The symbiotes in the Marvel Comic Universe have garnered a bad reputation for themselves, but that was never their intention. Known as the Klyntar, the symbiotes are actually a peaceful alien collective that seeks to bond with ideal specimens in order to create heroes and warriors, all in the name of helping others.
RELATED: Venom’s Hosts: A History
This plan usually goes south, as the symbiotes are greatly affected by the mental conditions of their hosts. When they bond with someone unstable, the Klyntar become corrupt by the negativity of their host, and together they create a monster of terrifying potential. In honor of the visual and narrative awesomeness that the Klyntar provide, as well as Venom’s return to the comic book stands, here are the top 15 symbiotes of all time.
The mutated symbiote Anti-Venom appeared to Eddie Brock when he was at his lowest. Wasting away from cancer and working in a soup kitchen, Brock’s fortunes were turned when he received a pat on the shoulder from the powerful and enigmatic Mr. Negative. This awakened the remnants of the Venom symbiote in his bloodstream, which attached itself to his white blood cells, and cured him of his cancer.
The greater significance of this would become apparent when Mac Gargan, the current holder of Venom, attacked the soup kitchen looking for Spider-Man. The Venom symbiote on Gargan attempted to re-bond with Brock, but the new symbiote in his blood repelled the invasion and burst free, enveloping him in a whole new persona: Anti-Venom. Anti-Venom has the ability to cleanse bodies of their symbiotes and radiation, and almost de-powers Spider-Man in their first encounter. While he is monstrous in appearance, Anti-Venom performs several heroic deeds, including taking down the criminal organization of Mr. Negative (who gave him his new powers in the first place) and curing New York of the terrifying Spider-Virus.
14. Marcus, The Centaur Werewolf Symbiote Warrior With Diabetes
Marcus is one of Deadpool’s more absurd adversaries (which is really saying something), and one who certainly lives up to his name. Marcus is a centaur from ancient Greece, who was subsequently bitten by a werewolf and infected with a symbiote. He was then hired by Dracula alongside Frankenstein’s Monster, N’kantu the Living Mummy and Xzax (thus forming a new Frightful Four), to hunt down Deadpool and Dracula’s bride-to-be. It doesn’t get much stranger than that, folks. The symbiote bonded to Marcus gives him extra strength and agility, as well as a host of weapons that can be summoned from his body at will.
Despite his ferocious arsenal, Marcus was still no match Deadpool. His key weakness lay in the fact that he has diabetes, and must regulate his blood sugar every few hours. He became woozy during a brawl with Deadpool, who was kind enough to let him balance things out before flattening him with a steamroller.
Dreadface is a part of the psychotic strain of symbiotes, who drive all those they come into contact with into a murderous rage. The Fantastic Four were the first to encounter it in “Fantastic Four “#360, aka, “At The Mercy Of Dreadface!” The symbiote was contained on the ship of Devos The Devastator, who had likely captured it in his efforts to rid the Universe of war-waging lifeforms.
When the ship crashed in the jungle during a dispute between the Fantastic Four and Devos, Dreadface escaped, and possessed the first creature it came into contact with: a gorilla. The Gorilla attacked Ben Grimm, and when they touched one another, the symbiote transferred itself to Ben. The Human Torch was able to dislodge the creature from his friend, but at the cost of it possessing him instead. The battle was ended when The Thing convinced the flaming symbiote to fly into a stream of jetfuel, resulting in an explosion that spared Johnny Storm but seemingly fried the alien for good.
Krobaa was a short-lived but intriguing symbiote that appeared for one issue of “Venom: Seed Of Darkness.” He was drawn to Earth by interdimensional experimenter Dr. Nigel Donlevy, who he promptly bonded with, and then used to go on a destructive rampage. A tip about the situation got the attention of Eddie Brock, who had yet to encounter his Venom symbiote. Still looking for the story that would make his career, Brock rushed to the scene, and was promptly attacked by the monstrous Krobaa.
At this point, Eddie realized that Krobaa was susceptible to bright lights, and began to flash at him with his camera. The symbiote disengaged from its host, and returned to its peaceful Klyntar self, horrified by what bonding to a human had done to him. Krobaa then offered a powerful observation on the human condition, lamenting that our greatness is buried deep beneath sorrowful and wounded souls, before dissipating into a cloud of yellow smoke. Perhaps this is why Earth symbiotes always seem to become so monstrous?
11. Karl Malus
Karl Malus acquired his symbiotic powers in one of the most unfortunate ways possible. Malus was a scientist obsessed with the subject of superhuman abilities, and experimented on many subjects, manipulating their powers in a multitude of ways. He created villains such as The Hornet, Goliath and Armadillo, as well as the second Ms. Marvel, and has been a constant thorn is Captain America’s side.
