We Care a Lot Part 6: Special Guest Villain

December 23rd, 2008 by | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

We’ve seen about three years worth of Venom’s hero exploits. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, he sure gets a lot of guest heroes and villains from other comics. It would only be fair to see the other side of this. After all, Venom wasn’t exclusive to just Spider-Man comics. He had other places to be.

I’m focusing more on the issues that took place during the extent of Venom’s hero run. I mean, there was an issue of Quasar that hyped up Venom on the cover, only to have Quasar toss him back into the Vault by the second page. And there was a crossover between Web of Spider-Man and Spirits of Vengeance by Howard Mackie that featured Venom, along with Hobgoblin, Demogoblin, Doppelganger and a crapload of demons, but it’s such a gigantic, pointless clusterfuck that I just can’t bring myself to care about it. A lot like Maximum Carnage, now that I think about it.

Already, I’m breaking my rule, as this is before his hero run, but I have a good reason for it. I’m starting off with Darkhawk #13-14 from early 1992. This story, by Danny Fingeroth and Mike Manley, takes place at a point in Venom’s history when Spider-Man had him fooled into thinking that Venom had killed him on a deserted island. Venom spent a long while on that island, free from his vendetta, but eventually Spider-Man had to track him down and reveal he was still alive in order to get help against Carnage.

Darkhawk’s got a lot of problems going on. His father’s in huge trouble with some stuff and Tombstone had recently torn the special amulet from Darkhawk’s chest, causing him to weaken, lash out and get ill. As part of his plan to help his father, he sneaks aboard a crime boss’ cargo plane in one of the crates. Halfway into the trip, the goons on the plane discover him and a fight breaks out. The pilot gets knocked out and the whole plane takes a nosedive into parts unknown.


He’s quick to discover Venom, who pounds on him and plans to kill him, just for the sake of privacy. Darkhawk hears Venom raving about killing Spider-Man and knows it’s not true, but is smart enough not to tell him about it. Darkhawk believes himself to be dying, so he prepares to take Venom down with him.

The fight goes back and forth until Darkhawk discovers that Venom’s weak against fire. He carries two torches and goes after him, only to suddenly spasm due to his missing amulet. Venom takes the advantage and tangles him up with his symbiote. The symbiote senses something and they decide to ease off on him. Darkhawk frees himself and nails Venom with a strong punch that sends him flying.

All a trick, of course. Venom could tell that Darkhawk had a day to live and that he was an innocent, so he played possum and stopped his heart. Yeah, he can do that I guess. He allowed Darkhawk to leave the island on a raft, though the belief that he murdered Venom would go on to haunt Darkhawk for a while. Interesting how Venom gets rid of Darkhawk the same way Spider-Man got rid of Venom, with different results.

The two would cross paths again in Darkhawk #35-37, in a story called Operation: Symbiote, this time drawn by Tod Smith. Christopher Powell’s father seemingly died during that last Venom story, but he then finds out that his father’s still alive, somewhere in California. He flies off to San Francisco, back in the time when Venom was doing his Lethal Protector bit there.

Venom’s having problems of his own. He knows that some people out there are conspiring against him, so he goes and beats up some generic thugs in order to get information. It leads him to a building, where he knows a trap is set. Great thing here, which unfortunately never caught on with Venom, was that back then, Eddie would never have any inner dialogue. He always spoke his exposition out loud. Darkhawk pops in to call him out on that and the two fight it out.

It’s interrupted by a bunch of cookie cutter armor goons called the Seekers, who are after Venom. Darkhawk wants the law to take care of Venom, so he becomes their target as well. From there, they bounce back and forth between the same scenes. Darkhawk saves Venom. Venom thanks Darkhawk. Darkhawk says that he wants to put Venom in jail. Venom fights Darkhawk. Venom wins, but spares Darkhawk for saving his life. Seekers show up and attack Venom. Repeat.

Eventually, this leads to the two of them at the bad guy headquarters, where Darkhawk’s father is being held. Darkhawk single-handedly defeats the Seekers, then goes at Venom.

This time, the fight is completely one-sided. The next page is just Darkhawk mauling Venom to the point that he knocks him out legit. He then stops a criminal from using his father as a hostage, but in the confusion, Venom escapes. Darkhawk knows that with Venom’s camouflage power, he’s nearly impossible to track, so he just gives up and moves on with his life.

We move on into the pages of Marvel Comics Presents #117-122, in a story from 1992 called Dream a Little Dream… of Me. It’s written by… *sigh* Howard Mackie with Sam Kieth on art. I respect Kieth as an artist, but that doesn’t mean I’m a fan of his work. So to be honest, I’m really not into this story.

