Whether its providing an easier means for artists to draw Spider-Man, serving as a Space Knight with the Guardians of The Galaxy, experimenting with dinosaurs while everyone else is busy being dystopian in “Wolverine: Old Man Logan,” secretly serving in the Secret Avengers or doubling down on the animal theme with Scorpion in Norman Osborn’s Thunderbolts before turning red for Red Hulk’s Thunderbolts, the alien symbiote formally known as Venom has had an impressive tour of duty throughout the Marvel Multiverse. Despite its well-known weaknesses of sonics, fire, chocolate and that wall-crawling hussy Spider-Man, the Venom symbiote has managed to survive for 150 solo issues, making now the perfect time to reflect upon the black tar avatar of addiction’s most venomous fights.
To qualify for this list, the Venom symbiote had to be primarily involved in some sort of symbiotic slugfest, no matter the host. Keeping this Klyntar’s cannibalistic catchphrase in mind, we selected skirmishes that supplemented the symbiote’s more sadistic side. To clarify: Klyntar is the technical name for symbiote. Took us a while to figure out how Marvel landed on “Klyntar,” but… Clingy Tar. Yeah, these 15 fights are the exact opposite of that portmanteau in terms of brutality.
15. FIRST IS WORST
As revealed in Robbie Thompson and Kim Jacinto’s Venom: Space Knight #8 (2016), we discover that the first host of the Venom symbiote wasn’t Spider-Man, or even Deadpool for that matter, but an unseen individual whose first decision upon acquiring the alien suit was to return to his home planet to murder everyone. Despite claims of being purified when Flash returned the symbiote to its home planet in Guardians of The Galaxy, the now autonomous symbiote lures Flash to the first host’s barren world.
Trapped within the symbiote, Flash revisits the darkest corners of his life, wondering if he will ever be anything more than an alcoholic monster like his abusive father. While Flash confronts his inner demons, a now monstrous Venom fights a Space Panda and Skrull Symbiote, trying to convince Flash to forsake the cosmos in favor of chaos.
14. MAXIMUM CARNAGE
Despite its title, “Spider-Man: Maximum Carnage” (1993) is pretty PG-13. At the apex of brutality, Carnage tortures Venom by chaining him up over a trashcan fire while Carnage’s wifey Shriek pelts Venom with sonic blasts, which are produced from her fists for… reasons?
As “Maximum Carnage” drags on, Venom compensates by promising to eat Carnage’s lungs and increasing the savagery of his smack talk: “We will rip you out of this cheap imitation of our symbiotic other — and then, we will strip off your skin, layer by layer — until we find the twisted twig which masquerades as your backbone!” Venom backs up these claims by tackling Carnage into a pile of generators, producing a fiery explosion that kills precisely zero symbiotes. We’re beginning to think that symbiotes are vulnerable to fire in the same way that everyone else is vulnerable to fire.
13. THE LAST STAND OF EUGENE “FLASH” THOMPSON
No, we’re not referring to Flash’s lack of legs, rather the Hellish Hail Mary play Flash attempts in “Venom: Circle of Four” by Rick Remender. Staring down The Antitheses — dark reflections of Marvel’s already dark antiheroes — Flash holds the line, believing he can buy his teammates enough time to stop Blackheart from pulling Hell into Earth. Forcing his bizarro counterpart, The Evangelist, to fire a hulking brain-golem before gunning down his darker reflection, Flash rejoices — only to suddenly have his neck snapped by Blackheart’s gargoyle girlfriend, Gari Oyle.
Is this the end of Agent Venom? Sorta. See, Venom died while standing in a patch of Hell that had been transported to Earth. Hell’s ruler Mephisto points out that one technically shouldn’t be able to die in hell, so he slaps a pentagram on Venom and gives him a second shot at stopping Blackheart.
12. KRAVEN THE HUNTER
Tripping out on envenomed darts and tainted ninja kunai, Agent Venom is pursued by Kraven the Hunter throughout the Savage Land in Venom #2 by Rick Remender. With one bullet left and four spears jutting out of his back, Flash risks permanently bonding with the symbiote with each increasingly trippy second, not only trying to elude Kraven, but also fulfill his mission of destroying a weapons cache.
Since Kraven is all about hunting arachnid individuals, the hunter makes this a special occasion, geeking out on some high quality fresh-squeezed gigantic spider juice that put him into a glassy eyed murder-trance. Kraven tracks Venom to a cave, professing his love for “The Spider” in a murder-suicide sort of way. Fortunately, the two end up fighting in Bat Country, as monstrous non-hallucinogenic black-light bats whisk Flash away before Kraven can go in for the kill.
