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|First appearance||as Venom: The Amazing Spider-Man #299 (April 1988)|
as Anti-Venom: Amazing Spider-Man #569 (October 2008)
as Toxin: Venom #17 (May 2012)
|Created by||David Michelinie|
|Team affiliations||Sinister Six|
|Notable aliases||Venom, Anti-Venom, Toxin|
Alien symbiote grants:
|First appearance||as Venom: The Amazing Spider-Man #299 (April 1988)|
as Anti-Venom: Amazing Spider-Man #569 (October 2008)
as Toxin: Venom #17 (May 2012)
|Created by||David Michelinie|
|Team affiliations||Sinister Six|
|Notable aliases||Venom, Anti-Venom, Toxin|
Alien symbiote grants:
Eddie Brock is a fictional character created by David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane. Originally a comic book supervillain, Brock's earliest appearance is a cameo in Web of Spider-Man #18 (September 1986) before making his first full appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man #299 (April 1988) as Venom. The character has since appeared in many Marvel Comics publications including his own series Venom. Introduced as the first incarnation of the Spider-Man villain Venom, the character becomes an anti-hero, working with and against superheroes.
In the original version of the story, Brock is a journalist who exposes the identity of a serial killer only for the real killer to be caught by Spider-Man, Brock having accused the wrong man. Disgraced and suicidal, Brock comes into contact with an alien Symbiote, rejected by Peter Parker. The Symbiote bonds with Brock becoming Venom and together they seek out revenge against their mutual enemy. Though Brock repeatedly comes into conflict with Spider-Man, he also attempts to operate as a hero, albeit a violent one, seeking to save those he deems "innocent". In 2008, after being separated from the Venom Symbiote, Brock gains a new Symbiote and becomes the anti-hero Anti-Venom. However, that symbiote is sacrificed to help cure the "Spider-Island" endemic during the 2011 storyline. In 2012 he is bonded to the Toxin symbiote. Though Brock is a human with no powers, the Symbiote suit bestows upon him a range of abilities including many of the powers belonging to Spider-Man, the Symbiote's original host.
Debuting in the Modern Age of Comic Books, the character of Eddie Brock has featured in other Marvel-endorsed products such as animated television series; video games; merchandise such as action figures, and trading cards; and the Spider-Man 3 feature film in which he was played by actor Topher Grace. Eddie Brock's incarnation of Venom was rated 33rd on Empire's 50 Greatest Comic Book Characters, and was the 22nd greatest villain on IGN's 100 Greatest Comic Villains of all time. Comics journalist and historian Mike Conroy writes of the character: "What started out as a replacement costume for Spider-Man turned into one of the Marvel web-slinger's greatest nightmares."
Writer David Michelinie and artist Todd McFarlane are generally credited with the character's creation, based on a number of plot ideas and concepts from various other creators. The question of who created the character of Venom became an issue of contention in 1993 when Michelinie wrote to the comic book industry magazine Wizard, which had referred to Michelinie in issue #17 as "co-creator" of Venom. In his letter, printed in issue #21 (May 1993), Michelinie wrote that he was the character's sole creator, while saying also he believed that without McFarlane the character would not have attained the popularity it did.
Writer Peter David corroborated Michelinie's view in his "But I Digress" column in the June 4, 1993 Comics Buyer's Guide, in which he stated that Michelinie discussed the ideas behind the character with him at the time of its creation. At that time, David was the writer on The Spectacular Spider-Man and wrote the "Sin Eater" storyline from which Eddie Brock's backstory would be derived, well before McFarlane was assigned to the art duties on Amazing. Because artists who design the costumes or appearances of major characters and/or illustrate their first appearances are generally credited as co-creators, Venom represents a complex situation, because the costume from which Venom's appearance is derived was not designed by McFarlane.
Erik Larsen responded to Michelinie's letter with one of his own that was printed in Wizard #23 (July 1993), in which he dismissed Michelinie's contributions to the character, arguing that Michelinie merely "swiped" the preexisting symbiote and its powers to place it on a character whose motivations were poorly conceived, one-dimensional, unbelievable, and clichéd. Larsen also argued that it was McFarlane's rendition of the character that made it commercial.