Wolverine’s been having nightmares for weeks where he’s bound and eaten alive by crows. Xavier tells him that it’s the demon Nightmare, pulling him into some separate astral plane for reasons unknown. Wolverine demands Xavier send him to that plane, so he can take the offense to Nightmare himself. Once there, Wolverine hears a bunch of laughter and taunting from Nightmare, but can’t find the actual demon. That’s when he makes a new special friend.

Okay, I’ll admit that that Sam Kieth page is pretty rocking. Maybe it’s because Venom isn’t hunched over with a huge gut and with acres of hair all over him.

By the way, I’d like to just point out that this story is the first part of what I deem the Wolverine vs. Venom Holy Shit This is Very Awful Trilogy. The second issue proceeds to have Wolverine do a long-winded recap of the previous installment’s handful of pages, which is absurd in its own little way. “Last time in Marvel Comics Presents, this stuff happened, that stuff happened and now we’re going to—whoops! Out of time! See you next month!”

There’s a woman in the dream world joining them, who Wolverine notes looks exactly like Mariko. Venom rescues her from some jungle cats and suggests that maybe if she’s working for Nightmare, she can lead them to him. Then, for no real reason, he impales Wolverine onto a tree and slashes him a couple times. Venom runs off with the girl over his shoulder, demanding answers until a healed-up Wolverine appears. They fight again, this time taking it into the water, where they eventually go off the edge of a waterfall.

Wolverine’s fine from the fall, but Venom’s unconscious and prone to be eaten by a crocodile. Wolverine saves his life and tells him that they should team up to go after Nightmare together. Venom agrees with this, just before Wolverine impales him with his claws to make them even. First thing they do as a duo is take on one of Nightmare’s creatures, seemingly stolen out of the pages of The Maxx.

They slash its throat and kill it, only for it to revert into being that Mariko-looking woman. At least for Wolverine. Venom claims the monster has turned into Spider-Man. Wolverine sees through the illusion and after the two fight off a horribly rendered army of demons, they go after Nightmare himself.

Nightmare laughs them off and as the two fight off what appears to be an army of tiny tattooed demons on tiny dirtbikes, he says how this is all part of his plan to take over Xavier’s mind through Wolverine and run rampant in the real world. The only reason he brought Venom into this is because he’s a creature with two minds and therefore must have interesting dreams. Venom ties up Nightmare with the symbiote and Wolverine gives some line about how Xavier knew all about his plans as he impales Nightmare through the head. With very little explanation about what the hell is going on, Wolverine’s actions get rid of Nightmare and make it so that he can’t mentally attack Wolverine or Venom anymore.

I hate this story so much.

Our next story starts off in October, 1993. Venom would play a guest role in Daredevil #321-323, as part of the Fall From Grace storyline by D.G. Chichester and Scott McDaniel. The story is during the beginnings of Daredevil’s gray armor phase and revolves around a man-made virus of sorts that allows the infected to change his or her biology. Now everybody wants a piece of it.

In San Francisco, Venom finds out about it after spending hours hiding inside a giant heroin shipment for no reason other than making a grand entrance in order to kill the guy moving the shipment. The virus interests him and he takes a trip to New York City.

At JFK Airport, a hysterical woman is interviewed by a cop over some kind of insanity that had taken place during the flight.

“We know this is difficult, Mrs. Wilson, but if you’d please repeat one more time…”

“The crazy man – the one with the gun – he glanced out the window. He—he stopped yelling about politics – and started screaming, ‘There’s a man on the wing of the plane!’ H-He shot the window, it exploded – and this black… ooze – like that movie ‘The Blob’? – it took his gun and covered the window from the outside! And then it asked if we knew any sing-alongs…”

“Sing-alongs… uh-huh. Before you speak to the press, Mrs. Wilson… there’s a nice man at the station who’d probably like a word with you… a Dr. Matheson…”

As this is all going on, Daredevil’s fighting nut after nut over this virus and teams up with a bulky cyborg named Siege. You might remember him as the Initiative member whose armor self-destructed after his infection within the pages of Marvel Zombies 3. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you should give Marvel Zombies 3 a shot. It’s way better than it has any right to be.

There’s a Hand off-shoot ninja clan called the Snakeroot that has captured the virus-inventing scientist. A redemptive member is willing to spill the beans to Daredevil and Siege about where the guy is being held. That’s when Venom shows up. He fights Daredevil and Siege for a bit, but the moment he realizes that things aren’t working out for him, he steals the ninja and runs off.

