The hype for 2018’s Venom movie is now well underway, with a trailer, cast list and poster giving us the best look we’ve had of the Tom Hardy led picture than we’ve had before. Fans will always be divided over Sony’s Spider-Man franchise, with many wondering if a Venom movie will even work without everyone’s favorite web-slinging wall-crawler. Despite this apprehension, the trailer goes a long way to assuaging those fears, with a suitably scary look at the Lethal Protector himself in the final few seconds.
The movie centers around Eddie Brock (played by Hardy), a local reporter who, in the comics, gets infected with the alien symbiote after Spider-Man manages to successfully extricate himself from it. It’s not yet clear just how Eddie and the symbiote will come together, but there’s no doubt that we’ll see the birth of Venom. You’d be forgiven for thinking that Venom is the only symbiote in the Marvel universe, but you’d be wrong. He’s the most prominent by far, but there are plenty of other symbiotes out there that are not only scarier, but more powerful than Venom. Join us as we run down the 20 symbiotes in the Marvel Universe that are more powerful than the Lethal Protector himself, Venom!
The first symbiote to follow in Venom’s footsteps, Carnage is the example of what happens when a symbiote bonds with the most vile human being on the planet. Created in 1991 by David Micheline, Eric Larson and Mark Bagley, we’re first introduced to Carnage through Cletus Kasady, a psychopathic serial killer that would eventually become the symbiote’s deadly host. He was initially designed by Micheline to be the new host for Venom, killing off Eddie Brock in the process, but this plan was scrapped by Marvel due to Venom’s popularity.
Carnage was designed as a far more dangerous, more powerful and all-round scarier Spider-Man villain than readers had ever seen before.
Kasady was even styled after the Joker, which should give you some idea of where his character was heading. Born when the Venom symbiote left a part of itself behind, this offspring bonded with Cletus Kasady and a venomous killer with no morality was born. Carnage has become a popular character in his own right over the years, leading to him making many prominent returns. Most recently, Carnage has returned to the pages of Amazing Spider-Man, bonding with Norman Osborn to create the even more powerful Red Goblin, a being imbued with the strength of the symbiote and the madness of the Goblin serum.
Looking like a monster from a ‘50s B-Movie, Krobaa was a giant blob-like monster that could potentially have hailed from Klyntar -- the homeworld of the Venom symbiote -- although it’s never fully made clear. Appearing in only one issue of Venom: Seed of Darkness, Krobaa was a scout from his homeworld on a mission of exploration, making him one of the only symbiotes on this list that wasn’t originally created from the Venom symbiote.
Pulled to Earth through an interdimensional portal, Krobaa was forced to temporarily bond with a human host so that he could survive. The only being around was Dr. Nigel Donlevy, the scientist that activated the portal in the first place and caused Krobaa’s current situation. Their bond transformed both of them into a singular, monstrous being of destruction, in opposition to both of their personalities. When confronting the monster, Eddie Brock discovers Krobaa’s weakness to light, and his camera flashes are able to separate the two beings again. Krobaa, now free from the bond, could not believe how dark humanity was -- “What monstrous gods would create a race with so much buried greatness – yet curse them with souls born wounded?” -- and chooses suicide over allowing the "seed of darkness" that is humanity from being unleashed upon the universe.
18 THE POISONS
First introduced in 2017’s Venomverse event, the Poisons are a predatory alien race that feeds off Klyntar symbiotes and their hosts. They were first discovered by an alternate universe version of Doctor Strange that was infected by a symbiote. This meeting allowed the Poisons to realize that they were no longer a subservient prey race but could rise to become one of the deadliest creatures in the multiverse. They are fairly weak in their unbonded state, and rely on subterfuge and disguise in order to protect themselves and to lure in their prey by imitating friends of loved ones.
Once they have come into contact with a symbiote, they form a permanent bond that consumes both symbiote and host, assimilating them fully into one being.
