Scorpion I / Venom III / "Sinister" Spider-Man III / Virus
Alter Ego: MacDonald "Mac" Gargan
First Appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #19; Marvel Knights: Spider-Man #10 (as Venom III); Dark Avengers #1 (as Spider-Man III)
Mac Gargan was a two-bit private eye who was hired by J. Jonah Jameson to find out Peter's connection to Spider-Man. When Gargan was unable to get results, Jameson financed an experimental treatment to make him strong enough to beat the Wall Crawler. Experimented on with radiation and genetic transfusions, Gargan donned a suit based on the spider's natural enemy: the Scorpion. With his robotic stinger-tipped tail and greater strength, the Scorpion was always difficult to deal with, but Mac Gargan lacked smarts. The procedure had also driven him insane, and while he continually upgraded his suit and tail he couldn't rise above B or C-list villainy for the gallery. Ever since then, Gargan blamed Jameson for what happened.
In the 2000s, after ditching Angelo Fortunato, the Venom symbiote directly approached Gargan, offering him its power and the chance to become an A-list villain in exchange for killing Spider-Man. Gargan eagerly agrees, and becomes the third incarnation of Venom just in time to join Norman Osborn's Sinister Twelve. He was imprisoned and became a member of the government-sponsored vigilantes the Thunderbolts, taking part in the Civil War and helping hold off the Skrull Invasion. Gargan's stint as Venom is characterized by an increasing dependence on the symbiote and its powers, despite the limitations that resulted — almost like a drug addict. He became increasingly erratic and unstable, driven by the symbiote's bloodlust to commit cannibalism, even to the point of attacking his teammates while berserk and threatening to chow down on innocent civilians. During an altercation with the Steel Spider, Gargan loses control of the symbiote and bites off the Steel Spider's arm, eating it. This incident causes his teammates — and Gargan himself — to become increasingly distrustful of the symbiote's growing control over him; which comes to a head when a group of prisoners with psychic powers were imprisoned in Thunderbolt Mountain and began psychically torturing the team. Gargan willingly surrenders to the symbiote's bloodlust and rampages until being cut down by the Swordsman. Following Osborn being made the head of SHIELD, Gargan is given a drug that reverts the symbiote to the appearance it had when Peter Parker wore it, and joins the Dark Avengers, where he gleefully impersonates Spider-Man. In this guise, Mac frequently goes AWOL to take a bite out of crime, and starts a gang war to ruin Mayor Jameson's reputation. When Mac refuses to stop and pictures of him eating criminals are threatened to go public, Osborn sends Daken and Bullseye to kill Gargan, and when that failed threatens to dispose of Venom himself. After Osborn's botched invasion of Asgard, Gargan is arrested and forcefully separated from the symbiote by the government, who begin researching ways to weaponize it for the American army. Without his armour or the symbiote to stabilize the genetic degeneration caused by the process that gave him his powers, Gargan's health begins to deteriorate until he is broken free by Alistair Smythe and outfitted with a new Scorpion suit.
Gargan's subsequent run-in with the symbiote occurred years later, when Lee Price volunteered to join Black Cat's crime syndicate. Suspicious, Gargan was tipped off that Price had bonded to the symbiote and later ambushed Price in order to kill him — outwardly wanting to kill the symbiote but secretly desiring to reclaim it for himself. After Eddie Brock reclaimed the symbiote, Gargan attacked him but was knocked out when the symbiote exploited his fear of it to destroy his advanced Scorpion armor. When Lee Price attacked Black Cat's syndicate with the Mania symbiote, Gargan was transformed into a Venomized version of the Scorpion, revelling in regaining symbiote powers. This proved to be short-lived thanks to Agent Anti-Venom, but Gargan volunteered to join the FBI's Anti-Symbiote Task Force in order to become the host of the Venom symbiote's latest spawn, but was foiled when he went AWOL to kill Venom and was incapacitated by Agent Claire Dixon.
In Absolute Carnage, Gargan picks a fight with Miles Morales while trying to rob an armored car, but they are forced into an Enemy Mine when a horde of Carnage Doppelgangers attack aiming to kill Gargan for the remaining traces of symbiote matter in his spine. Gargan was paralyzed by the Carnageized Norman Osborn, though Venom managed to save him from being killed and carry him to safety.
