The most terrible things Venom has ever done

Since his introduction to the Marvel Universe, Venom has starred in dozens of comic books as a solo protagonist, and even made it to the big screen as the star of his own movie. Before you start calling him a hero, however, you might want to take a look through the long and twisted history of the black-and-white symbiote that's given Spider-Man so much trouble.

It's easy to remember that Venom made his debut as a ruthless supervillain, but he didn't stop doing bad things when he started calling himself a "Lethal Protector" in the '90s. His path to stardom has been paved with horrible acts so horrendous that literally eating someone's brain isn't even close to being the worst. If you've been wondering why people still think of him as a bad guy, read on to discover the worst things Venom has ever done, and find out exactly how he puts the "anti" in "anti-hero." 

Menacing Mary Jane

Venom's first appearance in 1988's Amazing Spider-Man #299 let readers know that Spider-Man wasn't just dealing with an everyday, run-of-the-mill supervillain. This new guy knew Peter Parker's secret identity, and was bonded to the alien costume that had nearly taken over Spider-Man's body a few years before. On top of that, he was ruthless, terrifying, and willing to go after Peter's family to get to him.

We knew all that from his first two pages, when he showed up at Peter's apartment while Spider-Man was off fighting crime, and caught his wife, Mary Jane Watson, all alone. When Peter finally returned home in the next issue, he found Mary Jane terrorized, huddled in a corner, weeping, so frightened that she couldn't even remember her own name. That initial terror would wear off, but whatever Venom did to MJ between the panels was traumatic enough that by the end of the issue, she demanded that Peter take off the black costume that was modeled on the Venom symbiote and switch back to his classic red and blue. Years, even decades later, Mary Jane was distinctly uncomfortable at the sight of the black costume, whether it was the symbiote or not.

In the grand scheme of things, frightening a single person isn't all that bad by supervillain standards, but it set the tone. Venom wasn't just wearing Spider-Man's old suit, he was a new threat that was a whole lot worse in every way imaginable.

Like a sinner in church

If terrorizing Mary Jane wasn't enough of a clue that Venom was a bad dude right from the start, Amazing Spider-Man #300 also showed readers his very first on-panel murder. It's a rough one, too, but if you're going to break the Fifth Commandment, you might as well break it in the most sacrilegious way you can.

In his first appearance, Venom's plan was to lure Spider-Man to the Our Lady of Saints church, where Spidey had used the deafening sound of the church bells to nearly destroy the symbiote the last time they tangled. The idea was that, in a bit of poetic "justice," Venom would trap Spider-Man in the same bell he'd used against the symbiote and use it as his instrument of murderous revenge. Needless to say, considering that we've had about 500 more issues of Amazing Spider-Man after this story, it didn't quite work out that way, but not everyone made it through the issue alive.

While Venom was using the church as a headquarters, he was confronted by a police officer who was on the trail of a crook who'd been pilfering cash from the donation boxes. Rather than risk his unnecessarily convoluted plan, Venom simply murdered a police officer… in a church. Most people frown on murder in general, but murdering a cop? In a church? Yikes, my fellow, that is a pretty rough bit of sinning. 

Breaking Black Cat's heart (and nose)

Mary Jane Watson wasn't the only woman in Spider-Man's life to have a rough encounter with Venom in his early days. In Amazing Spider-Man #316, when he made his first reappearance after his initial conflict with Spider-Man, Venom tried to find Peter Parker by beating his location out of Felicia Hardy, the Black Cat.

Unfortunately for Felicia, she didn't know where Spider-Man was at the time — and to her credit, she probably wouldn't have told Venom even she did. That didn't stop him from a swift and savage attack that involved clawing up her costume and smashing her face through a wooden door, leaving her in desperate need of medical attention. The worst part, however, wasn't physical. Venom didn't just break her nose… he broke her heart, too.

See, at the time, Felicia was still nursing a somewhat unrequited crush on Spider-Man. The bad news for her was that Spidey was, of course, married to Mary Jane, but she didn't know that… until Venom casually mentioned that Spider-Man had a wife before leaving her to recover from his vicious face-smashing. Getting into scraps with superheroes is one thing, but ruining someone's day with bad relationship news and simultaneously blowing up someone else's spot? That's a stone cold jerk move no matter who you are.