The Poisons can take on the powers, strengths and abilities of the host, consuming the body for nutrients, and then use the absorbed symbiote as a weapon or defense, converting it into blades or tentacles etc. They became capable of interdimensional travel thanks to a poisoned Doctor Doom. Their first attempt to form an army failed -- thanks to a resistance led by an immune Deadpool -- but the poisons' leader, revealed to be a turned Thanos, became aware of the multiverse that lay before him. His conquest is being revealed in the 2018 series Venomized.
If you’re not familiar with the Amalgam comics imprint, then strap yourselves in for a wild ride. In 1996 Marvel and DC comics engaged in an intercompany crossover called -- inventively enough -- Marvel vs. DC, and ran for four issues which saw heroes from both universes clash thanks to the whims of the personified versions of the respective universes. Despite fans seemingly wanting nothing more than to find out who would win in a fight between the heroes of Marvel and DC, the crossover itself was not as great as you would expect it to be.
What was great (in a completely bonkers kind of way) was what followed. In the story, Spectre, from the DC Universe, merged with the Living Tribunal of the Marvel Universe, and a new, combined, Amalgam universe was born. This new universe saw heroes and villains alike fused together to form a single new being. Bizarnage was one such character, being the amalgamation of DC’s Bizarro and Marvel’s Carnage. Looking a little bit like a white, jagged version of Venom/Carnage, the only relation to Bizarro is the way he talks and the fact that its color palette is inverted. His short appearance shows him being thwarted by Spider-Boy, the Amalgam of Superboy and Spider-Man.
The origins of Anti-Venom are a little complicated. It all started with Eddie Brock discovering that he was suffering from adrenal cancer. The only thing keeping him alive was the Venom symbiote, but that no longer wanted him in his terminally ill state, so in a moment of spiritual awakening, Eddie decided to sell off the symbiote to the highest bidder so that he could die in dignity. After a brief time where he became suicidal, he started to do good with his remaining years, working for the food bank F.E.A.S.T., run by Mr. Li. As it turns out, Mr. Li was actually the super-villain Mister Negative!
After Mister Negative cures Eddie of his cancer, his powers mix with what remained of the symbiote in his body.
When eventually the Venom symbiote rejoined with Eddie it mixed with this Negative symbiote in Eddie’s system and he was transformed in Anti-Venom. As a reverse to the regular Klyntar symbiotes, Anti-Venom is immune to sound, fire or heat based attacks. It’s also capable of curing people afflicted with diseases, poisoning or radioactivity, leading to Eddie working to “cure” the streets of New York City of its drug-fuelled underworld. While this led to a time where Eddie worked as a vigilante of sorts, he soon became mentally unstable and reverted back to the Venom symbiote of old. The Anti_Venom suit is now being wielded by Flash Thompson.
First appearing in Fantastic Four #360, Dreadface has all of the appearances of being a Klyntar symbiote in all but name; however, there were some distinct differences that set him apart. He originated as a slimy black mass that was kept in a cube aboard the ship of villain Devos the Devastator. When Devos clashed with the Fantastic Four, his ship crashed in the jungle causing the alien mass to escape. It bonds with a gorilla and it becomes clear that the alien fills its hosts with a savage energy, causing it to attack the Fantastic Four.
When the Thing punches the gorilla symbiote, the act of touching it causes it to transfer to Ben Grimm, and from there he moves onto the Human Torch and the two heroes fight. Dreadface announces that he travels from world to world possessing the greatest warriors there and then causing untold devastation. Unlike the Klyntar, who are naturally non-violent, Dreadface is a symbiote seemingly born to cause chaos. It does share some similarities, however, including the aversion to fire, which is how Thing is able to defeat Dreadface. He stands near the fuel tank of the downed spacecraft and tricks Torch/Dreadface to fire upon him, causing the symbiote to be incinerated in the ensuing explosion.
