Venom is one of Marvel Comics' most complex - and popular - characters.
Though he started out as a straight up supervillain with a murderous grudge against Spider-Man, the symbiote and its host Eddie Brock eventually turned over a new leaf (sort of) as a 'Lethal Protector' - an anti-hero vigilante.
Eddie's history has only gotten more complicated and morally grey - and that's saying nothing of the Venom symbiote itself, which has an even more storied history on its own among a number of different hosts than its most famous wearer.
With Venom now back in swing and the 'Beyond' arc about to set up a world-shattering invasion from Knull, we're looking back at the human hosts of the Venom symbiote - Eddie Brock, and beyond.
Normie Osborn (MC2)
The child of Harry Osborn from an alternate dimension, Normie Osborn received the strangest wedding gift in the form of the Venom symbiote from his ex, Elan DeJunae a.k.a. the Goblin Queen.
And despite going on a rampage when he first bonded to it, Normie's loving nature was able to change the symbiote into a force for good. He saved James Rhodes when his new cyborg form short-circuited and joined a group of reformed supervillains.
And with Normie's help, the symbiote itself was able to die a hero as it transferred to Spider-Girl and healed all of her wounds. Turns out Normie was right. He resisted the Goblin legacy and he overcame (most of) Venom's murderous impulses.
In mainstream continuity, Normie was briefly bonded with a version of the Carnage symbiote following his grandfather Norman's return as the Red Goblin - though a piece of Carnage may still remain inside him.
Andi Benton came in contact with the Venom symbiote via Flash Thompson - but she got a little more than she bargained for. The symbiote bonded mysteriously but it turns out that Flash had also transferred the Hell Mark that the symbiote previously received in a battle with Blackheart.
Hell Marks are damaging to symbiotes, give the bearer control over hellfire and immunity to fire. Oh, and the bearer becomes a candidate to become a Hell-Lord like Hela or Mephisto.
Andi teamed up with Agent Venom for a while before the Hell Mark possessed her and turned Mania into a monster she couldn't control. Lee Price would eventually steal the symbiote from Andi, and while she was not able to bond with her symbiote again, she did help Anti-Venom take down Price, proving herself to be a capable hero even without the symbiote.
Kron Stone (2099)
How do you make the '90s even more x-treme? You fast forward to the 2090s, of course! While Spider-Man 2099 is a generally well-remembered series, pushing fan-favorite characters to their futuristic limits proved to not always be the best course of action. Example A: Kron Stone a.k.a. Venom 2099.
Kron was the villainous half-brother of Miguel O'Hara and he came about the symbiote by accident after being left for dead. The now mutated symbiote imbued Kron with a couple of extra powers including acidic saliva and blood as he set out to torture Miguel (while also not knowing he was Spider-Man).
Eventually, Spider-Man would defeat Venom through the usual sonic means but this symbiote left Kron forever changed - his body had taken on the amorphous properties of the symbiote itself.
Lee Price was a former Army Ranger with nowhere left to turn once an injury forced him out of active service. He turned to a life of crime and embraced the darkness in his past. He came upon the symbiote suddenly when it saved him from being shot and quickly bent it to his will.
Price would lose the Venom symbiote in a fight with Spider-Man and Anti-Venom, but served no jail time on the grounds that he had been mind controlled by the alien.
Later, Price would steal Andi Benton's symbiote and form a permanent bond with it, becoming the villainous Maniac. Maniac used his symbiote's mind control powers to try and elbow his way into the biggest crime families in the world via Black Cat's operation. However, he was defeated when a sample of his blood was absorbed by Anti-Venom, giving him an 'Anti-Maniac' power boost.
Anne Weying was a successful lawyer and Eddie Brock's ex-wife before a temporary bond with his symbiote turned her into She-Venom.
Possessing the same abilities as Venom, Anne's rampages rivaled Eddie's own but they took a toll on her mind. She would have an on-again-off-again relationship with the alien, rebonding with it to break out of jail before losing it again.
But the damage had been done. Traumatized by watching Eddie turn into Venom in front of her and her own experiences, the sight of Spider-Man in his old black costume sent Anne spiraling. She would take her own life, plummeting from the roof of her high-rise apartment.
One of the wackiest wielders of the alien symbiote would have to be the one and only Wade Winston Wilson a.k.a. Deadpool.
In the brief time between Peter Parker rejecting it and Eddie Brock bonding with it, the symbiote found Deadpool and they teamed up to help the alien avoid some extra-terrestrial bounty hunters. However, the symbiote hated that Wade was repeatedly mistaken for Spider-Man and Deadpool could do little to calm it down.