Afterwards, Gargan swore revenge on Venom and cobbled together a suit of War Machine armor jury-rigged with anti-symbiote weaponry, calling himself "Virus".
As of 2023 he's the Scorpion again, and still clashing with Miles Morales.
Tropes applying to Mac Gargan:
- A Day in the Limelight: The Sinister Spider-Man miniseries is all about Mac's misadventures impersonating Spider-Man.
- Animal Theme Naming: Both as the Scorpion and as Spider-Man III.
- Arch-Enemy: To Jonah Jameson. note Since Jameson paid for Gargan's transformation into the Scorpion, Gargan blamed Jameson for all the insanity and pain he suffered as a result of the procedure. Since then, Scorpion has made multiple attempts on the lives of Jonah and his loved ones. In fact, several of Spidey's bouts with Scorpion were a result of the Webslinger getting between Scorpion and Jameson, and Jameson has even declared the Scorpion a bigger and far worse menace than Spider-Man.
- The Atoner: Played straight, and then deconstructed in the very last arc of The Spectacular Spider-Man before the beginning of The Clone Saga. After doing some soul searching, Mac decided to pull a Heel–Face Turn. Immediately afterwards, he bumped into Spider-Man, who was having a very bad day and was delighted to have an opportunity to vent. Mac protested that he didn't want to fight and was done being a villain, but Spidey didn't want to hear it and continued to beat the shit out of him despite the guy not trying to fight back. Mac's sanity apparently took a dive due to this traumatic experience, as when we next saw him he'd gone right back to being a bad guy.
- Blood Knight: Money is possibly the only thing he likes more than fighting.
- The Brute: As both the Scorpion and Venom, he is a physical powerhouse but not exactly smart.
- Beware My Stinger Tail: A cybernetic tail interfaced with his central nervous system. Its length goes from four feet in his original appearance to twenty in his latest.
- Clingy Costume: For some time, Mac was unable to take off his Powered Armor. While this was initially stated to be the work of Mac's Sanity Slippage, Abe Jenkins later reveals the armor really was bonded to him, and without it or the symbiote the genetic defects caused by the procedure that gave him his powers started to kill him.
- Clothes Make the Superman: Partially; Scorpion has legitimate Super Strength on his own due to his genetic mutations, but his traditional Scorpion suit and the Venom symbiote both add extra powers, most notably his tail or Combat Tentacles respectively.
- Combat Sadomasochist: As mentioned in that quote above, he enjoys inflicting pain on others.
- Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: That outfit of his is bonded to him and the genetic alterations he underwent mean that he needs it to live. It's done quite a number on his mental state.
- Deadpan Snarker: Especially when he impersonates Spider-Man.
- Distaff Counterpart: Scorpia.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: One of the things that incenses Gargan is that absolutely nobody treats him with even an ounce of respect, despite his actually quite formidable power set. It's one of the reasons why his hatred for Spider-Man is so intense even by the standards of Spidey's Rogues Gallery; Gargan could maybe deal with losing, but the way Spider-Man keeps rubbing it in just pushes him over the edge.
- Emergency Transformation: The procedure that gave Gargan his powers destabilized his genes, and without his armor or the symbiote his body slowly starts shutting down on him.
- Evil Counterpart: Invoked in-universe; Gargan was deliberately created as a superhuman whose powers came from radiation-assisted gene-splicing with arachnid DNA in an effort to literally beat Spider-Man at his own game. This was taken a step further when Norman Osborn made Gargan impersonate Spider-Man to fill a slot in his Dark Avengers.
- Green and Mean: His costume is almost always entirely colored in differing shades of green, and he's an outright psychopathic asshole who kills for money.
- I'm a Humanitarian: As Venom III and the Sinister Spider-Man. Going by comments he made towards Jameson after becoming the Scorpion again, he may not be completely over it.
- Informed Attribute: Officially, he's supposed to be superior to Spider-Man in stats when it comes to super strength and toughness. And yet, once Dr. Octopus possessed Peter's body and became the Superior Spider-Man, he was able to knock Scorpion's jaw off with a single punch... making it really hard to justify Scorpion as being tougher and stronger than the guy who just took his jaw, even if he was body-jacked by another supervillain who didn't know how to hold back the same way Peter did.
- Manipulative Bastard: Briefly went AWOL from the Dark Avengers and set up a gang war For the Evulz.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: It was implied in The Gauntlet/Grim Hunt that Scorpion and Rhino may be avatars/totems like Spider-Man is. Mac having his own very rarely used equivalent of the Spider-Sense adds some credence to this.