The great irony, if it qualifies as irony, is that while Spider-Man is completely unable to track Venom with his powers, Daredevil is easily able to follow the trail because Venom has an extremely unique smell.

Venom grills the ninja, but doesn’t get his answers. Venom needs this virus to enhance himself so that he’s no longer weak against fire and sonics, thereby making him near unstoppable. Siege arrives and proceeds to both hurt and infuriate Venom. In return, Venom swears to melt and mutilate Siege like the toy soldier he is.

Daredevil runs circles around Venom and downright humiliates him with his ninja skills as Siege protects the hostage and soon after holds his two gauntlet guns to Venom’s skull. Daredevil asks him to stand down as they’re going to talk this out instead.

“…and you lose the edge that makes you a better hero than, say, Spider-Man!”

“You’re—You’re messing with my – with our – head!”

“Am I? Draw your own conclusions.”

“We ARE BETTER! Take him – and the damnable virus! We’re going home to San Francisco!”

And there you go, Venom leaves the story arc.

Around this time, Venom was also appearing in the pages of Silver Sable and the Wild Pack, but I’ve already covered this one in an article about Venom vs. Sandman stories. Nothing especially important, other than closure to the Spider-Man vs. Venom vs. Wild Pack fight that happened prior to Lethal Protector.

After that, starting in February of 1994, Venom appeared in the pages of Iron Man #301-302. These last couple stories have overlapped, meaning he had all these guest appearances plus his own series at the same time. That guy really was over-exposed.

That doesn’t matter, since Iron Man’s series was in great hands at the time, written by Len Kaminski and drawn by Kevin Hopgood. Whenever I read work by Len Kaminski, I always have to take a second and ask, “What the hell ever happened to that guy?” Kaminski, known for writing the initial comic stuff relating to War Machine as well as Morbius, Slapstick, Ghost Rider 2099, JLA: Foreign Bodies and many others was a huge breath of fresh air in the 90’s. He wrote a lot of awesome stuff, but then just… vanished. The last thing I’ve seen from him is an issue of the comic based on the Justice League cartoon from 2002.

The first issue shows that Tony Stark has been having a bad time being Tony Stark. He’s still weak from the disease that almost killed him, there’s national news of corruption in his company due to some Stane International fuckery, Dethlok’s broken into his facilities and calls him “Ronald McDonald with rivets” to his face, and worst of all, he can’t maintain a boner. Poor guy. That’s even worse than the Osborn strife.

At the end of a tiring day, Tony holds a press conference to defend himself from allegations. As he speaks to the reporters, there’s a man with a blond mullet hanging out in the back.

“Lying ratbag. Your truth is an old whore you dress up in TV commercials and glossy brochures. You buy the public’s amnesia. Just like Three-Mile Island. Bhopal. Prince William Sound. WE remember. WE know what to do.”

What the HELL ever happened to Len Kaminski?

Tony walks to his office, but the lights are off. Instead, he only finds webbing with Venom perched on it, waiting. According to Venom, Stark Enterprises has sunk its teeth into the innocents…

And so, Tony Stark died from decapitation. The comic series was cancelled and the character was forgotten about for years until they resurrected him sometime in the early 2000’s. They explained his resurrection as a cosmic anomaly created from Wyatt Wingfoot’s evil twin being attacked by a radioactive squid with rockets for eyes that…

Fine, it was just a robot. Killjoy.

Venom figures out that the real Tony Stark is just hanging out in the penthouse. It becomes a race for survival as Tony crawls for his life while using various devices to hold off Venom. Soon, he is able to get into his armor and make it more of a fair fight.

The dialogue between Iron Man and Venom is snappy as hell. Great one-liners and exceptional exchanges between the two. Plus the art is really nice.

Venom webs up Iron Man’s face, causing him to create a radar effect by letting loose with a sonic frequency device. This makes Venom go into a violent frenzy and tackle Iron Man.

“WE HATE IT! Oooh. But we like you. You’re crunchy on the outside – chewy on the inside!”

Iron Man grabs Venom by the tongue. “I am sick and tired of you and that foul mouth of yours.”

Iron Man punches Venom back and zaps around the room to the point that Venom’s practically cowering. Despite having the physical victory, Iron Man plays the same card as Daredevil: that of talking down at Venom’s heroism. Hearing Iron Man dress him down, Venom responds by saying that he’ll give Stark the benefit of the doubt for now, but if he doesn’t prove his innocence, he’ll come back for round 2. Iron Man watches Venom slink away, but decides that he’s too exhausted to stop him.

