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

April 9th, 2009 by | Tags: , , , , ,

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.

It all started in the pages of New Warriors back in the early 90’s. Vance Astrovik – known at the time as Marvel Boy, but more well-known when he later became Justice, so that’s what I’ll call him – had murdered his abusive father in an act of rage. He turned himself in and was put on trial. Starting as early as New Warriors #21, we’d see Justice surrounded and led around by a series of armored Vault guards. Presumably, one of them is Scott Washington.

It isn’t until #26 that we get to see the man behind Guardsman Number Six’s helmet. Justice is acquitted of murder, but found guilty of negligent homicide. With his arm in a sling, he allows himself to be taken in. At the beginning of the issue, he’s battling a series of Vault Guardsmen and proceeds to wipe the floor with them. As it turns out, he’s not trying to escape. It’s all a big training exercise for both parties.

Justice gets along famously with his guards, though especially with Scott. Throughout his incarceration, they regularly train against each other, which is good for the guards, since they would never try it with the supervillain prisoners. The New Warriors soon try to spring Justice, but he sends them away due to his respect for the law.

In New Warriors #36 we revisit Justice and Scott to see that they’re still sparring against each other. Though while there may be improvement on both sides, Justice still wipes the floor with his captors on a regular basis.

The rest of the issue involves a Vault prison riot where Justice stops the fighting on both sides by suggesting compromise. He uses his friendship with Scott to show that the guards and prisoners are only numbers if they allow it and that each side needs to understand the other more. As far as I know, that’s the last time Scott would show up in the series.

Fast-forward a couple years to 1996. The four-issue arc Venom: Along Came a Spider has a back-up story simply called Hybrid. It’s written by Evan Skolnick and drawn by Patrick Zircher. Surprisingly, this isn’t a case of a writer bringing back one of his old creations that nobody else is using, as Scott Washington is a Fabien Nicieza character.

I guess we need a refresher course in Venom history for a second. As you may recall, Venom was forced to give birth to a series of children, used by employees of the Life Foundation. The hosts tried to endure their new existence, but it was a struggle to deal with the creatures’ collective bloodlust. Scream went insane and killed the other four hosts, allowing the government to capture the four symbiotes.

Scott is given a special assignment for a couple months. Dressed in his Guardsman armor, he and some others are to live underground and oversee a scientist experiment on the four symbiotes. At first, Scott doesn’t seem to mind this because he knows that Venom and Carnage are psychos and that the symbiotes tried to corrupt their earlier hosts.

Still, things don’t sit right with him. He goes through with it because he’ll get a raise afterwards and it’s the best way of getting his mother and brother Derek out of the ghetto. The funny part about his phone conversation with his family is that Scott lounges around in a t-shirt that says “Arrested Development” on it. No pictures or anything like that. Just generic black text spelling out the name of a random musical group. It’s so blatantly lazy that I can’t help but smile.

Back to the Venom history, there was that whole Planet of the Symbiotes storyline going on. During that, the government gets on those scientists’ case to experiment like crazy on the symbiotes so they can figure out what to do. As the scientists experiment and torture on the creatures, the Venom sonic shriek happens. This is the shriek that causes most of the symbiotes in New York City to become so filled with despair that they commit mass suicide. The Life Foundation symbiotes don’t do that, but they do break from their restraints and huddle together.


The powered-up symbiote breaks out and momentarily latches onto Scott. His fellow Guardmen scare it off with sonics, but for just a moment, Scott and the Hybrid symbiotes shared minds. Scott takes off his helmet to show he’s crying, insisting to the others that the symbiotes didn’t deserve all that torture.

His buddies tell him to go have himself checked out as they go after the creature.

He sees the merged symbiote above him and freezes. He lets it leave, which gets him in huge hot water with his superiors. Turns out that there are cameras all over the place and the fact that Scott didn’t even tell anyone he saw the creature is a red flag. Scott bluntly tells them that he let the symbiotes escape because what they were doing was wrong, which promptly gets him fired.

