Celebrating 30 Years of Marvel Symbiotes | Fanboys Anonymous

Celebrating 30 Years of Marvel Symbiotes

Posted by Orion Petitclerc Thursday, April 24, 2014
Greetings Fanboys and Fangirls, and welcome to the celebration! What are we celebrating, you ask? Well, who authored this post, and what do I usually write about? That's right, I'm here to talk about the one and only Venom and his twisted family! This May marks the Venom symbiote's—and symbiotes in general—30th anniversary, and to celebrate we at Fanboys Anonymous and a few special guests are sharing our favorite symbiote moments across comic books, television, and film. First, a little perspective.

Relive Spider-Man's first black suit issue with Amazing Spider-Man #252, available in the Spider-Man: The Birth of Venom trade paperback
In May of 1984, a bold new Spider-Man materialized with (a human) Doctor Curt Connors under an arm through an otherworldly portal into New York City's Central Park, sporting a mysterious (and sexy) black and white suit. On that day, the symbiotes—a parasitic life forms boasting incredible powers—were born. That black suit would go on to become one half of one of Spider-Man's greatest and most iconic foes: Venom. I suggest checking out Marvel's special birthday post about the origins of the Venom symbiote to commemorate the occasion, and check out all of my past articles about Venom and symbiotes.

Since its creation, the Venom symbiote has been a mainstay in Spider-Man's legacy. It has spawned (directly and indirectly) 11 unique symbiotes within its lineage, including fan favorites Carnage and Toxin and five other named symbiotes from across the Marvel Universe, including relative unknowns such as Krobaa, Dreadface, and Zzxz. Carnage shares three out of four animated television series appearances with Venom, and with the recent addition of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 film as confirmed by an Easter egg in some bootlegged film footage that was quickly taken down by Sony, the Venom symbiote will have had two blockbuster, live-action film debuts. With an official Venom film spinoff in the making, there's no doubt that the mysterious, living black costume from Amazing Spider-Man #252 has had 30 years of resounding success overall, give or take the few roller coaster ups and downs it experienced in the '90s.

So without further ado, I hand this article over to the fans and a comic creator who made the symbiotes what they are today, starting off with my own favorite symbiote moment.

Orion Petitclerc's Favorite Symbiote Moment

Read Amazing Spider-Man: Extra! #2 and Anti-Venom: New Ways to Live on Marvel Digital Comics UnlimitedI'm a sucker for anything to do with Eddie Brock, the original Venom host after Spider-Man. I especially loved Eddie's evolution from Venom to Anti-Venom. Eddie went through some hard times before this: his cancer was in remission; he lost his faith in the symbiote; and his hatred for Spider-Man became confused and less venomous over time. He was in a crisis and death was approaching fast, but then BANG! He's given new life and a new purpose as the Anti-Venom.

After his rebirth in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man, Anti-Venom began his new lease on life first in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man: Extra! #2, which demonstrated nearly perfectly how Eddie had evolved from a villain and part-time lethal protector to a redeemed anti-hero. In this issue, he rescued Jenna Cole—a teenage junkie—from the poisons she put in her body and, in turn, gave her new meaning.

After this issue, she returned in The Amazing Spider-Man Presents: Anti-Venom—New Ways to Live limited series as Anti-Venom's new sidekick, but then she was never seen nor heard from again. (An injustice to the dynamic relationship they shared.) In their first issue together, though, Anti-Venom became a guardian angel for Jenna, and she became the living embodiment of his conscience. That's my favorite symbiote moment and, consequently, Anti-Venom is my favorite symbiote character.

Andrew Baker's Favorite Symbiote Moment

"Planet of the Symbiotes," a high-ranking moment for me, established that the symbiote's extraterrestrial race lived by parasitically attacking the bodies of other life forms. The Venom symbiote was deemed insane and imprisoned by its own species because instead of using up old hosts, it chose to establish a mutually beneficial symbiosis.

Read Web of Spider-Man on the Marvel Comics App for Android and Apple devicesMy absolute favorite symbiote moment, though, begins after Spider-Man learns of the symbiote's true nature. He happens upon the symbiote's prison module on Battleworld and releases the symbiote onto himself. He's overwhelmed and frightened by its power, so Pete has it analyzed only to learn that the costume is an alien symbiote that permanently fuses to its host. Mister Fantastic and the Human Torch help Spider-Man contain it using sound and fire, but being the sneaky parasite that it is, the symbiote escapes and takes Spider-Man hostage by forcibly bonding itself to him.

