We Are Venom: The Many Characters Who Wore the Symbiote

From Spider-Man and Eddie Brock to Groot and Sub-Mariner 2099, the Venom costume certainly gets around.

It’s fitting that the Venom costume is a liquid entity because the creature and the Venom identity have been used for all sorts of different roles. Spider-Man’s edgy new costume, Evil Spider-Man, violent antihero, corrupt government soldier, rogue government agent, space knight, and so on.

With the big Venom movie now in theaters, let’s look at all the different heroes and villains that have worn the spidery blob. I’ve split it into three different types. We have the main hosts, such as Spider-Man and anyone who was treated as actual Venom in the mainstream books. Then there are the others, who wore the costume in continuity, but are considered more like footnotes. Lastly, it’s the ones that happened in alternate realities.

SPIDER-MAN (PETER PARKER)

Back in the ’80s, Marvel had their big Secret Wars event, created to sell toys and ultimately shaping how Big Two comics would be designed for decades to come. In an attempt to give the story extra importance, they used it as an excuse to change up Spider-Man’s costume into a black and white ensemble with some cool extras like unlimited webbing that came out of the back of his hands instead of the wrists.

Fighting it out on Battleworld, Spider-Man’s red and blue costume got shredded up and he found what he thought to be a machine that stitches new outfits. What he unknowingly got was an alien parasite kept in a prison. It jumped onto him and took to him, wanting to live in a symbiotic relationship.

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While later versions of the story – especially in different media – would focus on how it made Spider-Man more aggressive, the big deal was more that it was controlling his body in his sleep and the very idea of it being alive freaked Peter out something fierce. Spider-Man rid himself of the creature, only to be antagonized by it for years.

further reading: The Many Spider-Men of the Spider-Verse

In main continuity, he became the host for Venom during the time when Peter’s body had the mind of Doc Ock. That led to a cool take where he had goo-based octopus tentacles coming out of him. He also had Eddie Brock loan him the symbiote at the end of Dan Slott’s Amazing Spider-Man run in order to combat the Carnage-clad Green Goblin. Out of continuity, he became the host in one of the early Spider-Girl issues and in a disturbing What If storyline where it took over Peter’s cocooned body from The Other and transformed him into “Poison.”

EDDIE BROCK

When people think of Venom, they mainly think of Eddie and the movie will solidify that more than ever. A journalist, Eddie Brock’s life took a bad turn when he misreported on a masked murderer named the Sin-Eater and got the identity wrong. Acting like the antithesis of Peter Parker, he shifted the responsibility and blamed this tragic mistake on Spider-Man rather than himself or the unfairness of the world. When praying for forgiveness for considering suicide while at a church, Spider-Man’s discarded symbiote jumped onto him.

From there, the two brought out the worst in each other and fueled their mutual hate-on for Spider-Man. Venom became Spider-Man’s cool, new, popular villain for several years, constantly stalking him in his personal life. Then for a time he got over his flawed axe-to-grind and moved to San Francisco to become a murderous vigilante.

Venom’s time as Lethal Protector lasted five years and had a big collection of miniseries that was secretly a sixty-issue ongoing (restarting at #1 whenever a new arc started). As an antihero, Venom was essentially a less-competent Punisher. A monster using his vigilante status to justify his bloodlust, all while seeing himself as Adam West Batman.

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Further reading: A Beginner’s Guide to Venom Comics Reading Order

Brock went back to being a thorn in Spider-Man’s side, but not for long, as he simply stopped showing up in comics for years. When he did come back, it was for the sake of passing the torch to the next host.

Since then, Eddie’s been given a new lease on life as Anti-Venom and later Toxin. Neither identity lasted too long and he eventually rubber-banded back to being Venom.

PATRICIA ROBERTSON

Ugh. This catastrophe.

In the early 2000s, Marvel was doing their Tsunami imprint and one of the books to come out of it was an eighteen-issue Venom ongoing by Daniel Way. It had incredibly little to do with Eddie Brock and instead was a rather mean-spirited mess of a series that didn’t get referenced again for about fifteen years.

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Here’s the gist of the plot and I swear I’m not making any of this up: the biblical story of Noah’s Ark was inspired by a bunch of nanites from space coming down and plotting to wipe out all of humanity. The nanites decided at the last second not to and left, but a handful of them stuck around and didn’t get the memo. So they spent centuries laying low in the form of a man with a bushy mustache, biding their time. Their master plan was to wait for an alien symbiote to be loose on Earth and then use it to cause the apocalypse. Somehow.

In a fight with the Fantastic Four, Venom lost his tongue. A random dude found it and tried to sell it on eBay, but it was immediately stolen away by shadowy government people led by the bushy mustache nanites man. The tongue was used to clone the Venom costume and it was let loose in an arctic lab in a blatant ripoff of John Carpenter’s The Thing. Army lieutenant Patricia Robertson survived the massacre thanks to the help of The Suit, an Agent Smith knockoff with a weaponized smartphone.

He is also made of nanites.

Patricia ultimately became the host for the Venom clone and got jerked around and shit on far more than your average superhero character with absolute zero catharsis. This all led to an abrupt ending where Eddie Brock’s Venom symbiote merged with Patricia’s and the evil nanite man was all, “Heh heh. All according to plan.”

Further reading: 15 Craziest Venom Moments in Marvel History

He was never mentioned again, nor was Patricia. We didn’t see if she died, escaped, or what.

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ANGELO FORTUNATO

Angelo did not last long at all, but he came with enough fanfare that he was sort of a big deal, mainly because of the Mark Millar/Frank Cho creative team behind him. Eddie Brock was slowly dying of cancer and decided he just wanted to end it all. Knowing that the symbiote would just find another host, he decided to use that as a final act of goodness by auctioning it off to the criminal underworld and giving that money to charity.

Angelo Fortunato was the lacking son of a high-ranking mobster. The idea was that the symbiote would make a man out of him and he liked the idea because it meant girls would write fanfiction about him.

…Mark Millar wrote this, remember.

