbiote has proved more than just a suit.
The pattern in this history makes it very clear the new Venom (Flash) will definitely be fighting the symbiote for mental control, then fighting Spider-Man. Still interesting even if formulaic. The little black alien has come a very long way. From a just a costume change all the way to S.H.I.E.L.D. listing it one of the greatest threats to the Earth. Up there with classic Marvel threats like Dr. Doom and the Red Skull. The latest incarnation may yet live up to that reputation. We all find out more next month in Venom #1.