- Mundane Utility: He's used his tail as a can opener, among other things.
- Next Tier Powerup: Ever since he returned to being the Scorpion, Mac's been equipping himself with increasingly advanced suits of Powered Armor.
- Not Quite Dead: Had his lower jaw ripped off by Otto Octavius, but was later shown to have survived. He had it or a replacement (re)attached in Spider-Man 2099.
- Paper Tiger: On paper, Gargan is actually a pretty formidable opponent, who technically outclasses Peter in terms of Super Strength, Super Toughness and Super Speed. The problem is that he's such a bumbling idiot that he undermines himself constantly, and has become a laughing stock almost on par with D-lister Spidey villains like the Kangaroo and the Grizzly.
- Powered Armor: His costumes are cybernetic and augment his already superhuman abilities. In particular, the suit he gets from Alistaire Smythe after losing the Venom symbiote was heavily-armored and sported Power Pincers in addition to his trademark tail.
- Powerful, but Incompetent: As mentioned directly above, he outclasses Spider-Man physically in just about every way, and should be a threat on par with the original Venom Eddie Brock. But because he's such a slave to his rage and his pattern recognition has become so poor, he's instead just a homicidal brute Spidey can usually dance around and take down without too much trouble. This is highlighted when he becomes the new Venom, as even with the symbiote at his command he's still less effective than Eddie.
- Private Detective: Was initially an unscrupulous detective hired by JJJ to find out what Peter Parker's connection to Spider-Man was.
- Psycho for Hire: Following his descent into villainy he frequently operates as this.
- Rogues' Gallery Transplant: A longtime Spider-Man foe, he eventually became a recurring opponent for Eddie Brock's Venom as well. Since Gargan had been a previous host of the Venom symbiote and they are both Spider-Verse characters, the transition went over rather smoothly.
- Scary Scorpions: Invoked. Gargan was given an infusion of radioactive scorpion DNA in an attempt to create a living "spider-slayer" by exploiting the scorpion's status as a predator of spiders. Naturally, his powered armor further reinforces this imagery.
- Sanity Slippage: His constant defeats have taken a toll on his sanity. There was a time he believed that he could no longer take off his armor, believing it was stuck to him, before Spider-Man showed him otherwise. After he tried to go straight he went to Spider-Man for help, but due to Spidey being in a bad mood he viciously attacked Scorpion instead, driving him insane once again.
- Strong as They Need to Be: He's officially presented as the villain who's just a little big stronger and tougher than Spider-Man and there will be times when he really can live up to that description in fights. But other times, even when he's been upgraded to being stronger than ever by people like Smythe, his showings will still be inconsistent to the point where he can take a hit from Miss Marvel and survive a fall thousands of feet from the air but later on, Spider-Man, both as Peter Parker or the Otto-commandeered Superior Spider-Man, will beat him with one punch if he really feels like it.
- Super Loser: While Spider-man makes fun of most of his foes while fighting them, the Scorpion has always gotten an extra dose of it. This didn't change at all after Mac got an upgrade when he bonds with the Venom Symbiote. He gets no more respect than before from Spider-Man, who states that a loser with a Venom symbiote is still a loser, and that's right after he bonded with it. Furthermore, Gargan was never able to have as much control over the Symbiote as any of its other hosts. Lastly, when Gargan joins Norman Osborn's Dark Avengers, he is the Butt-Monkey of the team, inspiring no fear in his non-powered teammate Bullseye and being constantly picked on by Daken.
- Hilariously subverted when Miguel O'Hara, the Spider-Man from the year 2099, battles him. Miguel goes on to say that most historians disregarded Scorpion as a minor annoyance to Spider-Man at best...before pointing out most historians never had to actually fight the guy, as Scorpion is more than a physical match for him.
- Super Strength: Scorpion had the whole "like Spider-Man, but stronger" shtick going on decades before Venom, being able to lift up to 15 tons as the Scorpion and 60 as Venom. It later on became more of an Informed Attribute as the Superior Spider-Man punched off his jaw while not holding back, but Mac is still strong enough to effortlessly smack around the herculean Eddie Brock when the latter briefly had no symbiote.
