Venom through history: A look at the origins and past iterations of the Lethal Protector (2023)

In Sony’s new Spider-Man universe movie, “Venom,” Tom Hardy plays Eddie Brock, a disgraced reporter chasing down stories he’d often rather not be doing. Hardy’s Venom is not very far off from the one introduced in Marvel Comics more than 30 years ago, but the on-again-off-again Spider-Man villain has a long and twisted history in Marvel — both as a kind of anti-hero who protects the innocent at all costs and as a ruthless villain who threatened Peter Parker’s family and allies. Which is why it’s so surprising that the creature’s origins stem from Parker’s desire to get himself a new costume.

Venom is an alien symbiote who will take on the characteristics of the person or entity that it bonds with, usually heightening strength, rage and aggression — with a slight side effect being the desire to eat others. The symbiote cannot survive long without a host, and it usually manifests as an external suit, but the connection is much deeper than that. As Hardy prepares to step into the role, the Times looks back at the character’s onscreen and comic book origins, including its most influential incarnations.

Venom through history: A look at the origins and past iterations of the Lethal Protector (1)

(Marvel Comics)

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“The Amazing Spider-Man” #252 (1984)

Due to the way comics were released in 1984, “Secret Wars” #8 (below) was the first time Spider-Man wore the suit but not the first time readers saw it. That was in “The Amazing Spider-Man” #252, which was released in May, months before “Secret Wars” #8’s December debut. The events in “Secret Wars” happened before the events in #252.

It was later discovered by Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four that this costume was actually an alien symbiote. The symbiote had been taking control of Parker’s body while he slept and went out to fight crime at night, beating criminals senseless. Spider-Man subdued the symbiote — its weaknesses being fire and sonic waves — and imprisoned it.

(Video) Supervillain Origins: Venom

The symbiote somehow escaped, bent on revenge and a need for a host. It was drawn to Eddie Brock because of his hate for Spider-Man (more on that later). The symbiote knew Parker’s life, having bonded with him, so now Brock knew Parker’s life. The symbiote is also able to somehow mute Parker’s spider sense.

“Secret Wars” #8 (1984)

Backing up a bit … In 1984’s “Secret Wars,” in one of the biggest events in comics history, a group of heroes including Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Avengers were kidnapped along with a group of villains that included Doctor Doom, Ultron and Doctor Octopus, to do battle on a hastily constructed planet by an all-powerful being named the Beyonder. In “Secret Wars #8,” after one of the many skirmishes, Spider-Man’s suit was shredded, and he went looking for a machine that could rebuild costumes. He found what he thought was that machine, and wished into existence a small black ball that suddenly surrounded him with a black-and-white costume complete with its own webbing.

"Web of Spider Man" #s 18 and 24. Partial appearances of Eddie Brock as Venom.

(Video) History Of Venom

“Web of Spider-Man” #18 (1986) and “Web of Spider-Man” #24 (1987)

Marvel subtely introduced Eddie Brock as Venom in cameo shots, building anticipation for something big. In “Web of Spider-Man” #18 (September 1986), Brock shoved Peter Parker in front of a subway train without Parker’s spider sense warning him, though only Brock’s hand was seen on the comic book panel.

Venom next appeared, kind of, in “Web of Spider-Man” #24 (March 1987). While changing into his costume on a building ledge, Parker was grabbed through a window and thrown.

"The Amazing Spider Man" #s 299 and 300. First full appearances of Eddie Brock as Venom.

“The Amazing Spider-Man” #299 (1988) / “The Amazing Spider-Man” #300 (1988)

After a long and mysterious piecemeal introduction, Venom made his first appearance on the last page of “The Amazing Spider-Man” #299 (April 1988). He made his complete-with-story appearance in the next issue, “The Amazing Spider-Man” #300 (May 1988). After a grueling battle in which Brock lets Parker know who he is and why he wants to kill him, Spider-Man is able to subdue “them” and takes both Brock and the symbiote to the Fantastic Four for safe-keeping.

Venom through history: A look at the origins and past iterations of the Lethal Protector (3)

(Marvel Comics)

(Video) Marvel Comics: All Symbiotes Explained | Comics Explained

FULL COVERAGE: 2018 fall movie preview »

“Venom: Lethal Protector” (1993)

Eddie Brock as Venom is who most would consider the original character. Though the Venom symbiote was introduced in 1984, the 1993 limited series “Venom: Lethal Protector” was the first to explore Brock’s history before he bonded with the symbiote.

As a reporter, Brock investigated the serial killer Sin Eater but then accused the wrong man after pressure from the cops. The real Sin-Eater is caught by Spider-Man, though, which disgraces Brock and causes him to hate Spider-Man. Hence, the natural hate-bond between Brock and the symbiote.

The black costume originated in 1982 from an idea by a 22-year-old fan named Randy Schueller. Marvel had a contest to garner new ideas, and Schueller’s idea impressed then-editor Jim Shooter, who bought it for $220. Writer Tom DeFalco and artist Ron Frenz first established that the costume was an alien being with nefarious intent.

Venom through history: A look at the origins and past iterations of the Lethal Protector (4)
Topher Grace

in “Spider-Man 3.”

(Sony / Marvel)

(Video) History Of Anti-Venom

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“Spider-Man 3” (2007)

There’s really been only one Venom to hit the big screen in a live-action sense -- Topher Grace in 2007’s “Spider-Man 3.” Grace’s Eddie Brock was a vengeful, broken man who hated Peter Parker for ruining his promising photography career by reporting his fraudulent photos. He hated him so much that he prayed for Parker’s death. An alien symbiote that crash landed on Earth found Spider-Man and bonded with him as he slept. It was in a church where Brock inadvertently was taken over by the symbiotic creature after Parker as Spider-Man had struggled to rid himself of the creature once he realized its parasitic nature. Brock’s hate for Parker and the symbiote’s new hate for its former host made a potent mix.