As the new Venom, Angelo went after Spider-Man and did pretty well for himself, but the moment Spider-Man was able to get an advantage, Angelo folded and tried to escape. The symbiote – disgusted with his cowardice – removed itself from his body and sought out a new host.

Further reading: Venom, Riot, and the Life Foundation Symbiotes Explained

Angelo was in mid-swing during that decision. He…ummm…he did not survive.

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MAC GARGAN

Gargan spent many years as the Scorpion and during the Marvel Knights Spider-Man storyline that introduced Angelo Fortunato, Gargan reappeared as finally free of his green armor. Acting as a henchman for Norman Osborn, he had a non-violent confrontation with Spider-Man and was apparently going to be refitted with a new, better Scorpion suit.

Instead, the Venom symbiote found him. Gargan gladly became the new host, much to Osborn’s initial chagrin. As time would show, Venom would be Osborn’s go-to goon and would serve him as both a Thunderbolt and a Dark Avenger.

further reading: Who is Carnage?

In a time when Carnage was believed to be dead and Eddie Brock had his own thing going on, it made sense to have Gargan as a brutal, purely evil Venom with no shades of gray. While a bit of an afterthought in Dark Avengers, he did have his own miniseries called Sinister Spider-Man that was absolutely brilliant and featured having a tiny dog thrown into his eye via Bullseye.

With the end of Dark Reign and Osborn’s time in power, the government decided to just remove the alien costume and figure it out from there. Mac Gargan went back to being the Scorpion and nobody’s cared about him since.

EUGENE “FLASH” THOMPSON

Formerly Peter Parker’s high school bully and later his rehabilitated friend, Flash Thompson was reintroduced with a story that showed him as a soldier losing his legs in Iraq. The government decided to make him the new host for Venom, though with enough precautions. He could only wear the symbiote for 24 hours before being separated. As Agent Venom, he did the government’s dirty work while keeping it a secret from loved ones.

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As this new Venom starred in his first of two ongoings, they played up his own addiction to Venom’s powers (namely the power to walk) and how it related to his preexisting alcoholism. This is something only vaguely touched in the Brock days, since most times he was separated from the creature and was forced to rebond, he treated it like a recovering addict having alcohol poured down his throat against his will.

Flash’s initial status quo didn’t last too long and he became a fugitive from the law for a bit. By working alongside Captain America and earning Cap’s trust, he ended up getting a spot on the Secret Avengers. Shortly after, he joined the Thunderbolts until Cap asked him to join up with the Guardians of the Galaxy.

When on Earth, Flash kept the symbiote in check via drugs and appealing to its nature, but in space, the costume became more erratic. Turns out it just needed to go back to its home planet and Bendis wrote a big pile of retcon about how the symbiotes are called Klyntar and they’re actually quite peaceful, but sometimes they need to be recalibrated. The symbiote got cleansed, lost all memories of most of its hosts, became docile, and started looking like something out of Ben 10. Afterwards, Flash started having solo space adventures as the Agent of the Cosmos.

His second ongoing just ended with him back on Earth, where the two ended up splitting up. Flash has moved on and found a new identity as Agent Anti-Venom.

LEE PRICE

When the symbiote was separated from Flash Thompson, it was hungry, weak, and desperate for a new host. It wanted to do heroic things for the good of humanity, so of course it ended up getting stuck with a man who wanted none of that. Lee Price was a former army ranger with intent to not only be part of the criminal underworld, but to one day run it. Bending the symbiote to his will, he made plans to climb up the ladder and gradually take over New York City.

This Venom seemed short-lived at first as his brand new series was more of a means to reunite Eddie Brock and the symbiote. Lee was put in prison for a stretch until being let off on a technicality. He and his gang captured the Venom sidekick Mania and stole her costume. Lee Price became Maniac and made another go at ruling the world of crime. Even though this led to him having a “final form” of being a giant version of Venom, he was still taken down by the team of Spider-Man, Agent Anti-Venom, Venom, and Black Cat.

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SHE-VENOM (ANN WEYING)

Ann was Eddie Brock’s ex-wife. We never got to know too much about their married life, but Ann always held a candle for Eddie and hoped he’d get well. As a lawyer, she became the target of a new Sin-Eater, who put her in critical condition. Venom rescued his ex and took her to his sewer hideout, but her internal damage was too much and she was moments from death.

Eddie coaxed the symbiote into bonding with Ann and healing her. While that was happening, a couple of scavengers broke in and beat down Eddie. Ann, in the form of the voluptuous She-Venom, horrifically tore the two interlopers to pieces. It’s suggested that she was a more violent host than even Eddie. When she split from the alien, she was disgusted by her actions and blamed her ex-husband for putting her in that position.

Ann donned the costume once more and her experiences as the host drove her to madness. She became a total shut-in and Eddie’s intent to patch things up (along with seeing Spider-Man swing by the window in his black threads) caused her to go over the edge and she killed herself.

SCARLET SPIDER (BEN REILLY)

Spider-Man was briefly able to talk some sense into Eddie and convinced him that maybe the symbiote was clouding his judgment. Eddie figured the least he could do was spend some time separated from the costume and told it to get lost. The symbiote let out a sonic howl of loneliness, which accidentally alerted the rest of its race that it was on Earth.

further reading: Complete Guide to Marvel Easter Eggs in the Venom Movie

This was many years before Bendis’ take on the whole Klyntar race being good, so instead we got a big symbiote invasion in New York. Coincidentally, Bendis would also write a symbiote invasion in New York storyline that ignored this.

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Spider-Man, Scarlet Spider, and Eddie Brock worked together and Scarlet Spider appeared to have a seventh sense about what was going on. They later discovered that although it hadn’t fully bonded to him, the symbiote was posing as his sweatshirt and was feeding him info. Eddie reluctantly recombined with the symbiote and the three went and fought off the invasion.