When Wade denied the murderous symbiote the chance to take Spider-Man's life, it fled only to find a host who hated Peter Parker as much as it did. But Wade left his mark on the symbiote as some of its relative madness can be attributed to bonding with the fourth-wall-breaking Merc with a Mouth.
The erstwhile Scorpion maintained the Venom symbiote for most of the 'Dark Reign' era. In the middle of a mission to kidnap Aunt May, Gargan was approached by the symbiote and eventually became addicted to the power it gave him. Despite Gargan's best attempts he couldn't control the alien and eventually began to hallucinate it speaking to him.
Gargan served as a member of the government-sanctioned Thunderbolts and later as part of Osborn's Dark Avengers. His time with the symbiote would enable Eddie Brock to become the first Anti-Venom. Gargan would eventually have the symbiote ripped from him by Carol Danvers, then Ms. Marvel, and spend some time at the Raft before reclaiming his scorpion identity. But that wouldn't be the last Gargan would see of the symbiote.
As Lee Price became Maniac, he was able to reactivate trace amounts of symbiote in Gargan's body transforming him into 'Venorpion.' But the reunion was short-lived as the new Anti-Venom, Flash Thompson, expunged the alien from his system.
This is where it all began. If not for Peter Parker rejecting the symbiote in the first place, Venom as we know it might not exist at all.
Parker would first bond with the Symbiote during the original Secret Wars after his suit was damaged but upon returning home, he noticed that it was behaving strangely. With the help of Mister Fantastic, he discovered that the symbiote was alive and removed the alien entity by force.
Unfortunately for Spider-Man, the symbiote would escape and with it, the knowledge of his secret identity and the secrets behind his powers.
As a result, future Venoms would display powers akin to those of its jilted host but they'd also be immune to his Spider-Sense. For a time, Anti-Venom was also able to negate Peter's powers but that's been walked back since the events of 'Spider-Island' a few years back.
Flash Thompson's turn as Agent Venom was probably one of the greatest superhero reimaginings in recent history.
While Flash has always had a complicated relationship with Peter Parker, he's almost always been one of Spider-Man's biggest fans. Flash received a Medal of Honor in the Iraq War for rescuing his partner but it came with a cost: both of his legs. It took some time for him to come to terms with the loss but after the government gained control of the Venom symbiote, Flash was given another chance to be a hero as a part of Project Rebirth 2.0.
The symbiote would take the form of special ops armor as opposed to the more monstrous form we'd seen before and it's amorphous nature allowed Flash to carry multiple types of ammunition and gear that could be augmented by the alien. Flash would spend time with the Secret Avengers, Thunderbolts and Guardians of the Galaxy before losing the symbiote and falling into a deep depression.
Luckily for Flash, he still had a connection to the symbiote and when he came into contact with the Anti-Venom serum created by Alchemax, it transformed him in Agent Anti-Venom.
You can't talk about Venom without talking about Eddie Brock.
Born out of the grimdark, grittiness of the late '80s, Venom would become one of the greatest villains of the '90s, acting as a dark reflection of Spider-Man but also one of the most absolutely terrifying members of his generally colorful rogues gallery.
The symbiote's love/hate relationship with Peter Parker played out in the ways that Venom interacted with Spider-Man and despite many battles, they would find themselves occasional allies. Their eventual truce led Eddie to San Francisco.
Eddie would have a tenuous relationship with heroism over the years stemming from his sometimes very strict moral code: Venom believed in protecting the innocent.
Unfortunately, that was fairly short-lived and the symbiote seemed to always cause more problems than it could fix by way of its asexual reproduction resulting in more symbiote powered entities.
Venom disappeared for some time and Eddie developed cancer that was reversed by the powers of Mr. Negative. However, it also had an inverse effect on the symbiote, allowing Eddie to embrace his heroic leanings. This would culminate in Eddie using the symbiote to reverse the events of 'Spider-Island.' Homeless and alone, Eddie was eventually forced to become Toxin by Crime Master.
Eddie tracked Flash Thompson to Philadelphia where he vowed to kill Flash if he lost control of his symbiote. Eddie would eventually join the FBI and form an Anti-Carnage Task Force that would lead him on a crash course with the Venom symbiote. With Spider-Man's help, Eddie was able to wrest control of the symbiote from Lee Price and declare once more: "We are Venom."
Eddie's been through a lot since, learning the cosmic history behind the Symbiotes and getting embroiled with the Cult of Carnage and more in the current Venom ongoing series.