We Care a Lot Part 20: Creatures on Infinite Earths

December 30th, 2009 by | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s time for the second part of the journey to check out the other alternate universe takes on Venom. We should probably start off with—wait, a sec.

What about Exiles? That’s a series that’s all about different Marvel universes. From what I’ve seen, Venom got shafted throughout. There was an inclusion of Peter Parker with the Carnage symbiote (I think), but Venom wouldn’t appear until the very last issue.

You see, Marvel always has to give Chris Claremont something to do… or else. He’s like the incompetent nephew that Quesada always has to give work to or else his sister will give him hell. They tend to give him stories that take place outside of Marvel 616, such as Exiles. The series became New Exiles and Claremont ran it into the ground, all while fulfilling his rampant [insert female X-Men member] fantasies. They relaunched it with Jeff Parker at the helm, where Morph would lead a team made up of Blink, Scarlet Witch, Beast, Black Panther, Forge and Polaris. It was fun, but nobody cared because of the stigma attached to the previous run. It was canceled by #6.

Venom appeared for a single panel. Why did I go through all that explanation to cover a single stinking panel? Because in it, the team sees another Exiles supergroup and I just know that Jeff Parker made the wrong choice.

Look at that team! I swear, if Parker went with that lineup instead of mutants and wacky Black Panther, it would be outselling Blackest Night.

Speaking of quick appearances, Venom showed up towards the end of the first Marvel Zombies series, as one of Zombie Dr. Doom’s underlings trying to take down Galactus. Once the now-cosmically-powered zombie superheroes take care of Galactus, a very one-sided battle takes place between undead heroes and undead villains.

Robert Kirkman and Sean Phillips were on the miniseries. Zombie Venom is a joke concept in itself, as Venom is already a flesh-eating monster with messed up teeth. The only way Phillips can differentiate is to make Venom look really dirty, as if he’s been spending the weekend lounging in a sewer. The fight doesn’t end too well for him.

There you have it: the symbiote is the only living creature in the universe that can’t be zombified. The Marvel Zombies line is curious as it goes out of its way to contain its own impressive continuity, but then you get screw-ups like this so early on in its existence. Kirkman establishes that the only thing that kills zombies is brain damage to the point that Wasp, Hawkeye and – in later comics – Deadpool exist as heads with the ability to speak and hunger. In the second issue, Zombie Daredevil has a gigantic hole through is torso and seems fine. So what’s the deal with Eddie going out like that?

Another quick Venom appearance is in the House of M world. During Spider-Man’s miniseries by Mark Waid, Venom appears in a way that makes perfect sense: a movie villain for Peter Parker to beat up. Obviously, Venom shouldn’t actually exist in that world due to the lack of Secret Wars, so this is a good way around it. Instead of being a constant threat that Spider-Man is terrified and guilty over, he now exists as a fictional whipping boy there to make Peter Parker richer and more popular.

Reader Meekrat pointed out that in the last installment, I wasn’t entirely correct about how Marvel’s cartoon-based comics were based on merely episodes from the show. In addition to Spider-Man Adventures, there was a series called Adventures of Spider-Man that created new stories using the show’s established canon.

Venom appears in the final two issues, #11 and 12, written by Glenn Greenberg with art by Alex Saviuk. Based on the events from the cartoon, the symbiote is webbed up to a rocket flying around space. A spaceship with metal tentacles cruises up next to it, grabs the rocket and brings it back to Earth. You guessed it, Doctor Octopus is behind this mess. Who knew someone so street level had the means and money to put together a fully functional spaceship?

Ock tries to study the creature, but it only cowers and refuses to play ball. He figures he has to reintroduce the symbiote to Eddie Brock, so he goes off to break him out of prison. He does so with ANOTHER high-tech aircraft. Spider-Man must suck at doing his job because no way is Ock getting funding for this legally.

As for Peter, he’s reenacting (preenacting?) the subplot of Spider-Man 2 as he’s so busy fighting crime as Spider-Man that he’s late to meet up with a very angry Mary Jane at a stage show. The difference being that she isn’t performing in this one. Peter goes to MJ’s house later and tries to explain himself. He’s ready to tell her that he’s Spider-Man, but then on the news they show Eddie Brock being kidnapped from prison. Rather than say, “Sorry, MJ! I have to go because I’m Spider-Man, which I was about to tell you! I’ll explain later!” he instead goes, “Uh, have to take pictures! Laters!” Obviously, Mary Jane gets even angrier.

Spider-Man jumps onto Ock’s hovercraft and gets the good doctor to fight him on the roof. Without any pilot, it crashes into a bridge. Ock damages his shoulder and hangs on by his tentacles. Rather than let Spider-Man save his life and send him back to prison, he presses a button that releases the symbiote from its holding cell so it can latch onto Eddie again.

The two fight for a sec until the hovercraft falls into the river below. Venom is unscathed and brings Doctor Octopus to safety as thanks for making him whole again. Ock prevents Venom from searching for Spider-Man and instead says that he wants to form an alliance. Venom isn’t interested, but Ock angrily reminds him that he owes him. Venom swings Ock to his lab and figures to at least hear him out.