14 MARCUS THE CENTAUR WEREWOLF
When you first describe Marcus the Centaur Werewolf, he sounds like a character a two-year old made up in a fever dream, but when you discover he comes from a Deadpool comic, somehow that makes more sense... kinda. Designated as a perfect warrior by Dracula himself, Marcus is recruited into the Dark Lord’s undead army, and it’s clear to see why. Not only is Marcus a Centaur from Ancient Greece, but he was also bitten by a werewolf. If that wasn’t enough, he was also possessed by a symbiote, making him that character the annoying kid in your class pretends to be to win any playfight. Oh and he has robot legs. And diabetes.
Marcus is a cyborg Centaur from ancient Greece bitten by a werewolf and possessed by a symbiote.
He first appeared in Deadpool: The Gauntlet, a digital-first series that sees the Merc With a Mouth hired by Dracula to track down his future bride, Shiklah. She’s not exactly on-board with marrying the Lord of Vampires, however, causing Deadpool to get caught in the middle of a monster war that sees Dracula throw everyone in his power -- including Marcus -- after Deadpool and Shiklah. This is the story that leads to Deadpool being the one that ties the Knot with Shiklah, and while the marriage doesn’t last that long, for a while there, Wade Wilson is a happily married man.
The problem with being Venom is that everyone wants a piece of you. Literally. See, there have been several occasions where evil corporations have attempted to clone the symbiote in order to facilitate their twisted plans. One such occasion was initiated by the Ararat Corporation, led by the nefarious-yet-mundane sounding Bob. It turns out that Bob is descended from a colony of robot alien spiders that want to eliminate all life on Earth (because of course he is), and he clones Venom from a portion of the symbiote’s tongue. The resulting creation, named Mania, was a violent, sadistic creature that refused to bond with any host, choosing instead to slaughter anyone that comes into contact with it.
Following the successful thwarting of Bob’s plans, the Venom symbiote absorbs the clone into its form, making its host -- Flash Thompson -- even more powerful. Later, when Flash was working as a substitute gym teacher, he discovered one of his students, Andi Benton, caught in the crossfire of the supervillain Jack O’Lantern. To save her life he shot a part of the suit at her to protect her, unknowingly bonding her with the clone symbiote, transforming Andi into the new Mania. She became Flash’s sidekick of sorts, aiding him in his adventures and becoming generally good, if sometimes corrupt.
12 ULTIMATE VENOM
The Ultimate universe was at times a darker place than its 616 counterpart. Especially when Ultimatum rolled around and characters started dying in the most gruesome ways, the Ultimate line of comics really established itself as a world in which anything can happen and anyone can die. While this new direction wasn’t entirely loved by fans, one of the biggest success stories was Ultimate Spider-Man. The book that started it all became arguably the best, and it was partly because it was able to tread the fine line between the old and the new.
A good example of that was Ultimate Venom, who was largely familiar to fans, but with a number of distinct differences.
Eddie Brock and Peter Parker were childhood friends, brought together by their fathers who were working together on Project Venom, a scientific experiment to create a symbiotic biosuit that would heal the wearer and cure all illnesses. Subjected to a hostile takeover and a test that went wrong, Peter and Eddie’s parents were killed. It wasn’t until years later that Peter, and subsequently Eddie, were exposed to be a twisted version of the original suit, one that often went out of control with violence and cannibalistic carnage. Peter rejected the power, but Eddie embraced it, becoming the Ultimate Venom.
The New Avengers series kicked off in a big way, with a supervillain prison breakout from The Raft, causing a ragtag team of heroes to come together to stop them. When Carnage escapes from his cell, he looks set to cause, well, carnage, until The Sentry reveals himself and flies the symbiote into space, ripping him in half and showing just how powerful he is. Because this is comics, however, Carnage doesn’t die forever, he’s rescued from space by Michael Hall of Hall Industries, a nefarious businessman who kept Cletus Kasady locked up so that he could harvest the symbiote to enhance the cybernetic prosthetics he created.
