First appearing as simply a slick new costume for Spider-Man in 1984's "Secret Wars," the Venom Symbiote has become one of the wall-crawler's most persistent foes. It's possessed more than a dozen hosts worth mentioning, and been everything from an outright terrifying villain, to an anti-hero, to a space paladin. Its origins have only recently been explored, and its story is far from over.
Created by Todd McFarlane, Venom has become one of Marvel's most popular characters of all time. Not many villains ever get the chance to helm their own movie, but Sony's Venom has been talked up for years; the mere existence of the creature gives artists the chance to explore character design in the Marvel Universe in extraordinary ways. Anyone the Symbiote touches turns to gold, as far as Marvel's finances are concerned.
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So who's played host to the conscious costume? Here's Every Marvel Character That's Worn The Symbiote Suit.
Deadpool, the fourth-wall-breaking Merc with a Mouth, is no stranger to borrowing other Marvel heroes' schticks. He's held Mjolnir, he's worn the Iron Man suit, and he's even Hulked out. His latest series, "Back In Black," doesn't see him taking the black Symbiote out on loan from anyone -- it suggests that the Venom suit was Deadpool's to begin with. Even before Peter Parker got a hold of the alien Symbiote, Deadpool had a fling with the sentient ooze.
According to Deadpool, shortly after the original "Secret Wars" series which saw Spidey first wear the black suit, the black suit came crawling back to the psychotic mercenary. Partly to save itself from bounty hunters on the lookout for the Symbiote, it bonds with Deadpool in the midst of a pitched battle with Dansen Macabre and Aaron Stack, Machine Man. Predictably, things get bloody, and Venompool slices and dices a room full of cultists.
"The rumors are true," said the cover of Amazing Spider-Man #252 as Spidey swung from rooftop to rooftop, rescued civilians under arm, all while wearing a brand-new, black and white costume. It was the first major costume change Spidey had ever received, all inspired by a fan's suggestion. Most comic readers, however, were not too happy with the new look, and requested Marvel change it back. So, in the ongoing "Secret Wars" event, which covered the costume's origin, it was revealed that the suit was really an alien lifeform, trying to bond permanently with Peter. Using a device of Mr. Fantastic's, the creature was blasted off of Spider-Man.
Fans can be fickle, however, and opinion on the new suit turned positive. The web-crawler would go on to wear a black suit for four years, whether as an alien goo or inert fabric. The sentient living slime, now known as a Symbiote, had become part of the Marvel universe, and would seek a new host once Peter had exorcised himself of it.
Enter Eddie Brock. An aspiring journalist, Brock was humiliated when Spider-Man got the scoop on a story Eddie had staked his career on. Abandoned by his wife and father, Brock focused all his energy on attaining physical perfection, all while nursing his hatred for Spider-Man.
Eventually driven to attempt suicide, Eddie Brock found himself at the same church where Peter Parker had rid himself of the Symbiote. Drawn by Eddie's despair and adrenaline, the alien lifeform bonded with the man. They fed off each other's hate for Spider-Man, driving each other insane; neither had been so violent before. He nicknamed himself Venom after what he was "paid to spew these days" for tabloid newspapers. After attempting to kill Spider-Man on multiple occasions, Eddie eventually became something of an anti-hero. After the Venom Symbiote had left, he went on to bond with other Symbiotes, such as Anti-Venom and, most recently, Toxin.
Ann Weying was the ex-wife of Eddie Brock. A successful lawyer, she wanted desperately to help her former husband, and in so doing, put herself in terrible danger. Trying to stop Venom's initial rampage, she provided Spider-Man with information on Brock.
Later, when she was shot by the villain the Sin-Eater, Brock had the Symbiote bond with Ann in order to heal her of her wounds. Once healed, Ann went on a rampage as She-Venom, killing several thugs in the process. Though she was horrified at what she'd done, Eddie told her the Symbiote only allowed her to do the things she already wanted to.
When Ann was arrested on trumped-up charges in order to draw out Venom, she used her one phone call to warn him of the trap. Angered, and confused by the limitations of telecommunications, Eddie sent the Symbiote through the phone line to Ann to help her escape. Unfortunately, Ann, traumatized by the ordeal, killed herself soon after.
The son of a mob boss, Angelo Fortunato wanted desperately to prove himself to his father. Winning an auction for the Symbiote, his father bestowed Venom on his son, giving him the chance to be the villain they'd both always hoped he'd become. Showing impressive control over the Symbiote, Fortunato went on a hunt for Spider-Man.
