Venom's origin appearance as Spider-Man's Black Costume sells for seven figures

Venom - the Black Costume
Spider-Man's Black Costume AKA the future Venom (Image credit: Marvel Comics)

The retroactive first Marvel Comics appearance of Venom just sold for almost three and a half million dollars…

We're just going to leave that there and let it sink in for a moment.

While Venom is a major comic book and now live-action big-budget superstar, many fans know his/its origins are far more modest, when Venom was just Spider-Man's 'Black Costume.'

Venom's mythology was at the center of the recent major Marvel Comics event King in Black and the character just received a new Venom ongoing series, and of course, there are the big-screen adaptations featuring actors Topher Grace and most recently Tom Hardy (and a possible third MCU version in the future). But Venom began simply as a seemingly benign new Spider-Man costume.

original art from 1984's Secret Wars #8 (Image credit: Marvel Comics)

And according to a tweet by Heritage Auctions, the original page that features that seemingly benign 'first' appearance in 1984's Secret Wars #8 sold on January 13 after what it calls a "heated battle" for $3,360,000.

The page is by artist Mick Zeck from the script by writer (and at the time Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter). It's part of a monthly 12-issue "maxi-series" starring most of Marvel's superstar characters at the time - one of the first for the publisher and precursor for the modern comic book event series.

The original Secret Wars (there has since been a 2015 revival) featured Marvel's most popular heroes and villains transported to an alien world to be pitted against each other in combat for the entertainment of a mysterious, all-powerful villain known as the Beyonder.

Without getting into the finer details of Secret Wars and how it could come to the MCU which can be found here, during the course of the battles Spider-Man's costume is destroyed and he uses a mysterious alien device to conjure a new one. To his surprise (as the original lettered art shows), it comes out black rather than his standard red-and-blue scheme.

The Black Costume - at the time the first significant change to Spider-Man's look since his creation, was a big hit with fans, particularly due to a clever solution to a publishing necessity by Marvel.

cover to 1984's Amazing Spider-Man #252 (Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Remember where we called it Venom's retroactive first appearance? Because all its top characters would be off on an alien world for a full year, instead of relocating all their solo ongoing series to the alien world for the same year, they were all seen in their own series being whisked off to the Secret Wars world, only to return immediately in real-time; most with significant changes like a new member of the Fantastic Four (She-Hulk for the Thing) and Spider-Man's new black duds.

Secret Wars then played out over the next year providing the backstory to the changes seen immediately in the ongoing titles.

So the surprise Black Costume (which debuted in Amazing Spider-Man #252) was around relatively unexplained in Spider-Man's solo series for months before its 'origin' in Secret Wars #8.

And hence the Venom part of the legend was born.

Back in New York City the costume began behaving strangely. With the help of the Fantastic Four's Reed Richards, Peter discovers that the costume is a living alien symbiote bonding itself (well, falling in love, really) with Peter. Peter removes the alien entity by force when it tries to take over his mind.

cover to 1984's Secret Wars #8 (Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Unfortunately for Spidey, the symbiote would escape, bond with his bitter Daily Bugle rival Eddie Brock, and with it, give Brock the knowledge of Spider-Man's secret identity, the secrets behind his superpowers, and powers that included being undetectable to Peter's Spider-Sense. This made Brock (now as Venom) and anyone subsequently bonded to the symbiote or its symbiote off-shoots like Carnage as some of the most formidable supervillains in Spider-Man's history.

But Venom proved so popular, he/it eventually became less of a Spider-Man villain and took on more of an anti-hero role (as 'Lethal Protector') as adapted in the most recent Sony films. 

With an MCU debut potentially in Venom's future, whoever bid the winning $3,360,000 might one day have gotten a bargain. 

Remember when people used to debate the $4 billion Disney paid for Marvel?

Yeah, that ain't a thing anymore.

Venom is one of the best Spider-Man villains of all time, and many people have hosted the Venom symbiote. We look at the best of those too

I'm not just the Newsarama founder and editor-in-chief, I'm also a reader. And that reference is just a little bit older than the beginning of my Newsarama journey. I founded what would become the comic book news site in 1996, and except for a brief sojourn at Marvel Comics as its marketing and communications manager in 2003, I've been writing about new comic book titles, creative changes, and occasionally offering my perspective on important industry events and developments for the 25 years since. Despite many changes to Newsarama, my passion for the medium of comic books and the characters makes the last quarter-century (it's crazy to see that in writing) time spent doing what I love most.