WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Absolute Carnage: The Immortal Hulk #1, by Al Ewing, Filipe Andrade, Chris O'Halloran and VC's Travis Lanham, on sale now.
Venom is undoubtedly one of the best-known villains-turned-antiheroes. However, while Eddie Brock is the most famous person to bond with the alien symbiote, he isn't the first, nor the last. During Mark Millar's run on Marvel Knights Spider-Man, Eddie sold his symbiote at an auction, hoping to literally rid himself of his own personal demon. He donated the money to charity and left, soon dying of cancer. Although he ended up revived and regained his symbiote, the suit famously passed on to Mac Gargan, better known as The Scorpion. What many people forget, however, is that, before Venom went to Mac Gargan, it was sold to Angelo Fortunato, who had the suit for all of a few issues.
With Absolute Carnage featuring all the characters to have ever worn the symbiote suit before, it seemed inevitable that Fortunato would return. But who was he? Where is he now? The answer came, surprisingly enough, in Absolute Carnage: The Immortal Hulk, and the result is exactly what you'd expect of the worst Venom ever.
WHO IS ANGELO FORTUNATO?
Angelo Fortunato is the son and heir of the Fortunato crime family. However, unlike his family of macho strong men, Fortunato was frail and weak. But beyond even that, he was also very unambitious, pathetic and unwilling to put the effort in to bettering himself. Don Fortunato, Angelo's father, would consistently mock and belittle Angelo, which only led to him resenting his entire family.
When his family learned of the Venom auction, Don bought the symbiote for Angelo to make him a man. Eddie tried to warn Angelo of the dangers of the symbiote, but Angelo outright ignored him. He saw it as an easy way to escape the constant ridicule of his family and, rather than hope to understand the symbiote, just decided, by virtue of him owning it, that the symbiote would obey him.
Fortunato decided the best way to be a "man" was to go and kill Spider-Man. The two fought, with Fortunato damaging Spidey's web-shooters. Fortunato then ripped the heart out of a man dressed as Spider-Man, confusing him for the real one. When Spidey went all-out on the new Venom, Fortunato tried to run away. However, while leaping between buildings, the Venom symbiote, fed-up with Fortunato's cowardly, opportunistic nature, abandoned him.
Without the powers of Venom, Fortunato plummeted down to his death. Had Fortunato not damaged Spidey's web-shooters, Peter might've saved the coward. But, alas, his death was entire of his own making.
Eddie was profoundly disturbed by the event, blaming himself for Fortunato's death. He cared more about Angelo dying than literally anyone else -- even his Fortunato's father.
This leads us to Absolute Carnage, where the Carnage symbiote is going around ripping out spines of all who have ever been bonded to a symbiote to create a Codex. Said Codex will bring down the symbiote God, Knull, which will then serve to unleash chaos upon the world. Bruce Banner learns of Thunderbolt Ross being dug up and dumped in a mass grave, which leads him to investigate why he might have been there.
In the pages of Immortal Hulk #20, Carnage dug up Ross and ripped out his spin for the Codex. In the early days during Flash Thompson's run as Venom, Ross, as Red Hulk, bonded with both the Spirit of Vengeance and the Venom symbiote in order to combat the spirits of Hell. This left Ross as one of Carnage's many targets.
While investigating the mass grave, the Devil Hulk persona leads Bruce to investigate who else was in the grave, to find a lead as to why Ross's corpse might've been dug up. He learns that one of the many corpses Carnage desecrated once belonged to Angelo Fortunato, who he discovers used to be (briefly) Venom. This then sends Bruce to Spider-Man to join the greater fight against Carnage and Knull.
It seems strangely fitting that Fortunato, for all his bluster, is but a footnote in a greater story embracing the long history of the Venom symbiote. Now, he's nothing but a shambling mass of rotten bones that Hulk uses as a step along the way. Never shown, barely mentioned, and still, even in death, a pathetic joke.
KEEP READING: Venom Once 'Ate' the Incredible Hulk - and It Was Brutal