Scott feels down, knowing that he’s going to hit rock bottom, but in the shadows, the Hybrid symbiote feels that it needs a host and that Scott, the “kind one”, needs them just as much.

As time passes, we see that Scott has gotten a job as a low-paid security guard thanks to the government blackballing him. He’s been drawing up the blueprints for his old Guardsman armor in hopes of maybe being able to exploit it in some legal way for money. He makes sure that his brother Derek doesn’t stray into running with gangs and all that, but it leads to Derek standing up to a high-ranking gang member at a basketball court. Scott protects his brother by nearly breaking the guy’s arm. The thug, Scar, slinks off, saying that he’ll get his revenge.

And he does! One night he breaks into their apartment with his friends and shoots the two of them. Derek is killed and Scott is paralyzed. Weeks later, Justice gives him a visit, but Scott is a changed man. He’s filled with frustration and anger over what’s happened to him. When he goes home and hears a kid driving by cranking the stereo, he initially thinks that it’s the thugs out to finish the job.

At first, Scott tries to fight it, but then realizes that he can use this to his advantage. In a shocker, the symbiotes seem taken aback by merging with Scott. He’s different. At first we’re meant to think that it’s because on his own, Scott can’t walk. Rather, the Hybrid symbiotes are reacting to how Scott isn’t the same kind soul the costume remembers. Now as Hybrid’s host, Scott wants revenge, which horrifies the symbiotes.

Hybrid takes to the streets and terrorizes the gang activity in Brooklyn. He tracks down one guy who he recalls from the basketball court and loses control. He tries to kill him, but the symbiotes leave him with the insistence that they won’t kill. Scott is now completely prone, since he can’t walk and all, so the symbiote has to rejoin him to save him from the gang member’s gunfire. Scott tries to convince his new set of buddies that killing is the right thing to do, but he’s stopped by Justice.

Justice has figured out that Scott is Hybrid and is out to stop him from becoming a murderer. Hybrid explains that there’s more to it than that. That gang stole his armor blueprints and he needs to stop them before they can do something with it. As for how to find their hideout, he reveals a new symbiote power he’s gained. He can inject people with a piece of symbiote goo and track it like a Spider-Tracer. Turns out he did the very same to the guy he almost killed.

Hybrid and Justice sneak into the gang headquarters and just as Hybrid seems to have his shit together, he sees the man that shot him and snaps. Justice would love to stop him, but as it turns out, the gang did put Scott’s blueprints to use. Of course, their big armor mech suits don’t look anything like Guardsman gear, but it’s the same color and I guess that’s close enough.

As Justice contends with the armored goons, Hybrid goes after his brother’s killer. He finds that one of the gang members has pulled his mask down over his head as if to hide his identity, so Hybrid slams him into the wall and tears the mask off. What he finds is Dwight, shown earlier in the story as Derek’s best friend.

How could he do that? These guys murdered Derek and crippled Scott. How could Derek turn his back on them? He explains that he was afraid he was next, so the safest option was to join them.


For several pages, Hybrid goes on a huge rant about their neighborhood and the situation they’re in, all while using his symbiote tendrils to disarm some of his enemies. His point is that the true core to all their community’s list of problems is the lack of respect they all have for their fellow man. Their gang activity, drug running and staking territory is only making things worse. Hybrid even vocally denounces his own thirst for revenge, as it’s counter-productive.

The gang members don’t listen to his message and instead shoot at him before running off. Hybrid tells Justice not to go after them. Hybrid falls to his knees and feels hopeless about the entire situation, telling Justice that this is an enemy they just can’t deal with. Dwight, having removed his gang apparel and offering his gun, feels differently. Scott’s ability to change his mind and let go of his anger in the name of hope has inspired him to do the same. Justice feels that if Hybrid can do that for one person, who’s to say he can’t do it for enough others?

Also, Dwight is wearing an Onyx t-shirt, but the artist actually went and put effort in it this time. There’s actually a logo and blood font!

Sometime later, Scott and Dwight look over Derek’s grave. Scott is still pretty down about things. He always promised Derek that he’d lead him out of this awful neighborhood, but as it is now, Derek is never going to leave. He and Dwight talk about the only other option, which is to make their neighborhood a better place. Turning into Hybrid for no reason whatsoever, Scott says that they have a lot of work to do.

