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We Care a Lot: A Venom Retrospective

October 15th, 2009 Posted by |

In a series initially inspired by the popular series of essays Life of Reilly, I go in depth on the character Venom. Venom is one of Marvel’s most popular characters, yet he’s someone that very few people actually like. Sure, the 12-year-olds and the casual readers seem to enjoy his giant teeth and murderous demeanor, but most everyone else – including just about every comic writer out there – has it in for the guy. As a young fan of the character who grew up to see Venom evolve, I look into the character’s history to try to see and explain the appeal.

Starting from Venom’s turn to anti-hero from the early 90’s, We Care a Lot covers the insane storylines that nobody remembers to the diamonds in the rough that few have read. Watch as a character with possible dimension (and dementia) squanders his potential through bad writing, editorial and the constant need for a company to make a quick buck. Soon Venom’s likeness is thrown around like a ragdoll to the point where he doesn’t resemble a solid persona and Marvel has no choice but to scrap him and try again.

But yet… perhaps, like Venom himself, there’s still a chance for something bad to redeem itself and become something good.

PRE CARE A LOT
(The Venom articles I wrote before doing this series)

Planet of the Symbiotes: History Before it Repeats Itself (10/26/07): At the time of the article, the Venom Bomb arc in Mighty Avengers was on the horizon. Here is a look at the other minor crossover story where symbiotes took over New York City. This time they had the team of Spider-Man, Venom and the Scarlet Spider to take care of it.

Venom vs. Sandman: Three Stories of Living Grains and Eating Brains (11/14/07): With Spider-Man 3 recently in theaters, we take a look at the three stories throughout Marvel history where the movie’s two villains Venom and Sandman meet up and butt heads. This includes Venom’s appearances in Silver Sable and the Wild Pack, a really horrible Howard Mackie Spider-Man story, and the dark future of Spider-Man: Reign.

WE CARE A LOT

Prologue (10/26/08): A look at how Venom got me into comics, followed by Venom: Deathtrap: The Vault, an Avengers graphic novel rereleased with Venom’s name tacked on.

Part 1: Brand New Leaf (10/29/08): Venom gets over his hatred of Spider-Man for a little bit, moves to San Francisco, grows a mullet and starts fighting crime. He has a bunch of symbiote kids and fights the Punisher.

Part 2: Meet the Heavy-Hitters (11/3/08): Venom gets in a completely weird story about fighting both Juggernaut and insanity demons. Then he teams up with Morbius and later clashes with Smart Hulk.

Part 3: The Last Days of San Francisco (11/27/08): Meet the Mace, a cyber ninja who appeared in a comic arc you probably never read. He does a crossover with Venom and fades into obscurity. Venom then teams up with the second-string Ghost Rider known as Vengeance and then goes back to New York to fight the new kid on the block, the Scarlet Spider.

Part 4: Father of the Year (11/30/08): Separated from his symbiote, Eddie Brock must contend with his bloodthirsty symbiote children and their desperate human hosts. After that, he fights his eldest son Carnage with cyberspace as the backdrop.

Part 5: Wrath of the Butterface (12/3/08): A new Sin-Eater is in town and Eddie’s ex-wife is on his “to-kill” list. It’s the story known mostly for introducing us to She-Venom. Also, Venom saves Christmas.

Part 6: Special Guest Villain (12/23/08): As his own solo series goes off without a hitch, Venom appears in all sorts of other comics. Iron Man, Nova, Daredevil and more. More importantly, Venom beats the stuffing out of DC’s top hero. And I’m not talking about Batman!

Part 7: The Ballad of Rad Eddie (2/2/09): In a crossover with Malibu Comics, Venom faces the evil vampire Rune. Then he takes on Ben Reilly Spider-Man, fights a symbiote-eating creature from outer space and becomes the king of skateboarding.

Part 8: Brains! Brains! It’s Okay! (3/4/09): A look at The Hunger, possibly the best Venom comic of the 90’s, as Venom deals with his insatiable hunger for brains. That’s followed by a really dumb Wolverine team-up and a cool Eddie Brock solo story from years past.