The preexisting elements that dealt with the symbiote costume itself - to which Michelinie did not contribute - have also been noted. The original idea of a new costume for Spider-Man that would later become the character Venom was conceived of by a Marvel Comics reader from Norridge, Illinois named Randy Schueller. Marvel purchased the idea for $220.00 after the editor-in-chief at the time, Jim Shooter, sent Schueller a letter acknowledging Marvel's desire to acquire the idea from him, in 1982. Schueller's design was then modified by Mike Zeck, becoming the Symbiote costume. For example, Shooter came up with the idea of switching Spider-Man to a black-and-white costume, possibly influenced by the intended costume design for the new Spider-Woman, with artists Mike Zeck and Rick Leonardi, as well as others, designing the black-and-white costume Writer/artist John Byrne asserts on his website that the idea for a costume made of self-healing biological material was one he originated when he was the artist on Iron Fist to explain how that character's costume was constantly being torn and then apparently repaired by the next issue, explaining that he ended up not using the idea on that title, but that Roger Stern later asked him if he could use the idea for Spider-Man's alien costume. Stern in turn plotted the issue in which the costume first appeared but then left the title. It was writer Tom DeFalco and artist Ron Frenz who had established that the costume was a sentient alien being and also that it was vulnerable to high sonic energy during their run on The Amazing Spider-Man that preceded Michelinie's. Regardless, Peter David's position is that Michelinie is the sole creator, since the idea of creating a separate character using the alien symbiote was Michelinie's, as was Eddie Brock's backstory, and that without the idea to create such a character, the character would not have existed.
In an interview with Tom DeFalco, McFarlane states that Michelinie did indeed come up with the idea of Venom and the character's basic design ("a big guy in the black costume"). However, he contends that it was he (McFarlane) who gave Venom his monster-like features. He claims; "I just wanted to make him kooky and creepy, and not just some guy in a black suit."
This dispute arose at a time when the merits of artists as collaborators and writers were being debated in the industry, a discussion prompted by both the popularity of artists such as McFarlane, Larsen, and other founders of Image Comics, and by letters printed in The Comics Buyer's Guide by writer Mike W. Barr and writer/artist Larsen. Barr complained about the writing work being done by those who were primarily artists, and Larsen responded with an anonymous letter in which he dismissed Barr's writing as substandard, saying that artists such as himself did not need writers of Barr's quality, a statement that was interpreted to mean that artist did not need writers at all.
Venom's existence was first indicated in Web of Spider-Man #18 (Sept. 1986), when he shoves Peter Parker in front of a subway train without Parker's spider-sense warning him, though only Brock's hand is seen on-panel. The next indication of Venom's existence was in Web of Spider-Man #24 (March 1987), when Parker has climbed out of a high story window to change into Spider-Man, but finds a black arm coming through the window and grabbing him, again without being warned by his spider-sense.
The character would remain unseen and inactive until Amazing Spider-Man editor Jim Salicrup required a villain for that book's 300th issue, and Michelinie suggested a villain consisting of the alien symbiote grafted onto the body of a human female. Salicrup accepted the suggestion, but changed the character to a male. Michelinie then devised the Eddie Brock identity. Michelinie contends that the plots for issues #298-299, as well as the visual descriptions of the character, were written and bought by Salicrup before McFarlane was ever assigned to the book.
The 1993 limited series Venom: Lethal Protector describes Brock's history before bonding with the symbiote. As a child, Edward Allan "Eddie" Brock is raised in a Roman Catholic household in San Francisco. Eddie's mother dies from complications during his birth and as a result his father is cold and unaffectionate towards him. Eddie excels in academics and sports to earn his approval but does not succeed. In college, Brock switches his major to journalism after reading an article on the Watergate scandal. After graduating he moves to New York City and obtains a job as a journalist for the Daily Globe. Though he proves himself to be a highly talented journalist, his father still only treats him with indifference.
