Warning: SPOILERS for Venom #18
Marvel's symbiotes may spawn offspring at an alarming rate, but Venom may have just one TRUE child. Both Eddie Brock and his symbiote Other created, raised, and bid farewell to 'Sleeper,' hoping it would embody the best of them both. But it looks like Venom's dreams for their child have turned into the stuff of nightmares.
With Carnage attacking every symbiote in the world, it might seem like Eddie Brock would welcome a friendly face into the fight. Especially one commanding the host that Sleeper has chosen to bond with. But now that Sleeper has returned in Absolute Carnage, the symbiote offspring fans thought they knew has a secret. When it left Earth in control of an ancient Kree, Venom's child was Marvel's most dangerous symbiote. Now, it's the most disturbing.
When Venom readers last saw Sleeper, it was in the pages of Mike Costa and Mark Bagley's Venom: First Host #5. It was that limited series that, as the name implies, introduced Marvel fans to Tel-Kar, the Venom symbiote's very first host. While he played it innocent to start, Tel-Kar's malice eventually rose to the surface. As a Kree soldier who used the symbiote like a tool, his attempts to recapture and claim the Venom symbiote were ended by its offspring Sleeper--permanently.
In case the above panels from First Host #5 aren't clear, Sleeper saved the life of Eddie Brock (and all of humanity) by merging with Tel-Kar. Only unlike most other times Venom fans have witnessed the act, Sleeper achieves the task by force. Since the Kree soldiers who used Klyntar as weapons effectively shut down their brain functions--making them not really 'symbiotes' at all--Sleeper decided to do the same. Once Tel-Kar stopped screaming Sleeper explained the answer to its father, Eddie:
I lobotomized him. He made my parent his mindless servant. Turnabout seemed like fair play... This body is strong. There are depths of knowledge and memories in this mind. Worlds. Galaxies. I've been kept in a cage my whole life. There's so much to see out there. And I will see it. I know you did your best, father. But I don't need a cage anymore.
If Sleeper seemed a bit cold, or vengeful, it might have been forgiven. Sure it lobotomized a host in just its first day outside of the laboratory, but what kid doesn't make some mistakes? And considering how easy to hate Tel-Kar really was, the idea of Sleeper using him to travel the stars, ancient roles, reversed, seemed like justice. But Donny Cates and Iban Coello have a surprise for First Host fans. When Sleeper comes to the rescue of Eddie Brock's son Dylan, it doesn't hesitate to satisfy the boy's curiosity by revealing its host.
It would seem that Sleeper made a grave miscalculation in its symbiosis, as Tel-Kar has become the husk-like corpse of the man he used to be. The level to which Venom fans will be disturbed knowing its symbiote offspring has piloted a dead body across space may vary. But the length of Tel-Kar's hair may suggest the forced symbiosis worked for at least some time. Ghost-Spider readers have gotten a recent reminder that even Gwen Stacy's symbiote needs to eat, meaning a host must supply the nourishment needed for themselves AND their Other. It's possible Sleeper never learned that balance before departing, or that a completely unwilling symbiosis, or one between a symbiote and a lobotomized host can't actually survive.
Whatever the scientific or fictional explanation behind it, Sleeper has distinguished itself as a symbiote willing to do what others would never think to attempt. We suppose there is something to be proud ofin that claim... although we're hoping the rest of the Absolute Carnage event gives Sleeper a chance to redeem itself.
- Venom #18
- Written by: Donny Cates
- Art by: Iban Coello
- Cover by: Kyle Hotz
- ABSOLUTE CARNAGE TIE-IN! Carnage’s unlikely and symbiotic allies swarm Venom and his family! As all hell continues to break loose as Carnage’s army swarms the streets of New York, Eddie Brock has his hands full at Rex’s Warehouse!
Venom #18 is available now from your local comic book shop, or direct from Marvel Comics.