Ock’s plan is that he’s going to take control of the country’s nuclear missile arsenal to bring the world to its knees. He needs Venom due to his shape-shifting powers and how that can help him get the access codes. That’s all? Not on speaking terms with the Chameleon? Surely hiring him to do your dirty work is more economically viable than flying through space to find a rogue rocket.

Venom figures he’ll go along with it, but only if they get Spider-Man out of the way first. Ock reluctantly agrees. Venom notices that Ock doesn’t know Spider-Man’s secret identity. He decides not to tell him, since it’s his own advantage, but he does know another way of getting to Spider-Man.

Spider-Man returns home, afraid that Venom’s going to spill the beans on his secret identity to Octavius. As he sits in a tree and ponders, Venom pops out of nowhere and punches him to the ground. Venom admits that he wouldn’t put someone like Aunt May in danger, but he finds terrorizing Mary Jane “exhilarating”. As this brawl continues, Ock knocks on MJ’s door one house over and lets himself in. Spider-Man has to push Venom through the wall so that all four of them are in MJ’s kitchen.

By being in such an enclosed space, Ock’s all but powerless, allowing Spider-Man to punch him out. Venom’s still overpowering, so Spider-Man grabs a pack of matches. He knows that mere matches won’t do any damage to Venom, but he’s able to use them to turn on the smoke alarm, letting the high-pitched screech do the work for him. And there you have it: Glenn Greenberg proves he’s a better writer than Howard Mackie.

Spider-Man punches Venom back outside, ties up Ock’s arms and turns around to see Venom has flown the coup. Ock is taken away by the authorities, cursing the very idea of trying to align with Venom in the first place, while Mary Jane screams at Spider-Man to get the fuck off her property. It isn’t a total bust as MJ is so angry with Spider-Man that she’s able to forgive Peter for being a total peter.

I’m really overdue in talking about Ultimate Venom. His first true appearance is in Ultimate Spider-Man #33 by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley, but he first had a bit of a cameo in #17 during the media appearance by Justin Hammer. Check it out.

I suppose Bendis hadn’t fully considered where he was going with Eddie yet. His real story begins as Peter and Mary Jane split up. Peter goes through some stuff in his attic and finds a tape of a picnic from when he was really young. He and Aunt May watch as the Parker family hangs out with the Brock family, including Peter befriending the older Eddie Brock Jr. We learn that Peter and Eddie’s fathers were partners and were working on something huge called the V.E.N.O.M. project.

Peter looks up Eddie to give him a copy of the tape and see what he’s been up to. Eddie’s in college and seeing the two of them interact in the first issue is positively heartwarming. Eddie’s just so jazzed to see Peter again and treats him like a little brother, lending him wisdom to help deal with his personal problems. Unfortunately, this is a comic book and there needs to be conflict, else the story just sits there.

Eddie shows that he still has the unfinished project, which appears as nothing more than a vial of black goo. Backstory shows that the thing was supposed to cure cancer (ironic, considering what was going on with Eddie in 616), but before the building process could get too far, the scientist fathers got involved in a legal battle with their investor Bolivar Trask. Suspiciously, the Parkers and Brocks all died on a plane after that. Peter questions Eddie on whether or not he thinks Trask was behind it.

This comic was 2003, long after “violent hero Venom” was put to rest in regular continuity. I will say that this little exchange right here did give me hope that we might be getting something like that in the Ultimate world.

Eddie befriends Gwen Stacy and invites her to a reggae concert. While they’re partying, Peter listens to an old tape of his dad talking about how much THE MAN sucks and decides to sneak into the lab to steal some of that Ultimate symbiote goo. It gets on him, overwhelms him and covers him in a black cocoon. He breaks out of it and is now Symbiote Spider-Man.

Spidey goes out and fights a little crime, showing that he’s now stronger and impervious to bullets. This symbiote is just like Eddie Brock: a godsend to Peter… until the dark truth reveals itself. For Eddie, he brings Gwen to his room and tries to mack on her. She doesn’t take to his attempts at statutory rape and leaves, which makes him act like even more of an asshole. Not only that, but the motherfucker has TRUTH posters in his room. “Truth” as in those annoying anti-cigarette ads that make even non-smokers like myself irritated. What a tool.

For the symbiote, Spider-Man gets his hands on a criminal who just shot some kid’s father dead. Peter has flashbacks to Uncle Ben and the symbiote causes him to lash out in fury.

Goddamn, do I love that frightened panel.

Spider-Man tosses the guy away, runs around like a loon and ends up falling on some power lines. The shock kills the costume and Peter is forced to steal some clothes from the garbage to get some wang coverage. It’s only hit me recently how much Bendis seems to play the nudity card. Really, take a second and reflect on that. I’ll wait.