Then in the famous bell tower incident, Spider-Man uses the church bells and his sheer willpower to strip the symbiote from his body. Spider-Man and the symbiote are both drained, but, sympathetically, the symbiote gathers the last of its strength to carry Spider-Man's sagging body to safety. Interestingly, it's the same moment that causes the lethal love-hate relationship between the two.

Of all of the Spider-Man symbiotes, Mac Gargan's (originally the Scorpion) Venom is my favorite, but he wouldn't hold a candle to Carnage should Sony lose its conscience and film the R-rated Marvel film incarnation of the violent, deadly symbiote spawn.

Aaron Lanton's Favorite Symbiote Moment

Follow the untold tale of the Fantastic Four's fight with the symbiote in Spider-Man/Fantastic Four #2
My favorite symbiote character is the Venom symbiote itself. Prior to the Superior Spider-Man debacle, the symbiote was the original version of an outside force taking over Peter Parker's body. Most comic book fans' love of the symbiote was the result of seeing its manipulation of Peter through the seduction of power. Peter realized that his supernatural abilities improved in every measure while using the symbiote. Later, he realized this came at the cost of relinquishing full control of his actions. The symbiote sought to take over Peter's body and nearly would have without some luck on Peter's part. Peter would try all sorts of tactics before learning of its weakness to strong sonic waves.

Future Spider-Man films with the symbiote should consider this approach to the character. Spider-Man 3 did a horrible job of demonstrating why the symbiote was a problem for Peter outside of him becoming a jerk under its influence. Peter was tempted to steal, attack without holding back, and be selfish because of the symbiote's influence. Showing his internal conflict to audiences would captivate movie audiences and bring a nerd tear to the those of us who remember the good ol' days.

Tony Mango's Favorite Symbiote Moment

Whenever someone mentions symbiotes, my mind almost always runs to that same image that started it all for me: the big guy—Eddie Brock—in the church. I've never been one to follow the comic books themselves; rather, I prefer the accompanying films and television series. Because of this, I was not too familiar with Secret Wars and the origins of the symbiotes in general. My first introduction to the character was in Spider-Man: The Animated Series and the story arc built around Eddie Brock.

Watch Spider-Man: The Animated Series, The Venom Saga on DVD available from Amazon.com
While Peter's time in the church is a physically painful sacrifice of power for the greater good, Brock's time is an emotionally painful request for power for his own selfish needs. It's a visually cool scene that's packed with emotion and greatly alters the fate of two characters in one shot. It also stays true to the running theme of the Spider-Man series as a whole: Peter Parker makes all the sacrifices in the world in the name of responsibility, and this universe just keeps kicking the poor kid when he's down by twisting it and making many of his own worst enemies in the process.

For that matter, as far as I'm concerned, there is only one Venom, and his name is Eddie Brock. Mac Gargan will always be Scorpion to me; Angelo Fortunado is nonexistent for all I care; and Flash Thompson is Peter's bully and eventual friend but no "Agent Venom," and so on.

The Venom Site's Favorite Symbiote Moment

Collect Amazing Spider-Man #375 on the Comixology AppIn my first trip ever into a comic book shop, I spied the glorious golden cover of Amazing Spider-Man #375 and knew I must own it! I recognized Spider-Man but had never heard of Venom before. Twelve-year-old me loved everything about this issue, and this classic '90s comic is what brought me into the world of Marvel and comics in general. From that moment on, I was hooked. Venom would be my guy, and I would own all of his stories! I would buy his action figures! I would collect his comic cards!

There is just something about rooting for the bad guy that is so fun. Whether it's because he is pure evil and throwing Spidey around like a rag doll or because he is doing his own kind of justice as a Lethal Protector, Venom's stories always appealed to me.

In Amazing Spider-Man #375, Mark Bagley truly defined Venom's classic look; however, the great thing about the symbiote is that there is no standard look, so artists can take liberties and make each version his or her own. Like Erik Larsen before Bagley and Clayton Crain after him, I enjoy seeing the different visual versions of this character. While I have been enjoying Thompson's run as Agent Venom and I love all of the diversity between the symbiotes in the Marvel Universe, the original Venom with Brock as host will always be my favorite symbiote, and his appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #375 will always be my favorite moment.