- Thoroughly Mistaken Identity: When Mac meets Spider-Man 2099, he assumes Miguel is Peter in a new costume and naturally tries to kill him.
- Took a Level in Badass: After receiving a new Scorpion suit from Alistair Smythe, the armor now strong enough to fight Spider-Man on the side of a speeding space shuttle when it took the wall-crawler all his focus just to stay on it, and survive a fall off it from the troposphere.
- Underestimating Badassery: Mac, despite having been Venom and knowing how violent the symbiote can be, apparently didn't rate Eddie Brock's Venom all that high and outright mocked Venom in a bar filled with supervillains, clearly not expecting Venom himself to be in attendance.
- Wall Crawl: He is capable of doing so in the same manner as Spider-Man, but usually just punches holes into walls.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Mild example; the treatment that gave him his powers affected his sanity, making him the psychopath he is today. On a few occasions, he's falsely believed he was stuck in his costume, though Abe Jenkins later reveals he really was trapped in the armor. Being bonded to the Venom symbiote didn't help, although Gargan adjusted and came to relish its bloodlust.
- Would Hurt a Child: When fighting Spider-Man 2099, Mac threatens to kill a child to draw Miguel out. After being recruited by the Anti-Symbiote Task Force, Mac decides that if he can't have the Venom symbiote or Maniac symbiote, he will kidnap Venom's newborn offspring and bond to it by force, which the Venom symbiote fears as it would corrupt the newborn from the get-go.
- Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Gargan begrudgingly admires J. Jonah Jameson for having "the cahones to grow a Hitler 'stache." Jameson doesn't find this very flattering.
- Affectionate Nickname: Gargan calls the symbiote "Symby" in his diary.
- An Arm and a Leg: It all started when Gargan ate Steel Spider's arm under the influence of the symbiote. As the Sinister Spider-Man, he took to eating the limbs of criminals he apprehended. This led to several of these criminals and supervilllains banded together under the Redeemer and trying to kill him.
- Ass Kicks You: When Doctor Everything replaces his mouth with a metal plate and Dementoid grabs him from behind, Mac turns his butt into a massive pair of jaws and tries to eat him that way.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: During the early issues of Dark Reign, Gargan's Venom form was T. rex-sized.
- Ax-Crazy: As Venom the symbiote had so strong a hold on Gargan that he was pretty much its slave. Not surprising, since the character was written by most writers in a way to top every extreme Venom was associated with, and Gargan had always been written as not particularly smart, and so largely incapable of controlling it.
- Bald of Evil: Mac has brown hair but keeps his head shaved, but it became more noticeable after he became Venom due to him being shown bareheaded a lot more.
- Beware My Stinger Tail: Mac once sprouted a stinger-tipped tail as Venom, the first hint that the symbiote was beginning to develop the ability to form weapons like its descendants can, using it as a weapon against Spider-Man and a group of other superheroes. After the symbiote was nearly killed by Anti-Venom, Norman modified the Scorpion armor he'd built to turn Mac into "Ven-orpion", equipping the tail with a poison tailored specifically to kill Anti-Venom. After being infected with a piece of the Mania symbiote by Lee Price, he transforms into a monstrous form identical to his "Ven-orpion" form — including a stinger-tipped tail — but this is short-lived as his symbiote is purged by Agent Anti-Venom.
- Big Bad Wannabe: Why Mac so willingly partnered with the symbiote. When it abandons him in What If? The Other he's left on the verge of tears.Mac: Wait! Stop! Where are you—?! Get back here! Don't leave me! Don't make me be nothing again!
- Big Eater: Was fond of biting off people's limbs, and during the Secret Invasion Skrulls became one of the symbiote's favorite hors d'oeuvre.Gargan: I eat most anything. Strippers, school buses, grapes. If it's something that can be eaten, I'll down it.
- Bizarre Taste in Food: After Osborn is overthrown, Spider-Man complains that half of New York thinks he eats squirrels due to Mac viewing them as fuzzy popcorn.
- Black Comedy Cannibalism: Gargan devouring people willy-nilly due to the symbiote's influence was, for the most part, played for laughs.
- Bring It: The discussion Gargan has with Norman Osborn after Daken and Bullseye fail to assassinate him invokes this; though it's not made clear whether Norman meant he'd suit up as the Green Goblin or Iron Patriot, and nothing ever came of it.Spider-Man: Why'd you send 'em to kill me, Norman?
