Love 'em or hate 'em, you can't escape Venom. Though considered by some to be a flash-in-the-pan symbol of style over substance when he debuted 30 years ago, Venom's legacy has endured throughout the roller coaster ups and downs, and the ever-changing tastes, of the comic book industry. As to why the character has found a place in the canon when so few creations of his era have, while surely part of that has to do with the eternally transfixing idea of duality, and the Jekyll & Hyde elements of the character, it's hard to overstate the sheer visceral impact of Todd McFarlane's design.
That possessing, parasitic liquid overtaking an unsuspecting figure is remarkably striking on the page. Add to the mix the clever conceit that the symbiote adapts to its host, and the character has proved an incredible inspiration for artists professional and amateur alike. And while a symbiote has seemingly taken control of every character in the Marvel universe at one time or another, those intrepid crafters of fan art online have endeavored to show how much more intimidating, or downright unnerving, the ionic villains of other franchises might be if they too were "Venomized." We've assembled here the coolest, creepiest and sometimes just plain eye-catching combos of supervillain and symbiote.
Yes, we know: Venom and The Joker might be the two most "edge lord" beloved villains this side of Deadpool, and every one of us has suffered through more than a few insufferable pitches from people who claim they "totally have a great Joker/Venom comic idea." It's easy to scoff at the idea of combining the two.
But we gotta admit, this particular image by Dribbble user KRIS, with its Alien-esque design, really grabs us. And we concede, their onscreen interaction would be fun to watch. Venom's growling about a "turd in the wind," while Joker's telling him to "never rub another man's rhubarb." You know, those beloved movie lines...
While Al Simmons may have ultimately proved to be a hero, the very idea of Spawn as a tool of the devil himself allows us to slide him into the category of villain. And when you have a mash-up design that works as well as this, you just gotta find a place for it.
Of course, Spawn wouldn't benefit much from fusing with a symbiote, what with his already similar and superior power set. In fact, there's a lot of similarities between Venom and Spawn. In fact, Todd McFarlane might wanna track down whoever created this Spawn guy and... (checks notes)... oh yeah.
You might know Raph Lomotan from his viral image of a photorealistic Psyduck and Goldduck from Pokemon. Here, he tackles one of the most intimidating and frightening characters in contemporary science fiction: The Xenomorph.
As we've learned from trudging through films like Prometheus and Alien: Covenant, the Xenomorph is similar to the symbiote in that both invade and then adapt to their hosts, one as a vessel, the other a breeding ground. Though we will admit, the always unsettling Venom tongue is actually somehow less disturbing than the Xenomorph's typical "mouth within a mouth." Either way, this thing is pure nightmare fuel.
Many muscle-bound beasts found their way into mainstream comics in the late '80s/early '90s alongside the behemoth Venom, but none have had the same staying power. Amazingly, not even a place in the most significant event in recent DC history (without even mentioning the massively successful if critically divisive Batman v Superman) has made Doomsday click with the comic reading public.
Thankfully, Marco Espinoza was able to reinvent the character by combining the unbreakable bone beast with Spider-Man's fluid foe. We know Doomsday is from the DC universe, but from this picture it looks like the Arkham he's more fit for is in the works of H.P. Lovecraft.
Without knowing the numbers, you'd likely think that Venom's plasma-like state and the fear it inspires takes a page from the T-1000 in the game-changing Terminator 2: Judgement Day. But in fact it was Venom who appeared first, back when our idea of a Terminator was distinctly solid, a lumbering machine bent on destruction.
Artist Frankie Perez envisions a nightmarish alternate future where Skynet goes symbiote, their metallic monsters enveloped not in human flesh, but instead Venomized. Imagine a world where, instead of saying "Hasta La Vista, baby" the Terminator whips around with "Turd in the wind." Ok, we're...actually not sure which is a worse line.
10 HARLEY QUINN
As a character with a predominantly black and white color scheme, heavily colorized fan art can often be a Venom vision's undoing. Shades that worked with the base character sometimes clash with the particular angles or elements of Venom and the whole thing comes apart.
A symbiote Harley Quinn in full color would just come off as Clown Carnage, so we're glad Gregbo had the sense to go monochrome, allowing us to take in all the curves and curls of the symbio-suit as it overtakes our Clown Princess of Crime. We're not suggesting a Venom 2/Suicide Squad 2 crossover or anything, but you know at least one craven executive has thought it.
You know who could use a fix of that Venom box office success? Transformers. In five films, the once-mega-hit has repeatedly fumbled, with the most-recent Transformers: The Last Knight barely breaking even when one accounts for marketing costs, etc. Maybe Bumblebee will breathe new life into the series, but right now it's tossing about like a... something in the wind. We can't think of the word right now.
