Spider-Man has some of the best villains in all of comics. Even if you’d dispute the claim that the web-slinger’s rogue’s gallery is one of the best in all of comics, you can't deny that it is at least one of the most expansive. Even if you choose to ignore some of Peter Parker’s most tenacious foes, such as Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, and the Jackal -- Peter’s list of villains is still extensive enough to contend with the best of them. With over 55 years in print, more than a thousand issues between his core titles, and a seemingly endless number of team-ups and minis, there is a massive amount of Spidey lore that fans are forced to wade through if they’re looking to encounter every single D-lister Peter Parker has squared off against.
Due to the sheer amount of baddies he’s faced over the years, Spider-Man has encountered villains of all sorts, including: cannibals. Even for a list as long as Peter’s, he’s faced off against a frightening number of bad guys with a taste for human flesh. To satisfy our readers who’d rather read “blood and guts” than about the “friendly neighborhood”, we put together a list of Spider-Man villains who can’t get enough human flesh.
Vermin (created by writer J.M. DeMatteis and artist Mike Zeck ) was normal, until he met Baron Zemo and Arnim Zola who transformed him into the ratlike creature (who can actually control normal rats) that plagued New York City in the pages of Captain America and The Amazing Spider-Man. The most famous appearance of Vermin (AKA Edward Whelan) as one of Spider-Man’s foes was in the “Kraven’s Last Hunt” story arc.
Vermin’s appearance in “Kraven’s Last Hunt” was largely that of a pawn of Kraven in his and Spider-Man’s final confrontation. However, the misunderstood rat-based creature ran loose in New York’s sewers throughout the entire arc. He gained notoriety as New York City’s “cannibal killer” due to his consumption of several civilians during this time.
14 ULTIMATE VENOM (EARTH-1610)
The Venom of the Ultimate Universe is a bit different than the one from the 616 in that it was actually created by Peter Parker and Eddie Brock Jr.’s fathers. This, and that its governing characteristic is a monstrous, unyielding hunger. When bonded to the symbiote, its main host, Edward Brock Jr. was forced to go on a series of feeding frenzies, consuming human flesh in order to prevent the symbiote from consuming him.
First introduced in the pages of Ultimate Spider-Man (by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mark Bagley) this iteration of Venom is more monster than man, more beast than villain. One of Venom’s most out-of-control cannibalistic moments (with Brock Jr. as the host) was when (in Ultimate Spider-Man #126) Captain America attempted to take down the beast, when it tried to consume him! Venom would have succeeded, if not for the intervention of Thor.
13 NORMAN OSBORN (EARTH-11080)
In Jonathan Maberry and Goran Parlov’s four-issue mini entitled Marvel Universe Vs. The Punisher, the Punisher is exposed to heavy doses of a pathogen called ‘Survivor 118’ that was supposed to facilitate human survival in contaminated/low resource environments. Unfortunately, it served to turn those infected into primitive, cannibalistic predators.
It quickly spread to the superhuman community, and across the world. The Punisher, immune to the pathogen, made it a point to kill any and all infected. The Norman Osborn of this story (set on Earth-11080) was among the infected. In the second issue of the four issue mini, Osborn (along with his son Harry) is killed by a priest. The priest, in an attempt to protect an uninfected group of survivors, was able to beat both Osborns to death.
12 JACKAL (EARTH-2149)
In the Marvel Zombies Universe, Miles Warren's (AKA The Jackal) propensity to consume human flesh doesn’t really set him apart from any of the other infected. What does, however, is his role in sustaining Kingpin and his zombified goons, and for a period of time, keeping Vanessa Fisk out of harm’s way. The Jackal proves to be a priceless asset, using his scientific prowess and strange affinity for cloning to clone uninfected humans being held captive by the Kingpin.
He does this in order to sate the nearly ceaseless hunger of his fellow zombies, including Wilson Fisk, whose wife Vanessa is both uninfected and constantly by his side. Unfortunately for Vanessa, even a stable supply of live human flesh could not spare her from her husband’s uncontrollable emotional eating after sustaining a loss at the hands of Machine Man.
