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Spiderweek 2010: A History of the Symbiote

Venom is a strange character in comics, he is a major part of the Spider-man universe, yet in the grand scheme of things, the Symbiote is a relatively new creation in the spider-universe

There is an incarnation of the Symbiote in every major Spider-man franchise and its origins vary from alien, to supernatural to scientific. The Symbiote has even garnered its own spin-off origins series (which I won’t go into great detail on as I personally don’t believe that prequels should be included as cannon (cough Star Wars 1-3 cough)

So let’s begin:

The Origins of the Symbiote:

The first ever incarnation of the Symbiote was innocent enough, as it appeared as a simple costume change. During the events on Battleworld, The Beyonder brings many of Earths most powerful heroes and villains together to wage an epic battle to see which side is superior.

In one of the many battles, Spider-man rips his traditional Red and Blue suit. Thor who was in a similar predictament recommended a machine that he had used with The Hulks help (At this point, The Hulk had Bruce Banner’s intelligence.)  which restored his cape and helmet. They give Spider-man directions to the machine and while Spider-man finds a piece of machinery that appears to do the job, it is much more than he expects and the end result in the first appearance of the black suit that we have come to know and love(or hate).

At the conclusion of Secret Wars all the heroes are transported back to Earth and the black suit came with Spider-man. Spider-man continues wearing the black suit while on Earth for the added benefits that it offers, such as organic webbing, and the ability to morph into different styles(like civilian clothes) when needed.  Eventually, Spider-man suspects that something is amiss with his new suit, and goes to Reed Richards for his help. Richards identifies that the suit is in alien and worst still parasitic, and works to separate Spider-man from the Symbiote, although he is successful the Symbiote still lived and looked for a new host when it found Eddie Brock. It joined with Eddie Brock and passed on all the abilities that it had learned from Spider-man to him, creating Venom

Ultimate Spider-man

The Symbiote in the Ultimate series has a completely different origin. In this universe, the suit is the creation of Richard Parker and Edward Brock Snr. They created the suit in an effort to cure disease such as cancer. They designed the suit to bond with the wearer, see their genetic code and repair any damage or irregularities.

Unfortunately the suit also had potential as a weapon, and the projects backers Trask Industries seized all their work. Richard and Edward were unwilling to work on the project as a weapon and soon thereafter they both died in a plane crash.

Years later, Eddie Brock now in college is given a frozen sample of the Symbiote and tries to continue his fathers work. Meanwhile Peter finds an old photograph of his parents with the Brocks’ and decides to try and get in contact with Eddie as they used to be friends.

While Brock is initially happy to know Peter again and happily shows Peter the work that has been done so far. Peter accidentally gets a little part of the substance on which immediately expands to cover his whole body introducing the Black suit (minus the white Spider across the chest which doesn’t come until later) to the Ultimate Universe. After seeing the black suited Spider-man on the news, Eddie assumes that he has been betrayed by Peter and seeing Peter trying to steal the rest of the sample doesn’t help persuade Eddie otherwise. What follows is a chain of events that ultimately (no pun Intended) causes the Birth of Venom in the Ultimate Spider-man series.

Carnage

Carnage is the offspring of Venom and possesses many of the same abilities of his father but is more powerful than Venom. What makes Carnage a real threat, is that not only must Spider-man fight a powerful villain in the Symbiote, but also a psychopath named Cletus Cassidy. While Edward Brock has shown some restraint and morals as Venom, Cassidy shows none and uses the Symbiote to its full potential.

Ultimate Carnage

I won’t go into detail, there is Carnage in the Ultimate universe, however it doesn’t bond with Cletus Cassidy but someone else. I can’t say much else without giving away major parts of the Ultimate storyline, so all I will say is that it is a good story and to give it a try.

Other Symbiote Children

There are endless children of Venom and Carnage, too many to really mention some only appear in one specific storyline, but if you want to know more goto the marvel comics database

Venom Scorpion.

Back in the amazing universe, in recent times, Eddie Brock discovered that he had cancer and was dying in one last noble gesture he sells the Symbiote to the highest bidder and gives the proceeds to charity.

With Venom up for sale, the collective underworld meet for the sale of the century, bought by an aging mobster to strengthen up his disappointing son. This merger was sort lived though as the son could not give himself to the Symbiote and it left him in mid air.

The separated Symbiote now needed to find a new host and soon found Mac Gargen, the man who was the Scorpion.

Spider-man TV Sho(1990’ss)

In the Spider-man TV show of the 1990’s the Symbiote came from Space as a stoaway of the Shuttle that carried J Jonah Jamisons’ son. While Spider-man saves the shuttle and its crew, the Symbiote follows Spider-man home and bonds with him in his sleep.

Spider-man Movie

Sadly in the movie they went for the alien storyline, although the offered little explanation of what it is and how it got here. Personally I think that this is one of the weakest versions of Venom. It may have been a time restriction but did we really need to see Green Goblin for the 3rd time as well as the Sandman? It was a clusterf*ck of supervillians and spoiled the movie.

The New Origins of Venom

It had to happen; someone decided it would be a good idea to give Venom and the Symbiotes an origin story. The story from the marvel comics database is below:

The beings now known on Earth simply as “symbiotes” are a conquering, parasitic race which feed off the emotions of their hosts. They tend to force their hosts to perform spectacular and terrifying feats in order to feed off of the resulting rush of adrenaline (and possibly other hormones, such as phenethylamine). Eventually, these host beings would be sucked dry, exhausted by the constant stress and exertion, or simply die in a failed stunt. The being that would eventually become Venom, was identified as deranged by others of its race because it sought to form a single, strong, symbiotic bond with its host, rather than using them as chattel. In fact, it is because of this creature that humans initially believed the entire race to be symbiotic. This Symbiote would later describe itself as a mutant among its species. The Symbiote was placed in a prison canister, and supposedly condemned to death by disintegration.

Again this reminds me too much of the midichlorians in Star Wars, did we really need this much disposition on the Symbiotes? Did this story really need to be told? I know I complained that there isn’t enough explanation in the Movie but that was introducing a character into a franchise. The above is just rewriting history and telling a story that didn’t need to be told.

So there we have it, a brief history of the Symbiotes in 1200 words. I apologise if I have missed any Symbiotes but I think I have covered all the major ones. I also tried to give a brief background on them all without spoiling their respective stories.

Thanks to the fine folks of www.marvel.com and the marvel comics database for their encyclopedia, I could not have done this article without it.

Recommended Reading

Ultimate Spider-man Vol 6

Ultimate Spider-man Vol 11

Ultimate Spider-man Vol 21

Marvel Knights

Secret Wars

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