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The Venom Symbiote

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/venom_symbiote_8067.png

Notable Aliases: Ancient Venom, The Black Suit, Blackhearted Suit, Corrupter, The Other, The Spider's Black Spirit, Svartalfvenom, Symbio Sword, Symby, Vengeance, Venom Blade

Species: Klyntar

First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #252 (May, 1984) note ; Amazing Spider-Man #299 (April, 1988) note 

A member of a species of interstellar parasites, the symbiote that later became known as Venom was imprisoned by the other members of its species due to its desire to aid its hosts instead of dominating them. This would be great and all, but for the minor detail that it isn't big on giving its hosts any kind of choice in the matter. An unknown amount of time later, the symbiote's prison was later incorporated into the make up of Battleworld by an entity called the Beyonder. Spider-Man, one of the heroes chosen by the Beyonder to fight in an epic battle of good versus evil, accidentally freed the symbiote while looking for a machine to repair his damaged costume. Taking on the appearance of a jet-black costume with stylized white spider emblems on its chest and back, the "black suit" proved an invaluable asset to Peter, so he brought it with him when he returned to Earth. Desiring to deepen its bond with him, the symbiote began taking over his body as he slept, leaving him more exhausted when he woke up than he had been when he went to bed, causing him to remove it.

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Some time afterwards, it bonded to disgraced reporter Eddie Brock. Sensing his hatred of Spider-Man and becoming corrupted by Brock, the two twisted each other's emotions until only their hatred of Spider-Man remained. Rechristening themselves Venom, they would become a threat to both Peter Parker and Spider-Man, using their knowledge of Spider-Man's identity to torment him. Eventually, Eddie, the symbiote and Peter would come to an uneasy truce to leave each other alone, and the symbiote would get up to... a lot afterwards.

The symbiote has been bonded to other hosts over the years, some of whom have taken the Venom identity and fulfilled various roles. Angelo Fortunato bought it at an auction and used it mostly for shits and giggles, Mac Gargan returned it to its supervillain roots, Flash Thompson was the first straight-up heroic version of Venom, and Lee Price used it to better his position in organized crime.