Norman Osborn: You were causing more trouble than you were worth.
Spider-Man: And now?
Norman Osborn: Now you learn to behave, or next time I'll suit up myself.
Venom: Any time, cornrows.
- Bullying a Dragon: Gargan tries to kill Lee Price out of personal dislike, with full knowledge that he's the Venom symbiote's most recent host. Even after the symbiote emerges and Venom starts trouncing him, Gargen continues to fight in hopes of taking the symbiote back.
- Can't Live Without You: The procedure that gave Mac his powers destabilized his DNA, and without his Scorpion Powered Armor or the symbiote his health rapidly deteriorates.
- Comically Missing the Point: When Norman Osborn threatens to personally kill him the next time he goes AWOL, Gargan walks out, stating the valuable lesson he learned was that "if you start eating somebody, you finish the job".
- Captain Ersatz: What if Carnage was Venom?
- Costume Copycat: As the Sinister Spider-Man, the symbiote takes on the appearance it had when Peter wore it. Peter later exploits this by infiltrating the Dark Avengers while wearing a synthetic Black Suit capable of emulating the symbiote's fangs and tongue.
- Create Your Own Villain: Mac's habit of biting off the limbs of criminals as Venom leads to Hippo, General Wolfram, Eleven, Dementoid, and Doctor Everything being outfitted with cybernetic limbs by the Redeemer and setting out to rehabilitate or kill him (whichever came first).
- Criminal Doppelgänger: As the Sinister Spider-Man, Mac was identical in appearance to Black Suit Spider-Man, enabling him to gleefully impersonate his longtime foe and run Spider-Man's reputation into the ground.
- Curbstomp Battle:
- When the Redeemers attempted to "redeem" him, Gargan ate two of them and mutilated the rest. Later, Osborn sent Daken and Bullseye to assassinate him. Gargan threw Daken halfway up a skyscraper and punched Bullseye's face in, all while chowing down on members of the Rolling Sevens and Park Avenue Players gangs.
- Mac tried to attack Ms. Marvel, who responded by pulling him out the symbiote through Venom's mouth ("The Hell, lady?"). Unfortunately, this lead to the symbiote possessing Carol◊.Symbiote: Ha! We can fly! Ms. Marvel is now my favorite superhero!
- Later:Mac/Symbiote: I felt her emotions towards you. Wanna guess what they were?
Spider-Man: Wait—you what?
Mac/Symbiote: Oh, that got your attention, huh?
- Mac is on the receiving end when he suits up as the Scorpion and tries to kill Lee Price, who had acquired the symbiote. Despite his tail possessing sonic and flame armaments, Gargan is swiftly defeated and only saved from being eaten when Spider-Man intervenes.
- Deadpan Snarker: While impersonating Spider-Man, Mac took up a wry form of Black Comedy.
- The Dragon: Before he fully succumbed to the symbiote's bloodlust, Gargan was more-or-less Norman's number two on the Thunderbolts. Their relationship decayed as Gargan became increasingly bloodthirsty and reckless.
- Dressed in Layers: Some story lines had him somehow wearing his Scorpion armor under the symbiote, although this was quickly discarded.
- Drunk on the Dark Side: While he was initially afraid of the symbiote's growing influence over him, he came to thoroughly relish being Venom. Even after getting an upgraded Scorpion Suit, he tries to take the symbiote back from Lee Price.
- Eating the Enemy: After the Bluestreak incident, Gargan's go-to solution to dealing with enemies was eating them.
- Evil Counterpart: As Venom, Mac was the symbiote's puppet. As the Sinister Spider-Man, he was all power, no responsibility.
- Evil Hero: As a member of Osborn's Thunderbolts and Dark Avengers, Gargan was a government-employed superhero... who was more-than willing to maim and kill the criminals he apprehended, start gang-wars to troll Mayor Jameson, and couldn't be fussed about collateral damage in fights.
- Evil Is Petty: Started a gang war just to mess with J. Jonah Jameson's reputation, vomited a half-digested squirrel onto Dexter Bennet's desk to get back at him for an unflattering article in the DB, and tried to kill Carmilla Black for having the audacity to use his old nom de guerre.
- Evil Me Scares Me: Early during the Thuderbolts run, Mac grew increasingly terrified of the symbiote's bloodlust and the growing amount of control it had over him, especially after he ate the Steel Spider's arm. After a hallucination of the symbiote gave him a Breaking Speech, however, he embraced its bloodlust wholeheartedly.