The folks over at JMMmates actually put together a video of Megatron transforming into Venom which actually, perhaps inadvertently, taps into where the Transformers franchise went wrong. They need to make Megatron scary again. Venom clicked with fans because he always poses some new form of threat for Spider-Man, and if Megatron wants to hold up in Hollywood, he too is gonna have to up his game.
As DC gears up for a Green Lantern Corps. film, they’re likely turning through the pages of Lantern lore to try and find a fitting villain. With Paralax-cloud not quite panning out at their last at-bat, they’re likely looking towards the Sinestro Corps.
The problem is, despite their powerful rings, the rogues gallery within Sinestro's team isn't exactly the most intimidating. Is anyone really creeped out by Slushh? Low? Any kids gonna hide under their seat over Tri-Eye? One look at this Venomized Sinestro, and you immediately see an imposing opponent. Of course, we'll likely never see anything like this in the DCEU, as they're certainly not ones to look at the success of other superhero franchises and hastily replicate them.
With Godzilla set to retake the big screen and King Kong conquering the Broadway stage (yes, seriously), it seems kaiju are poised to make the kind of comeback comic book heroes did in 2008. And while Pacific Rim tried and failed to fuse Western comic book blockbuster with Eastern big monster battles, we're sure it won't be the last attempt.
One look at this custom figure posted by @_TaeInfinite on Twitter tells us why. Though created decades and an ocean apart, one can't help but feel the manga-infused Western comic hero and the Japanese cinema-icon derived from Merian C. Cooper's Kong were made for one another.
If DC ever came close to having their own "Venom," a muscular '90s villain whose cool design and memorable interplay with a major character left a last impression on readers, it was Bane. Created for the Knightfall storyline, and periodically revived to much lesser extent in cinema and comics since, Bane's imposing figure has been reimagined time and time again.
Of course, it was a matter of time before something imagined what would happen if the "venom" Bane pumps through his bloodstream were replaced with the similarly named Spider-foe. But we give props to artist m7781 for the level of detail and clever twists put into his fusion of the two iconic characters.
5 MAJIN BUU
Ah, Majin Buu. The reason so many of us nerds bonded with our hip-hop head cousins after he was name-checked in a Frank Ocean song. Arguably Dragon Ball Z's most imposing and memorable villain, Majin Buu has had a mainstream pop culture impact like few other anime antagonists.
What we appreciate most about this piece posted by Reddit user Dunadunadunabatman is the medium. Of course the subtle incorporation of Venom's eye design and other elements into the traditional Buu look is great on it's own, but using paint as the medium really accentuates the care and cleverness of this reimagining.
For every yin, there's a yang. For every stoic, precision killer, there's a quip-ready rage monster. For every pedigree film expected to launch a franchise that bombs (Shane Black's Predator) there's a massively derided film that exceeds its low expectations and takes the box-office by storm (Venom).
Arguably, the added abilities of a symbiote to the already deadly Predator like in this Gabriel Weisz piece might be too much for any hero to defeat, reducing Dutch and his crew to a pile of heads and a pile of bodies. Will a crossover ever happen? Only if we ever get a Topher Grace shared universe.
We probably should have better prepared you for the pure nightmare fuel that awaited you in this entry. If it keeps you up at night, don't send your angry emails our way. All credit goes to artist RoosterBark for this haunting rendition.
The true beauty in this design is in the texture. Here the symbiote isn't the typical plasmic ooze, but rather a thin, fraying straw. The Scarecrow on his own is downright scary, as anyone who played Arkham City can attest. Add in the element of a walking, stalking shadow, and Dr. Crane won't even need his fear toxin to get a reaction out of us.
2 DARTH VADER
Most iconic characters evolve over time. Little by little, designs get revised. More or less angular, colors get brighter or darker. It's so common place nobody even seems phased skimming back issues and seeing a villain they love look nothing like the character they know.
But every once in a great while, an artist knocks it out of the park the first time around, and the design sticks in the public consciousness. Darth Vader's jet black angular mask has been the subject of much inspiration and variation in fan art, ever since its 1977 premiere. Cole Marchetti wisely chose to not toy too much with the original look, incorporating the Venom elements more organically.
1 THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS
It was only a matter of time before BossLogic appeared on this list. No collection of fan art is complete without the artist whose speculative visions of recent comic book castings cause more hype than any set-photo can.
Here he takes a swing at a lesser-known villain whose design has captured so many imaginations since his 2017 debut. Here, BossLogic incorporates the best elements of each character, to the point where you can easily this as the next radical turn of a wild crossover story arc. The level of detail, playing with Venom's famously plasmic form by way of adding some truly grotesque saliva, proves why BossLogic is the go-to name in fan art.