One such recipient was Dr. Tanis Nieves, a psychiatrist who was fitted with a Hall Industries prosthetic arm. The Carnage symbiote used Dr. Nieves to escape from Michael Hall and then abandoned her once it had rescued Cletus Kasady. Unbeknown to her, Carnage had left its offspring within her arm. Once she discovered the symbiote, she removed her arm in disgust, and it was claimed by the villain Shriek. In a fight with Shriek, however, the symbiote abandoned the villain and returned to Dr. Nieves where she bonded with it and became Scorn. While similar in powers to Carnage, Scorn’s symbiote was born in technology, giving it the power to fuse itself with different technology.
With all of the apocalyptic fiction out there, along with the general state of the world we live in, The Life Foundation doesn’t sound so crazy at first. A group of rich folk looking at doing whatever it takes to prepare for the end of the world, or the Mutually Assured Destruction of the Cold War, the Life Foundation was, unfortunately, completely evil. Its members believed survival was only for the rich, and their massive fallout shelter was designed exclusively for them.
They kidnapped Venom and forcibly extracted five symbiote “seeds” to start a superhuman police force to protect rich people.
Lasher, one of the five symbiotes, hosted by Ramon Hernandez, was different to the others in that it manifested its powers in the form of tentacles on his back. It would use these tendrils to “lash” out at its opponents, hence the name. After Hernandez was killed, Lasher and the other symbiotes formed one united being called Hybrid. After the death of that host, however, the U.S. Army defused the host into its separate entities again, and bonded Lasher with a trained German Shepherd, transforming it into the War Dog.
While it’s common to see so many symbiotes in the Marvel universe these days, there was a time when there was just Venom and Carnage. As soon as it was realized that Venom could spawn Carnage, however, it seemed fairly logical that at some point a story revolving around Carnage “giving birth” would be told. The kind of spawn that an evil, twisted demon like Carnage would create, however, was enough to scare Venom into trying to protect and raise the upcoming spawn himself, especially since Carnage was determined to kill his “child.” Venom had also figured out that this new symbiote would have been the 1000th in their line, and was concerned over genetic degradation.
Venom needn’t have been concerned, however, as for once in this article, we’re looking at a symbiote that’s actually a good guy. Patrick Mulligan became the host, infected by Carnage as he was too weak to kill it, wanting it to grow so it could kill it later. Mulligan was a NYPD police officer, and determined to be virtuous despite being infected by a symbiote. Toxin was fast becoming more powerful than either Venom or Carnage, leading to them teaming up against it. Spider-Man, seeing the good in Toxin, helped fend off its “father” and “grandfather,” and Mulligan left the police force -- and his wife and child -- to dedicate his time to fending off the symbiotes base urges and become a force for good.
Listed as one of the five most dangerous criminals in the Galaxy by the Shi'ar Empire, Zzzxx -- the villain with the name that sounds like a bug hitting an electric light -- was discovered by the Emperor D’Ken and later chosen by the villainous new Emperor Vulcan to serve in his Imperial Guard. Vulcan gave him a Shi’ar host to consume, and it was discovered that Zzzxx is vastly different from other Klyntars, in that it is a monstrosity that feeds off its host’s brains.
While other symbiotes have demonstrated this desire too, Zzzxx feeds off brains exclusively.
For a short time, Zzzxx became obsessed with bonding to Lilandra Neramani, the Princess-Majestrix of the Shi’ar royal family. Following that, Zzzxx, as a member of Vulcan’s Imperial Guardsman was sent after the Starjammers, the team of intergalactic pirates led by Vulcan’s father Corsair. While the mission itself was a failure, the symbiote bonded to Raza Longknife in an attempt to get close to its true goal, Lilandra. Once again, Zzzxx failed and was imprisoned on the Starjammer. Zzzxx’s final fate was sealed when the galaxy fought against the Fault, a tear in the fabric of space between the regular universe and the hell-dimension of the Cancerverse. The Starjammers shot Zzzxx into the Fault as a rudimentary weapon against the creatures that were emerging from the other side.