- Eviler than Thou: As bad as Lee Price is, the Venom symbiote considers Gargan to be even worse: while Price is callous and ruthless, he follows orders to the letter; while Gargan is more-than willing to go against orders and cause collateral damage to get what he wants.
- Eye Scream: Had an angry toy poodle thrown at him by Bullseye on Daken's behest.Mac: AAAAAAH! Dog in the eye! Dog! Dammit!
- Fight Off the Kryptonite: Mac was blasted point-blank by Eleven's sonic scream... and ate her. During the Siege, he was thrown into an explosion by Colossus, and came out none the worse for wear but extremely pissed off.
- Fully-Embraced Fiend: While he was initially afraid of the symbiote when it was dormant, after its hallucinated Breaking Speech Gargan came to fully embrace the power it gave him and relished it.
- Functional Addict: Despite initially fearing the symbiote, Gargan eventually gleefully embraces its bloodlust while impersonating Spider-Man.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: Gargan initially had a Spawn-like vibe, with glowing green/yellow/red eyes being visible within the symbiote's white eye-patches. Later on, Mac's Venom form resembled a much more monstrous version of Eddie Brock's, without the inner eyes at all.
- Gonk: Marvel seemed intent on making Mac's Venom form look as repulsive as possible in Beyond!
- Healing Factor: The Swordsman almost cut Mac completely in half with his Makluan Sword, but he recovered thanks to the symbiote.
- Hulking Out: One of Mac's hallmark traits as Venom was that most often he was just a really bulky guy with sharp teeth, but whenever he got angry or the symbiote came down with a case of the munchies he'd bulk up to the point where he made the Hulk himself look vertically challenged. Also played straight with his ability to shift between his "Spider-Man" and "Venom" forms during the Dark Avengers arc.
- Human Pincushion: Bullseye turns him into one using a toy poodle and corn dogs.
- I Am a Humanitarian: During a fight with the Steel Spider, Gargan was overwhelmed by the symbiote's bloodlust and ate Osnick's arm. Gargan was initially horrified by this, and his team mates wouldn't let him live it down. Following a Breaking Speech by a hallucination of the symbiote caused by Bluestreak III, he embraced its bloodlust to the point where he would more-than willingly commit cannibalism to satiate it.
- If I Can't Have You…: Despite his fear of the symbiote, Gargan is addicted to its power and tries to take it back from Lee Price and Eddie Brock. When Maniac re-empowers him, he's jubilant to have symbiote powers again, and pleads with Agent Anti-Venom to let him keep them as he's being cleansed. He then joins Claire Dixon's Symbiote Task Force intending to bond to the Venom symbiote's latest offspring.
- Impersonation Gambit: Does this to the original Spider-Man as a member of the Dark Avengers, and has it done to him by Peter in return.
- Insanity Immunity: He was unaffected by Dementoid's madness-inducing touch, either due to the symbiote or because he's already too far off the deep end to go any further.
- Jumped at the Call: When the symbiote offered its services, Mac gleefully accepted.
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: After the symbiote's Breaking Speech, Mac willingly succumbed to its bloodlust.
- Make Way for the New Villains: Gargan's tenure as a pure evil Venom saw Carnage temporarily killed off, Marvel deciding there wasn't room for two symbiote supervillains. After the symbiote was passed on to Flash Thompson, Carnage made a comeback.
- Medium Awareness: Wrote the summaries for and answers the Fourth-Wall Mail Slot of his own Dark Reign tie-in.
- Mêlée à Trois: In the Sinister Spider-Man miniseries, Mac wound up caught between the surviving Redeemers — a group of vengeful supervillains he'd mutilated, Daken and Bullseye — who'd been sent by Osborn to assassinate him, and the Rolling Sevens & Park Avenue gangs — who he had started a gang war between For the Evulz. Mac promptly Curb Stomp Battles everyone until J. Jonah Jameson breaks the fight up, accidentally making Gargan look like a hero in the process.
- Never Found the Body: Gargan was used to invoke this as a member of the Thunderbolts and Dark Avengers: anyone Norman wanted disappeared was thrown into Venom's cell. Om nom nom.
- No-Sell: Getting tossed into an explosion during the "Dark Avengers vs. Utopia" arc just made him angry.