After Fortunato had ripped the heart out of a journalist dressed as the wall-crawler, Spider-Man knew he couldn't hold back when it came time to battle the new Venom. Going all-out, he beat Venom to a pulp, causing him to flee. The Symbiote did not approve of Fortunato's cowardice, however, and as they were swinging between skyscrapers, the alien separated itself from Angelo. The man would fall to a messy death, and the Symbiote would once again be on the lookout for a new host.
Mac Gargan was a nobody even when he was a supervillain. Wearing a special armor complete with stinger tail and acid jets, Gargan paraded around as the costumed villain The Scorpion and faced Spider-Man on many occasions, sometimes alone and sometimes in a group, only to be defeated every time. When Norman Osborne approached him with the chance to be the Venom Symbiote's next host, Gargan was only too happy to say yes.
Using a special serum to better control the alien's tendencies, Gargan still let his wilder side loose every now and then. As Venom, he was a member of the Thunderbolts and later the Dark Avengers. He was violent and ruthless, and occasionally devoured his foes. Though initially disgusted by the cannibalism, he came to love to it, in time. After the events of the Siege of Asgard, Mac was permanently stripped of the Symbiote and locked away for good.
After Mac Gargan's arrest, the U.S. government was in possession of the Venom Symbiote, and needed a trustworthy person to bond it to. Enter Flash Thompson.
A one-time bully and eventual friend of Peter Parker, Eugene "Flash" Thompson has been a soldier through and through. Wounded in battle, his legs were amputated, leaving him with the skills to kill, but not the ability. When he and the Symbiote were joined, the creature replaced his legs, along with gifting him a heretofore unknown new set of Symbiote powers. Like Carnage, this suit could create bladed weapons, and shaped itself to resemble body armor at Flash's behest.
Together, they fought threats both terrestrial and galactic, joining the Avengers and Guardians Of The Galaxy on different occasions.
Shortly after Doctor Otto Octavius had swapped minds with Peter Parker, leaving the hero to die in the doctor's cancer-riddled body, he encountered the Symbiote's latest host, Flash Thompson. Promising to perform surgery that would graft robotic legs to Flash's body, Octavius instead forcibly removed the Symbiote from Flash's body and bonded it to himself. Thus was born the Superior Venom -- a madder, more powerful parasite, combined with the cruelty of Doc Ock and Spider-Man's superpowers.
Superior Venom went on to angrily berate Aunt May and MJ for criticizing his friend's height, before finding a gang of bank robbers and nearly killing them. The Avengers arrived and, with the help of Flash in an Iron Man suit, managed to remove the Symbiote once again -- but not before Otto escaped. Upon returning to Flash, the Symbiote could only communicate that a dramatic change had taken place in Peter's mind.
Gwen Stacey: in the main Marvel continuity, she was Peter Parker's first love, and the woman whose death haunts him the most. There exists another Gwen Stacey, though -- a Gwen from Earth-65, which saw her get bitten by the radioactive spider, and not Peter. On that Earth, Gwen became Spider-Woman or, as we know her best, Spider-Gwen.
This variation of Gwen debuted in the "Spider-Verse" crossover event, and she was instantaneously, massively, popular. She now has her own ongoing series which sees her stuck on Earth-616, after hers was destroyed in the events of "Secret Wars."
We don't know much about her own version of the Venom Symbiote. All we can say for sure is that artist Robbi Rodriguez is retiring from comics, and the Gwenom arc will be his swan song. He told Newsarama, "In the tradition of Spider-Gwen, we just made another book out of a pun we came up with in a bar." We can't wait to read it.
During the events of "Siege," in which Norman Osborne and his Dark Avengers attempted to take over Asgard, Mac Gargan in the Venom suit was causing chaos. Having fully given in to his cannibalistic urges, Gargan was gleefully chowing down on Asgardians when Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel, Carol Danvers, showed up to put a stop to him. Using her cosmic powers to rip Gargan our of the suit, Ms. Marvel thought the job was done -- until the Symbiote bonded with her, becoming an immensely more dangerous threat.
With her abilities, the new and improved Venom was nearly unstoppable. While Spider-Man led Venom on a chase through town, Carol was trying to regain control from within. She tricked the Symbiote into using her powers too greedily, blasting itself off of her in the process. It instantly re-bonded with Gargan, and the siege continued.