WOLVERINE (JAMES HOWLETT)

Yeah, so back to that Daniel Way story about the nanites and the Venom clone. After the Thing storyline, the Venom clone was loose in Canada and Wolverine happened to be hanging out there because, you know, Wolverine is everywhere. The whole storyline was peak Wolverine bullshit, since Wolverine had a nuke dropped on him and all it did was knock his shirt off. Then The Suit zapped him and put his super-powered cell phone into Wolverine’s chest cavity.

further reading: Venom Post-Credits Scenes Explained

On the hunt for Venom, Wolverine was ambushed by the costume and was overwhelmed. It took him over with no problem and found itself the perfect host, considering Wolverine’s healing factor and never-ending adrenaline. WolVenom attacked Patricia Robertson, but then The Suit’s cell blasted it from inside Wolverine’s body, causing the costume to evacuate and ultimately attach to Robertson.

Wolverine grumbled, “Can you hear me now?” because we all have to suffer sometimes.

MS. MARVEL (CAROL DANVERS)

Brian Reed really, really wanted to make Peter Parker + Carol Danvers a thing. Just him. When Siege was going on, there was a collection of one-shots about stuff going on during the penultimate battle before the Void became the final endboss. One of these stories, written by Reed, had Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel take on Mac Gargan Venom.

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Ms. Marvel beat him fairly easily and simply tore Gargan from the symbiote like she was pulling someone’s towel off. The symbiote then simply attached itself to Carol and took over her mind. What we got was a flying Venom with fiery Kirby dots exploding out her head. Spider-Man fought his possessed friend and freed Carol via kicking her into some power lines.

The symbiote then went back to Gargan and the big battle continued.

RED HULK (THADDEUS ROSS)

Remember the New Fantastic Four? That thing where Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hulk, and Ghost Rider briefly replaced the actual Fantastic Four as some kind of preemptively meta look at how Marvel teams would work in the future? During Rick Remender’s Venom run, they did a storyline called Circle of Four that gave us what was essentially the Dark New Fantastic Four. We had Flash Thompson Venom, X-23, Red Hulk, and that crappy female Ghost Rider that nobody cares about.

They ended up teaming together to fight Blackheart, who at one point fought them with the Bizarro Dark New Fantastic Four. Comics rule.

After our heroes were taken out by Blackheart’s forces, they were brought back by Mephisto. In order to hit Blackheart with everything they had, they went with the most ridiculously awesome idea ever by having Red Hulk possessed by both the Spirit of Vengeance and the Venom symbiote. Too bad there was no easy way to give him Wolverine claws, but such is life.

The pure brute force alone didn’t stop Blackheart, but they ultimately beat him and saved the world. Red Hulk’s upgrades were returned back to their proper hosts and they all went their separate ways. The problem, noticed only by Daimon Hellstrom, was that all four heroes were marked by Mephisto’s demonic magic.

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Which brings us to…

MANIA (ANDI BENTON)

Before his space adventures, Flash moved out of New York City and went to Philadelphia, where he became a high school gym coach. Andrea Benton was both a neighbor and a student with a chip on her shoulder. She was also quickly aware that Flash was secretly Venom.

Venom’s arch-nemesis Jack O’Lantern appeared at Flash’s apartment complex to cause trouble and murdered Andi’s father. Venom attempted to protect her from noxious gas, but the symbiote did more than that. It split itself and bonded with her. As Mania, she became Venom’s angry, teenage sidekick.

Flash later discovered that there was a reason why the symbiote split itself. In order to appease Flash, the symbiote figured it would spit the clone symbiote (from the Patricia Robertson series) back out and onto Andi. The clone symbiote was carrying the mark of Mephisto, meaning it was no longer Venom’s problem. Flash didn’t see it like that.

Venom and Mania remained a team and they even discovered that one of the silver linings was Mania had control over demons. When Venom went to space, Mania gradually lost control. Venom was able to bring her back to her senses and promised he’d find a way to cure her. Eventually, Lee Price stole the symbiote from her and became Maniac. Regardless, Andi retained her demon powers and currently uses them to help keep the peace in Philly.

US AGENT (JOHN WALKER)

Ooooookay. This one is a little weird.

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In the beginning of Jeff Parker Thunderbolts run (which eventually became Dark Avengers), US Agent took some serious body damage. He lost both an arm and a leg during the Siege tie-in. Afterwards, he became this badass prison warden who could mess up a room full of prisoners regardless of how much biology he was missing.

During the final arc, US Agent and the Dark Avengers crew were stuck in a rewritten Earth where New York City was split apart by a dystopian superhero gang war. In this world, Hank Pym had been experimenting on the Venom symbiote and effectively lobotomized it. Dark Avengers member and Scarlet Witch stand-in Toxie Doxie used Venom to attach itself to US Agent and grow back his missing limbs, returning him to the status quo.

DEADPOOL (WADE WILSON)

The Deadpool/Venom connection has been done a few times. The first was a comedic series of backup stories in What If comics that showed a reality where Deadpool became the host for Venom. It gave him an evil jheri curl and became a commentary for event comics and…man, it was out there.

In a somewhat more canon appearance, Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars revealed that Wade was actually there for the initial ’80s event and everyone forgot about it due to a reality-altering wish from an emotional and heartbroken Wasp. One moment showed that prior to Spider-Man stumbling upon the alien costume, Deadpool tried it on first. It was a brief melding as the Klyntar couldn’t handle Deadpool’s mind. The suggestion was that he probably warped the symbiote’s personality before anyone else.

Cullen Bunn has revisted the idea of Venompool a few more times. Back in Black showed that in-between Peter Parker and Eddie Brock, the symbiote did join Wade again for a short while to help him fight with and against 80s staple characters. They split up due to their disagreements with whether or not to kill Spider-Man and it was revealed that Deadpool convinced Eddie Brock to visit the fateful church in the first place.

Otherwise, the connection was brought up in Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe Again, which was secretly part of Old Man Logan continuity. In it, Deadpool killed Eddie Brock, reunited with the symbiote, devoured Spider-Man, and then told the creature to go away. There was also a Venompool in the Venomverse storyline. Although he was infected by a Poison creature (more on that later), he retained his mind and sacrificed himself to stop the bad guys.