Aaron's (@Bizarnage) Favorite Symbiote Moment

I have always been a fan of Spider-Man's evil doppelganger, Venom. I can't exactly explain what my original fascination with this character was, but it was fun reading about Eddie Brock and his symbiote partner getting themselves into daring and crazy adventures, like fighting an army of miniature goblins or having a symbiotic smackdown with Carnage inside the Internet, along with the occasional brooding over Spider-Man, protecting the innocent, and nibbling on brains on the side.

Over the years the symbiotic duo would grow apart: Eddie became the healing Anti-Venom (my favorite symbiote character), and the symbiote would bond with other hosts, the most recent being Peter Parker's old high school bully, Flash Thompson. I had complete disdain for Marvel's new gun-toting Agent Venom and just wished we could have our old lethal protector back.

Read Anti-Venom origin story in Amazing Spider-Man: New Ways to Die by Dan Slott available on Amazon
Then Venom (Vol. 2) #7 dropped during the peak of the "Spider-Island" event: Venom vs. Anti-Venom, Round 2! This time around, we would have a Venom who was trying to be a hero like Eddie and not a villain like Mac Gargan. The battle was epic: spanning from a church to a parallel building, filled with powerful dialogue from Anti-Venom telling Flash that he's no hero while Flash tries to convince himself that he is, and topping it all off with an ending that would make any Venom fan giddy. It may be one of the newer symbiote events, but this monumental clash of old-school meets new-school has become my favorite moment.

Cullen Bunn's Symbiote Contributions

FA: How and when were you first introduced to Marvel's symbiotes? Would you consider yourself a symbiote fan from before or after your work with Marvel?

CB: I guess my introduction to Marvel’s symbiotes was way back before we even knew they were symbiotes! I remember a friend of mine bringing a copy of Amazing Spider-Man 252 to gym class. It blew my mind and, even though I wasn’t a die-hard Spider-Man reader, I started picking up the book to see where Marvel was taking the story.

FA: How did you land your symbiote gig with Marvel, and what was your reaction?

CB: Then Spidey editor Stephen Wacker and I had worked together on Avenging Spider-Man and Spider-Man: Season One. When he called me and asked if I’d be interested in co-writing the "Savage Six" arc of Venom, then taking over the series, I was thrilled.

FA: When you were working with Marvel and the symbiotes, how did you contribute to the legacy? What more (or less) do you wish you could have accomplished during that time?

CB: There were a few things I feel I contributed to the legacy. I feel that I left a couple of interesting things behind. The idea of Crime-Master being part of something bigger, a kind of secret cult of crime, is something that I threw in during the "Savage Six" arc, and I think it could have been really expanded. Given time, I would have circled back to that.

I also think Mania is a character who could find an interesting place in the Marvel Universe. And Eddie Brock as Toxin—I was so happy with how that character came across in the series. Given more time, I would’ve loved to expand any of those storylines. Also…Venom-Mobile? Hail Mary, the Mother Superior of Punishment? Those things were so awesome, I can hardly live with myself!

Read Fanboys Anonymous' review of The Superior Spider-Man: Darkest Hours by Orion Petitclerc
FA: What is your favorite symbiote moment of all time from comics, film, or TV—regardless of whether it was a moment you or someone else created?

CB: There’s a moment [from The Superior Spider-Man #24] when Mary Jane cowers away from Peter because she thinks he’s Venom. I thought that spoke volumes about how scary the character could be. It was a very chilling moment for me.

FA: Who is your favorite (canon) symbiote character of all time—regardless of whichever universe or continuity he/she/it is from?

CB: Is it cheating if I say Mania? Obviously, I love the character, and I think there’s a lot of story that could be told with that character. I feel similarly about Toxin. I think Eddie deserves his chance to shine with that symbiote.

There you have it, folks. You've heard from the fans and a comic creator who's worked with symbiotes during his run with Marvel. Now we want to hear about your favorite symbiote moments and characters! Leave a comment in the section below and celebrate the symbiotes' 30th anniversary with all of us at Fanboys Anonymous. Don't forget to follow me here and The Venom Site for symbiote news, reviews, and points of views!

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