Venom through history: A look at the origins and past iterations of the Lethal Protector (5)

(Marvel Comics)

“Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars” (2015)

In a bit of revisionist history, it was revealed in 2015 that Deadpool was also among the heroes back in “Secret Wars” in a series called “Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars.” After causing much mayhem, Wasp somehow caused all the participants to forget that Deadpool was ever there. During the series, Deadpool donned a suit before Peter Parker got to it, becoming the first human to bond with the alien. Deadpool’s uniquely disjointed mind actually caused the alien to go crazy. Deadpool got rid of the suit and, soon after, Spider-Man came along to pick it up (if you choose to believe that happened).

(Video) How Venom Became A Hero

“Venom” (2018)

In the newest version of Venom, Tom Hardy’s incarnation of Eddie Brock doesn’t seem to harbor any ill will against Spider-Man/Peter Parker — at least that we’ve seen in the trailers. As a reporter, Brock goes looking for the source of illegal experiments perpetrated by a Dr. Carlton Drake (played by Riz Ahmed) and stumbles across an alien symbiote that slowly seems to take over his life. Hardy’s Brock seems to want to use the creature for good but strains to curtail its violent tendencies.

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Why does Venom call himself lethal protector? ›

But they reach a truce and he's on his own. Just the name alone, 'Lethal Protector' indicates that he's going to help you but it comes at a mortal cost. He's that anti-hero as a starting place.”

When did Venom become the lethal protector? ›

Venom: Lethal Protector is a six-issue comic book limited series featuring the Eddie Brock Venom, published by Marvel Comics from February 1993 to July 1993. It was written by David Michelinie and illustrated mostly by Mark Bagley, although Ron Lim and series inker Sam de la Rosa pencilled the last three issues.

What is the history behind Venom? ›

Venom's origins can be traced to a race of symbiotes from the planet Klyntar. These beings merge with hosts, and the combined entity tends to have a personality based on both the symbiote and the host itself, though sometimes one side or the other tends to dominate.

How many Venom lethal protectors are there? ›

Venom: Lethal Protector collects the complete 6 part series from 1993 written by David Michelinie and pencils by Mark Bagley and Ron Lim.

Why did Venom become Anti-Venom? ›

Brock is enveloped in a new white “Anti-Venom” symbiote when remnants of the Venom symbiote in his body merge with special antibodies (produced by his white blood cells) due to Li's Lightforce energy.

Why is Venom the strongest? ›

A symbiote is only as strong as the bond that it shares with its host. With that in mind, Venom is the clear winner, having formed a number of strong bonds since making its debut back in issue 252 of The Amazing Spider-Man.

Does Venom get pregnant? ›

One of the most tragic and weirdest Venom stories is how the symbiote made Eddie Brock pregnant, and this pregnancy created more chaos than Carange.

Why does Venom hate Spider-Man? ›

Feeling shunned, the symbiote bonds with Eddie Brock, as the pair become Venom through their shared hatred of both Peter Parker and Spider-Man. In simple terms, Venom hates Spider-man because Peter Parker rejects the Symbiote.

Is Venom the oldest symbiote? ›

In terms of publication history, Venom is the original symbiote. The character debuted in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (1963) #252 as a new costume that Peter Parker received during SECRET WARS (1984). However, Parker eventually learned his suit was an alien that had bonded with him.

What is Venom's real name? ›

While Venom has had multiple hosts in comics over the years, the one that we (and the Symbiote) keep coming back to is a man known as Eddie Brock.

Is Venom the weakest symbiote? ›

In the Venom movie, Venom says he is the weakest. Is he really? Yes. Out of the three main symbiotes we've seen so far, Venom has definitely been the weakest.

Is Venom a good guy or bad guy? ›

Since his debut however, Venom has evolved into an antiheroic figure, slowly distancing himself from his initial goal to ruin Spider-Man's life to try and do good instead, even putting aside his differences with and helping Spider-Man at times.

Who is the strongest Venom ever? ›

Marvel Comics' new version of Venom has become the most powerful symbiote ever. Dylan Brock, the son of the original Venom host, Eddie, has unlocked a new power that allows him to sever a symbiote's connection to the hive mind, which makes him a threat even for the all-powerful Kings in Black.

Who has the strongest Venom? ›

Most Venomous Animal in the World to Humans: Inland Taipan Snake. One bite from an inland taipan snake has enough venom to kill 100 adult people. One bite from an inland taipan snake has enough venom to kill 100 adult people! By volume, it's the most venomous animal in the world to humans.

Why does Venom refer to himself as we? ›

It is just a way to highlight how the union works. “We" implies a collective effort, and Venom is the product of a melding between a man and an extraterrestrial creature. Two creatures uniting on a very specific kind of wedding and acting now as a singular entity.

Why does Venom always have his tongue out? ›

The great tongue lengthening was originally something of an accident, artist Erik Larson recently explained on Facebook. Larson thought Venom creator Todd McFarlane once illustrated a trade paperback cover with an extended mouth member and so followed suit.

Why does Venom have white hands? ›

Venom's infamous “hand patches” are a carryover from when Spider-Man wore the symbiote as he would shoot his web lines from them, as does Venom. They're such a small detail to his design that they're often looked over when an issue is put into color!

Why does Venom not want to fight a red one? ›

In the trailer, the Venom symbiote expressed reluctance about fighting him after noticing that Carnage is a “red one,” which suggests that red symbiotes are naturally more powerful than all other members of his species.


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