Hm. Well, half of that blurb is right.

It’s kind of a shame that Hybrid’s origin story is where it is. I actually enjoyed this arc and despite being four backup stories, they were each long enough to be a full issue. Yet without any advertisement, they got tossed into the back of Along Came a Spider, a far inferior comic on all fronts.

Hybrid wouldn’t fade away quite yet. The very next month, he would appear for a three-issue arc in the pages of Venom: The Hunted. In a story called Jury-Rigged Justice, he remains written by Evan Skolnick, but now drawn by J. Calafiore.

Time has passed and Hybrid has been doing his part to patrol and help clean up the streets. Crime is already 50% down since he’s been on the scene. Not bad. He’s been watching a teenager running down the streets, trying to look guilty. Hybrid sees that it’s a trick, but wants to know what the trap is all about. He sees that the kid is bait set up by another party and soon discovers that he’s being hunted down by the Jury.

You remember the Jury, right? They’re a team of former Guardsmen put together to kill Venom out of revenge for killing one of their friends. Then they fought Venom for like two minutes one time before totally forgetting to ever go after him again. Instead, they just fought Spider-Man and the Thunderbolts one or two times. Well, here they are again. I don’t need to go through the entire roster, since they’re extremely generic. There are only three who are worth talking about. The leader is called Sentry (no, not THAT Sentry) and wears amped up Guardsman armor. To prosecute their prisoners, they have Olivia Lentz, a cold-hearted and closed-minded female lawyer with a scarred face and ill-defined history with Venom. Maxwell Taylor is the current head of the team and is a more sympathetic defense attorney.

Anyway! Hybrid sees Sentry and thinks that the government is hunting him down via Guardsmen from the Vault. Scott reacts by thinking about how he’ll have to leave town and lay low for a while. But that would be boring for us, right? Instead, the usually pacifistic symbiotes go into a frenzy.

The rest of the Jury show up and handily take down Hybrid with their sonic guns. As a last resort to save himself, Hybrid sends a blob of symbiote goo out the window during the fight. The sentient blob finds Dwight and gives him the idea that his buddy is in trouble. Luckily, Justice left the emergency number for the New Warriors in case Scott needed help.

Later on, Justice shows up with Powerhouse and Turbo. The little blob is dying, but uses the last of its strength to latch onto Turbo and feed coordinates to her armor via binary code. …Yeah, it can do that, apparently.

At the Jury headquarters, Olivia Lentz plans to charge the symbiotes as the fall guys (fall monsters?) to the symbiote invasion. Since they haven’t seen Scott’s face, they figure he’s just some gang member picking off his own kind and he’s probably guilty of something too. The problem is that they have to use sonics to separate Scott from the symbiotes, which is more than likely going to kill all five of them. Olivia has no problem with this.

Maxwell Taylor barges in and demands she ceases with this, saying that she doesn’t have the right and all that. Enough of the mask peels back that the Jury see Scott’s face and a couple of them recognize him. After all, they all used to work together. Olivia reluctantly stops trying to kill him, but keeps him imprisoned while she and Maxwell go off to argue.

Sentry cautiously tries to free Hybrid, only for the symbiotes to grab him in another attempt to get revenge. Scott tries his hardest to keep them from snapping his neck. The other Jury members get ready to flank him, but the New Warriors bust in and fight it out with them. They don’t realize that Hybrid is the one who needs to be stopped. Maxwell barges in to calm everyone down so they can deal with the Hybrid/Sentry situation.

Scott digs deep for some memories of his friendship with Sentry. Training sessions, setting up a birthday party for a fellow employee, forcing the Rhino to shower via high-pressure hose, etc. The symbiotes let Sentry go and admit that he is like Scott: angry, but a good man. Other members of the Jury aren’t set on letting Hybrid go, but Hybrid goes over the moral he’s learned.