Part 9: The Hybrid That Crashed and Burned (4/9/09): Meet Scott Washington. Guys like Venom and Carnage have one symbiote, but Scott has FOUR! The short career of the forgotten symbiote superhero Hybrid.

Part 10: The Symbiote Who Loved Me (4/15/09): After being arrested and put on trial, Venom is taken in by the government and used as a secret agent. This leads to a lot of failure to be subtle and a throwdown with Ghost Rider.

Part 11: No More Mr. Nice Guy (5/11/09): Despite his best intentions, Venom government job goes bust and they make an attempt on his life. He goes on a rampage, fighting Spider-Man a couple more times. The symbiote is killed and Venom’s solo run comes to a close. Also in this update, non-comic appearances of anti-hero Venom and the completely abysmal parody comic Venumb.

Part 12: A Factory of Loose Ends (5/17/09): Venom’s back to being a straight-up villain and appears in Howard Mackie’s Spider-Man comics for about a year. With stories that never go anywhere, these are the beginnings for some bad, bad times for Venom.

Part 13: Way Out of His Mind (6/29/09): Having been missing from comics for about two years, Venom reappears in Venom by Daniel Way. This deals with the first nine issues, where the symbiote kills a bunch of people in Canada and fights Wolverine.

Part 14: Eddie, Are You Okay? Will You Tell Us, That You’re Okay? (7/6/09): Taking a break from the Daniel Way series, this article deals with the return of Eddie Brock and the revelation that he has cancer. After warring with his symbiote, he ends up auctioning it to a new host…

Part 15: Way Too Hard to Comprehend (7/20/09): Now the second half of the Way Venom series. Characters are written badly and cloning is brought into the mix in a series that goes absolutely nowhere.

Part 16: Toxology Report (9/1/09): Hybrid isn’t the only symbiote superhero the world forgot about. This time the topic is Toxin, the honest cop injected with Carnage’s alien son. Can the host and baby monster within co-exist?

Part 17: The Hollywood Influence (9/15/09): Spider-Man 3 featured the black costume and Venom, so around that time, Marvel did stories involving Spider-Man wearing a black costume (not THE black costume) and Eddie Brock being near death. Then there was this miniseries about Venom’s origin that was downright awful.

Part 18: The Sammy Hagar of Cannibalism (10/13/09): Hey, did you know that Mac Gargan was Venom for a while? Yeah! Fancy that. Because YOU DEMANDED IT, a look at Gargan’s tenure as Venom, up to his awesome Sinister Spider-Man miniseries.

Part 19: We Are the Worlds (12/3/09): There are so many alternate worlds in comic books and many of them have their own Venoms. There’s the What If series, Spider-Man Adventures, the Spider-Ham world, the Mangaverse and more.

Part 20: Creatures on Infinite Earths (12/30/09): A special DOUBLE-SIZED (legally, I have to capitalize that) installment to celebrate the 20th entry in the series. More alternate Venoms including Ultimate Venom, a giant spider ghost and a symbiote wizard.

Part 21: Back in Black to the Future (4/18/10): Now that the alternate presents are dealt with, how about the alternate futures? Spider-Man 2099, Spider-Man: Reign, Spider-Girl and more!

Part 22: We Care Again (1/25/2011): Who needs Mac Gargan as Venom when you can have Eddie Brock as Anti-Venom? He’s spikier and his colors are different, but as he fights with and against the likes of Spider-Man and the Punisher, it feels like coming home… All is well.

Part 23: Red Jelly (6/11/11): Taking another trip to the 90′s, we see Venom’s most mainstream story. Fourteen issues of Spider-Man and Venom arguing over whether or not killing an unstoppable killing machine is wise while a bunch of villains you’ve never heard of outside of this story are seeing how many digits they can get in their body count.

Part 24: The Antihero’s Journey Concludes (7/9/11): To wrap everything up, I take one last look at 25 years of storyline and countless writers and artists, tape it all together and show that in the end, we get a pretty solid story about a bitter murderer transforming into a hero. All by syncing his history with the Hero’s Journey outline.

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