Other than a couple Spider-Man appearances, Venom stayed out of other people’s business after that for a while. During early 1996, the new Marvel vs. DC miniseries and its fifth-week event Amalgam came to be. Surprisingly, Venom had virtually no stake in any of it. Though Amalgam had the Carnage/Bizarro hybrid Bizarnage, Eddie Brock and his liquid buddy were forgotten about. That’s not to say that he was 100% ignored. There was this panel:

This page also featured Captain Marvel vs. Doctor Doom, Ghost Rider vs. Etrigan and Punisher vs. Deathstroke. That page is nothing but blue balls. Any one of those panels could support its own issue, damn it.

The real story comes to us at the end of 1996 in the form of All-Access #1. Hoo boy. If you thought the insanity in Carnage Unleashed was great, you’re going to love this.

Access is a character born out of the Marvel vs. DC event. It’s his job to make sure that the two worlds are split completely so that they don’t lead to more apocalyptic crossover madness. Although he hasn’t been seen in the pages of comic books for years, Access is still around, unseen by us all. He continues his job by whispering to Joe Quesada that, “Dan Didio says your mother’s face smells like his colon,” and then leaving Didio a note that says, “Dear Dan, Quesada claims that Cable would beat the snot out of Matrix from Reboot. Are you seriously going to take that?” That’s way more effective than running around alleyways in a dorky super-suit.

All-Access #1 is written by Ron Marz and Jackson Guice. That’s a surprise, as Marz really should know better. It starts with Marvel native Axel Asher at a coffee shop, where he starts having migraines. He can feel that something is causing the two universes to remerge and that somehow Venom is in the DC world. He changes into Access and goes to take care of it.

Venom himself is in Metropolis, angrily smashing up the Superman statue and going on a complete rampage. Zero mention of him supposedly being a good guy, but that’s the least of this comic’s problems. He gets his hands on a hot-but-wearing-glasses-so-she’s-really-nerdy bystander and threatens her to tell him what’s going on, even going as far as to put on her glasses to taunt her.

Suddenly, Superman shows up and slams Venom through a brick wall! Oh, man! This is going to be a pretty short comic, considering how one-sided this fight is. Let’s watch.

Yeah, he sure showed Venom that—huh, what?

Access appears to aid Superman, but Superman just thinks he’s a bystander in a stupid costume. Despite that, Access is still able to save the hostage and allows for Venom vs. Superman: Round 2.

Oh my God.

Access gets the lady to safety and chooses not to make out with her, since saving the multiverse is slightly more important. He interrupts the big fight again in hopes of touching Venom and sending him to his right universe, but that doesn’t work out. He knows he’s going to need more help on this, so he teleports back to the Marvel world and leaves Superman to continue his humiliation.

More powerful than a locomotive!

Spider-Man shows up and saves poor, little Superman from the big, mean Venom. Again, Access is left to himself as the two superheroes go to take on Venom. Or at least, Spider-Man fights Venom on a rooftop as Superman tends to all the damage they cause. Access begs Superman to let him help and Superman finally folds. He gives Access his cape and says to show it to the people at STAR Labs so they’ll lend him a sonic ray gun.

Spider-Man’s in trouble, so Superman goes for the save. Of course, he forgot that Eddie Brock is the pitcher and Clark Kent is the catcher in their relationship.

If it wasn’t for that last panel, this would be the greatest page in the history of comic books. Though if that guy talking to him in the last panel turned out to be, say, Flex Mentallo, that would be pretty sweet too. What makes this even better is that a couple years earlier, there was a Spider-Man/Batman crossover comic where Batman beat Carnage to a pulp using nothing more than his fists. No sonics or fire or anything. He just punched him a couple times and dropped him like a rock.

Batman without prep time > Carnage > Venom > Superman + Spider-Man.

Feel free to add Hal Jordan and Sub-Zero to the top of that food chain too.

As much as I would like it to, the comic can’t end with Venom winning. Access appears with the sonic gun and takes out Venom with one shot. Eddie collapses and curses Parker for ratting him out. Then the good guys hang back for a second and pat themselves on the back.

Access and Spider-Man return home and take Venom with them. I had this issue when it came out, but I never continued onto the next one. I guess I knew that this entire miniseries was going downhill from here.

Unless there was an issue where Batroc the Leaper lays out the Spectre with an axe-kick. Or maybe Bane shatters Galactus’s ankle over his knee. That, I’d read.