All three parties in this mess – Hybrid, the Jury and the New Warriors – are guilty of jumping to conclusions about their enemy. Hybrid’s no more dangerous than the Jury and as far as Justice is concerned, he’s far less of a menace. He tells the team of Iron Man knockoffs that if he sees them pulling that kind of shit again, he’ll take them down.

The last page shows Hybrid gliding in the sky along with the New Warriors. Justice offers to let him join the team. Hybrid’s somewhat interested in it, thinking that it could help his reputation, considering nobody’s going to trust a dude with a living alien costume when all his peers are serial murderers. As much as he’d like to change the world, he needs to work on his own neighborhood first. For now, he’ll pass.

Powerhouse asks, “You really want to tackle all this stuff alone?”

“Kid, there’s already five of us bangin’ around in here. For now, that’ll be plenty.”

The story ends and the curtain falls on Hybrid for good. Sort of. Kind of. It’s hard to really say.

I mean, I have this vivid memory of seeing Hybrid and Justice on the cover of a comic sometime later, but there’s nothing online to back that up. I suppose I must have imagined it, but I can’t conceive why. While Hybrid was probably planned to show up in the pages of New Warriors and maybe even join the team, that series was cancelled several months later.

From there, he’s been nearly forgotten about completely. He had his own action figure at one point and was mentioned in the Civil War: Battle Report. Wikipedia brings up this factoid:

“In a recent Initiative issue it was said that one of the symbiotes left Scott and bonded with an unnamed college student. Its whereabouts and identity are unknown as of yet.”

Of the handful of Initiative issues I’ve read, I haven’t seen that mention. I’ve asked those who have read through the whole series and nobody seems to remember it. Still, it sounds right. I figure that college student would have to be Dwight, who really wanted to have his own symbiote.

I hope it isn’t Wiki bullshit. Truth is, I kind of like Hybrid. Sure, he looked like a bloody Wolverine with back tentacles, but he had potential for more good stories. The reverse of the human/symbiote dynamic was a fun twist. Strangest of all is that for a Venom spin-off character, Hybrid never actually met Venom in his adventures.

Speaking of Venom, being that this series is about him, the next installment will actually be about his comics again. Finally, Venom’s about to get his own direction. Is it too little, too late? We’ll see.

By the way, I came dangerously close to naming this article “We Care a Lot Part 9: Four Symbiotes, One Cup”.

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10 comments to “We Care a Lot Part 9: The Hybrid That Crashed and Burned”

  1. I think Hybrid and Justice were on the same cover of the recent Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe series.

  2. Wow this guy I’ve never even heard of…thanks for another great entry in the We Care a Lot series!

  3. the Hybrid from Rom was far, FAR more interesting.

    and creepy/scary.

  4. Theres a page in whichever Avengers book had the Symbiote Bomb on New York. In it Tony Stark is looking at some computer screen thats listing everything they have on the symbiotes. I vaguely recall spotting something about Toxin on that, maybe Hybrid had something as well…

    I can’t think of any mention of any of the symbiote characters in the Initiative books, unless there was a one-shot I missed somewhere…

  5. I did double check the Mighty Avengers page. No mention of Hybrid, but they did have guys like Ben Reilly and John Jameson namedropped.

  6. I like the picture of Hybrid in a trenchcoat. Would rocking a fedora be even better? Maybe.

  7. hurm.

    Will have to investigate further.

  8. I found this site looking for hybrid because I just read that quote on wikipedia.

    Since Hybrid, we’ve seen toxin, anti-venom, the neo-symbiote that scorpion II created very briefly and the symbiote invasion in the avengers series. I read somewhere that carnage would be coming back before the winter. It would be awesome if toxin hybrid came back as well. I wonder if he’ll look different if one of the symbiotes truly left. I’d hope it would be agony or phage, so that there might be an action figure of it.

    symbiotes rule!

  9. Oh yeah, I forgot payback is wearing a symbiote in true believers and raza is wearing a symbiote in kingbreaker.

    In my last post, I meant to say toxin AND hybrid…

  10. Looks like that thing was wiki vandilisim, probably by an unnamed college student. We are now several HC volumes into the initiative and it just aint in there.