Eddie sees Spider-Man on TV and puts it all together. He goes to his lab to see Peter out to steal the remainder of the sample and destroy it. Peter tells him everything about being Spider-Man and how barely anyone knows and how the symbiote will only lead to bad shit from people who will either outright abuse its power or be forced to abuse its power from the symbiote itself. Eddie’s surprisingly cool with it and lets Peter dispose of the sample, but later reveals that he’s outright pissed. The V.E.N.O.M. project is all he has left of his father’s legacy and this lying mutie is going to take it away from him. What gives him the right?

Even though Peter took the symbiote and incinerated it, Eddie shows that he has a second sample lying around. He lets it take him over and freaks out. Actually, looking at this after having recently reviewed Spider-Man 3: The Black by the same creative team, you see that Bendis was just rewriting the same scene. Lots and lots of narration blocks of Eddie’s inner dialogue as the transformation goes on. They both include him saying such gems as, “Just let it. Let it.”

As you may have noticed, this symbiote isn’t the same one that Spider-Man wore, so there shouldn’t be much of a mental connection. They fudge over this by saying that the goo is tuned into Richard Parker’s DNA. That’s why Eddie wants to track down Peter – not just because he hates him and feels betrayed, but because the symbiote needs him to be complete.

One touch I really like is that while the 616 Venom cancels out Spider-Man’s spider-sense – which does little more than make it hard for Spider-Man to chase him down when he runs off – the Ultimate version causes the spider-sense to go completely nuts. Instead of nudging him to tell him that danger’s around the corner, it’s flat out screaming in his ear to the point that he can barely concentrate.

Since it isn’t Peter’s exact symbiote, there’s a lack of spider symbol on this Venom’s chest. He also is covered with more tentacles than the conventional Venom and has teeth sticking out of his body at random places. He’s much more primal, much like a gorilla in his stance, while making Eddie act like a drunk zombie. Eddie is almost locked in a moment, repeating the same things over and over again, as if the costume is living off that instance of emotion.

With only a hoodie and the rain to disguise his identity, Spider-Man fights him through New York. They’re interrupted by some police officers, each opening fire on Venom. It does no damage, but Venom does back up into an exposed power cable. There’s no sign of Venom after that, but Peter obviously knows that he’s definitely alive. Things have been extra shitty for Peter, all because of his superhero identity. He finds Nick Fury and begs him to cure him of these powers, but Fury gives him a boost of hope and confidence by telling him that he’ll be a member of the Ultimates once he’s legal.

I recall an interview where Bendis stated that if there was going to be another Venom story in Ultimate Spider-Man, then he wouldn’t be writing it. Looks like another case of editorial pressure, only Bendis did a far better job churning out a good story than Sam Raimi. His words weren’t true anyhow.

I haven’t talked too much about Venom’s videogame appearances here, and I don’t plan to do in the few remaining articles, but the Ultimate Spider-Man game deserves mention. Not only was the game written by Bendis, but he touted that this would be the first comic book videogame to be canon! Personally, I call bullshit on that due to my beliefs that when nobody’s looking, 616 Spider-Man regularly reflects on that time when he, Zangief and Captain Commando fought a giant dog made out of lava. I hold onto this faith.

The game follows up on the Venom storyline while tossing in Ultimate versions of Beetle, Silver Sable and Vulture. Towards the end, Peter is transformed into Carnage. Venom overpowers him, absorbs him, digests the Carnage symbiote and Peter’s DNA, then spits Peter’s living body out of his gut. The Venom symbol finally appears on his chest and Eddie remarks that he’s finally gained total control over the creature. With his own will, he goes to find and kill Bolivar Trask.

This leads to a fight with Spider-Man on a rooftop, where Spider-Man has to stop Venom from blowing up Trask’s helicopter. Spider-Man does indeed punch out Venom with a hand-breaking uppercut, but it’s all for naught. Venom escapes SHIELD custody and later corners Trask in a prison courtyard. With his vengeance taken care of, Venom goes off to do… whatever it is he wants, I guess. Peter tells Mary Jane that he’s afraid for Eddie and for anyone who gets in Eddie’s way.

Now, that whole thing about this game being canon? It ends up being a load of bunk. Years later, Bendis would not only bring Venom back in #123, but he’d rewrite the entire story from the game to better fit in with Ultimate continuity. The seriously talented Stuart Immonen is on art.

Eddie sits on a bench, as if he’s Forrest Gump. He’d talk to anyone he could about who he is and how he came to be. He glosses over events that fit in with the game for the most part. Seeing Spider-Man fight Rhino, being hunted down by Silver Sable and fighting Spider-Man during Peter’s field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art until Silver Sable and the Wild Pack take him out and capture him.

What makes this first issue is how the framing of the flashbacks progress. When it goes back to Eddie telling the story, we see different people as his audience. They all appear fearful, but it makes you wonder about this turnover. Plus Eddie’s been telling them that Peter Parker is Spider-Man, which is still something of a big deal, even if almost every villain in the Ultimate universe already knows.

What you have to remember is that Eddie is hungry.