As a reporter, Brock investigates the serial killer Sin-Eater and is contacted by Emil Gregg, who claims to be the killer. Pressured by the authorities to reveal the killer's identity, Brock writes an exposé announcing Gregg as the Sin-Eater. However, the real Sin-Eater is caught by Spider-Man and Brock is revealed to have been interviewing a compulsive confessor. Brock is fired from his job in disgrace and divorced from his wife. Unable to find reputable work, he is forced to work for tabloid magazines and his father ceases communication with him entirely. Brock becomes obsessed with gaining revenge against Spider-Man, blaming him for catching the real Sin-Eater. Brock takes up bodybuilding to reduce stress but his anger and depression remain. Meanwhile, Spider-Man uses the sound of bells at a church to remove his symbiote costume after realizing it is attempting to permanently bond with him. His professional and personal life shattered, Brock contemplates suicide and goes to the same church, where he prays to God for forgiveness. The Symbiote, having waited in the rafters of the church since leaving Spider-Man, senses Brock and bonds with him, granting him powers equal and greater to those of Spider-Man, and imparting knowledge of Spider-Man's secret identity.
Venom begins a campaign of torment against Peter, who is still unaware of his existence. He first pushes Peter in front of a moving subway without activating his spider-sense, and later terrorizes Spider-Man's wife Mary Jane. Venom baits Spider-Man to his apartment for their first confrontation, where Venom reveals his true identity to Spider-Man, claiming "You may call me Venom, for that's what I'm paid to spew out these days!" Spider-Man discovers that the Symbiote has completely bonded with Brock and cannot be killed without also killing Brock. Eventually Venom is tricked into weakening himself by expending too much webbing until the suit lacks enough material to produce more. Venom is incarcerated in the Vault, from which he makes repeated escapes and escape attempts, only to suffer defeats and returns to the Vault.
Brock eventually fakes suicide and escapes after being taken to the morgue. During a battle with Spider-Man, the Symbiote is seemingly killed by the plague-inducing villain Styx, giving its life to protect Brock. Brock is incarcerated and Spider-Man disposes of the Symbiote's remains. The Symbiote survives by entering a comatose state to fight off the illness and it returns to Brock, enabling him to again escape from jail. During the escape, the symbiote asexually reproduces and leaves behind its spawn. The offspring quickly bonds to Brock's cell mate, Cletus Kasady, creating Carnage. Venom abducts Spider-Man and transports him to a remote island to do battle. Spider-Man fakes his own death to convince Venom that his vendetta is over. Venom, content with the outcome, resigns himself to life on the island. Spider-Man eventually faces Carnage but is unable to defeat him. Spider-Man is forced to ask Venom for help, promising him freedom in exchange. However, after they defeat Carnage Spider-Man betrays Venom (who had also resumed his plan of revenge and tried to throttle the arachnoid hero to death) by summoning the Fantastic Four and sending him back to prison.
After seeing a photo of Spider-Man's recently returned parents, Brock escapes from prison, and kidnaps them. During the resulting fight, Brock's ex-wife Ann Weying is nearly crushed under a falling ferris wheel, but Spider-Man saves her. Seeing this act, Venom makes peace with Spider-Man. In Venom: Lethal Protector (1993), Venom moves to San Francisco and acts as the protector of an underground society of homeless people. He is later taken prisoner by the Life Foundation who harvest the last five spawn within the symbiote to create super-powered policemen and Brock is forcibly separated from the symbiote. With Spider-Man's help, Brock is reunited with the symbiote and they seemingly destroy his spawn, Phage, Lasher, Riot, Scream and Agony, before escaping. After saving the homeless people, Venom is accepted into their society and remains their protector.
In the 1993 crossover "Maximum Carnage", Carnage reemerges and begins a massacre in New York City, and Brock returns to help, feeling responsible. Venom finds he is no match for Carnage, and seeks help from Spider-Man, but Spider-Man refuses to work with Venom's violent methods. Venom, accompanied by Black Cat, Cloak, Morbius and eventually a desperate Spider-Man, repeatedly confront Carnage and his allies. Venom ultimately tackles Carnage into high-voltage generators, rendering Carnage unconscious and allowing his capture by the Avengers. Brock goes into hiding.