One of the five symbiotes forced from Venom by the Life Foundation, Scream was quickly established as the leader of the group due to her superior skills. Scream’s host, Donna Diego, was, like the other four hosts, a volunteer of the Life Foundation, who gave herself over freely to becoming a symbiote protector of the imagined rich people utopia. Scream was identifiable by her bright yellow and red “costume” and shock of red symbiotic “hair.” Much like Medusa of the Inhumans, Scream used her “hair” as a weapon, wrapping it around her enemies and using it offensively.
It was later revealed that Donna Diego was clinically insane, and this manifested in her murdering the hosts of her fellow Life Foundation symbiotes one by one. She believed that all symbiotes are inherently evil, and as such all those that are hosts to symbiotes were also evil and deserved to die. She kidnapped and attempted to murder Venom too, trying to blame him for the murders she’d committed, but Brock was able to reunite with the Venom symbiote and defeat her. She had a change of heart following these events and dedicated her life to helping the hosts of symbiotes cope with their new life, until her death at the hands of -- ironically -- Venom, when he began hunting symbiotes himself.
One of the strangest plot threads in superhero comics that has, to this day, never been acknowledged in prime continuity, is just what happened to Peter Parker and Mary Jane’s baby. If you didn’t know that Pete and MJ had a child, it’s because they literally never mention it, even though their pregnancy was a major part of the comics throughout the ‘90s and through the Clone Saga. As Mary Jane gave birth, it was announced that she had tragically miscarried, only for the baby to be stolen away by a spy of Norman Osborn’s, and smuggled away on a boat to who knows where.
Mayhem had all of the strengths of both Spider-Girl and a symbiote, with none of the weaknesses!
In a 1998 issue of What If (issue 105 - “Legacy...in Black and White”), creators Tom Defalco and Ron Frenz explored what exactly happened in an alternate universe tale that saw a 15 year-old May Parker becoming the new Spider-Girl. She was so popular that she made the jump to her own series and her own universe, the MC2. It turns out that Norman Osborn cloned May as a baby, placing the clone in stasis for years and manipulating her DNA with that of a symbiote to create the first ever human/symbiote hybrid. Because she was a perfect mix of symbiote and human, April Parker, or Mayhem as she came to be known, had all of the strengths of both Spider-Girl and a symbiote, with none of the weaknesses, such as split personality. Her body is also entirely malleable, making her a formidable foe.
5 KRON STONE (VENOM 2099)
Whenever alternate universes introduce the Venom symbiote, writers always seem to want to draw a closer connection between the symbiote’s host and Peter Parker. It happened in the Ultimate universe, and in the MC2, and it happened in the 2099 universe too. For the uninitiated, Marvel 2099 was exactly what it sounds like: an imprint that looked at the Marvel universe in the far-off future of 2099. One of the most popular and prominent characters -- as always seems to be the case in Marvel comics -- was Spider-Man 2099, who in this reality was a kid called Miguel O’Hara.
Kron Stone was the older half-brother of Miguel, as they both shared the same father in Tyler Stone, the Executive Vice President of the all-powerful Alchemax Corporation. A spoiled brat, Kron Stone was a dark and twisted individual from a young age, tormenting and beating up a young Miguel. Stone went into business with his evil father, and it was he who killed Punisher 2099’s family. Stone was fatally stabbed by Punisher in his escape, and as he lay dying in the sewer he came into contact with a highly evolved Venom symbiote. The symbiote had spent the last century evolving into a far more powerful being, one with poisonous blood and saliva and the ability to transform its host’s molecules into malleable liquid, allowing him to shapeshift more easily.
Carl Mach was a skilled mercenary that worked for the Life Foundation, one of the five volunteers for the Guardian Symbiote program that had their bodies merged with the symbiote “children” forcibly extracted from Venom. Once the five hosts had bonded and formed the team of highly trained and enhanced killers, Phage proclaimed himself the leader of the group, even though the de facto leader was actually Scream.
Phage was identifiable from the rest of the Guardian Symbiotes by its orange and black coloring, and his preference for transforming his body into knifes.