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GROOT

As mentioned earlier, there was a Guardians of the Galaxy story based on Venom going back to the costume’s planet of origin. It didn’t make the trip without conflict. Joined with Flash, Venom became more unpredictable until a fight with the other Guardians finally nullified the threat. They kept the goo in a containment jar, which easily escaped when carried by Groot.

Constantly shouting, “I AM VENOM!” the new hybrid alien took on the other Guardians of the Galaxy until being knocked out by Drax.

ROCKET RACCOON

The symbiote left Groot and the others figured he’d just go back and find Flash’s unconscious body. Instead, it leaked onto Rocket from the vents above and took him over, looking like some kind of Venomized Sonic the Hedgehog.

I checked Google Image Search for fanart of that very idea. There’s a lot of it and I’m really not far off.

The possessed Rocket, speaking a bit more clearly than the previous host, insisted that everyone get off the ship ASAP. He admitted that he didn’t want to kill anyone, but he needed to commandeer the ship immediately.

Then it got really interesting…

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DRAX THE DESTROYER

Although Quill warned him not to, Drax decided that grabbing Rocket from behind was a good idea. Nope. The costume slinked off Rocket and jumped onto Drax. The issue ended with the cliffhanger image of Symbiote Drax looking metal as fuck.

By the beginning of the next issue, Flash woke up to find everyone unconscious except for the victorious Drax. Smiling madly, Drax basked as they arrived in the Klyntar homeworld. Through Drax, the symbiote said some cryptic stuff about their journey to Flash before leaving Drax’s body.

Drax didn’t take this well and nearly murdered Flash until Quill talked him down.

MERCURIO THE 4D MAN

During Flash’s short-lived adventures as an Agent of the Cosmos, he quickly came into conflict with the obscure Thor villain Mercurio. An interstellar conqueror, Mercurio’s plans were thwarted by Venom a couple times, so he sent a murderous space panda named Pik Rollo to take care of this new thorn in his side. Rollo – blackmailed due to her son being captive on Mercurio’s ship – ended up striking up a deal with Venom, which included a fake back-stabbing. As part of the plan, Venom was captured.

Mercurio stripped the costume from Flash and wore Venom himself. Unbeknownst to Mercurio until it was too late, this was all a trick for Venom to uncover information via bonding. Venom split from Mercurio and viciously beat him down until Flash pleaded with him to stop. Although they successfully tricked Mercurio, being part of such an evil being returned some old habits to the Venom symbiote, as its addiction to rage and violence started to bubble back to the surface.

OLD MAN LOGAN

I’m splitting hairs, but I’m not even sure which sub-list to toss this one. It’s a character from an alternate future thrown into another alternate future, only it’s as a member of a mainstream X-Men team.

Anyway, during The Apocalypse Wars, the X-Men got stranded a thousand years into the future. As always, Earth was a dystopian mess, this time run by Apocalypse’s Four Horsemen: Colossus, Deadpool, a female Moon Knight, and the Venom symbiote.

Using the Fastball Special, Colossus threw the blobby creature onto Old Man Logan. After a couple of issues, Jean Grey realized the secret wasn’t to try and mentally coax Logan, but to mentally attack the alien itself. With Venom purged from Old Man Logan’s body, Iceman froze it in place.

DEVIL DINOSAUR

In the brilliantly titled “Land Before Crime,” the Eddie Brock version of Venom found out that Stegron had an army of dinosaur people living underneath New York. He teamed up with Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur to stop them, but Stegron had the ability to mentally control Devil Dinosaur. At first, Venom wanted to call it quits, but he saw a kindred spirit in the relationship between Moon Girl and her dinosaur friend and came up with a plan. Venom allowed Devil Dinosaur to eat him as a rope-a-dope. The symbiote attached itself to Devil Dinosaur, undoing Stegron’s psychic hold. Venom Dinosaur went on a rampage long enough for Moon Girl to foil Stegron’s plans to turn everyone in NYC into dinosaurs.

THE INKLINGS

When Lee Price became Maniac, he gained a new power. By coughing or spitting on someone with his symbiote, he would mask them with an extension of said symbiote and it would put them under his control. He used his mind control to take over various super-criminals. His victims included Black Cat, Scorpion, Hammerhead, Looter, 8-Ball, Killer Shrike, The Brothers Grimm, and the Melter. He also took over Spider-Man for a time. The drawback of his power was that once someone was free of his hold, he could not control them all over again.

When faced with the team of Spider-Man, Agent Anti-Venom, Venom, and Black Cat, Maniac absorbed all of his inkling masks into himself and became a giant.

SPIDER-WOMAN (JESSICA DREW)

After defeating Maniac, the Venom symbiote was finally cured of its mental instability. Venom went back to fighting crime, though chose not to kill the lesser criminals. Spider-Woman didn’t see this as a reason to let him off the hook and tried to capture Venom a couple times. At the time, the symbiote was carrying a secret from Eddie: it was pregnant and scared that its child would turn out evil and vicious like its other children. Only with Eddie as a host did it feel optimistic that its offspring could be brought up well. The symbiote briefly joined onto Spider-Woman to show her the truth. Spider-Woman had recently given birth herself and understood to an extent. For the time being, she would allow Venom to roam free.

TEL-KAR

The Kree and the Skrulls have been warring with each other for so many years and while the Kree pride themselves as being the ultimate military species, the Skrulls have the advantage of shape-shifting. An idea came to acquire that ability for the Kree empire. A warrior named Tel-Kar went to the symbiote homeworld and discovered an outcast. Considering it a perfect choice, Tel-Kar became the first host to wear what would one day be known as the Venom costume. He went undercover as a Skrull, but turned on them the moment he was tasked with killing Kree refugees. Going into a suicide run, Tel-Kar made the symbiote leave him so they could not be captured together. Tel-Kar fought the Skrulls head-on, but survived in the end.