It’s no secret that corrupted symbiotes are generally bad news. Once bonded to a host, symbiotes urge the host body to commit acts of atrocious violence, and even consume human brains and flesh. In the mini-series Carnage, U.S.A, symbiotic psychopath Carnage (AKA Cletus Kasady) commits what might be his most intense act of cannibalism, and consumption in general, that we've ever seen.
In Carnage, U.S.A., Carnage attempts to take over the entire town of Doverton, CO by bonding to all of its inhabitants. Prior to this, he is shown at the town’s meatpacking plant, eating newly slaughtered animal carcasses. Once discovered, Carnage lets loose, consuming over four thousand heads of cattle as well as the entire staff of the meatpacking factory.
10 KINGPIN (EARTH-11080)
In the world of Marvel Universe Vs. The Punisher, after the city is plunged into chaos by the spread of the ‘Survivor 118’ pathogen, tribes begin to form. While Spider-Man, now known as “Patient Zero” leads a tribe that rules over Manhattan, while the newly-infected Kingpin (AKA Wilson Fisk), now known as “The King of Death” and his forces were able to gain control of the rest of the city.
The King of Death kept his wits about him thanks to Doctor Doom’s Doomstones, allowing him to use his intelligence and knowledge of organized crime to orchestrate de-facto turf wars between separate tribes. This weakened the other tribes to the point that they could either leave the city, or join the King of Death’s massive tribe.
9 MAC GARGAN
Regardless of who its host is, the Venom symbiote has a tendency to compel them to desire human brains. This generally manifests as a threat shouted at whoever it’s fighting, but with Mac Gargan as host, this was not the case. Gargan had much less control of the symbiote than either Eddie Brock or Flash Thompson. As such, his rendition of Venom is characterized by unrestrained hedonism -- usually in the form of intense promiscuity (aided by his public persona of ‘Spider-Man’ in Osborn’s Dark Avengers) and the consumption of human flesh.
After consuming a Skrull, Venom’s desire for flesh appeared to increase. He was chastised on several occasions for eating the arms of his enemies in battle (both of Steel Spider and General Wolfram). His bloodlust gets so out of control that Norman Osborn sends his fellow Dark Avengers, Bullseye and Daken to kill Gargan, though they do not succeed.
8 RED VULTURE
Though their names are similar, make no mistake, Red Vulture (AKA Jimmy Natale) is nothing like the classic Spidey villain. The unlucky subject of an experiment utilizing the same technology used to create the Fly and the Scorpion, Natale (who first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #592) experienced some negative side effects.
Along with flight, super strength, and acid vomit, Natale experienced memory loss as well as a hunger for human flesh. This left him without memory of his past life in organized crime, where he was known by some as “Jimmy the Fixer.” Two issues later, after Spider-Man had interrupted Red Vulture cannibalizing some poor unnamed goon, the wall-crawler was forced to break both of Red Vulture’s arms in order to subdue him so that he could be apprehended by police.
7 THE BLOB (EARTH-1610)
In the Ultimate Universe (Earth-1610), Franklin Dukes (AKA the Blob) reveals that his threats of cannibalism, much like his distended gut, are far from empty. While much more well-known as a villain of the X-Men than of Spider-Man, as a member of the Brotherhood of Mutant Supremacy, this iteration of the Blob draws the attention of a wide range of Marvel heroes including the wall-crawler.
The Blob’s most notorious act of cannibalism was in the “Ultimatum” event. In Ultimatum #2, Hawkeye stumbles upon the Blob consuming the recently-drowned Wasp (AKA Janet van Dyne). The enormous mutant boasts that she tasted “like chicken", which is pretty disgusting in its own right. We wonder how the Blob tasted, when Yellowjacket bit his head off and spit it out in the next issue as revenge.
6 THE LIZARD
The Lizard (AKA Dr. Curt Connors) is one of Spider-Man’s most iconic villains. Once a family-oriented scientist, most stories with the Lizard involve his internal struggle to ignore the beastial urges his scaly transformation brings with it. “Shed” (The Amazing Spider-Man # 630-633) by Zeb Wells and Chris Bachalo, presents readers with perhaps the most horrific instance of Connors’ mind losing out to the power of the Lizard.