Brock returns in the 1994 limited series Separation Anxiety, in which he is captured and separated from the symbiote for a government research project. Venom's spawn: Phage, Lasher, Scream, Riot, and Agony are revealed to still be alive and arrive to free Brock, seeking his help to gain control over their symbiotes. Brock is ultimately reunited with the symbiote, but the experience forces him to evaluate his relationship with the costume. The 1995 "Planet of the Symbiotes" event continued the narrative from Separation Anxiety, with Brock forcing the symbiote to leave him, concerned about how much influence it may be having on him. The symbiote unleashes a telepathic scream of sorrow and pain that attracts the other members of its species to Earth. The story follows the efforts of Brock, Spider-Man, and Scarlet Spider to stop the invasion and defeat an escaped and empowered Carnage. Brock is forced to bond completely and irrevocably with the symbiote in order to inflict psychic trauma on the symbiotes, causing them to commit suicide.
When Ann is shot by a new Sin-Eater, Brock forces the Symbiote to bond with her to heal her injuries. In the process she temporarily becomes She-Venom but Brock demands the Symbiote return after Ann loses control and kills a pair of muggers, leaving Ann traumatized. Brock helps kill the new Sin-Eater. Ann is taken into custody by the police as they try to hunt Venom and Brock sends her his Symbiote so she can escape. As She-Venom she again struggles to control herself. When Brock takes back the Symbiote, she tells him to keep himself and the Symbiote away from her.
Brock is captured in his sewer hideout and put on trial, with Matt Murdock acting in his defense, his symbiote held in check by a chemical inhibitor. Cletus Kassady is called as a witness, but when the case becomes heated both Kassady and Brock overcome their inhibitors. Venom, Spider-Man, and Daredevil team up and subdue Carnage. However, before the trial can continue Venom is unexpectedly taken into custody by a secret government organization offering him amnesty in exchange for him becoming their agent. Though Venom at first enjoyed his newfound immunities, he left after being abandoned during a dangerous mission. After receiving a head wound, Eddie suffers amnesia. He is later separated from the symbiote, which is presumed killed by the government Overreach Committee.
The symbiote survives and tracks down the amnesiac Brock, turning him into Venom again. Venom infiltrates Ravencroft prison seeking Carnage and permanently absorbs the Carnage Symbiote. Brock temporarily joins the Sinister Six to get Spider-Man but after being betrayed by them, he begins hunting down the members for revenge. He ultimately cripples Sandman by biting him, leading to Sandman's apparent death.
Venom's rivalry with Spider-Man is renewed when Ann, who lives in fear since bonding with the Symbiote, commits suicide after seeing Brock become Venom. Venom however, believes Spider-Man swinging by Ann's window in his black costume to be the cause. Before he can take revenge however, the Symbiote is forcefully removed from him by the human/alien hybrid Senator Ward in order to learn more about symbiosis. An alien race, secretly operating within the United States government, clones the Venom symbiote. Venom absorbs the clone, gains its knowledge, and decides to carry out the aliens' orders.
The 2003 story "The Hunger" introduced new elements to Brock's origin, revealing that Brock had cancer before joining with the symbiote, and that it chose to bond with Brock not only for his hatred towards Spider-Man, but also because the cancer causes the release of adrenaline, which sustains the symbiote. Brock is left reliant on the suit to live, and pursues Spider-Man out of fear that he will take the symbiote back, rather than for revenge over his lost career. Brock dies after the symbiote leaves him for Spider-Man, not wanting a diseased host. Spider-Man tricks the symbiote into again bonding with Brock, reviving him.
After Carnage gives birth to a new symbiote. Carnage attempts to kill the newborn while Venom attempts to save it, hoping to turn it into an ally. Venom names the spawn Toxin. However, after Venom witnesses Toxin nearly kill Carnage but show compassion, he worries that he may be like Spider-Man and joins forces with Carnage to kill him. Carnage and Venom attack Toxin but are driven away by Spider-Man, Toxin and Black Cat.