Years later, he’d come to Earth to reclaim his old partner. Forcing the symbiote to rejoin him against its will, it was revealed that Tel-Kar plans on using it to commit genocide against the entire Skrull race.

HULK (BRUCE BANNER)

What If the Alien Costume Possessed Spider-Man told the tale of Peter Parker waiting too long before having the Fantastic Four investigate his animated black tights. By that time they got him under the microscope, it was too late and the creature had already bonded to him. It took over his body completely and escaped, staying under the radar so Reed Richards couldn’t track it down.

After several days, the controlled Spider-Man found the Hulk going on a monstrous rampage. Knowing a good meal when it saw one, the symbiote left Spider-Man behind as it jumped onto Hulk, who could do nothing to save himself. Symbiote Hulk laughed and jumped off into the distance. Peter’s body was so used up by this point that the situation rendered him into an old man who died within a day.

While Hulk may seem like a perfect host, the symbiote was only using him as a stepping stone…

THOR (ODINSON)

It didn’t take long for Thor to come across Symbiote Hulk. While the symbiote insisted that what happened to Spider-Man was an accident and that it was actually helping Banner with his Hulk issues, Thor wasn’t fully trusting and they got in a big fight. Thor won, but the symbiote simply attached itself to him, which was the plan all along.

The two entities battled mentally while hiding out inside Mount Rushmore. Reed Richards sent Black Bolt after them, who was able to overpower Symbiote Thor with one word. The symbiote was then destroyed by Black Cat, armed with a sonic gun.

PUNISHER (FRANK CASTLE)

One of the best What If issues, What If Venom Had Possessed the Punisher, showed a reality where Frank Castle stopped at that one church moments before Eddie Brock. He had Spider-Man on the mind at the time and the symbiote latched onto him. Initially, Frank didn’t think much about the symbiote’s origins. He figured it was some slick SHIELD technology and went with it. He even did away with the webbing ability and had the costume shoot bullets made of symbiote goo.

This comic came out years before Garth Ennis got his mitts on Frank, so while he was depicted as a pragmatic mass murderer, he wasn’t the grindhouse sadist that he is now. In other words, it was treated as a big deal that he was far more gruesome with his kills, such as biting off half of Tombstone’s skull and spitting it out.

The symbiote gradually took over his life. He started lashing out against Microchip and found himself trying to kill Spider-Man against his will. After being hit with a sonic blast, Frank was able to go into a dreamlike state and confront the symbiote mentally. In the end, Frank made it an ultimatum: the symbiote would do what he wanted and get a piece of the violent action Frank’s known for, but if it didn’t listen to his orders, he’d kill them both. The symbiote agreed to the terms and the Punisher escaped capture from the heroes by using the symbiote to glide into the night.

Another version of Symbiote Punisher would show up in Edge of Venomverse. This take was that the symbiote agreed to help Frank win his war on crime as long as Frank would agree to help him commit one murder. That turned out to be Spider-Man. Frank resisted the situation, but never got a chance to fight Spider-Man due to the events of Venomverse kicking in.

VENOM 2099 (KRON STONE)

“Kron Stone! Meet the Kron Stone! Just your average man of vill-ai-ny! From the… ’90s future…he’s a man from altered hi-sto-ry!!!!”

Kron was the evil half-brother of Miguel O’Hara and made his debut by killing the family of Punisher 2099 and getting away with it. I mean, getting away with it as much as you can before Frank to the Future stabs you and leaves you dying in a sewer.

Luckily for Kron, the Venom symbiote had been nesting in that sewer for decades, trying to evolve itself. It bonded with Kron and gave him the usual Venom perks, along with acidic touch and a fully liquid body. So, like, a T-1000 made of xenomorph spit.

Hearing that his father Tyler Stone was hospitalized from an assassination attempt, Venom 2099 went to go finish the job, which caused him to cross paths with Miguel, otherwise known as Spider-Man 2099. The two fought it out for several issues, notably causing the death of Miguel’s love interest Dana (which simplified Miguel’s love triangle predicament).

Once Spider-Man 2099 figured out the symbiote’s weakness to sound, the authorities just pinpointed Venom 2099’s location and focused all the speakers in the area on him. Miguel then beat him down and prepared to kill the creature until discovering Kron underneath.

Due to the future’s lack of prisons, Miguel just kept Kron in a tube in his lab and had him separated from the costume.

SUB-MARINER 2099

Late into the Spider-Man 2099 ongoing, our hero fought the future’s Namor counterpart, an Atlantean terrorist. He was also brought in and made a captive in Miguel’s lab.

In the final issue, Sub-Mariner 2099 escaped and the chaos from all the armed guards trying to stop him caused the Venom symbiote to be released. It jumped onto Sub-Mariner 2099, gave him teeth at the end of his tongue, and they escaped into the ocean.

Being that it was the end of the comic, they never followed up on that.

SPIDER-GIRL (MAYDAY PARKER)

In the alternate future of Earth-X and its less-interesting sequels, Peter and Mary Jane’s daughter became the host for Venom and at some point tamed the beast while taking its name. Just one of the many reasons why she and her father didn’t get along.

The symbiote itself factored in very, very rarely in the stories outside of a one-shot called Universe-X: Spidey, which involved the psychic villain Spiders-Man (not a typo!) putting Peter into a comatose state where he lived out his fantasies. Using her symbiote, Mayday attached herself to her father and dove into his reality. She intended to save him, but seeing that his guilt-based fantasy was to have a son with Gwen instead of a daughter with MJ kind of broke Mayday for a moment and she almost beat Spiders-Man to death until Peter woke up and stopped her.

Afterwards, father and daughter bonded via bad jokes at dire situations.

NORMIE OSBORN

Speaking of Spider-Girl, the Venom symbiote had a bit of a Joker in Dark Knight Returns thing going on in the MC2 Universe. It was dormant for years until it found out there was a new spider-person swinging around and it woke back up. It ended up possessing the middle-aged Peter the first time around, creating a Spider-Man/Venom hybrid.