After the Lizard overpowers Connors, without Spider-Man there to subdue or talk him down, he begins a rampage. This culminates in the Lizard literally eating Billy Connors (Curt’s young son) in half while Connors’ consciousness screams at the Lizard’s mind -- now in control of their shared, scaly, monstrous body. There is no intervention. There is no redemption. The story ends with panels fading to black, ending one of the darkest arcs of The Amazing Spider-Man ever published.
Yet another one of Spider-Man’s villains named ‘Edward’ is Edward Cross, AKA Eddie the Cross, or as he is more widely known, Skinhead. Cross was just an angry neo-nazi before his attempts at vandalizing the Afro-American studies building at Empire University led him to the chem lab where Peter Parker was experimenting with his web fluid.
Unfortunately for Cross, the new web fluid was a flop -- it ended up reducing anything it touched to a pile of goo, including Cross, who became an amorphous mass of flesh. In the next issue, Skinhead shows the extent of his abilities by engulfing and dissolving the flesh of his nazi pals in the name of “racial purity”. Luckily, Spider-Man was able to stop Skinhead before he chowed down on his own dad amoeba style.
4 TOMBSTONE (EARTH-11080)
Another victim of the ‘Survivor 118’ pathogen introduced in Marvel Universe Vs. The Punisher was lesser-known Spider-Man villain Tombstone (AKA Lonnie Lincoln). Tombstone is most often found in the pages of street level titles working alongside villains like Hammerhead, pitted against heroes that are looking out for the little guy like Spider-Man, or Luke Cage.
Lincoln’s origins as a street fighter led him to file his teeth into sharp points, something that when paired with his albinism makes him quite the startling sight. In Marvel Universe Vs. The Punisher, Lincoln was a member of Kingpin’s (now referred to as the King of Death) tribe. He was seen in issue three squaring off against Black Widow who was trying to free the uninfected prisoners he was guarding.
3 VULTURE NOIR
While we’re all marveling at Michael Keaton’s performance as Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming, this is a very different Vulture. Set in the Noir universe, where May and Ben Parker are socialist organizers in the midst of the Great Depression, this Adrian Toomes is a nearly-mute performer in a circus sideshow. Almost more animal than man, this rendition of Toomes doesn’t fly, but rather, was given the name Vulture due to his taste for raw human flesh.
Vulture Noir plays an instrumental role in Spider-Man Noir’s origin story. Instead of being shot by a burglar, Peter’s Uncle Ben meets his end at the hands, or should we say the teeth of Toomes. Adrian Toomes was unleashed on Ben Parker for stirring up trouble as a protester, something business magnate Norman Osborn was none too happy about.
2 THE THOUSAND
Carl King was a bully in Peter Parker’s high school. Present on the fateful trip where Peter would get his fantastic powers via radioactive spider-bite, King learned Peter’s secret identity and eventually snuck back into the exhibit, hoping to get the same spider to bite him, eating it when it proved uncooperative. Though King’s powers were similar to Spider-Man’s at first, his body soon degraded, leaving his sentience in the form of a swarm of spiders.
These spiders could consume human bodies and assume their form, growing in strength with each body they consumed. The Thousand maintained a one body per month consumption schedule for multiple years in an effort to increase his strength and confront Spider-Man. Needless to say, it didn’t work out too well for Carl.
Perhaps the most famous cannibal on this list is Spider-Man’s foil and longtime host of the Venom symbiote, Eddie Brock. Though the majority of his time as Venom has been in the name of protecting the innocent, the Lethal Protector was at one time compelled to consume human brains. The Venom symbiote requires a chemical called “phenethylamine” to function.
This chemical is found in human brains. The mini-series Venom: The Hunger addresses both the problem, and Venom’s search for a solution. In the first issue of Venom: The Hunger, Venom gets carried away when disposing of some goons, and eats one of their brains in the process. Later, Brock learns that phenethylamine is also present in chocolate, and that eating a steady supply of it will quiet the symbiote’s hunger.
Did we miss any other flesh-eating Spidey adversaries? Let us know in the comments section right now!