Serving under Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers, Venom forms the front line in the siege of Asgard in the appropriately named Siege (2010) by Brian Michael Bendis and Olivier Coipel. Venom’s primary fighting style is to just eat Asgardians, who are apparently the “Kobe Beef of people,” according to Venom. At the apex of the fight, Ms. Marvel and Spider-Man gang up on Venom to cease his gluttony, only to discover in horror that there are no church bells in sight.
Though Venom similarly indulges in eating swarms of Skrulls in Secret Invasion, we gave the nod to Siege because there’s something inherently beautiful about killing an ancient race of magic warriors with only your mouth. Also, apparently Skrulls make Gargan gassy.
You can’t have a Venom fight list and not devote one entry to his estranged ex-bf Spider-Man, so we’re going with the classic Venom tale “DEAD MEAT,” appearing in The Amazing Spider-Man #316-317 by David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane. After Spider-Man left him for dead in issue #300, Venom goes through the typical break-up, lifting weights in the sewers and literally/brutally hitting up Black Cat to see where Spidey is before stalking him for hours.
All of those subway weights paid off, as Venom just overpowers Spider-Man, at one point throwing a vat of blood on him. Spider-Man is only able to survive by stripping down to his underwear before begging the symbiote to take him back. Though Brock is stronger, faster, and more supportive, no creature can resist a man with the proportionate sexiness of a spider.
9. THE SCORPION
It’s a battle between the best Venoms in Venom #150 (2017) by David Michelinie and Ron Lim, as Eddie Brock — finally reunited with the Venom symbiote — stands against Mac Gargan in a classic Scorpion suit.
From the moment Brock suits up by vomiting out the symbiote with trace amounts of blood, you know this is going to be a beautifully gory fight worthy of the symbiote’s anniversary issue. There’s a gorgeous squirt of napalm that sizzles away the symbiote as Eddie just grabs the tip of Scorpion’s tail, causing it to burst. Scorpion adapts accordingly however without missing a beat. Given Gargan’s tenure with the symbiote, as well as being the only Venom who actually backs up his cannibalistic claims, he knows the symbiote intimately, coming crazy close to actually killing the OG Venom.
8. THE THUNDERBOLTS
For Agent Venom’s final/personal-request mission in Thunderbolts #23 by Charles Boule and Carlo Barberi, Flash asks his teammates for one thing — kill the symbiote as hard as you can, right now. Each Thunderbolt comes up with their own solution: Always pragmatic, Punisher equips incendiary rounds while The Leader incorrectly believes symbiotes are vulnerable to magnesium — thanks Wikipedia! Meanwhile, Deadpool decorates his costume to look like Spider-Man, setting it up under a dangling Blackbird jet.
Ghost Rider, however, gets the worst of it. Ghost Rider’s penance stare backfires, as Blaze is overwhelmed by the cumulative atrocities of every Venom, ever. Venom shatters Blaze’s skull, but he gets better, road-hauling Venom right into a fire pit. It’s a shame that this is Venom’s last op, as this is honestly the most interesting thing Agent Venom has done in this incarnation of The Thunderbolts.
7. THE SPIDER QUEEN
The mastermind behind “Spider Island,” The Spider Queen has psychic powers manifested in telekinesis and a sonic scream. Most Venom-villains would just spam the sonic scream and call it a day, but not Spider Queen. No, Spider Queen prefers to revel in the intimacy of manslaughter. Seriously, as Flash focuses on the last words of his father in-between vomiting blood, Spider Queen monologues about how much she’s getting turned on by killing such a handsome soldier with her bare hands.
When Captain America enters the fray, Spider Queen rips his shield away before explaining: “I don’t want you to use protection.” This super unsafe fight reaches its climax when Venom shatters Spider Queen’s spine with Cap’s shield. This isn’t even Spider Queen’s final form, however, as her true self bursts our of her human shell for round two.
6. THE THING
Standing over the shattered body of Spider-Man in Venom #11 (2003) by Daniel Way, Venom’s celebratory monologue is interrupted by the Fantastic Four. Without hesitation, Venom begins to make out with The Thing, extending his trademark tongue down Ben’s throat. As Venom continues to tongue him to death, we see tears emerge from Ben’s eyes, most likely marking the realization that Venom is the only super villain that wants to make out with him. After Johnny mocks Ben’s sexual assault, he cuts off Venom’s tongue.