Back to the flashback, Silver Sable and her goons capture Venom, leaving Spider-Man to deal with the cops. Later on, Spider-Man fights the Beetle, who completely outclasses him. A conversation with Nick Fury reveals to Spider-Man that Beetle is working for Latveria, making whatever he’s involved in an international incident. We find out what Beetle’s after when he rescues Venom from the binds of Bolivar Trask.

This arc is way too busy and jumps around way too much.

Anywho. Upon releasing Venom, Beetle cuts off a tendril and stores it. Venom chases him to the streets, bringing forth yet another Spider-Man vs. Venom fight. This time, the symbiote leaves Eddie and latches onto Spider-Man. Spider-Man spends most of an issue fighting the Ultimates against his will. He really doesn’t want to attack any of them, but he can’t even talk and his thoughts are mostly drowned out by “HUNGRY!”

This is the part where it completely skews away from the game’s story.

Nick Fury gets wind from Eddie that it’s Peter in the suit, so he has Thor knock him out with a lightning blast. Peter wakes up in the morning, has a chat with Fury and finds out that they have the symbiote and there’s nothing he can do about it. Meanwhile, Eddie is free from the symbiote, but seems broken up about it.

Months later, Eddie confronts Peter at his school and threatens to tell everybody about his secret identity if he doesn’t get the suit back for him. Considering Eddie seemed to hate being possessed by the suit, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why he’d want to go back to being a cannibal monster with no free will, but I’m sure being a homeless nobody for several months would do it. He later admits that part of it is because the symbiote chooses Peter over him.

Peter’s search for help brings him no progress, but things get more complicated when Gwen Stacy shows up in Peter’s bedroom, asking for help. Ultimate Gwen Stacy… hoo boy. Let’s make this quick: Carnage was a symbiote created out of Peter’s DNA. Carnage killed Gwen out of nowhere, but absorbed her DNA and memories. It would take her form and believe itself to be her. She was imprisoned by SHIELD, but escaped thanks to a Green Goblin rampage. Hm. That wasn’t so bad.

This all leads to Spider-Man slapping around Eddie on a rooftop and telling him to leave him and his loved ones alone. To prove a point about what Eddie’s getting back into, he asks Gwen to transform into Carnage. This awakens the traces of symbiote goo left in Eddie’s blood and he becomes Venom again.

They smack Spider-Man away and start brawling for several pages. It ends with Venom winning the fight and fully absorbing Carnage into himself. He discards Gwen Stacy – clothed (Bendis must’ve been off his game) – and transforms.

You may remember Venom did this to Carnage in regular continuity once. He devoured the Carnage symbiote and it was supposed to give him a power boost, even though it didn’t appear to make a lick of difference and was completely forgotten about two minutes later. The videogame changed him in that he had the snazzy white symbol on his chest and Eddie was in full control. Here, we’re blessed with some better results.

Yikes! Not only does he have those beady eyes and huge stature, but he appears to be fully liquid. No longer is he a man in a costume. When Venom decides he no longer needs Spider-Man and jumps down a sewer grate, he fully pours through it. On the upside, he’s taken out all the symbiote remnants in Gwen Stacy’s body, reducing her to being a perfect clone with Gwen’s full memory.

It’s like Landfill never died!

Yes, I know I used that joke already. I don’t care.

Eddie isn’t exactly happy, despite his victory. He’s shown back to his old tricks, talking the ears off of random people on a bench before eating their ears off. It just so happens that one of the guys he tries to devour is ready for him. He pulls out a cybernetic device on his wrist that sucks up “True” Venom like a vacuum cleaner. Revealing himself to be the Beetle, he flies off to Latveria to hand the creature over to his lord Victor Von Doom.

The last issue of this arc began with a note that this issue takes place prior to Ultimates 3 by Jeph Loeb and Joe Madureia. I’m hoping you remember that I’ve had a lot to say about Ultimates 3 and how it was such a pile of shit. This blurb only appears to add to the storyline clusterfuck of that comic.

Venom appears by the second page of Ultimates 3 #1. He bursts in on the Ultimates during a meeting by punching Thor through the wall.

As you can see, Venom looks nothing like either version of his Ultimate counterpart. His purple sheen is replaced with blue. His three fingers on each hand is back to five. He has the spider symbol. He’s no longer a primal ape of a beast. He’s just classic 616 Venom out to apparently kidnap the Scarlet Witch.

He shrugs off Hawkeye’s bullets, throws Black Panther (don’t get me started on that storyline) into the distance, gums up Wasp with a splatter of symbiote gunk and gets ready to feed Valkyrie her own sword. Thor reappears with a lightning bolt that fries Venom good.

Venom collapses in a heap and is reduced to a 10-foot-tall skeleton, which doesn’t jibe with the fully liquid concept Bendis was trying to go with. Wasp notes that Venom has transformed into a “pile of poo”, which isn’t exactly shown well through Madureia’s art. We’ll have to take her word for it, I guess.

