With the release of this year’s Venom movie, audiences will find themselves introduced to the Venom symbiote for perhaps the very first time. Comic book fans that have followed Venom’s rampaging exploits for decades will know that Eddie Brock was not the only person to bond with the symbiote and wear the Venom suit. The Venom symbiote originally wanted to bond with Spider-Man, but Spidey didn’t like how it corrupted his do-gooder nature, so it went for Eddie because well, he was just bitter and rage-filled enough at losing his job because of Spider-Man that it seemed like a good fit. Besides being Eddie Brock’s nefarious alter ego, Spider-Man’s edgier suit, an anti-hero vigilante, and a secret soldier experiment gone wrong, the Venom symbiote has had a plethora of other identities all tied up in its host.
It’s bonded with many superheroes and supervillains over the years to create some truly epic versions of itself. Every superhero or villain not only gets the strength and raw power of the Venom symbiote, but the symbiote in turn gets all their abilities as well. Some of the bonds that occurred created gripping storylines and successfully cool artwork, while others were laughably ridiculous. Whereas Wolverine and Venom equals awesome, the entire X-Men turned into Venom is surprisingly not. The Venom/host hybrids in this article consist of both those Marvel characters that bonded with the symbiote, and also those that were featured on a wide variety of Venom variant covers in the last several years that raised the possibility.
19 LOOKS BETTER: WOLVERINE
Mix one part rage-fueled Symbiote with equal parts homicidal superhero and you get WolVenom! At one point, the Venom symbiote fled to the remote reaches of Canada where it came into contact with a certain cigar-chomping Canuck. With Wolverine’s ultra healing powers and unstoppable adrenaline, the symbiote couldn’t have asked for a better host.
Wolverine had intended to hunt Venom, and didn’t take too kindly to their bodies being merged when he attacked the symbiote. WolVenom was much bigger than Wolverine, and never looked so good than in the black and yellow suit, with the ridiculously long tongue and with insane claws.
18 LOOKS WORSE: GALACTUS
One time, when Spider-Man was being mind controlled by Mephisto and seeing all kinds of things that weren’t there, a vision of Galactus came to him. Only this Galactus had bonded with the Venom symbiote and was ready to squash Spider-Man like the bug that he is.
While we’re all for the Venom symbiote being bonded to all sort of characters in the Marvel Universe, we prefer it if the end result didn’t just look like, well, the original character in a black and white venom suit. The Galactus helmet plus Venom tongue does not for an edgy aesthetic make. We blame Mephisto.
17 LOOKS BETTER: RED HULK
As part of the "Circle of Four" storyline, which included Flash Thompson Venom, X-23, Ghost Rider, and Hulk replacing the Fantastic Four, the New Fantastic Four go up against Blackheart and his minions. They all get wiped out, but are miraculously brought back to life by the demonic Mephisto.
They strategize that the only way to take out Blackheart is to combine their powers and, because comics are awesome, the Red Hulk is possessed by the Spirit of Vengeance AND the Venom symbiote, making him one scary looking version of Venom and extremely powerful. When the four eventually went their separate ways, three of them were marked by Mephisto’s magic.
16 LOOKS WORSE: MAC GARGAN
Prior to becoming entangled with the Venom symbiote, Mac Gargan was known as the Scorpion, and worked as a henchman of Norman Osborn’s for a time. It was during that period when he was being refitted with a superior Scorpion suit that the Venom symbiote found him. He took to the symbiote’s strength without hesitation, and returned Venom to his purely evil persona.
His version of Venom was colossally large, but the only difference between it and countless other Venom host hybrids is that it sported the giant tail that his Scorpion suit usually had. This was a cool enough aspect to get him his own series, Sinister Spider-Man, and it remains to this day one of the most popular interpretations of Venom in the Marvel Universe.
15 LOOKS BETTER: DEADPOOL
Deadpool and the Venom symbiote have been a thing several times because of course they have. In Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars, it was revealed that Deadpool was there the whole time the "Secret Wars" storyline was playing out, and even happened upon the Venom suit before Peter Parker did. Deadpool’s mind was so warped it may have had something to do with the deranged Venom we know of most commonly.
In Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe Again, Deadpool takes out Eddie Brock, gets reunited with the Venom suit, and eats Spider-Man. Besides being a savage looking red and white Venom, he still wields his entire arsenal and looks like he’s perpetually doing killer whale impressions.
