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Sunday, September 30, 2018 

A sloppy article about Venom's origins

That's what I was thinking after reading this dreary column in the Booneville Democrat about the upcoming Venom movie starring Tom Hardy in the role of Eddie Brock, which also fails to note a certain passage from Spidey's spinoff series:
...But what you will definitely not see is Venom’s comic book origin, which figures on Spider-Man’s clothes.

Back in 1984, Mattel had the license to make Marvel toys, and wanted a big publishing event from which to launch a line of action figures. Marvel’s editor-in-chief responded by writing “Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars,” which consisted of taking Marvel’s biggest heroes and villains, dumping them on an alien planet with pre-existing plot devices, and having them fight each other for 12 issues.

In the course of the story, Spider-Man’s uniform was damaged. He was directed to a clothes-making machine — I don’t recall if it had an actual name — which manufactured an all-black costume with a stylized white spider emblem. Amazingly, the outfit could mimic Peter Parker’s street clothes (or any other kind of clothes) and manufactured its own webbing.

That’s because, as subsequent adventures would prove, that it wasn’t a costume at all. Spider-Man had picked the wrong machine in “Secret Wars,” and had released a sentient. shapeshifting alien creature called a “symbiote” that was feeding off him.

I think we can all agree that the correct response to this is “yuk.”

Fortunately, Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four) helped separate Parker from his unwelcome visitor and trapped it in a big glass jar. But that wasn’t the end for Blackie McBlacktights.

After a short build-up, “Amazing Spider-Man” #300 (1988) introduced Venom — the black costume and his new “partner,” a disgraced former journalist named Eddie Brock. They had been united by an evil outfit called the Life Foundation, which had been researching the symbiote via secret human experimentation.

Eventually we learned that Brock had become disgraced some years earlier when Spider-Man revealed the identity of a supervillain named Sin-Eater, whereas Eddie had “proved” in various articles for the Daily Globe that Sin-Eater was someone else. He was fired, and he blamed Spider-Man for his journalistic snafu.

And that’s what attracted the symbiote, who felt “rejected” by Spider-Man. [...]
Oh my, one moment now, do I notice something else missing here, and something confused with a later miniseries and the movie? Specifically, that the symbiote escaped from the "plasteel" container in the last 2 pages of Fantastic Four #274, after an odd device infiltrated the building and drilled a hole in the surface, after which the bizarre creature made its way to Peter Parker's apartment in NYC's Chelsea borough (taking hold of a pedestrian or two along the way), and tried to conquer him again in the premiere issue of Web of Spider-Man in 1985, written by Louise Simonson (and began with 4 former convicts familiar with the Vulture in prison developing suits they could use as "Vulturions" to commit crimes). It all culminated with Spidey making his way over to a NY church, where the bells in the tower provided the vibrational effects that finally convinced the symbiote to let him go. So, how come that part goes unmentioned? How is anybody supposed to understand what transpired?

And then, the article ambiguously describes what I think is the premise of a 1993 miniseries (and the movie?), but didn't happen that way in the comics. As relayed by Brock in ASM #300, the symbiote was drawn to him as he took time to pray in the church, and after it bonded with him, he began speaking for the symbiote as much as for himself. This was after he'd been kicked out of the Daily Globe on his ear for the poor investigation he did into the case of a murder suspect who turned out to be the wrong man after Spidey unmasked the real one called Sin-Eater. For this, Brock held a grudge against Spidey, even as he was occasionally willing to help innocents in distress, recalling a short story from ASM Annual #25 called "Venom in the Truckstop of Doom" where he took on several hijackers at a diner while displaying a sense of black humor in the process. The Life Foundation didn't really figure until later, and this article certainly isn't giving the exact locations of those exact elements. It goes on to state:
In 1994, the Life Foundation forced the Venom symbiote to spawn again — in quintuplicate. The result was five more symbiotes, named Agony, Lasher, Phage, Riot and Scream. In 2008, in an origin so brain-mushingly convoluted I will not dare summarize it, another Venom spawn became Anti-Venom — a symbiote with all the usual shapeshifting and Spider-powers, but also lethal to the other symbiotes.
I don't own that miniseries in my Spidey collection (though I do own the Birth of Venom compilation), but I think this just repeats the aforementioned confusion. As I said, the Life Foundation didn't officially come about until later.

And the article even proceeds - sans objectivity - to demonstrate how Venom's become way overused since the mid-2000s, the admittal of 2008's convolution notwithstanding:
And in between, came “Planet of Symbiotes” (2005), a five-part story where we met an entire race of symbiotes, now called Klyntar. Because why stop with a handful of Venom-like characters, when you can have an endless supply from outer space? Think of the sales, man!

Along the way — more than 150 issues of various series and miniseries, as well as virtual co-star status in Spider-Man comics in the ’90s — Venom has been both a good guy and a bad guy, and a few things in between. The original symbiote has bonded with lots of other people besides Brock and Parker, including Brock’s ex-wife, Spider-villain Mac “Scorpion” Gargan and mobster Angelo Fortunato. For a while the symbiote’s host was longtime Spider-Man supporting character and Vietnam veteran Eugene “Flash” Thompson, who used the symbiote powers for the U.S. military as “Agent Venom.”

And what super-character worth his salt has never been cloned? “None” is the correct answer, which is why a character named Mania was cloned from Venom’s severed tongue (2003). Yes, you can say “yuk” again.

The Venom story has continued to grow — some would say “fester” — with a variety of new series in 2018:

The new “Venom” ongoing has introduced the “god of the Symbiotes,” created an origin of the Klyntar species, re-written the history of The Celestials and created something called the Necrosword. It’s a huge, sprawling, cosmic-horror background that will inform the character’s stories going forward.

The recent “Web of Venom: Ve’Nam” one-shot includes not only the worst Vietnam pun you’ve ever heard, but a Klyntar ancestor recruited by a young Nick Fury to fight the Viet Cong. That resulted in a Wolverine appearance, because Wolverine is required, by law, to appear whenever possible in a Marvel comic book. (Well, it sure seems like it.)

The new “Venom: First Host” miniseries reveals some of the Venom symbiote’s pre-Secret Wars history. It involves a Kree warrior named Tel-Kar, who has returned for his old symbiote buddy.
Oh, that's all we need. Even to the point where they make it sound like the symbiote was never a concoction of the Beyonder's machinations per se in Secret Wars, but rather, had something to do with Mar-Vell's society. And they even retcon the Celestials' history to justify more of this theater of the absurd. Honestly, I think, much like DC did with the Joker in past decades, Marvel's overused Venom to boot, and in a pretty short amount of time. As the sugary article also hints, it's the same with Wolverine, who became pretty overused, particularly when Brian Bendis was writing the Avengers, and even Spider-Man was brought in, proving they couldn't sell the books he wrote with their own regular cast members, continuity be damned.

Anyway, this article certainly doesn't do much for anybody looking for a more accurate description of Venom's origins, and because of Quesada's continuing disrespect for fandom, I just feel too discouraged to check out the movie with Hardy.

Update: and wouldn't you know it, the movie's been largely panned by critics anyway, so I guess I'm not missing anything. Just another attempt by the studio to take a concept and milk it for all its worth without putting too much thought into what would make it work properly as an entertainment vehicle.

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Counter-review here: https://www.deviantart.com/devilkais/journal/VENOM-2018-OUR-REVIEW-768331220

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