Dr. Malus was recruited to join the Frightful Four by Wizard, and was forced to bond with the Carnage symbiote. They attempted to control him and failed, and the symbiote was blasted off of Malus and onto the Wizard, who then proceeded to eat Malus and expel his remains. Amazingly, he survived this process, and emerged as a human/symbiote hybrid, and was free to continue his experimentation on human subjects. Now obsessed with hybridism, he created many animal human hybrids, and with his symbiotic powers was even able to capture Captain America and turn him into a second Cap-Wolf! (Don’t worry, a cure was eventually found.)
Payback was first introduced in the “True Believers” comic series, which followed the adventures of the True Believers, a group of top-secret operatives dedicated to unraveling conspiracies and crimes in the superhero community. They are led by Payback, who is actually Mavis Trent, a S.H.I.E.L.D. data analyst. She uses her expertise to keep the True Believers’ missions a secret, and is a force to be reckoned with due to the unique symbiote she is bonded with.
Unlike most symbiotes in the Marvel Universe, which feed on adrenaline and rage, Trent’s symbiote feeds on states of pure bliss. It is most powerful when she is feeling good, and it provides her with these feelings as well. Its appearance is drastically different from other symbiotes, too, giving her an iridescent shimmer instead of the usual tendrils and frightful jaw line. She has all the super powers granted by symbiotes, but her uniqueness shows that the Klyntar may have many more surprises in store for the heroes who bond with them.
ZZZXX is a curious and unconventional symbiote, one that does not care for the wellbeing of its host at all, as most Klyntar do. Instead, it feeds on them by eating their brains. ZZZXX was imprisoned on a Shi’ar prison planet until the psychopathic Vulcan freed him. Vulcan gave him a Shi’ar host to embody, and made him a part of his elite bodyguard.
The first mission that Vulcan sent ZZZXX on was to kill his brother Havok and the Starjammers. He failed this task miserably, and in the battle attempted to bond with prominent Starjammer Raza Longknife, but failed at that too. Raza rejected ZZZXX with the help of his medi-bots, and successfully hurled him into The Fault, the cancerous Universe that houses the massive and horrifying antithesis of Professor X. It is currently unknown how the two have reacted to one another, but if they survived, a monstrosity quite unlike anything could be laying in wait, plotting its revenge.
Scorn is a spawn of the Carnage symbiote, which found its home on the prosthetic arm of Tanis Nieves, who was the psychiatrist assigned to council Shriek. When she realized the terrifying hunger of the symbiote growing on her arm, she cast of her prosthetic and it was claimed by her patient.
The subsequent rampage that Shreik went on with the original Carnage terrified the newly born symbiote, and it disengaged itself from her to return to Tanis. Tanis fully embraced the symbiote this time, and due to the fact that it was bonded to a prosthetic arm that belonged to her, the two become very powerful. Together they were able to stop Shriek, and eventually joined the Mercury Team to hunt down Carnage. The most fascinating thing about Scorn is that it originally bonded with a mechanical component, and does not distinguish itself from robotics. This allows Tanis to form sympathetic bonds with technology and communicate with all manner of machines.
7. Life Foundation Four (Agony, Lasher, Riot, Phage)
The Life Foundation was certain the Cold War would end in mutually assured destruction. In response to this, they created a paradisiacal fallout shelter for wealthy clients, and spawned five clones from the Venom symbiote to act as a police force. These became known as Agony, Lasher, Riot, Phage and Scream.
After several battles with Spider-Man and Eddie Brock, the hosts for Lasher, Riot, Phage and Agony found themselves murdered by Scream. The un-bonded Klyntar were imprisoned in The Vault, a prison for superhuman criminals. After escaping this prison, the four frightened symbiotes came together to form Hybrid, and sought to do good. They would eventually find themselves broken apart once more and merged with The Mercury team, who were tasked with hunting down Carnage. Carnage ambushed the team and dismembered them, along with an unsuspecting Deadpool. The four symbiotes then bonded with the remains of Deadpool, resurrecting him, and manage to defeat Carnage. Deadpool then offered the symbiotes to their final host, the Mercury Team’s dog, whose inherently good nature must have suited the Life Foundation symbiotes wonderfully.
Making her first appearance in “Venom: Lethal Protector” #4, Scream was the fifth member of the Life Foundation symbiote team, and is as unstable as she is ruthless. She was originally Donna Diego, and was chosen out of the Life Foundation security team to don the moniker of Scream. She decided to test her newfound powers at a local shopping mall, which naturally caught the attention of Spiderman. He followed her back to the Life Foundation lab, and ended up teaming with Venom to subdue her.
Eventually, Scream and the Life Foundation had a falling out, and she went rogue with her symbiote brothers. They attempted to recruit Venom to help them control their symbiotes, but he refused. Perhaps due to her symbiote, Donna Diego had a schizophrenic meltdown, and murdered all her siblings, convinced that anyone else who harbored a symbiote was evil. Scream later attempted to redeem herself, and fought alongside Venom to defeat several villains, such as the monstrous Xenophage and the mutants Dirtnap and Chimera. She would eventually find her demise at the hands of Eddie Brock, who decided to murder the remaining symbiotes after he could no longer be one himself.