As it goes on, we find out that that wasn’t Venom, but a Venom robot created by Ultron. See, you might think I’m complaining about nothing with that Wasp line because a dead and melted symbiote could theoretically be described as “poo” if you don’t understand what colors are. But they make it a point that all these robots die and turn to “poo” to the point that even Ultron himself uses the term. The only other example of something like this happening is a robot Captain America turning into green slime after being killed. Maybe Joe Madureia has had really freaky colon problems for all his life and doesn’t know it. That poor man.

“What do you mean it’s unnatural for my turds to be lime green?”

We find out at the very end that Ultron was programmed to be evil by Dr. Doom. Let’s review:

Doctor Doom had his henchman the Beetle go to America and kidnap Venom so that Doom could reprogram Hank Pym’s robot Ultron, make him evil and give him the means of building a Venom robot to fight the Ultimates for all of two minutes. All so that Doom could goad Magneto into destroying most of the planet in a fit of anger.

I just don’t know.

Let’s move on to a continuity that’s more light-hearted. In the kid-friendly-but-high-quality realm of the Marvel Adventures line, we have a symbiote arc taking place in Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #21-24 by Fred Van Lente and Michael O’Hare. Much like Ultimate Spider-Man, it goes for the man-made approach.

It begins with a story about Spider-Man having to deal with Rocket Racer, Stilt-Man and Leap-Frog at the same time. He discovers that they’ve all been granted tech suits from the Tinkerer. When snooping around the Tinkerer’s hideout, he finds a vat labeled “Smart Stealth Cloth”. He touches the black goo within, it covers his body and he’s able to sneak around through the darkness and conquer the foes.

Even though the Tinkerer’s plans get ruined, he gives a knowing smile to Spider-Man and jokes about “damaged merchandise”. By the next issue, Spider-Man’s already having headaches, but of a different sort. Nobody knows that he’s Spider-Man! He gets tangled up in a Green Goblin vs. Hobgoblin feud and everyone thinks that much like the Hobgoblin, he’s nothing more than a copycat. The following issue – the obligatory “Symbiote Spider-Man vs. Sandman” because of Spider-Man 3 story – has him wake up in bed wearing the black costume with no memory of why. Other than that, there’s no foreshadowing that something’s off.

In #24, the story finally gets somewhere. While stopping master cat burglar Eddie Brock, Spider-Man’s powers start to fail on him. He goes to Reed Richards, who finds that the stealth suit is feeding on Spidey’s body for energy. They remove the costume and store it. Unfortunately, Human Torch figures it’ll make a cool set of threads for him and tries it on when nobody’s around.

The fire scares off the symbiote, who soon after comes across Eddie Brock on another heist. It takes him over and quickly teaches him how to use its powers. Eddie notices the mutual hate for Spider-Man and they decide to go make things hell for him. Even though he knows that Spider-Man is Peter Parker, Venom chooses not to simply kill him in his sleep. Instead, he finds him alone in the school locker room, throws him the Spider-Man tights and tells him to suit up for a fight.

Spider-Man gets beat the first time around, but a pipe bursts and pours burning hot water on Venom’s arm. It causes the symbiote to retract, giving Spider-Man a quick diversion to escape. Venom chases Spider-Man through the school and remarks that he plans to kick the shit out of him, unmask him in front of everyone and then kill him. Before he can get to that, his powers start to fail. Spider-Man notices that since Eddie’s a normal dude, the symbiote weakens him faster.

Regardless, Venom webs up Spider-Man in the chemistry lab and goes for the kill. Spider-Man begs the costume back and to Eddie’s horror, it leaves him for Peter. Spider-Man drops a couple shelves of random chemicals on the sucker and it’s seemingly destroyed… except we can all see the final panel reveal of it being alive a mile away. Eddie wants to tell the police who Spider-Man is, but without the symbiote, he can’t remember a damned thing.

Venom reappears in Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #35 by Fred Van Lente, Cory Hamscher and Terry Pallot. This is one of those comics where the cover begs for you to pick it up.


It begins with Spider-Man fighting the 52 Pickup Gang, made up of guys in card costumes. They’re easily dismantled and scared away, but not by Spider-Man. No, this time it’s Venom doing the good deed. As he explains to our hero, he’s done some thinking in prison and wants to be a good guy now.

Oh, Van Lente. I can mock your tastes too if you want. For instance, Socrates was a douche bag. There. Take that, you brute.

Spider-Man is very reluctant, but Venom threatens to tell everyone his secrets. Not just the whole Peter Parker thing, but tell Aunt May about his stash of Pixie Stix and Liz Allen about his love notes. Spider-Man caves and they go on patrol. Nothing’s going on and Venom gets restless, so he leads Spider-Man to Times Square. Wouldn’t you know it, there’s a crime going on!

Venom singlehandedly stops the thugs, who are all dressed like Mad Hatters. As the police aim their guns at the Arachnid Duo, the two hear an announcement on a police radio about a library being robbed. Spider-Man starts to piece things together.

Van Lente’s Venom is one of the best Venoms.