Normie Osborn was the son of Harry and started out as a villain, obsessed with avenging his bloodline and killing the Parkers. Mayday helped him get over these feelings, although he still had a body full of hate-filled tattoos. Normie became a big brother figure to Spider-Girl, but was eventually bonded to the Venom symbiote against his will.

Normie overcame its influence and insisted not to have it destroyed. He became a hero for a while, albeit one with no codename because he wasn’t comfortable being called “Venom.” It was a moot point, since by the time they hit Spider-Girl #100, they ended up killing off the costume. It sacrificed itself to help Spider-Girl defeat the Hobgoblin, playing up that Normie as a host helped reform the creature.

Coincidentally, before leaving Normie, the symbiote’s parting gift was removing all of his tattoos.

HUMAN TORCH (JOHNNY STORM)

In the Marvel Adventures universe, they did their own lighthearted version of the Spider-Man black costume story. In this take, after the Fantastic Four removed the symbiote from Spider-Man’s body, Human Torch decided he’d try it on for size. Upon turning on his powers, the creature freaked out from the fire and escaped.

KULAN GATH

This one’s probably not considered canon, but right now I don’t care enough to argue either way.

Ancient wizard Kulan Gath transformed Manhattan into something more fitting to the Hyborian Age. Everyone started talking like Thor outside of Spider-Man and for whatever reason, Venom (Eddie version) decided that Kulan was totally worth working with as part of his murder vigilante ways. Then Mary Jane became the host for Red Sonja’s soul/existence, which included ripping off her dress to reveal her chainmail loin cloth underneath.

Kulan became intrigued by the dark, powerful properties that came with the Venom symbiote and stole it from Eddie in a fight. As Kulan Venom, he…um…I don’t really know. Having a symbiote doesn’t really help out much when you’re a sorcerer. It’s like if Magneto became Venom. What’s he going to do, throw metal around angrier?

If anything, the so-called upgrade was Kulan’s undoing. When Eddie begged the symbiote to return to him, it threw Kulan off and allowed Spider-Man and Red Sonja to defeat him and send things back to normal.

MARY JANE PARKER

In the ’00s, Marc Sumerak and Gurihiru did an all-ages miniseries of Spider-Man/Power Pack, a cute story about Spider-Man teaming up with the youthful Power siblings. In the third issue, it showed Spider-Man defeating Venom with a sonic blast gun early on. Although Eddie Brock was taken into custody, the symbiote wasn’t apprehended. Instead, it was taken in by a freshly-fired fashion artist. He had the creature altered in a way that he could monetize it.

Six months later, Mary Jane was one of four models working for said fashion dude. Peter brought Power Pack with him for the fashion show. The models’ outfits were able to morph and all was going well until Mary Jane’s dress sensed Peter nearby. All the models became full-on lady Venoms and mindlessly fought against the heroes.

Lightspeed flew circles around them fast enough to create a sonic boom. That freed the models. Mass Master took over the DJ booth and maxed out the volume to destroy what was left of the symbiote outfits.

Being that it was an all-ages comic, Mary Jane and the others were wearing slips under the skintight symbiotes. That had to chafe.

ENERGIZER (KATIE POWER)

After that fashion show incident, Spider-Man and the Power Pack left. Unbeknownst to everyone, a surviving piece of Venom hitchhiked onto Katie Power.

Soon after, Katie started having nightmares about being Venom and capturing Spider-Man alongside the Sinister Six. Others tried to rationalize the dream, but the truth was that the costume was taking over her body when she slept. They really did have Spider-Man in captivity.

Despite being down a member, Power Pack and Spider-Man had little issue stopping the Sinister Six and a Half. Spider-Man tricked Rhino into running into Electro, who accidentally zapped all his allies. This fried the symbiote and freed Energizer.

Afterwards, she felt guilt over what happened, but Spider-Man reassured her that it was all the costume’s doing and none of hers.

NEST OF PETER PARKER CLONES

Rick Remender’s What If: Age of Apocalypse was an exercise in Remender coming up with ridiculous shit and loosely tying it into a narrative. It took place in a reality where Legion accidentally killed both Xavier and Magneto during his time-travel assassination attempt. In the vastly different present, a team of heroes led by Wolverine and Captain America (armed with Mjolnir) would go through a ton of off-the-wall threats like the most badass Four Horsemen of all time: Namor, Storm, Hulk, and Juggernaut.

At one point the heroes found themselves in a black web where the Venom symbiote had bonded to a nest of Peter Parkers who didn’t seem to have any will of their own. Knowing that they weren’t the real deal, Cap demanded they be destroyed before they moved on to the next bad guy.

T-REX

The Venom symbiote has latched onto various different animals over the course of its history. A husky, a bunch of cockroaches, and even a zoo gorilla. But in the dystopian reality of Old Man Logan, Venom went high up the food chain by taking over a tyrannosaurus.

The story dealt with Wolverine and Hawkeye going on a road trip in a destroyed world where evil won. In one foreboding moment, the Venom symbiote was shown to be watching over them from on top a mountain. Later in the adventure, Venom Rex showed up and gave chase.

Luckily, the heroes were able to outrun him long enough with the Spider-Mobile until they found Black Bolt, who downed the creature with one word. Basically, Black Bolt is the rock to Venom’s scissors.

CAPTAIN AMERICA (STEVE ROGERS)

This one can only be assumed, but judging from the weirdness going on around it…

In the alternate reality where Age of Apocalypse happened, Wolverine became infected with Apocalypse’s powers and megalomaniacal sickness. Calling himself Weapon Omega, this darker Logan had his own super team to carry out his orders. The Black Legion featured a lot of odd mashup and altered characters like Iron Ghost (Iron Man + Ghost Rider), Zombie Sentry (Simon Garth + Sentry), Grimm Chamber (Thing + Chamber), and so on.

When the mainstream X-Force team visited this reality, one panel showed that one of those Black Legion members was Captain America wearing the Venom symbiote. No information on him outside of that.

Black Legion was kind of forgotten about in general shortly after that.