In the Ultimate Marvel universe, the Symbiote's story remains the same until Eddie Brock Jr.'s defeat. Conrad Marcus, a scientist working for Roxxon, obtained a sample of the Venom Symbiote and attempted to track down who he believed to be the new Spider-Man. Despite his target, Jefferson Davis, insisting he wasn't the wall-crawler, Marcus persisted, grievously injuring Davis before help would arrive in the form of Miles Morales, the actual new Spider-Man.
After a lengthy battle, Marcus managed to subdue Morales, and proceeded to devour him whole in front of Rio Morales, Miles' mother. Once finished with his meal, he fatally attacked Rio. Miles, however, managed to burst out of Marcus, knocking the suit off of him in the process. While Miles tended to his mother, Conrad Marcus was shot to death by police.
Miles would be reunited with his mother when the Ultimate universe and Earth-616 were merged after the events of Secret Wars. Miles suspected this was a sort of thanks from Molecule Man, whom Miles had befriended on Battleworld.
In Marvel's 2099 universe, Miguel O'Hara is Spider-Man. In an attempt to rid himself of an addiction to a potent drug, Miguel underwent a risky genetic procedure, but came out the other side with spider-like abilities. Meanwhile, his half-brother, Kron Stone, was a rising star in the criminal underworld. He ordered the death of Jake Gallows' family, prompting that man to become the Punisher of 2099. In retaliation, Gallows attacked Kron, leaving him for dead in a sewer, where the criminal encountered the aging, insane Venom Symbiote.
This Venom possessed powers no other version of the Symbiote had, among them an acidic slime that covered his entire body. Miguel had the city in which they battled turn all their speakers to a tremendous volume, blasting the Symbiote and separating it from Kron for good. Eventually, the lifeform found its way to a descendant of Namor the Sub-Mariner, who took it with him into the ocean.
While adventuring across space with the Guardians of the Galaxy, Flash Thompson began to suspect the Symbiote was getting a little bit... strange. Flash was losing control and threatening his teammates. While he rested, the Guardians considered jettisoning the symbiote into the blackness of space.
Unfortunately, a panicked Symbiote then attached itself to Groot. Rocket Raccoon managed to separate them, only to become a host himself. Finally, Drax intervened -- and was subsequently taken over by the now completely mad alien. Using Drax, the Symbiote defeated the remaining Guardians, and took the ship to its home planet. The Guardians learned that the Symbiote species, called the Klyntar, were actually a peaceful one, and only became violent when they are bonded with unstable individuals. Once on the planet, the Symbiote was purged of its insanity, and returned to Flash more powerful than ever. Together, they joined the Agents of the Cosmos, doing good deeds across the universe.
After returning to Earth, the Symbiote separated itself from Flash, and attempted to find a new host. For the first time in many years, the Klyntar was on a righteous path, trying to stay true to its species' goals and bring harmony wherever it went. Unfortunately, it was drawn to Lee Price.
Perhaps sensing the presence of a former host, Mac Gargan, or sensing in Lee Price the soldierly qualities it associates with Flash, the Symbiote comes upon the scene of an arms deal gone bad. Price, who hires himself out as hired muscle, bonds with the Symbiote -- and that's when things get violent. The altruistic, even pacifist suit hadn't realized Price possessed some psychotic qualities in him, borne out of hardships and an abusive childhood. Price goes on a little killing spree, and seeks to use the Symbiote's gifts for his own benefit. Their partnership is brand new, but we can't wait to see where it takes them next.
Then there was the time Wolverine and Hawkeye went on a road trip together across the United States while being chased by a Savage Lands Tyrannosaurus Rex that had bonded with the Venom Symbiote. They were saved from his jaws by a last minute appearance from Black Bolt, who whispered the enraged animal and Klyntar into oblivion. This all took place in the beloved Old Man Logan storyline, which saw a grim future where the world had been divided up by supervillains once all the heroes had been killed off.
At this point, almost everyone in the Marvel universe has gotten a go at the goo. Between What-Ifs and one-shots, most of the Avengers have been enVenomed, including two different Hulks, Thor, Captain America, and Wolverine. Along the way, the Klyntar has possessed everything from gorillas to german shepherds, along with countless human go-betweens. Is there any crucial Venom host that we missed? Let us know in the comments!