Hybrid is the final element of the Life Foundation symbiote saga. Hybrid’s host was Scott Washington, who was a guard at The Vault where Lasher, Riot, Phage and Agony were being held after their original hosts were killed. Upon their escape, they melded together and bonded briefly with Scott, who discovered they were simply frightened and in pain, and undeserving of the experiments being done to them. He decided to break them out of the prison, and lost his job as a result.
Scott returned to his home, and after a scuffle with a criminal on a basketball court, found himself paralyzed from the waist down. The Hybrid symbiote, feeling bad for Scott, bonded with him once more, and gave him back the use of his legs. Scott then sought revenge on the one who wronged him, much to the chagrin of Hybrid, who did not want to become a killing machine. Scott was convinced of their purpose, and used his symbiotic powers for good, performing many heroic deeds. He was eventually put down by Eddie Brock, and the components of Hybrid then jumped from The Mercury team to Deadpool, before finally settling on a friendly pooch.
Often referred to as The Daughter Of Venom, Mania is actually a clone of the original Venom Symbiote. Mania came to be when Flash Thompson, working as a teacher in Philadelphia, hurled part of his Venom symbiote at a student, who was being attacked by Jack O’Lantern. Contrary to his expectations, the symbiote bonded with the student fully-formed, and created a whole new Klyntar/human bond: Mania.
The Mania symbiote was a Venom clone that had been re-bonded to its original source many years ago. This clone had a violent temperament and upbringing, and was designed by the Ararat Corporation to destroy all life on Earth. The clone was still dormant in Flash when he inherited Venom, and found a way to exist on its own when it was expelled to become Mania. To further complicate matters, the Mania symbiote also possesses the Hell-Mark that was once embedded on Venom by Mephisto. The Hell-Mark attached itself to Mania when it was purged from Venom, and gives Mania the ability to control demons along with her usual symbiotic abilities.
Toxin is one of the most powerful of the symbiote spawns, and certainly one of the most badass in appearance. He is a “son” of Carnage, who wanted nothing more than to destroy his unwanted child. After Toxin was born, he was too weak to do so, and the young Klyntar bonded with New York police officer Patrick Mulligan. When Carnage returned to destroy his son, Toxin was rescued by Venom, who wanted to train Toxin as an ally.
Mulligan, however, had a deeper sense of morality than both Venom and Carnage, and refused to give into the baser urges of the symbiote. The two elder symbiotes realized that he would quickly become a threat, likely to join the side of Spider-Man, and decide to eliminate him. This proved a task easier said than done, as Toxin was more powerful than both his forbearers. With a little help from the Wall Crawler, he was able to fend them off. Mulligan then resigned himself to a life with the symbiote, vowing to control it, but allowing it to lawfully let loose for a few hours every night.
Carnage is a pure example of what happens when a Klyntar bonds with the worst of humanity. Cletus Kasady is a homicidal maniac who revels in random acts of chaos, and has murdered more people then he can count. He came into contact with the symbiote when he shared a jail cell with Eddie Brock, who was freed by the Venom symbiote, and left behind a seed, which became Venom’s offspring. The new symbiote bonded with Kasady immediately, and unleashed the menace of Carnage on the world.
Carnage’s murderous rampages were enough to make even Spider-Man fearful, and he has been known to team up with his nemesis Venom to take down the more powerful symbiote. Carnage has also worked with other villains such as Shriek, the Spider-Man Doppelganger and Demogoblin, as well as Venom, whom he has a shaky relationship with, at best. He has had multiple reincarnations and imaginings, but always retains his trademark insanity and intensely horrific appearance. Carnage has provided readers with some of the best narrative and artistic elements in the Spider-Man mythos, and remains a fan favorite villain to this day.
He’s the one who started it all! The Venom symbiote originally bonded with Spider-Man, who enjoyed his enhanced powers at first, but quickly came to realize the downsides. The symbiote was draining him of his energy, and upon rejecting it in a famous scene within the bell tower at the top of a church, the symbiote found its new host: Eddie Brock. Eddie would become the first official Venom, one of Spider-Man’s most popular and enduring adversaries. Brock had an irrational hatred for Spider-Man, who he was certain ruined his reporting career. This loathing would fuel the symbiote and make him a force to be reckoned with in the Marvel universe.
The Venom symbiote had many other hosts in its history, including Angelo Fortunato and Mac Gargan, but its most famous modern host is Flash Thomson. An old bully of Peter Parker, Flash would grow up to become an American war hero who lost his legs in battle. Once Eddie Brock shed his Venom identity, the Klyntar was contained by the US government and given to Flash Thomson, who was able to control the symbiote and become Agent Venom. The deeds he undertook soon after made him the warrior that all Klyntar dream of bonding with, and the most heroic host of any symbiote to date, acting not just as a Space Knight, but also a Guardian of the Galaxy.
Which symbiote would you most like to bond with? Let us know in the comments!
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