The two follow clue to clue, ending with them on a boat, splitting up to find the crime boss. Spider-Man discovers the White Rabbit, who already has Venom beaten and chained to a foghorn. Spider-Man cuts to the chase: he knows that not only have White Rabbit and Venom been working together against him, but it’s a completely retarded plan that “only a sentient costume could have come up with it!” I guess Eddie and White Rabbit were hoping to be able to kill Spider-Man, while the costume was hoping that Spider-Man would be impressed with its crime fighting skills and accept it again. I don’t know, the explanation is flimsy.

White Rabbit’s henchmen don’t like being in league with a sicko like Venom and leave. Spider-Man webs White Rabbit up with no problem. Venom finds himself too well tied up with the chains, so the issue ends with Spider-Man playfully pressing the button to start up the foghorn. Haha! Torture is fun, kids!

Speaking of comics for the kids, Venom appears in Spider-Man/Power Pack #3 by Marc Sumerak and Gurihiru. Through a flashback, we see a snooty fashion designer named Rudolpho bump into Eddie Brock on the street. He gives him a piece of his mind until Eddie transforms into Venom. Spider-Man comes to the rescue, followed soon-after by Human Torch with a sonic ray gun. Venom is defeated and Eddie is taken away by the police, but there’s no sign of the costume. Meanwhile, Rudolpho is fired over the phone while hiding in an alley and comes across the symbiote.

Six months later, Peter Parker goes to cover one of Mary Jane’s fashion shows. The Power Pack have been given free tickets from Spider-Man for helping him out the past two issues. Rudolpho has created a new line of transforming clothes. As Mary Jane passes Peter, her clothes begin to stir and this happens.

Well, shit. Spider-Man and the Power Pack team up against the supermodels, though Spidey gives them special directions not to hurt the redhead. Lightspeed stops the sexy Venoms by flying around them really fast and causing a sonic boom. Mass Master takes over the turntables and finishes the creatures off with overly loud Euro beats. Everything seems wrapped up, but nobody notices that a piece of black goop is on the back of young Energizer’s neck as she leaves.

The next issue shows Energizer having a nightmare about teaming up with the Sinister Six to defeat Spider-Man. She wakes up and tells her siblings that she’s been having these nightmares frequently. They dismiss it as being a psychological response to fighting the “evil Spider-Man”. The team then gets into a fight with the Rhino, but he takes them apart. He goes over to Energizer and acts like they’re in on something together.

That night, the symbiote takes her over in her sleep.

She first goes after Mass Master, but then swings off into the night. The others give chase into a warehouse, only to find the Sinister Six waiting for them and Spider-Man tied up. They set him free and a big melee erupts. Spider-Man tricks Rhino into running into Electro, which causes a massive surge that takes out all the villains and fries the symbiote. Spider-Man comforts young Katie Power, insists that this isn’t her fault and carries her in his arm as he swings her home; the others happily following behind.

These issues also had a fantastic Mini-Marvels back-up feature by Chris Giarrusso. Spider-Man is fired from the Daily Bugle because he unmasked and showed everyone that he’s Peter Parker. Eddie Brock is his replacement, though afraid that he might be fired if Jameson finds out he’s Venom too. The symbiote acting as a second head and yelling, “I wanna eat your brains!” doesn’t help either. Spider-Man spends a couple issues babysitting the baby versions of Power Pack, which drives him up the wall. The other heroes help him get his job back by publicly REMASKING so that Jameson is no longer sure that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. Eddie is fired for trying to eat brains and Spider-Man is given his job back.

I’m still bitter about Marvel cutting Giarrusso off at the legs.

Reader Stig informed me of Venom’s appearance in Spider-Man: India. For those who haven’t heard of it or forgot, it was a four-issue miniseries by Jeevan J. Kang, Suresh Seetharaman and Sharad Devarajan that acted as a retelling of Spider-Man with India-based influences. Characters were given new names like Pavitr Prabhakar, Meera Jain and Uncle Bhim. The powers were more mystical than science fiction. Spider-Man’s pants were noticeably puffier.

The story deals with Nalin Oberoi, who has used a dark amulet to magically transform himself into a green goblin. He later uses the amulet to make a demonic Doctor Octopus out of one of his henchmen. By the end, Oberoi has beaten Spider-Man and has him at his mercy. He exposes him to the amulet and says a bunch of Emperor Palpatine lines to make the hate grow within. Spider-Man is half overtaken and that half resembles – you guessed it – Venom.

That’s right, listen to Uncle Omni-Man.

He overcomes the evil through pure willpower, destroying the amulet and turning Oberoi back to normal. Everything is shown to be right in India, but the last page reveals the black goo that almost took him over as reforming on a beach somewhere.

I bet if they ever made a live action version, they could have the Great Khali play Stilt-Man.