A mind is a terrible thing to eat

For years, Venom had been threatening to eat his enemies' brains, but really, they were just that: threats. As evil as Eddie Brock might get at times, there was no way that Marvel was going to have their insanely popular antihero cross the line into full-on Walking Dead style cannibalism… until 1996, when he definitely started straight-up eating people's brains for real.

It happened in the appropriately named Venom: The Hunger #1. After fully bonding with the symbiote, Eddie Brock discovered that the normal food he was eating — which mostly consisted of Twinkies — tasted "like sewage." Rather than, say, seeing what would happen if he ate something that he did not buy at a convenience store, he decided that a better course of action would be to pop open someone's head and snack on the delicious grey matter inside. Once he finished his thoughtful meal, Eddie was understandably horrified by what he'd done, marking the first time that he'd ever been shocked by his own actions as Venom. In fact, he was so traumatized by it that he wound up temporarily separating from the symbiote after swearing to it that he would never eat a brain again, which is the kind of promise you really don't think you have to make until you absolutely do.

It wasn't Eddie's fault, though; this one was all down to his other half. It turned out that that the symbiote was craving phenethylamine, a neurotransmitter that's found within the human brain. Fortunately, and this is actual real-world science, phenethylamine is also found in chocolate, and is actually one of the reasons that we occasionally crave candy bars. Once Eddie and Venom were reunited once more, he was able to satisfy that craving just by double-fisting half-price Valentine's Day candy, but that doesn't change the fact he'd already eaten at least one brain.

Daddy dearest

It's easy to argue that the worst thing Venom has ever done, at least in terms of sheer body count, isn't something that Venom himself actually did — at least not intentionally. When Eddie Brock, separated from the symbiote, was serving out a sentence at Ryker's Island, he found himself sharing a cell with Cletus Kasady. When the symbiote finally returned to renew its bond with Brock and bust him out of prison, a piece of it was left behind, and bonded with Kasaday then and there.

The result was Carnage, the next generation of symbiotic supervillain, and he wasted no time in becoming one of the Marvel Universe's most prominent spree killers. Unlike Venom, Kasady had no regard for "innocence," and no real goals beyond murdering anyone and everyone he could get his tentacles on. Every time he showed up, including in the 14-part Maximum Carnage crossover that was adapted into a 16-bit brawler of the same name, he left a massive body count, and never bothered to make the antihero turn that his "father" had.

Again, technically speaking, none of that is actually Venom's fault. Kasady was a serial killer serving 11 consecutive life sentences before he ever met Venom. Still, if Brock hadn't been locked up in Ryker's, if the symbiote hadn't shown up to bust him out, and if he'd been a little more careful to not leave anything behind, a monstrous murderer like Carnage never would've been unleashed on the world. Then again, if Spider-Man himself had bothered to make sure that he was actually using a machine that made clothes and not a high-tech prison for a shape-shifting alien back in Secret Wars, none of this other stuff would've happened either.

The sad death of Anne Weying

Anne Weying might not be a name that most casual comics readers remember, but if you've been reading about Venom for a while, you know that she's quite possibly one of the most tragic characters in his history — and maybe even in the entire Spider-Man franchise.

At one time, Anne was Eddie Brock's wife, and while their marriage collapsed and sent Eddie into the symbiotic arms of the ultimate rebound, he still had plenty of affection for her after they split. So much, in fact, that when she was shot by a villain called the Sin-Eater, he temporarily loaned her the Venom symbiote to save her life, briefly turning her into "She-Venom." While it didn't last long, her time with the symbiote was enough to see her brutally murder and dismember two men who attacked her, actions that horrified her once the symbiote returned to Eddie.

Her story didn't end there, however. Anne wound up being so traumatized by her actions as She-Venom that she became severely agoraphobic, unable to leave her own apartment for months. Finally, in 2000's Amazing Spider-Man #19, a visit from Eddie in search of romance coupled with seeing Spider-Man swing by in his black costume makes Anne feel like she'll never truly be free of the symbiote, leading her to commit suicide by leaping out of her apartment to her death. Eddie might've saved her life once, but in doing so, he left her wishing she was dead.