Our last stop is Nova #6-7, from the end of 1999. This is after Venom’s hero days, but I might as well put it here anyway. These issues are by Eric Larson and Joe Bennett and mark the final couple issues of the character’s third comic run. Not only that, but #7 makes a deal out of it being the 50th issue of Nova if you were to add all three runs together.

Anyway, the Venom stuff.

The sixth issue ends with a cliffhanger based on one of Nova’s recent superhero battles. In the melee, Mary Brock, the younger sister of Eddie Brock, is knocked out and hospitalized. Watching the news, Eddie screams about getting revenge on Nova for this.

Hm. You’d think somewhere in his 100+ issues of comic book appearances, they’d have made mention of Venom having a sister somewhere. I’m more confused as to how he can have a little sister when Eddie’s mother died in childbirth and his father became an emotional husk. Then again, I’m just being petty.

Nova has a meeting with the people at Marvel Comics about the possibility of getting his own comic series. When they ask him about his rogues gallery, he thinks about the times he’s fought the Sandman and the Grinder. All of the sudden, Venom busts in, swearing for his blood.

The Marvel guys are freaked out, but also recognized that Venom always gives Spider-Man a sales boost. Maybe if he kills Nova, they can try to get him his own comic.

They take the fight outside and Nova shows that his own animated apparel is able to keep up with Venom’s. For a second, we see Eddie’s face underneath his mask.

I have no idea what’s up with that. Why does Eddie have gray hair and a puff ball goatee? He looked normal in the previous issue.

Venom goes and explains his backstory, to which Nova responds by pointing out the massive holes in judgment. Hating Spider-Man for doing the right thing and the like. Tired of dealing with Venom, Nova flies him off to an uninhibited island (likely meant to be the one Venom used to live on) and goes back to his meeting.

The Marvel guys are impressed, but don’t think that a Nova comic could last more than a mere seven issues. The New Warriors, on the other hand… that’s a comic with possibilities.

Huh. How about that. Venom’s back where we started in this article.

Next time I’ll be getting back to the main Venom series. It’ll involve yet another company crossover and a story that’s over-the-top wacky in a good way.

Similar Posts:

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

9 comments to “We Care a Lot Part 6: Special Guest Villain”

  1. Wow, that panel from Marvel Presents is one of my first memories of comics. I was severely weirded out by that story as a kid and as a Venom fan (which was the style at the time.) That plus The Worst Fight in Comics History makes this a bookmark.

  2. “Access appears to aid Superman, but Superman just thinks he’s a bystander in a stupid costume.”

    Technically, Superman is right. Stupid, useless Access. He couldn’t even keep Earth-2 Venom from fighting Nova on Earth Prime!

  3. Venom beats the crap out of Superman!!?? whas Venom irradiated in kryptonite (spidey did once) or what the heck happened there?

  4. I’d wondered if Venom had ever met up with Daredevil. Out of all the comics that Venom could be shoehorned into, there it would at least make a certain amount of sense, as Daredevil had a lot to do with bringing down the real Sin-Eater and, as a result, exposing Eddie Brock. (Unless my memory of the original Sin-Eater story is wrong.)

    In fact, I always wondered why Venom wasn’t gunning for Daredevil as well but I guess you could argue the obsession with Spider-Man was the symbiote screwing with his brain.

  5. I recall that when I first heard of Venom I thought that he was actually much, much stronger than Spider-Man in terms of sheer muscle. On top of that, I didn’t realise just how strong Superman was, so part of how terrible this is went over my head.

  6. As I remember the mess of crossovers of the era, All-Access was taking place in and around the whole final night rigamole, where that sun-eater thing…er, ate the sun.

    since superman’s powers run on solar energy, this screwed him up something fierce, such that even after they relit the sun, his powers were still going down faster than servbot under a cable/ken/strider barrage, leading to upsets such as the venom fiasco. this eventually led to the electric blue superman phase, which is another wave of stupid altogether

  7. Awesome post! I didn’t even realize Venom was in All Access as much as he was, I definately have to go pick that one up. Nice collection of pics from the books.

  8. Personally, I thought it was cool to see Venom as powerful as he was. I am so tired of Superman beating the shit out of everyone, and to see Venom (my favorite character) fuck up Superman was a real treat.

    Great blog.

  9. How the freak did venom beat up superman!? Did he have a freakin kryptonite symbiot suit!? 1st of all they made superman seem as weak as puny spiderman and 2nd they shoulda had superman fly venom into space and do sum super suplex slam back down to earth fatality shit, cmon now what’s with ppl hatin on superman now?