Venom Once 'Ate' the Incredible Hulk - and It Was Brutal

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Venom remains one of the most iconic Spider-Man villains of all time, but he's fought plenty of other heroes as well. Back in the 1990s, Marvel pitted the Lethal Protector against the Juggernaut, Wolverine, Ghost Rider, and even Superman! It seemed like there were no limits to Venom's potential in battle... or to his drawing power.

However, even before all that hype, Venom fought another hero that no normal hero could ever subdue: the Incredible Hulk. Now, in Absolute Carnage #3, Bruce Banner mentions that his alter ego, The Hulk, never wore a symbiote suit. That may be true in the mainstream 616 universe, but he has definitely worn them throughout the Marvel multiverse. In fact, in one story, not only did Venom overpower the Hulk, he also completely consumed him!

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While this story is obviously non-canon, being a What If... !? tale, it remains one of the most incredible things the Venom symbiote has ever accomplished, even though very few people ever reference it when referring back to Venom's heights as an adversary in the Marvel Comics Universe.

What-If Venom Took over The Hulk?

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The story appears in What If...? #4. For those who forget, What If...? is a speculative comic where Uatu the Watcher peers into alternate universes to see what might have happened had some element of the timeline been altered. In this case, the issue asks the question "What If the alien costume had possessed Spider-Man?"

The story recaps the events that led up, in the 616 timeline, including Peter Parker casting off the alien costume. For this alternate timeline, the diverging point comes shorty after Spidey returns from the Beyonder's planet after the events of Secret Wars. Spidey learns his suit is alive, and Reed tries to blast it off with the Sonic Blaster, but the symbiote doesn't leave Parker's body. It's already bonded with him. As the Fantastic Four try to remove the symbiote, the alien overtakes Peter's mind, trying to escape -- in vain -- the barrage on his body.

RELATED: Venom: [SPOILER] Is Now a Symbiote - and It's Absolutely Terrifying

Unable to divide Peter, they call in Doctor Strange to help -- but, alas, even the Master of Mysticism can't get the alien off Peter. All of this leads to Peter and the symbiote becoming inextricably attached, culminating in Venom breaking free and escaping.

Venom Takes Control of Hulk

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Days pass, and no one hears from Spider-Man. The Hulk, however, is pummelling New York, forcing Thor to try to subdue him. Doctor Strange arrives on the scene, and, rightfully, assesses that the Hulk is far too out of control to be responsible for his actions. So he opens up a portal for the Hulk to enter where he can't hurt anything -- at least until he calms down and is ready to leave.

RELATED: Venom May Have Killed a Major Marvel Villain in Absolute Carnage Preview

Before he can tumble into the dimensional rift, however, Spider-Man swings in and pulls the Hulk out. He kicks Doctor Strange to the floor, then, turns on the Hulk! The symbiote leaves Spider-Man, dismissing his shrivelled, dying body, as Venom covers Hulk completely. The Venom personality takes over, leaping away with his now unlimited source of power.

Venom Devours The Hulk

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In a twist that would be later recycled in both the main comics (in The Hunger storyline) and the Venom film, the symbiote consumes life-energy, feasting on vitality until it can be cast off to another host.

Peter Parker, who has been prematurely aged beyond recognition, has enough time to visit Aunt May before returning to the Baxter Building to die of old age. Before dying, Peter created a device, based on Reed's notes and his own biological data, which could both track the Hulk-Venom and destroy him.

RELATED: Venom's Child Hides a Gruesome Secret - and It's Much Worse Than a Symbiote

The Avengers track Venom to Mount Rushmore, where they set out to find Venom. When they find him, he seems genuinely remorseful, but admits he has achieved "true symbiosis" with the Hulk, meaning he might not hurt the gamma-infused monster.  Still, Thor tries to apprehend him, and Venom, refusing to be imprisoned again, retaliates -- managing to knock down Thor!

In the biggest twist, Thor finally removes the symbiote from Hulk's body, revealing Banner alive and well. As Thor notes, the symbiote was telling the truth. While it did indeed leave Banner unaffected by taking over his body, it completely consumed at very least the physical manifestation of The Incredible Hulk, presumably by eating away at all of the gamma radiation and extra flesh produced in Banner's transformation. This continues to be almost unheard of in the comics, especially as Hulk has a healing factor on par with or in some readings even better than Wolverine's.

It remains unclear, given the brevity of the story, whether Venom also cured Banner of the Hulk's mentality. After all, the Jade Giant is another personality. However, the Venom symbiote absolutely devoured the Hulk's body, seemingly permanently. It also made the alien costume strong enough to attack and overwhelm Thor later in the issue, before finally being subdued by Black Bolt and killed by a vengeful Black cat.

However, Venom latches onto Thor, hoping to consume the God of Thunder himself as his new Host. This eventually leads to a confrontation with Black Bolt and the final death of the Venom symbiote. But before it was defeated, it did what not many others have been able to do -- kill the Hulk for good.

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