14 LOOKS WORSE: GWENPOOL
Spider-Gwen (Gwen Stacy/Spider-Woman) proved so popular that Marvel issued several variant covers imagining Gwen Stacy as dozens of popular Marvel characters. One of these was Gwen Stacy/Deadpool (Gwenpool), which proved such concept that Marvel decided to make a one-off featuring this new character.
Recently, Gwenpool entered the Venomverse, and became attached to the symbiote to become a Gwen Stacy/Deadpool/Venom hybrid. Featured on one of the dozens of Venom variant covers, Gwenpool looks like the lovechild of Batman and the Pink Ranger, with a little Catwoman thrown in for good measure. Not the best look Venom has ever had.
13 LOOKS BETTER: SHE-VENOM
She-Venom is almost as popular as regular Venom, due in no small part to how she looks in the Venom suit... and the fact that she may be the craziest Venom ever. Ann Weying was Eddie Brock’s ex-wife who, after being mortally wounded by a Sin-Eater, was introduced to the Venom symbiote as the only way Eddie Brock could see to save her life.
As She-Venom, Ann was known for being unforgivably nuts, ripping men apart like wishbones and going on some psychotic binges. Being bonded to the symbiote messed her up though, and after her last incident as She-Venom, she took her own life to escape her torment.
12 LOOKS WORSE: THE X-MEN
When someone mentions X-Men Prime to an X-Men fan, they get either one of two responses -- trepidation or hope. The “Prime” name has been applied to X-Men series that depict the team reaching a crossroads, with members wondering if remaining an X-Men is the best course of action. Recently, X-Men Prime saw the X-Men reaching the end of their war with the Inhumans, and a fragmented team needing unification by Kitty Pryde.
The cover for X-Men Prime #1 got a Venom variant cover treatment, depicting popular X-Men like Wolverine, Storm, and Cyclops in variations of the Venom suit. Except for as epic as you’d think that would be, it’s really not, as they all seem like Venom clones except with vaguely different hair.
11 LOOKS BETTER: GHOST RIDER
In one of the most memorable pairings of a superhero and Venom symbiote, Ghost Rider gets Venomized in Edge of Venomverse Vol 1 #3. Now the “Host Rider”, teenager Robbie Reyes has the Spirit of Vengeance as well as the symbiote’s strength, rage, and lust for human flesh.
The Host Rider is actually three beings: the Venom symbiote, Robbie Reyes, and his demonic uncle’s ghost, Elias Morrow. Robbie is reduced to a mere husk of a person when the symbiote takes over, enveloped by Elias and the Venom symbiote battling for dominance, all the while taking the form of a giant, blazing Venom with spiked armor and chain whips.
10 LOOKS WORSE: MAN-THING
Despite the cover of Man-Thing #1 featuring a creepy cover and being written by famed horror writer R.L. Stine, the Venomized aspect doesn’t seem to be apparent enough. The tentacles that normally dangle in front of Man-Thing’s face like Davey Jones’ beard now resemble crusty boogers.
Not only is Man-Thing made to look somehow worse than he normally does by being bonded with the Venom symbiote, it’s also for a story featuring Man-Thing’s dilemma about returning to his swamp home or remaining a Hollywood celebrity?! Man-Thing and Venom could have made something truly horrific to behold, and yet we get this sad Heap knock off.
9 LOOKS BETTER: GROOT
When Flash Thompson, aka Spider-Man’s high school nemesis, was bonded to the Venom symbiote, a storyline emerged involving the Venom symbiote trying to get back to its kind in outer space. When it did so, it encountered the Guardians of the Galaxy and decided to unleash havoc on the group.
When it was placed in a containment jar with Groot as its keeper, things went south fast. It escaped, bonded with the giant talking tree, and took on the Guardians in full force. Drax the Destroyer was able to pummel it into submission, if only to make it stop shouting,”I am Venom!”
8 LOOKS WORSE: ROCKET RACCOON
When Venom decided that it wanted to be reunited with its kin in outer space, there wasn’t much its host, Flash Thompson, could do about it. And when he encountered the Guardians of the Galaxy, the ordeal provoked the symbiote to such an extent that it took all of the crew to subdue it, but not before bonding with Groot.
When Drax was able to make the symbiote leave Groot, it didn’t rebond with its original host, it instead bonded with Rocket Raccoon. Something about the symbiote looking like a possessed hedgehog didn’t really resonate. It’s probably why it didn’t last long with Rocket and went after a more suitable host.