- Not Me This Time: During an altercation with the Jury, Mac exclaims, "Listen... I'm not... the same Venom... you guys had a beef with!"
- Once Done, Never Forgotten: After Gargan eats the Steel Spider's arm, the team becomes increasingly afraid of him, citing this incident. Gargan initially protested it had been an accident, but this became less and less convincing due to his growing inclination towards satiating the symbiote's hunger, and he eventually became proud of the event.
- Only in It for the Money: Gargan maintained he was only in the superhero gig for the money... and the strippers, and the take-out villain limbs...
- Powered Armor: Mac's Scorpion suit enhances his grip and comes with a weaponized cybernetic tail, and over the years he's upgraded and augmented it to be increasingly armored. Norman Osborn made him a new Scorpion suit, but to Osborn's outrage Mac turned it down to wear the symbiote. Osborn later modified the armor◊ so that Mac could wear it over the symbiote after it was almost killed by Anti-Venom. It's destroyed when Mac and the symbiote begin bickering over what they should do with Eddie. After losing the Venom symbiote, Gargan was given a new suit of Scorpion armor by Alistaire Smythe, which was upgraded to look more monstrous after he lost his lower jaw. After getting his lower jaw reattached, Gargan went back to using Smythe's suit until Venom tricked him into blowing it up, and afterwards went back to using his original suit.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: His eyes were drawn as being red in some comics.
- Royal "We": Sometimes averted, sometimes played straight, depending on the writer. In his Dark Reign tie-in, he sneers that Eddie was a "sissy elitist" for insisting on referring to himself as "we".Anti-Venom: You said "me", Gargan.
Mac: I-I-I meant usss!
- Sanity Slippage: Mac became increasingly feral under the symbiote's influence, to the point where even his own teammates were afraid he'd try to eat them.
- Scary Teeth: His fangs were yellow and just plain rotten looking in Beyond!.
- Sketchy Successor: As Venom, Mac — despite being supposedly stronger than Eddie in his first stint as Venom — still didn't get any real respect or fear from most of the superhero/villain community, least of all Spider-Man himself. The only point where Mac was genuinely feared was when the symbiote was in near-total control, which was exploited by the Thunderbolts to scare unregistered heroes into surrendering during the Civil War.Spider-Man: A loser with the Venom Symbiote is still a freaking loser.''
- Seinfeldian Conversation: He has several such scenes with the other Thunderbolts/Dark Avengers.Daken: So then I cut off his hand.
Bullseye: Whose hand?
Daken: That Deadpool @#$%
Daken: I did.
Bullseye: With what?
Daken: With these.
Bullseye: Well, sure. That'll do it.
Mac: I don't believe you, Daken.
Daken: I don't care.
Mac: You cut off his hands?
Moonstone: Good. That guy is annoying.
Daken: He thinks he's hilarious.
Mac: Like Spider-Man. "Oh Ho! I'm so funny!"
Bullseye: Spider-Man's kind of funny.
Mac: Uh, not really.
Bullseye: If you're in the mood for it.
Mac: Well, then I'm never in the mood for it.
Moonstone: Every time I hear a guy prattle on like that with those stupid jokes, all I can think is that he must have a really small—
Bullseye: Captain Crazy is back.
- Slasher Smile: As Spider-Man, Mac had a habit of manifesting a serrated grin without fully shifting into his Venom form, using it to frighten people.
- Sociopathic Hero: As the Sinister Spider-Man, he deliberately abused Spider-Man's reputation. Wven as a member of the Thunderbolts he threatened to eat innocent civilians, though he later claimed it was to scare Skrulls out of hiding.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Mac is given one by the symbiote — actually a hallucination induced by Bluestreak III — in Thunderbolts. It worked, since he became a lot less reluctant about feeding it afterwards."Symbiote": Stop complaining. Always complaining. It's too cold. Stuff hurts. I didn't mean to eat that guy's arm. Whining little maggot. You don't deserve me. You never did. Did I actually hear you say you didn't want to be the scary guy? You used to be the Scorpion. You used to be a hard man. Why did you turn into a schoolgirl as soon as you tasted some fresh meat?Gargan: What's... What's going on...
"Symbiote": I can't sit back and wait for you to become a man. I get hungry. Look at me, you little girl! It's time I took control of things. No more of you pretending you can't hear me, up there in the driver's seat. I'm hungry. We need to take care of that. Today. Now.
