The symbiotic beast Venom underwent major changes in the 2000s, as can be seen in his best comics of the decade.
The alien symbiote Venom has been an integral part of Spider-Man’s pantheon as a villainous beast. But in the 2000s, the character went through a pretty big transition. Instead of just being a parasite on Eddie Brock’s body, the character has transformed into something of an anti-hero. It was the same decade that Brock and the symbiote joined together to become the Anti-Venom, putting their powers to good use.
Like all Venom stories, other symbiotes also appear, most notably Venom’s offspring, Carnage. Spider-Man himself once again leaned on the black suit in Back in black. The Ultimate Spider-Man the continuity also altered the origin of the symbiote, making it the product of a lab experiment (instead of having an extraterrestrial origin). With Spider-Man 3 Introducing Venom to the big screen, the 2000s were definitely a definitive era for Venom even though the character didn’t appear in many issues of comics.
5 New Ways to Die (The Amazing Spider-Man # 568-573)
Eddie Brock has remained one of Spider-Man’s best comic book villains since he embraced the Venom symbiote. But in New ways to die, he decides to help a fugitive Spider-Man who is hunted down by Norman Osborn and the Thunderbolts.
The transition from Venom to Anti-Venom adds an interesting angle to Brock’s story and shows that he, too, is capable of changing. The comic marked a turning point in Venom history as Anti-Venom has appeared in many other Venom comic book arcs. This led to the genesis of several alternate versions like Agent Venom and a whole new set of symbiotes appearing in 2017. Venomverse.
4 Venom (Ultimate Spider-Man # 33-39)
Ultimate Spider-Man featured a rebooted version of Peter Parker’s superhero origin story, which signaled a few changes for modern readers. For example, instead of being an alien symbiote, the Venom Suit is a lab-created costume that Parker and Eddie Brock’s fathers worked on. Initially, Parker relied on the costume for his usual crime-fighting. However, the symbiote arouses homicidal tendencies and drives him to psychosis. Unhappy with his failing high school life and rejection of Mary Jane, Brock also allows the costume to take over, transforming into Venom.
The contrast between the two friends and their decisions makes the story a fascinating page-turner. Spider-Man’s iconic motto “with great power, comes great responsibility” is brought up here as Parker realizes early on that the suit would only destroy him. As for Brock, he channels his own insecurities onto the costume, allowing Venom to feed off those insecurities.
3 Back in Black (The Amazing Spider-Man # 539-543)
Even though Eddie Brock doesn’t make an appearance in Back in black, this limited series perfectly showcases the destructive impact that Venom’s black suit can have on its wearer. After Aunt May is shot and killed by an unknown assailant, Peter Parker vows to track down his killer and abandons his responsible heroic acts in favor of a more violent style of vigilance. Putting on the black suit, he embarks on a ruthless crusade for justice.
He’s a vastly different version of Spider-Man from other 2000s Spider-Man comic book issues. Instead of his friendly and caring self, this version is far more humorless and intimidating. Parker is keenly aware of the self-destructive impact the symbiotic suit would have on him, but he’s pushed to such a level of pain that he’s willing to let go of his morality. Such philosophical aspects of the protagonist’s imperfect heroism make Back in black a must read.
2 Venom versus. Carnage (limited series)
Carnage was introduced as the offspring of Venom. But in this limited series, the two symbiotes fight for another offspring known as Toxin. Born of Carnage, Toxin later became a major ally of Spider-Man. Regarding this particular story, he becomes the reason for the discord between his two predecessors. Carnage wishes to kill him right after his birth for fear that Toxin will become stronger than him. Venom, however, is ready to protect him and make him his partner in crime. What follows is a battle for the ages.
The subtle dark humor and parental feud make for a fun and entertaining read. As Carnage is introduced to moviegoers with the upcoming film Venom: let there be carnage, browsing this limited series of four issues seems like a timely option.
1 Spider-Man 3: The Black One (One-Shot)
Sam Raimi Spider Man The trilogy ended with the third installment that pitted the titular wall-crawler against Sandman, Proto-Goblin, and Venom. Black is a special one-shot that serves as a prequel to the film and adds additional context to Eddie Brock’s transition to becoming Venom. While he is unhappy with his job at the Daily Bugle and the competition he faces with Peter Parker, he allows the black suit to take control of his mind.
The obscure comic reunites writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mark Bagley, the duo behind most of the issues of Ultimate Spider-Man. Bendis adds several internal monologues to perfectly capture Brock’s metamorphosis. Even though the original film elicited some polarizing reactions around this character, this one-shot attempts to improve the storyline with a more detailed origin. As for Bagley’s art, his panels bring out a bulkier and more precise appearance instead of the blacked-out Spider-Man suit that is present in Raimi’s film.
NEXT: 5 Things Venom From 2018 Worked Well (& 5 It Got Wrong)
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