In the 2004 story "Venomous", Brock experiences a crisis of faith and decides to sell the symbiote, knowing he will rapidly die from his cancer without it, intending to donate the $100 million received from the sale to charity on the grounds that the symbiote would find another host once he dies anyway. The symbiote is purchased by crime boss Don Fortunato for his son Angelo Fortunato. Angelo briefly becomes the second Venom but proves an unworthy host, and the symbiote abandons him mid-jump allowing him to fall to his death. Upon learning of Angelo's death, Brock feels responsible and attempts suicide by slitting his wrists. Brock next appeared in the 2007 story "The Last Temptation of Eddie Brock", where he is rapidly succumbing to cancer, and experiencing hallucinations of "Venom". Finding a comatose Aunt May in the same hospital, dying from a gunshot, the Venom hallucination persuades him to kill her. Brock, dressed in a novelty replica of Spider-Man's black costume at the demand of "Venom", murders a nurse to test if he can still kill, but ultimately refuses to kill May because she is innocent. When Peter visits May, he finds Eddie, who has repeatedly cut his own wrists to get rid of "Venom". Eddie asks for Peter's forgiveness before jumping out of a window, but Peter manages to catch him. Awakening chained to his bed, Brock finds he can still see "Venom" but tells him that he accepts its presence as long as it knows that Brock is in control.
The 2008 story "New Ways to Die" features the return of Brock. Matt Murdock convinces a court of law that Brock is not responsible for his actions while bonded to the symbiote and has criminal charges against him dropped. Brock gets a job at a soup kitchen under Martin Li. Brock is unknowningly cured of his cancer by Li, who possesses special abilities, and Brock believes it to be a miracle. After Brock is attacked by the new Venom, Mac Gargan, the symbiote attempts to reunite with Brock. Brock's skin becomes caustic to the symbiote, and he is enveloped in a new white symbiote forged from the remnants of the Venom symbiote in his body bonding with his white blood cells charged with Li's healing energy, becoming Anti-Venom. Brock defeats Gargan and nearly kills the Venom symbiote. When Brock detects remnants of the symbiote inside Spider-Man, he attempts to "cure" him, draining radiation from his body and nearly de-powering him. While later saving Spider-Man from Norman Osborn, Brock again fights a battle-suit enhanced Gargan and the recovering symbiote. Gargan hits Anti-Venom with his stinger, injecting a poisonous formula that seemingly destroys Brock's suit. When Gargan attempts to kill Brock, the Venom symbiote stops him. Brock's Anti-Venom suit later reforms.
Brock later faces the villain Mister Negative and discovers that he and Li are the same person. Learning that the man he idolized is a supervillain causes a breakdown for Brock, making him question his faith, referring to himself as a monster. After this revelation he becomes increasingly unstable mentally, murdering small-time criminals as he did during his "lethal protector" days. He briefly and reluctantly teams up with the Punisher to stop a drug cartel that kidnapped a friend of Brock's. In "The Return of Anti-Venom" (2011), Brock is unable to expose Negative's true identity, believing no one will trust him. Anti-Venom starts a crusade against Negative, attacking his criminal operations. When Anti-Venom realizes that May Parker also knows Negative's identity, he decides to attack Negative directly before Negative can silence her. Brock teams up with Spider-Man and the new Wraith to fight Negative. Wraith uses her technology to publicly reveal Mister Negative is Martin Li, sending him into hiding. Spider-Man and Anti-Venom call a truce to their rivalry.
In a 2011 New Avengers storyline, Brock joins Wonder Man's Revengers to destroy the New Avengers. During the 2011 "Spider-Island" storyline in which 99% of New York City's population are transformed into mind-controlled spiders, Brock is forced to sacrifice the symbiote—and being Anti-Venom—so that it can be converted into a powerful curative capable of healing the infected millions.
A powerless Brock returns in Venom vol. 2 #15 (2012), where he kills the symbiotes Hybrid and Scream as part of a crusade to destroy the aliens entirely, believing them to be evil. After failing to kill the newest Venom, Brock is captured by the villain Crime Master and forcibly bonded with the Toxin symbiote. Brock (who is being controlled by the Toxin symbiote) then tracks down Venom and attempts to kill him, but is defeated. Eddie and Agent Venom face off once more at Crime Master's HQ, and Flash is able to subdue Toxin and separate Eddie from the symbiote using a flamethrower. Just before Flash can get Eddie out, the Toxin symbiote grabs hold of him and drags him into the flames. Eddie and the Toxin symbiote both survive the flames and track Flash to Philadelphia. Now in control of the Toxin symbiote, he confronts Flash in the high school where he works as a gym teacher.[volume & issue needed] After helping Flash defend the students from a group of cybernetic parasites, Eddie forms a truce with him, promising to leave Flash alone as long as he has the Venom symbiote under control (similar to the truce he had with Spider-Man).[volume & issue needed] Eddie subsequently leaves Philadelphia to resume his vigilante activities.[volume & issue needed]
Brock is a human and has no superhuman powers without the Symbiote. Prior to joining with the Symbiote, he possesses olympic-level strength from engaging in repeated, significant weight-training exercise. After separating from the Symbiote and suffering from cancer, Brock loses much of his physical muscle and possesses the strength of an average human. Brock's cancer is cured in the 2008 story New Ways to Die, and he is later shown with a restored large physique. He is also shown to be proficient in combat and capable of using specialized weaponry to defeat symbiote-empowered enemies.