Looking less monstrous, a version of Venom America would lead the resistance in Venomverse.

CONRAD MARCUS

With the new, black Ultimate Spider-Man who wasn’t based on a preexisting character, we got a new, black Ultimate Venom who also wasn’t based on a preexisting character.

At some point, Norman Osborn hired Dr. Conrad Marcus to recreate the accident that created Spider-Man. As far as Marcus knew, his attempts were constant failures. Months later, he found out differently when Betty Brant confronted him for a story and helped him piece together that a missing spider created the new Spider-Man. At the time, Marcus was working at Roxxon and his obsession with knowing more led to him releasing the Venom symbiote and becoming one with it.

His first acts were murdering Betty and then blowing up an abandoned Osborn Industries lab. Going by Betty’s false information, Venom went after Jefferson Morales, thinking him to be the new Spider-Man. Instead, the actual Spider-Man – Miles Morales, Jefferson’s son – appeared to fight him. Venom escaped into the sewers, though he succeeded in gravely wounding Jefferson.

He reappeared at the hospital, demanding Jefferson be offered to him. Spider-Man fought him and was briefly consumed by the hulking beast. Miles’ mother Rio, a nurse at the hospital, bought him time to escape and blow up the symbiote from within with a venom blast (fittingly enough). The authorities arrived and riddled Marcus to death with bullets.

Unfortunately, Rio was shot during the fracas and died in her son’s arms.

KINGPIN (WILSON FISK)

Man, the Marvel 100th Anniversary month. I totally forgot you even happened. Everyone did.

In 2014, Marvel did this thing where various creative teams would put together “100th anniversary” issues of various comics. In other words, a series of one-shots that were supposed to predict what certain comics will be like in the 2060s. Honestly, the only one worth reading is James Stokoe’s trippy Avengers story.

Sean Ryan and In-Hyuk Lee teamed up for the Spider-Man issue, which was supposed to be the final chapter of a story arc called “Great Power.” According to the recap, Venom had been biologically upgraded into being the Techno-Symbiote. Eddie Brock tried to become host to it once again, but he and Spider-Man came to realize that it needed to be destroyed. Then Wilson Fisk appeared and shot Eddie.

The actual issue started from there with Kingpin becoming the host to the futuristic symbiote, all while admitting that he had it created. As the new Venom, Fisk not only had the usual bells and whistles, but he could tap into all sorts of technology. He did that to stalk the underwear-clad Parker through New York City for the remainder of the issue.

Finally, the two had their final battle in the woods, where Parker shoved a torch into Venom’s face, tore Fisk out, and sat quietly as the Techno-Symbiote was burned to death.

HAWKEYE (CLINT BARTON)

As part of the 2015 Secret Wars event, one of the various alternate-universe-turned-kingdoms was one where Civil War never concluded. It instead led to two civilizations led by Steve Rogers and Tony Stark, constantly unable to reconcile due to an unseen puppet master.

Mac Gargan was dead in this reality and we’d see a mute Venom working on Captain America’s side. Venom was given just enough panel-time to be treated as a mystery as he joined Peter Parker’s covert mission into Stark’s kingdom. As they faced King Ock (Kingpin’s corpse controlled by Dr. Octopus’ tentacles), Venom quietly appeared behind the threat, created a goo-based bow, and fired Daredevil’s billy club through King Ock’s skull.

He was finally identified as “Clint” and stopped factoring into the story. I guess that would explain why his symbol looked like an arrowhead.

SPIDER-QUEEN

Spider-Island, another Secret Wars tie-in, showed a Manhattan where the Spider-Queen’s plot to turn people into spider creatures under her command wasn’t initially foiled. Flash Thompson as Venom became the leader of the resistance and helped save the minds of other heroes by turning them into different kinds of monsters, thereby giving them back their willpower. Captain America became a werewolf, Hulk became a lizard, Captain Marvel a vampire, Iron Man got pumped up with Goblin serum, etc.

In the final battle, Venom was able to fight through the Spider-Queen’s sonic scream enough to get onto her back. Pleading with the symbiote, Flash convinced it to leave his body and latch onto the queen. Flash got smashed into a wall and took massive internal damage while the Spider-Queen desperately struggled with the symbiote.

Venom sacrificed itself to weaken the Spider-Queen enough to allow an army of dinosaurs led by Stegron to feed on her. As it died, it swore that Flash was more than just a host to it, but a friend.

NORMAN OSBORN

In one of the many alternate realities looked over in Spider-Verse, there was one where Norman Osborn became President of the United States. To help clean out America’s imperfections, he created the Variable Engagement Neurosensitive Organic Mesh for himself and his enforcers.

That world’s Captain America led a protest against the fascist hybrids. President Osborn’s undoing came from Spider-Man, who weakened the symbiotes with punk rock and brained Osborn with his guitar.

SENTRY/VOID (ROBERT REYNOLDS)

This comes from the gnarly multiversal series Contest of Champions. Various heroes and villains from different realities were forced to fight it out as part of a big plot by the Maestro. Amongst the contestants, there was an alternate universe version of Eddie Brock Venom who was driven even more insane after killing Spider-Man. It caused him to start speaking to Peter as if he was there while wearing scraps of the Spider-Man costume around his neck.

Another hero was the Sentry, who had a tendency to slip into his Void persona. While infamously near-impossible to kill, he and Stick were seemingly wiped out by Punisher 2099’s giant future gun. Afterwards, Punisher 2099 separated the symbiote from Eddie and executed them with the same gun.

Unchecked, a remainder of the symbiote bonded with a remainder of the Void. An army of savage creatures called Symbioids appeared in its wake, looking much like Venom while having the raw power of the Void. The army did battle with the mainstream universe’s Ultimates, but Maestro eventually gained power over them in a psychic battle.

During the final battle, Stick revealed that he survived Punisher 2099’s earlier ambush. With the Symbioids nearby, he merged them all together and helped the Sentry break free from within via energy manipulation powers. The experience freed the Sentry of both the Void and the symbiote.