Next up, a company crossover between Marvel and Dynamite Entertainment by the name of Spider-Man/Red Sonja. The five-issue miniseries is written by Michael Oeming and drawn by Mel Rubi. I’m not too high on the fantasy corner of the comic book universe, so my Red Sonja knowledge is limited to these factoids:

1) She’s got something going on with Conan the Barbarian, but no longer does because they’re published by different comic book companies. Ah, their romance is so Romeo and Juliet. Or Tim Drake and Jubilee.

2) She’ll only put out if you can beat her up first. That’s fucked.

3) She wears a chainmail bra and loincloth. It appears she doesn’t wear any underwear, as every time the back of her loincloth flaps up, she’s pointing it away from the reader. Wearing that stuff commando has to hurt.

The comic is a sequel to an old Marvel Team-Up issue from back when Red Sonja was a Marvel property. In it, she possessed the body of Mary Jane and joined Spider-Man in fighting an evil wizard Kulan Gath. In this story, a senator who resembles Gath goes to a high profile museum showcase, gets taken in by an ancient necklace, puts it on and becomes possessed by Kulan Gath. Manhattan transforms into a medieval setting and everything goes to hell. Red Sonja’s spirit again takes over Mary Jane’s body. Gath doesn’t want to get foiled again, so he uses some magic to force Red Sonja to find her sword and go after Spider-Man.

Anyway, Venom.

Eddie’s in a bathroom, distraught that he’s thought of as a villain. A Venom reflection appears in the mirror and coaxes him to believe that he’s a force for good by killing the bad guys and doing what Spider-Man’s too much of a puss to pull off. Also, the reflection says that Kulan Gath needs his help. Not questioning it, Eddie becomes Venom and runs off.

The obligatory Spider-Man vs. Red Sonja fight ends with neither dead and the two realizing it’s just a big misunderstanding. Classic! Then Venom tears through the wall.

Venom manhandles Spider-Man, while never getting a good shot in on Red Sonja. He claws into Spider-Man and gets him good enough that he becomes non-responsive when falling. Spider-Man falls into the river below and Red Sonja skips off to save him. Venom wants a bit more closure, but a messenger from Gath says that the boss wants to see him.

Gath doesn’t want to reward Venom, but to take him over. Venom resists and fights back, but by ingesting some of Gath’s blood, he practically poisons his body with magic, as if the blood was a Trojan horse. Venom being poisoned. That’s some good irony. Gath is able to separate the host from the parasite and becomes one with the symbiote. He starts calling himself Kulan Venom.

Kulan is able to defeat and capture both Spider-Man and Red Sonja. He’s about to sacrifice them and get himself some more power to remake the planet in his image, but then a cloaked Eddie Brock appears from the crowd and yells at him for taking the Venom symbiote. The symbiote pulls away from the sorcerer, which is enough of a diversion that the citizens-turned-peasants start a revolt. In the midst of the riots, Spider-Man and Red Sonja are released and start to open up on Kulan Gath. Sonja cuts apart the amulet and in one big explosion, everything’s back to normal.

That covers almost everything. Since the last article, Venom’s appeared in a couple more What If stories. What If: Secret Invasion featured two stories. One had the Skrulls win the final battle, which led to Venom as a turncoat against the hero resistance (joined by Sentry, Moonstone and Red Hulk to name a few). The other had the Skrulls remain secretive instead of trying to cause confusion. Venom joined Osborn in an attempt to get to the bottom of why the world was becoming a friendlier place. What If: World War Hulk had a world where Venom was killed in the Skrull invasion. In What If: Spider-Man: House of M, Gwen Stacy returned from the House of M world and caused reality to hiccup. Her very existence caused the Sentry to disappear, which allowed Venom to break Norman Osborn out of prison so they could go after the weakened Avengers. Venom succeeded in killing Jarvis and Aunt May before being punched out by Spider-Man.

There’s also Spider-Man: Noir: Eyes Without a Face. Only one issue is out, but I can’t help but think that this masked crime boss is supposed to represent Venom.

Time will tell.

This whole article has been long as hell already, but I have one more comic to go through. I read it strictly for this entry and it might be the best one. It’s Spider-Man Fairy Tales #3 by CB Cebulski and Kei Kobayashi.

Much like Spider-Man: India, it’s a reimagining of Spider-Man in a different country. Here, our young hero is Izumi. He lives in a village that neighbors a dark forest… kind of like a Japanese version of the woods from Evil Dead. There are dark spirits called the Yokai that come out at night and they need to keep the doors closed to protect themselves. Years ago, Izumi’s parents were killed by the Yokai, making me wonder why they don’t just move. Certainly, the rates around there can’t be that sweet. Maybe they have a Red Robin right down the block. Their gingerbread milkshakes are awesome.

Where was I? Right. Izumi writes about feeling a darkness within and gets more and more antsy to confront the Yokai, which alerts his Uncle Masaru and Aunt Satsuki. Uncle Masaru tries to talk him out of his funk, but it does no good. That night, Izumi takes his father’s katana and goes into the forest, leaving the gates to his home way open.

