WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Venom Annual #1 by Donny Cates, Kev Walker and Chris Sotomayor, in stores now.
After seven issues, Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman's Venom has become an fan-favorite, an instant hit which has seen many issues go into second, third and even fourth printings. The series has changed everything we thought we knew about the Venom mythos, establishing Eddie Brock as a character who is more struggling hero than villain, all without retconning any major events in his life.
Along the way, the Venom series has veered away from straightforward superheroics and into horror. Eddie might be a nominal good guy, but he's still bonded to a dangerous alien symbiote that isn't shy of eating people. And while we've learned there are bigger and badder threats out there, like the symbiote god Knull and the Grendel, a giant, symbiotic dragon, Venom is still a frightening monster himself -- a fact that Venom Annual #1 is quick to remind us.
Venom Annual #1 is actually a compilation of four short stories. Many old school Spider-Man villains like Shocker, Scorpion, Black Cat and Boomerang find themselves in The Bar With No Name, a safe haven watering hole for villains, where they trade stories about Venom. Some argue that he's a frightening and uncontrollable creature, while others are quick to say that he isn't all that scary, and that he barely registers as a villain at all.
The loudest and most vocal of Venom's detractors is Mac Gargan, aka the Scorpion, a fan-favorite villain who has been a thorn in Spider-Man's side since debuting in 1964's Amazing Spider-Man #19 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. No matter what story is told in The Bar With No Name, Gargan continues to argue that Venom isn't scary at all, and that, despite his numerous teeth, he'ss never actually eaten anyone.
It's only when he turns around to face the shadow behind him that Gargan is forced to realize how wrong he is. Eddie Brock may not be behind him, but the symbiote certainly is, and it wastes no time in explaining why everyone should be afraid of Venom with a simple demonstration, wrapping its tongue around Gargan, and opening its mouth wide.
While the scene itself doesn't explicitly show Gargan getting eaten alive by the symbiote, the outcome is heavily implied. The closing panels leave things open to interpretation, but it certainly is meant to look like we've just witnessed the end of a classic Spider-Man villain at the hands of the Venom symbiote.
If that is the case, then we've just gotten another idea of what the symbiote might have been up to recently. In Venom #7, we learned that the symbiote carried an unconscious Eddie Brock around for five weeks across the country. We don't know what happened during those weeks, but at least now we have an idea... and it just might involve eating a bunch of people.