The crazy thing about this fight is that Venom doesn’t even try to punch The Thing. It’s practically premeditated, as Venom anchors himself to the ceiling before jumping the Thing, apparently wanting to make it last. Either Venom has a thing for The Thing, or Venom is still running hot from standing over an exhausted Spider-Man.
5. STEEL SPIDER
In “Thunderbolts: Faith in Monsters” by Warren Ellis and Mike Deodato Jr., The Thunderbolts are tasked with taking down Spider-Man knock-off, Steel Spider, who is supported by American Evil and Sepulchre. Oftentimes in comics, a new villain will defeat a well-established hero as an efficient means of displaying their strength. This fight is the exact opposite. Despite their high-profile power-sets, The Thunderbolts are so poorly managed that three nobodies, who literally just met, can whoop them effectively.
Before Venom can throw out a cannibalistic quip, Steel Spider shoots him right in the face at point-blank range with a revolver mounted on a Doc Ock arm. After taking some friendly nuclear fire, Venom abruptly ends things by biting off Steel Spider’s arm, spitting only the gauntlet out. Ironically, it was Steel Spider’s violent vigilantism that garnered the attention of The Thunderbolts initially.
4. THE REDEEMER
For those who doubt the dopeness of the Mac Gargan Venom, check out Sinister Spider-Man by Brain Reed, Chris Bachalo and Rob Disalvo, centered around Mac Gargan masquerading as the “F-N-Spider-Man.” From eating squirrels to bringing over his favorite hooker to chill at the Avengers Mansion, Mac Gargan may just be the smartest Venom ever. Sure, Gargan is an imbecile, but why obsess over Spider-Man when you can squeeze, like, one to two civilian butts on average?
The Redeemer forms a support group for mutilated villain-victims of this new Spider-Man, outfitting them with cybernetic limbs. Redeemer demands that “Spider-Man” atone for his actions. Venom says he’s just gonna eat everybody. Foreseeing this stratagem, the group clamps Venom’s mouth shut, only to discover that the symbiote has as many mouths as it needs as Venom kills a man with his sphincter.
In Rick Remender’s Venom #1, Venom uses the symbiote to quadruple-wield M-15s before stuffing a live grenade into the gaping maw of Jack-O-Lantern’s Halloween themed helmet. Now sporting a face that only strengthens the ghoulish vegetable motif, Jack-O-Lantern accepts the grenade as an incendiary invitation to be Agent Venom’s nemesis.
Just as Flash redefines Venom by atoning for past villainy, “Jacky Boy” redefines the O-Lantern name by killing off all of his lame pumpkin-headed predecessors. Jack leans hard into the arch-villain role by hitting all of the classics, from surviving a Joker-worthy dip into a chemical vat to pulling a Gwen Stacy by throwing Flash’s sister from a high ledge. While it’s unclear over who is the best Venom — Topher Grace, duh — there’s no doubt over who is the greatest Jack-O-Lantern.
2. THE HIJACKER
Throwing all of his funds into building a super tank, The Hijacker is able to ransack a bank vault with ease in Venom #9 by Rick Remender. In his subsequent get-away, The Hijacker barrels through Times Square, running over a mother and child. Despite Flash’s attempts at redefining the Venom moniker, this loss of innocent life causes Flash to lose control not of the symbiote, but of himself. Giving into his savagery, Flash snaps off Hijacker’s fingers before smashing his face into his reinforced tank treads.
It’s not an arch-nemesis like Jack-O-Lantern or a classic Spider-Man villain that causes Flash to hit his lowest point, but rather a D-list villain wearing a dumb helmet. Flash responds to Hijacker’s pleas of mercy by biting off his head. Agent Venom spits it out, but the act will haunt Flash for nights to come.
In the climatic final issue of Sinister Spider-Man, Norman Osborn orders Bullseye to reel in Venom, who has Bullseye prove that he is proficient with every kind of weapon no matter the practicality, wielding a live poodle as his weapon of choice with a glorious “Fwip!” Bullseye never misses, of course, so when he chucks this dog at Venom, it nails him right in the eye. So, for the entire fight there’s a yapping dog hanging out of Venom’s skull.
Bullseye goes on to wield corndogs, throwing them with such force that the dog-side breaks the symbiote’s skin — but we honestly just can’t get over that yappy dog. Do you understand the beauty of that throw? Not even getting into dog-physics, Bullseye had to throw the dog hard enough to penetrate the symbiote, yet soft enough that it survives the impact. It’s perfect.
Did we forget your favorite Venom fight? Think we could’ve used more church bells? Peeved that we left out that pervy Juggernaut fight? Let us know in the comments!
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