We Care a Lot Part 18: The Sammy Hagar of Cannibalism

October 13th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

“Oh, no. No no no. That’s—that’s Venom. That’s Venom as me. That’s—and it’s not even the good one. It’s Mac Gargan.”

— Spider-Man, New Avengers #50

Due to popular demand, I guess I have to dedicate one of these installments towards Mac Gargan, the current Venom. First, a quick refresher on who Mac Gargan is and what he was up to before donning the hungry goo spandex.

Mac Gargan used to be a greedy private investigator, doing just about any job as long as the price was right. Jonah Jameson hired him to figure out the link between Spider-Man and Peter Parker. Mac wasn’t getting anywhere due to Peter’s spider-sense indicating when to slip away, so Jameson pulled out the big bucks for more desperate measures. Using an experimental serum and a cybernetic suit, he transformed Mac into the Scorpion. On the plus side, he was granted strength and agility to counter Spider-Man, along with a cool tail that shoots stuff. On the minus side, it drove him completely mad.

I think we need more villains who are only evil because whatever gave them powers also made them fucking crazy. A lot of the early Spider-Man villains had that going for them.

Scorpion existed for decades as a B-list Spider-Man villain. He was one of the many, many villains who in some way existed as the dark shadow of Spider-Man. Due to his insanity and his insatiable hatred for Jameson, Gargan tended to fail as a team player. Also, some of his insanity came from his inability to remove his costume.

Mark Millar reinvented Gargan for the better during his run in Marvel Knights Spider-Man, which I covered earlier in this series. At some point, Gargan had become a top henchman for Norman Osborn. His armor was gone, though with many operational scars left behind, and his sanity had been more or less restored. Sure, he was still a bad guy, but he was a coherent bad guy. Under Osborn’s orders, he orchestrated the kidnapping of Aunt May as a way to mess with Spider-Man and get Osborn out of prison.

As we know, the Venom symbiote – having skipped on its latest host – decided that Gargan was ideal. Perhaps it was how Gargan’s Scorpion powers are notably comparable to Spider-Man’s. Perhaps it was Gargan’s hatred of Spider-Man, spiked with his lack of Eddie Brock’s morals. But by the end of the day, Mac Gargan had become Venom.

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We Care a Lot Part 9: The Hybrid That Crashed and Burned

April 9th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

At this point in this series of Venom articles, I think it’s right to note that whether you like the comics, hate the comics, like the character or hate the character, you have to admit that the whole symbiote idea is, deep down, really original and full of potential. Really, look past the bad stories and you’ll see a comic book concept that has so many places it can go. It’s like Kryptonian DNA or Multiple Man’s powers. Years later they’re still coming up with new tricks for them all. The sky’s the limit.

Yet, their ideas for characters outside of Venom were never all that creative. Carnage, blood stuff aside is just “Venom but pure evil.” Scream is little more than “Venom as a woman with Medusa hair.” Where are the ninja symbiote hosts? Where are the quadruple amputee symbiote hosts with spider legs sticking out of their torsos? The Siamese twins? At least our topic today, Hybrid, had enough creativity in his concept to be slightly more than “Venom but a black guy.”

I don’t blame you for not knowing who Hybrid is. He’s only had a very limited amount of appearances. While he isn’t the most exciting Marvel character to fall into obscurity, there are some interesting things that set him apart from his symbiote brethren. For one, human host Scott Washington is actually an established character. That’s a bit of a rarity, isn’t it? Eddie Brock showed up after Spider-Man got rid of the costume. Cletus Kasady appeared specifically to set Carnage’s origin in motion. Donna Diego was a complete afterthought to the extent that they didn’t even give her or her symbiote self a name until way after the fact. Even Pat Mulligan, who I’ll get to way down the line, was introduced in the same arc that made him Toxin.

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We Care a Lot Part 1: Brand New Leaf

October 29th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

In the prologue, I discussed Venom: Deathtrap: The Vault, which reader Mark Cook was quick to point out was just an Avengers graphic novel that Marvel re-released with Venom’s name stamped on it. I forgot to bring up one panel that always stuck out at me featuring Iron Man. He seemed to resemble a certain cartoon talkshow host.

“Look, listen everybody… please? Listen to me. I have a hit song about a knife and, yes, I am the head of an international peacekeeping organization.”

Venom had spent several years terrorizing Spider-Man whenever he could, but Marvel deemed him popular enough to get his own series. That would be all well and good, but he’s driven by his insatiable hunger for Spider-Man’s brains. How do you cut away from that?

The answer is to get character creator David Michelinie together with Mark Bagley and write two issues of Amazing Spider-Man. Of course, Michelinie is the creator in theory. There’s a lot of debate over who truly created the concept, but at the very least, Michelinie came up with who he was as a character. Between this story and the one following, he’d lay down the groundwork for the other writers intent on writing Venom.

It takes place in Amazing Spider-Man #374 and #375. Look at that cover. People talk about how great MacFarlane’s Venom is, but I personally consider Bagley’s take to be the definitive version.

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