The highest brain-eating bidder

Clearly, the Venom symbiote brought nothing but trouble to Eddie Brock's life, except for one thing: when he first encountered it, he was dying from cancer, and his bond with the alien kept the disease in check. Eventually, however, Eddie turned over a new leaf. After he found Jesus by watching The Passion of the Christ, he decided it was time to repent from his murderous ways and accept his fate. Naturally, that meant auctioning off the symbiote to various hardened criminals so that they could use it for whatever murderous impulses they had.

As you might expect, offering up what is essentially a super-powered alien killing machine to any members of the underworld who could scrape together a couple million bucks had some pretty disastrous consequences. It was bought by a mob boss named Don Fortunato for his son, Angelo, a teenager who really just wanted to be famous enough to have fan fiction written about him.

His experience as Venom was short-lived, though, lasting only a single day before the symbiote decided to bail on him in mid-web-swing, leaving him to plummet to his death. Still, that was enough time for him to rack up a body count of his own, tearing the heart out of a person dressed up as Spider-Man, mistaking him for the genuine article. And believe it or not, it got worse from there.

Mac Gargan's deadly diet

As bad as Eddie Brock might've been, he always tried to temper the symbiote's aggressive nature with his own warped sense of justice. Mac Gargan, on the other hand, leaned in and wound up being a far more savage version of Venom than either of his predecessors.

The villain formerly (and currently) known as the Scorpion found the symbiote shortly after it abandoned Angelo Fortunato, and quickly bonded with it over a shared hatred of Spider-Man. Eventually, Gargan and the symbiote were recruited for Norman Osborn's team of Thunderbolts (and later, the Dark Avengers) and assigned to hunt down rogue superheroes. And that's when Mac started eating people.

He didn't stop with people, though. During his years as Venom, he ate… well, pretty much anyone he could get his hands on. He ate an Atlantean soldier, devoured a shape-shifting Skrull (after making it turn into Spider-Man for extra creepiness), and even worked his way through a buffet of Asgardian gods when the Dark Avengers launched a siege on Thor's hometown. It wasn't just people either: while masquerading as Spider-Man, he also ate a bunch of squirrels, which for some reason never brought him into the sights of Marvel's most unbeatable heroine, Squirrel Girl. Not only was Gargan never horrified the way that Eddie was, he reveled in it, only refusing the opportunity to eat an enemy when he was forced to stop by his teammates.

The Price is wrong

Most of the time, you can blame Venom's bad behavior on the symbiote's influence amplifying the aggression and homicidal tendencies of its hosts. Even Spider-Man, the goodiest goody two-shoes of the entire Marvel Universe, was prone to more excessive violence when he was wearing the black costume, and while characters like Eddie Brock and Mac Gargan were certainly on a path towards villainy to begin with, the symbiote ramped them up, too. Lee Price, on the other hand, was one of the few human hosts who wound up being the bad influence himself.

Price encountered the symbiote shortly after it had been separated from Flash Thompson, a war hero (and Spider-Man's best friend) who bonded with it to carry out covert ops as Agent Venom. Its time with Thompson, and some revelations that it had experienced about its origin when Agent Venom was briefly a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, had taught it that there could be more to it besides anger and killing. Unfortunately, anger and killing was exactly what Price wanted.

After finding himself caught between two warring gangs, Price was saved by the symbiote, and then used it to murder every single person in both gangs — including one of his best childhood friends  — while the symbiote begged him to stop. That was the beginning of Price's six-issue run as Venom, which left the symbiote traumatized and broken when it finally bonded with Eddie Brock once again.

Actual planetary genocide

No matter how many people it kills, no matter how many brains it eats, and no matter how many squirrels it snacks on, nothing that Venom does on Earth can ever compare to what it did while it was bonded with one of its earliest hosts: a full-on planet-level genocide.

In Venom: Space Knight #8, the symbiote revealed to its then-host, Flash Thompson, that its past went a lot darker than Mac Gargan's dietary excesses. After being wounded and losing the memory of its true first host, a warrior from the star-spanning Kree empire, the symbiote bonded with another alien. This time, though, there was a difference: a bottomless rage that led that unnamed alien to use the symbiote's considerable power to murder every single person on his homeworld.

That was the event that first twisted Venom into the hate-filled monster that it is today, and that will likely never be equalled in its future — which is probably a very, very good thing.