Afterwards, Sentry was instrumental in bringing down Maestro.

SPIDER-WOMAN/SPIDER-GWEN (GWEN STACY)

So, the Spider-Gwen universe. Not really the easiest thing to explain other than Gwen Stacy was bitten by a radioactive spider and everyone else is different from how we know them in main continuity. In one story, Harry Osborn was being turned into a monster via Lizard serum. The Lizard serum was mixed with some of Gwen’s essence to create this reality’s version of the Venom symbiote. Gwen was quick to tame it, or so she thought. With her father in a coma, she started becoming erratic and went after those responsible. She became wanted by the authorities and although she calmed the creature, the damage was done and she ultimately had to turn herself in.

X-23 (LAURA KINNEY)

Now we get to Edge of Venomverse, which showed a bunch of alternate universe Venoms via one-shots or short stories. This one showed that the complex that experimented on Laura Kinney also experimented on the Venom symbiote. During an escape attempt, she unleashed the creature and bonded to it, making escape that much easier and more violent. She then befriended a handful of homeless youths and helped protect them by giving them pieces of the symbiote. When the government agents went after them, the symbiote pieces pulled back into X-23 and she was unceremoniously teleported out of that dimension.

She was one of the few survivors of Venomverse and returned to her home world.

GWENPOOL (GWEN POOLE)

The self-aware heroine became Venom’s host in one world, though it wasn’t really explained. Instead, we got an amazing team-up story about Gwenpool fighting ninjas, dealing with her evil boss, and trying to hit on Daredevil…all while her symbiote tries to both help her out and give her advice in the form of, “Kill them.” Really fun issue, but Gwen’s Venomverse fate wasn’t a happy one.

GHOST RIDER (ROBBIE REYES)

Exacting vengeance in a badass muscle car, Robbie Reyes always had to deal with the voice of his evil Uncle Eli in his head, trying to take control. While Robbie tends to have that under control, this version was joined with the Venom symbiote. The three-way war for dominance ended when the symbiote and Eli decided to work together and turned Robbie into nothing more than a “motor.” Calling himself “Host Rider,” this monstrous entity spent the tie-in hunting down Calvin Zabo and making him suffer with the Penance Kiss.

Host Rider was pulled away to help with the Venomverse situation, but was forgotten about pretty quickly during the main miniseries.

NGOZI

Ngozi was a Nigerian girl who had a promising career as a track star ruined by a bus accident. Resigned to a wheelchair, she was trying to catch a grasshopper one day while ignorant to the Black Panther vs. Rhino fight going on behind her. Whatever it was about, it involved a capsule with the Venom symbiote in it. Said capsule got loose and rolled up to Ngozi’s wheelchair. As Rhino killed Black Panther, the symbiote oozed onto Ngozi and told her to run. She instead used her newfound gift to turn herself into a half-woman/half-grasshopper and took down Rhino.

Soon after, she was put through trials and was accepted as the new Black Panther, replacing T’challa as the ruler and protector of Wakanda.

DOCTOR DOOM

Victor Von Doom told the Avengers that he was turning over a new leaf and that he prepared a massive peace accord. Whether he was telling the truth or not was only background as Doom was in the middle of a massive war of willpower with the Venom symbiote. Venom wanted to help him crush his enemies. Doom insisted that, “There is no we.” Once the dust settled, the demonic Doom showed himself and revealed that the symbiote was bent to his will. Doom vanished as part of the Venomverse plot, but he’d soon be assimilated by the Poison race.

EVERYONE ELSE FROM VENOMVERSE

The plot of Venomverse was that there was a multiversal threat known as Poisons spreading through the worlds. This race was mostly harmless unless it touched a bonded symbiote. Suddenly, it would completely take over, make them stronger, remove their weaknesses, and absorb the host like they were food. The Poisons attempted to conquer the multiverse, led by Poison Thanos and Poison Dr. Doom. Venom hosts from various worlds would be brought in to help fight them, but many would lose and fall into their ranks.

At the beginning of the miniseries, the resistance included the likes of Spider-Man, Mary Jane, Flash Thompson, Andi Benton, Captain America, Dr. Strange, Old Man Logan, X-23, Ghost Rider, Black Panther, Ant-Man, and Rocket Raccoon. Only a handful of them survived.

As for listing the Poison hosts…yeah, I’m going to pass.

VISION AND REED GRIMM

In an alternate future created by one of Spider-Man and Deadpool’s adventures, the Fantastic Four is made up of Valeria Richards, The Last Devil (who carries an Iron Fist’s hand on a chain), the rock giant Reed Grimm, and Venom Vision. Venom Vision only seemed to speak in ones and zeroes with only Valeria able to understand it. The team helped the elderly Spider-Man and Deadpool fight a legion of Deadpool LMDs. They were under the control of the LMD messiah Master Matrix.

The Venom symbiote went for a desperation move by leaving Vision for Reed, but it was no use. The Deadpools tore Vision to pieces. Master Matrix singlehandedly destroyed Reed and Last Devil. Then he created synthetic symbiotes to enhance his LMD army. Before being overtaken, Valeria sent Spider-Man and Deadpool back in time to prevent this future from ever happening.

PART IV: HONORABLE MENTION

GALACTUS

Howard Mackie is a writer who likes to come up with sweet, high-concept ideas and then slink away rather than follow up on it because payoff is hard. When Spider-Man was enjoying his 30th anniversary in the ’90s, Mackie penned a storyline about Mysterio messing with Spider-Man’s head. The whole thing seemed like an excuse to have a splash page where Galactus appeared to him, clad in the Venom symbiote. So it doesn’t really fit in with anywhere else on the list, since it’s just Peter Parker tripping balls, but it is such a silly and awesome image that I can’t help but include it.

Gavin Jasper writes for Den of Geek and wonders what kind of horrors would occur if Rogue became Venom. Would she just absorb it and turn into some kind of flesh-colored ooze? Read Gavin’s other articles here and follow him on Twitter @Gavin4L