7 LOOKS BETTER: CONRAD MARCUS
With the run of Ultimate Spider-Man, there had to be an Ultimate Venom to feature in the series. In this case, the Venom symbiote bonded with Dr. Conrad Marcus, a scientist whom Norman Osborn hired to recreate the accident that granted Spider-Man his original powers. Marcus worked at Roxxon at the time and had access to the Venom symbiote
Over the course of his experiments in looking to recreate the moment when Spider-Man was bit by a radioactive spider, Marcus inadvertently releases the symbiote, who bonds with him and causes him to unleash incredible violence and chaos on an unsuspecting populace. Venom is huge, impossibly veiny, and epic looking.
6 LOOKS WORSE: KINGPIN
For the Marvel 100th Anniversary, Spider-Man edition, the Venom symbiote has gotten ahold of Wilson Fisk, aka Daredevil’s arch nemesis. Except that it isn’t the usual Venom, given that the storyline imagines what the Marvel Universe would be like a hundred years in the future, it’s a Techno-Symbiote, one that Fisk himself had created.
With the power over technology as well as all the normal advantages of having the Venom suit, Fisk goes on a rampage to end Peter Parker for the entirety of the issue. While a cool idea, Wilson Fisk Venom resembles the offspring of a giant sandworm from Dune and an orca.
5 LOOKS BETTER: DOCTOR STRANGE
Sometimes, two superheroes seem so at odds that their participation in each other’s storylines or even comic covers seems both perverse and unavoidable. Such is the case with Doctor Strange and Venom, two names not often associated with one another. They appeared “together” on the cover of Doctor Strange #18, in which Mister Misery attacks Strange’s closest allies, and it’s the stuff nightmares are made of.
Proving to be one of the most interesting Venom variant covers, it depicts Doctor Strange suspended in a black web, wearing his usual cape and garb, flashing Spidey web hands, and smiling ghoulishly. So often Venomized covers show a version of the Venom suit, but this ended up being much more impactful.
4 LOOKS WORSE: IRON MAN
Invincible Iron Man #5 continued to chronicle the rise of Riri Williams, codenamed Ironheart, and the young successor to Tony Stark’s mechanized supersuit. A 15 year-old engineering whiz from MIT, she must learn to navigate vengeful super villains and superhero teams clamoring for her membership.
The Venomized cover depicts Iron Man looking like Voltron covered in black and white paint, with dozens of spikes sticking out of his armor at random intervals. Venom looks his best when he’s bonded to something organic, otherwise readers will be trying to figure out how his long tongue even works coming out of a metal helmet.
3 LOOKS BETTER: SENTRY/VOID
Reading superhero comics makes one contemplate all the potential battles characters could be in if only a few crazy authors and artists willed them into existence. Read comics long enough, and these battles play out, or sometimes an entire series like Contest of Champions appears depicting dozens of superheroes and supervillains duking it out all for the Maestro’s satisfaction.
One hero, Sentry, who had the ability to slip into his Void persona the same way Eddie Brock could leap frog into full blown Venom mode. When the Punisher executed both Eddie Brock and Sentry with the same gun, a little piece from Venom and Void joined together to become one awesome Tron-looking “Symbioid” vigilante.
2 LOOKS WORSE: X-23
In Edge of the Venomverse, a series of issues that explored Venoms in alternate universes, the complex that experimented on Laura Kinney (aka X-23) also experimented on the Venom symbiote. It bonded with her, and when X-23 went to escape, it made for a bloody break out.
X-23 was also featured on a Venomized variant cover, and while you’d think she’d look as epic as WolVenom during Venom’s run of bonding with Wolverine, she looks a lot like an angry baby Xenomorph in yellow and black spandex.
1 LOOKS BETTER: DOCTOR DOOM
As Riri Williams does her best to get comfortable in her new superhero role in Invincible Iron Man #11, she goes through a few growing pains as Ironheart, one of which may have caused an international incident that will lead to global chaos.
The Venomized variant of this issue features one of the main antagonists, Doctor Doom, Venomized. When the symbiote has taken over Doctor Doom, he’s been a giant, armored tank, with every advantage of both Venom and Doom when it comes to intelligence, power, and weaponry. The Venom symbiote unleashes Doom’s bloodthirsty side, all while ignoring his notable code of honor.