We never get much of a full image, but check out that depiction of Venom. He’s this big spider thing with Venom’s face, but all cloudy and shit. Not only that, but he has his own half-animal henchmen based on Vulture, Man-Wolf and Black Cat. Man-Wolf is depicted as a samurai wolfman, which is easily the best use of John Jameson in any comic. Izumi doesn’t do very well against the giant spider and after being knocked out, he’s bitten. The giant spider’s venom courses through his veins and starts the process of making him half-spider.

Izumi wakes up to see webbing patterns opening up under his skin and runs off home. Uncle Masaru is dying and says that Aunt Satsuki has been kidnapped. Before passing, he gives Izumi some wisdom about seeking the light. I think the whole responsibility speech is better, myself.

The big Venom spider tells Aunt Satsuki that he’s only keeping her alive so that he can fully turn Izumi evil and have him devour her soul. Izumi arrives with his sword in hand, even more transformed. He has long white hair and black markings around his eyes that look like Spider-Man’s. Venom’s animal henchmen tear into him, telling him that he’s one of them. Multiple eyes begin to pop up on his forehead. His pupils vanish. Four extra limbs appear out of his back.

With a yell of, “I AM NOTHING LIKE YOU!!” he tears them to ribbons.

Aunt Satsuki begs Izumi not to give in, but is mostly drowned out by the giant spider egging him on. Izumi cuts off all of the giant spider’s limbs and is ready to end it and fully give in. He sees his reflection in the sword – a human reflection – and decides that he won’t do it. Venom screams at him to kill him, but Izumi figures leaving him like this is a fate worse than death.

Izumi is still mutated, but appears differently now that he’s walking the righteous path. The extra eyes vanish, the spider legs in his back retract and his hair turns black. His skin becomes red and Aunt Satsuki comforts him. His life of bitter negativity is finally laid to rest and he can live a new life in this webbed form.

Okay! Is there anything I’m missing here? Any alternate realities I’m forgetting about? I’m just talking about stuff taking place in the present here, because in the next installment, we’re going to be taking a trip into the future.

“The future, Gavok?”

That’s right, old friend. All the way to the year 2099!

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9 comments to “We Care a Lot Part 20: Creatures on Infinite Earths”

  1. The only one I can think of is the greatest alternate reality Venom and that’s the one from Spiderman Reign.

  2. Again, that’s an alternate future. That’ll be in the next one.

  3. Oh and there’s the one from the 2099 universe Kron Stone, May Parker of Earth X or from the Spider Girl universe. The coolest one was definitely the Venom Rex one from the Old Man Logan universe. Anyways I love that you are taking the time to do this. Hopefully you’ll get a chance to do a Venom in the media. I’d love to hear your thoughts on Spectacular Spiderman Venom. I’m also looking forward to your Anti-Venom spotlight.

  4. Oh and there’s the one from the 2099 universe Kron Stone,


    May Parker of Earth X


    from the Spider Girl universe.


    The coolest one was definitely the Venom Rex one from the Old Man Logan universe.


  5. Try finding the other Giarrusso stories. Venom pops up in several of them.

  6. Oh god, what will I do when you run out of Venom books to review?

  7. So you like Venom, then?

    Venom’s alternates haven’t been great over the years (and it doesn’t help having godawful efforts like Fairy Tales on the shelves), but the Power Pack/Spider-Man mini made me cotton that Marvel Adventures was the shit – as of Energizer-Venom, it dawned that these were comics out to entertain rather than talk down to me.

    Also add me to the list of disgruntled Giarrusso fans – Superhero Squad can go fuck itself in the ass. But hey, at least we got G-Man and the opportunity to put money in Giarrusso’s pocket directly out of it. “It’s an ill wind” and all that jazz.

  8. The first issue of “Superhero Squad” was one of the worst and unfunniest kids books I’ve ever read. I was shocked to see that Paul Tobin had written it. As for symbiote activity, what about the one that was part of the whole Shi’ar/Vulcan/Starjammers bit…

  9. I just wanted to say that this is probably the most awesome compilation I have ever stumbled across. I’m a HUGE Venom fan from the cartoon series but never really knew the comics. I started collecting them maybe a year ago and I totally agree with you about the totally confusing storyline from the “Run” or “Shiver” series (or whatever its called), and think that “Lethal Protector” is.. downright repulsive (possibly written by a 5 year old?). I can’t wait to finish reading this (I’ve only read entries 9-20 so far), and to see your thoughts on Anti-Venom, or more comics on him.. honestly all I know about him is that he exists. Can’t say I agree with your Toxin thoughts though – not that I hate his concept, he just seems so.. goody two shoes.. he needs some more meat to his concept. It may simply be that I haven’t seen him doing enough, but I get the impression that while Carnage is just a “really evil Venom” – Toxin is just a “really good Venom”. By the way, did you not have a problem with the whole “it’s the thousandth of our line” thing? Or the way that Venom completely changed his mind about protecting Toxin over almost nothing. Personally I think Venom should be written as slightly more intelligent..

    Anyway, thank you for writing all this out, looking forward to finishing reading what you got down and seeing some more stuff as well.