"Symbiote": Yes. Yes yes yes yes yes. We are going to get us an honest-to-God meal today. Or I'm just going to have to eat you from the inside out.
- Take That!: Gargan calls Eddie a "sissy elitest" for referring to himself as "we" all the time.
- Token Evil Teammate: Julia Carpenter convinced Mac to join her, Spider-Woman, and Anti-Venom in their crusade against the corrupted Peter in What If Spider-Man Killed Kraven the Hunter?.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Other than other humans, he had a taste for squirrels and Skrulls.
- Transhuman Treachery: Mac originally dreaded the symbiote's influence over him, but after Bluestreak's Mind Rape he embraced it and became its willing slave. As Venom, Mac deliberately disobeyed Norman's orders multiple times, beginning from when he bonded to the symbiote instead of using the new Scorpion suit Gobby had made for him. This comes to a head when he is photographed committing crimes, putting Norman's power in jeopardy and causing Osborn to try to pull a You Have Outlived Your Usefulness on him.
- Villain with Good Publicity: As a member of the Thunderbolts and the Dark Avengers.
- We Used to Be Friends: Back when Norman Osborn and Gargan both wore green, they worked together and Gargan came to consider Osborn a friend of sorts. With Osborn in red-white-and-blue and Gargan in black-and-white, they're less amicable towards one another.
- Wild Card: Osborn refers to him as such during their search for Spider-Man, where Mac was disregarding orders to follow the symbiote's psychic link to its past hosts.
- Worf Had the Flu: Towards the end of Dark Reign, Osborn grew weary of Gargan's wily ways and tried to curb them by forcing him to take mood-altering drugs that rendered him meek, introspective, and largely ineffectual.
- Chest Insignia: His Virus armor is emblazoned with a messily spray-painted golden version of Venom's spider emblem. The symbiote he gets from Codex sports a scorpion version of Venom's classic spider emblems.
- Cool Plane: While Gargan's Virus armor's boots have repulsors that let him fly — or at least hover — he mainly uses an old taped-together Goblin Glider for transportation.
- Duct Tape for Everything: His Virus armor and Goblin Glider are held together with copious amounts of duct tape.
- Evil Cripple: Gargan's spine was shredded by the Carnage-controlled Norman Osborn during Absolute Carnage, leaving him a paraplegic.
- Hand Blast: Gargan's Virus armor is equipped with vibroshock gauntlets, repulsor rays, and wrist-mounted sonic emitters that he uses to separate Eddie from the Venom symbiote in their first battle.
- If I Can't Have You…: Similarly to Eddie following his tenure as Anti-Venom, Mac is both terrified of and obsessed with the Venom symbiote, leading to him alternately trying to kill and reclaim it.
- Man in the Machine: Without the Venom symbiote or his Scorpion suit to stabilize his mutation, Gargan's health deteriorates. His jury-rigged Virus armor also doubles as a life-support system.
- Powered Armor:
- After losing the Venom symbiote, Gargan recieved an augmented Scorpion suit from Alistaire Smythe, which possessed heavy armor and pincer-shaped gauntlets. This suit underwent a series of modifications, but was eventually self-destructed during a symbiote-induced panic attack.
- As Virus, Gargan is clad in a jury-rigged suit of War Machine armor with gold paint in the shape of eyespots, teeth, and Venom's spider emblem. Despite being duct-taped together, his armor is equipped with anti-symbiote weaponry, enabling him to almost kill Venom during their first fight.
- Remember the New Guy?: Zig-zagged. Virus was initially framed as this both in and out of universe due to Eddie Brock not having a clue who he was beyond his claims that Venom ruined his life — a Call-Back to Eddie's own supervillain days — though the reveal that he's Mac Gargan ultimately subverts it.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Gargan both hates and desires the Venom symbiote, alternating between attempting to kill and reclaim it. After being paralyzed by Carnage, Gargan dials this up to eleven and concocts an entirely new supervillain identity to seek revenge at all costs.
- Shoulder Cannon: Virus is equipped with a shoulder-mounted assault rifle and an energy cannon, which he tries to put to good use against Venom when they throw down.
- Throw Down the Bomblet: As Virus, Gargan has stockpiled pumpkin bombs, which he uses to create smokescreens and to try to blow Venom up.