He had blades on his back and shoulders and, like Carnage, often transformed his arms into giant blades to slash his enemies. As soon as they were “born,” the Guardian Symbiotes were tasked with attacking Spider-Man, who’d tracked down the Life Foundation’s facility. They overwhelmed the wall-crawler, forcing Eddie Brock to once again join with the Venom symbiote to take them down. He and Spider-Man used a metabolic accelerator that prematurely aged the symbiotes, turning them all to dust. As it turns out, the Life Foundation is able to save the symbiotes and their hosts from being turned to dust, but this remained hidden from Venom and Spider-Man so that the group could recover.
One of the biggest fears that Venom had when he was confronted with the spawn that had been forcibly extracted from his symbiote, was that they would become violent and deadly like their “brother” Carnage. This fear was never more fully realized than with Riot, by far the most violent of the Guardian Symbiotes the Life Foundation created. With the former security guard Trevor Cole as its host, Riot was trained in many forms of hand-to-hand combat, firearms and combat tactics.
As a symbiote, Riot looked much like Venom, with blue/black color tone and a large, imposing frame, and chose to put aside all of his security training in order to convert his body into blunt force instruments and bludgeon his enemies. Riot has changed color more than perhaps any of other symbiotes, being grey originally and then brown, until later on becoming dark blue. Created by David Michelinie and Ron Lim in 1993, Riot and the rest of the Guardian Symbiotes made their first appearance in the Venom: Lethal Protector series which, coincidentally, was the first solo outing for Spider-Man’s frequent antagonist. They were all seemingly killed at the end of the series but would make a return in Venom’s follow-up series Separation Anxiety from 1995.
Leslie Gesneria was a former mercenary in the security forces, and one of the five individuals who volunteered to become a superhuman enforcement officer for the morally corrupt Life Foundation. She underwent physical enhancement in the form of being bonded with one of the symbiotes that were forcibly spawned from Venom against his will. Going by the name Agony, the newly bonded symbiote was bright purple and black, with sharp claws and teeth and a shock of long purple hair.
Agony’s unique abilities were centered around acid generation, as it was able to spit acid that could burn through most substances.
It could also absorb chemicals like Spider-Man’s artificial webbing with ease. The full extent of Agony’s powers were never fully realized however, because it, along with the other Guardian Symbiotes were murdered by one of their own: Scream, aka Donna Diego, who had gone insane and went about murdering the hosts of symbiotes as she had declared them all inherently evil. The Agony symbiote survived along with the others, despite the deaths of their hosts, and was captured and experimented on in The Vault, the maximum security prison in the Rockies. Agony, Riot, Phage and Lasher were all simultaneously bonded to Scott Washington to become the new being called Hybrid.
1 PORK GRIND
If you thought Howard the Duck was the craziest anthropomorphic superhero in the Marvel canon, then you may not have heard of the spectacular Spider-Ham. The alter-ego of Peter Porker (“Am I a spider with the limitations of a pig? Or a pig with the proportionate strength and agility of a spider?”) Spider-Ham resided on Earth 8311 -- the Aniverse -- a world filled with animal versions of all your favorite Marvel Heroes and villains, including Captain Americat, Goose Rider, Ducktor Doom and Mooseter Fantastic.
Of course, what would a Spider-Ham be without a Venom? Defined as Porker’s number 2 villain (behind the Green Gobbler, obviously) the Venom symbiote in this world was the Austrian villain known as Pork Grind, a wild boar with all the same characteristics as the Venom in the 616. Pork Grind could fight “toon-style,” having attended Toon U and learned the skills there. “Toon-Style” basically meant he could fight like Roger Rabbit or Daffy Duck, with all of the ridiculous, physics-defying imagery that conjures up. One of his favorite fighting techniques was hammering Spider-Ham with a giant mace, which he referred to as Pig-Bashing. Spider-Ham was able to defeat him by using his own toon-logic against him, eating “toon spinach” which gave him huge muscles, allowing him to punch Pork Grind in the nose and turn it into an accordion.