As Venom, Brock gains several abilities similar to those of Spider-Man, the Symbiote's former host, including superhuman strength, speed, agility and reflexes as well as the ability to adhere to most surfaces with his hands and feet. The Symbiote is also able to project a web-like substance from its body, similar to Spider-Man's. However, this webbing is produced organically by the Symbiote from its own mass, which means that overuse can weaken the alien until it is able to regenerate. The Symbiote can also send out tendrils which can be used to grab or manipulate items from a distance. When bonded with the host, the Symbiote allows the host to bypass Spider-Man's spider-sense, preventing the hero from sensing attacks. The Symbiote is susceptible to harm from high-pitched sonic frequencies which can cause it to be severely weakened or killed. The bond between the Symbiote and Brock was strong enough that using sonics against the Symbiote could also stun and kill Brock.
Venom's body is highly resistant to injury, capable of outright stopping bladed weapons, bullets, and it can help its host survive in hostile environments by filtering air, allowing survival underwater and in toxic environments. Venom can also morph his appearance, to create disguises at will, and camouflage itself, even emulating water. It is also capable of psychically detecting its offspring; however, this ability can be blocked. This sense can be used by Brock even when separated from the suit, allowing him to detect and be detected by the Symbiote and its children. The Symbiote is capable of healing injury and illness at an increased rate, allowing the host to survive otherwise mortal damage. The Symbiote and host are capable of sharing knowledge, the Symbiote able to pass on information from previous hosts to future ones.
Anti-Venom is created when the healing energies of Martin Li cause Brock's white-blood cells and traces of the Venom Symbiote still within his body to combine into a new suit composed of human/alien hybrid antibodies possessing powerful restorative abilities. Brock is capable of rapidly healing significant injury as Anti-Venom, recovering almost instantly after being shot in the head and suffering damage to his brain. However, this healing ability can be negated by the energy of Mr. Negative, counteracting the energy of Martin Li. Anti-Venom is able to detect when others are ill and "cure" or "cleanse" them. He is able to cure ailments from hepatitis to removing narcotics and even radiation from a person's body. Following a failed attempt to "cure" Spider-Man by removing the radiation in his body, Anti-Venom now automatically cancels out Spider-Man's powers whenever the two are in close proximity to one another.
As Anti-Venom, Brock's suit is corrosive to the Venom symbiote, inflicting pain and damage on the suit to the point of causing it to dissolve. He displays similar abilities to Venom, possessing super strength, speed, negating Spider-Man's spider-sense, and being able to block damage entirely from some guns and knives. He is also capable of extending and morphing the suit to create disguises, form items such as shields, extend his reach, attack from a distance, and create tendrils. Anti-Venom is also immune to the weaknesses of the Venom Symbiote, showing no damage or effect from direct blasts of fire, heat and sound. The only shown weaknesses of the Symbiote are a highly toxic "super venom" created as a direct countermeasure using remnants of Anti-Venom's suit, and Mr. Negative's energy. The "super venom" causes the suit to immediately dissolve. Mr. Negative is shown capable of using his energy to weaken or nullify the healing abilities of the suit.
The character appears in several alternate universe titles in which the character's history, circumstances and behavior vary from the mainstream setting.
The Eddie Brock version of Venom has appeared in several video games as a playable character, ally and antagonist. His Anti-Venom persona has also appeared in Spider-Man: Edge of Time (2011).