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The Venom Symbiote provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Acquired Poison Immunity: According to Eddie and later Flash, the symbiote has become Stronger with Age and increasingly resilient to flames and sonics, especially the former. Just how resilient it's become depends on the writer.
  • Addiction-Powered: An unconventional example, as the symbiote is addicted to rage and hatred, which it feeds off of.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Justified in that all its hosts were English-speaking humans and it picked up the language over time. How eloquent it is depends on the writer. It can also vary depending on the symbiote's own state of mind; when attached to Lee Price, a sociopathic asshole who openly abused and mistreated it, Price noted it sounded more savage and less intelligent the longer they were together.
  • All Webbed Up: The symbiote produces organic webbing from its biomass, and Peter has exploited this to weaken it.
  • Angrish: After being tricked into returning to Eddie at the end of The Hunger, the symbiote yells something that is transcribed with what looks like a Y, a period, and four backwards Ls.
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: Venom is a spider-based anti-hero, justified in that the symbiote's first and favorite host was Spider-Man. Considering its third host was called The Scorpion, this trope was doubled, in a way.
  • Arch-Enemy: The symbiote, regardless of its host, was formerly one of Spider-Man's most infamous and dangerous enemies.
  • Affably Evil: It can be reasonable, friendly and caring towards the hosts it genuinely cares about and loves despite being arrogant and bloodthirsty. The affably part ends up played straight after the hatred and corruption gets purged from it. Downplayed when it got re-corrupted, but it does still go on being a hero until it finally gets cured when it was bonded with both of the people that it cares about and loves.
  • Ax-Crazy: It's first host was hell-bent on genocide so it adopted that personality. As its corruption worsened, it became increasingly rage-filled and homicidal, even abandoning the twisted morality it had while bonded to Eddie. However, it can still be tamed by the right host and eventually gets better as it controls its bloodlust along with keeping its insanity in check — unlike its offspring Carnage, who enjoys senseless murder and is extremely bloodthirsty.
  • Belated Backstory: Why the symbiote was in that container on Battleworld was revealed in the 1995 Planet of the Symbiotes, released eleven years after Secret Wars. More details about its pre-Earth past have since been revealed in the 2008 Venom: Dark Origin, 2016 Venom: Space Knight, and 2018 Poison X series.
  • Bio-Armor: The Venom symbiote and other members of its species act as living costumes or suits of armor for its hosts. The 1996 The Hunger miniseries showed it is capable of forming an exoskeleton resembling that of a Xenomorph. Bonus points for it resembling body armor when bonded to Flash, and Agent Venom's "Mark III" concept art even has "H.R. Giger-y bioarmor" as a design note and Call-Back to The Hunger.
  • Blank White Eyes: The symbiote has large white eyespots originally in the shape of Spider-Man's lenses, though after bonding to Eddie Brock, they became distorted. When bonded to Mac Gargan, his own eyes were visible within the symbiote's, although tinted green, yellow, or red with Hellish Pupils. When under control, Venom IV's eyes are black lenses rimmed with white, although after his Guardians of the Galaxy makeover, they became small white eyes, and are now glowing yellow with a white outline.
  • Blatant Lies: Reassures Flash Thompson it prefers him to Eddie Brock... immediately before abandoning him to rebond with Eddie, proclaiming "Home, sweet symbiosis!" Flash had to plead with it, lie that he was desperate to have it back, and remind it that Eddie would constantly fight its control to get it to return to him.
  • Blob Monster: What the symbiote amounts to sans-host, although it can manifest a head, eyes, mouth, and occasionally very rudimentary arms. After its purification, it gains the ability to take on a humanoid form without a host. Though it can only stay like that for half an hour at a time (but with practice, it could stay in humanoid form longer), and it prefers being bonded to Flash anyway.
  • Bloodbath Villain Origin: The symbiote's supposed first host used it to commit a Genocide from the Inside, leaving it corrupted and addicted to rage and violence.
  • Body Pocket: The symbiote is capable of creating pouches in its body that its hosts can use to store objects.
  • Body Surf: It makes its way back to Eddie by doing this in Separation Anxiety, and also jumps from Groot to Rocket to Drax when stuck with the Guardians of the Galaxy.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: At the beginning of Volume 4, Venom is brain-jacked by the Symbiote God, causing it to alternate between being sane to bloodthirsty and psychotically rambling, making Carnage seem sane in comparison.
  • Brown Note: Killed the invading symbiotes in Planet of the Symbiotes and several of the Venom/Carnage fusions in Minimum Carnage with a psychic scream.
  • Brutal Honesty: The symbiote cares nothing for tact when it criticizes someone.
  • Category Traitor: The Venom symbiote was deemed this by the symbiote that took over Rune in Venom vs. Rune.
    Rune's Symbiote: [to Ann Weying] How we gorged on the life-blood of your puny civilization... accepting our birthright as the most perfect predators in the universe... and even your vaunted champions were helpless against our race. Your world was ours by right of conquest... until the traitor calling themself [sic] Venom... betrayed his people... and murdered our entire race... save for us. This host body protected us from Venom's attack. Isn't that lucky? Now Venom will suffer for his betrayal... writhing in agonizing pain, the memory of your painful death still burning in his brain.
  • Characterization Marches On: The symbiote was exiled from its planet for refusing to kill its hosts, which deemed it a freak amongst its species. That's right, Venom was the one exception to an Always Chaotic Evil race. Of course, this characterization doesn't make a good villain, and was promptly forgotten by every writer on the planet, as prior to its return to the Klyntar Homeworld, it was usually presented as a man-eating parasitic monstrosity. Arguably justified as its experiences on Earth are explicitly mentioned to have driven it insane.
  • Chest Insignia: A large white spider, usually with a matching symbol on its back. Originally thought to have been a result of the symbiote imitating Spider-Woman II's costume, but it was present even with its original host.
  • The Chosen One: A dark example. Mephisto selected the symbiote as one of his potential replacements for the Descent and bestowed a Hell Mark on it.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Its favorite hosts are Spider-Man, Eddie Brock and Flash Thompson in that order, and if the opportunity to rebond with either of them presents itself, the symbiote will happily screw over its current host to do so.
  • Civilization Destroyer: The symbiote's supposed first host used it to slaughter his civilization and reduce his homeworld to a barren wasteland.
  • Clingy Costume: It does not like letting go of a host, and in fact the reason it hates Spider-Man so much is because of how close they came to being permanently bonded before he rejected it and forced them apart.
  • Clothes Make the Superman: The symbiote can bestow superpowers on mundane hosts, mainly patterned after Spider-Man's due to its absorption of his DNA, and can also drastically boost the powers of superpowered hosts. A deconstruction, as it shows exactly what happens when your clothes have that kind of power...
  • Combat Tentacles: The symbiote can project pseudopodia and tendrils to attack and restrain prey, although Venom usually uses them in the guise of webbing. Superior Venom takes this to a new level by having the symbiote turn Otto's robotic spider legs into segmented tentacles resembling the ones he'd worn as Dr. Octopus.
  • The Comically Serious: In its attempts at coaching/cheerleading Angelo in Marvel Knights.
  • Contagious Heroism: Being bonded to a heroic host helped undo some of the symbiote's corruption.
  • The Corruptible: The symbiote started out benevolent, but exposure to evil hosts filled it with hatred and bloodlust. Even after it's cleansed, Flash worries that his bad temper will adversely affect it. Bonding to Mercurio for a short amount of time is enough to send it into a downward spiral back into the bloodthirsty monster it once was. After recovering from bonding to Mercurio, it later rebonded to Eddie, but the chemicals in his system from working with the FBI started to drive it mad resulting in Eddie working with Alchemax for a cure. After being cured, both Knull and Malekith would attempt to brainwash it to use it for their purposes.
  • Costume Evolution: The symbiote has changed its appearance with each host, and sometimes while bonded to the same host.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • During one of its "nighttime patrols" with Peter, it came across the Sandman posing as a dock worker in Spider-Man Family #1 and picked a fight with him. When Baker overwhelmed Spider-Man with his shapeshifting powers and tried to crush him under some shipping containers, the symbiote separated from Peter and returned the favor with its Lovecraftian superpowers before tearing him apart from the inside out.
    • A similar story in the 2018 Amazing Spider-Man Annual had the symbiote thrash Hammerhead, who it only spares at the insistence of a bystander that it had befriended. Hammerhead is left so pissed off, unnerved and embarrassed that he tells his mooks to Let Us Never Speak of This Again.
  • Create Your Own Villain: All the symbiote originally wanted was to help Spider-Man. It was only when Peter rejected it on the grounds that it was alive and trying to permanently bond with him that it became embittered and angry.
  • A Darker Me: Depending on the writer, the symbiote has this effect on its hosts whenever it's not outright controlling them.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: As revealed in Venom: Space Knight, Venom was born with the intent of becoming an Agent of the Cosmos, a noble warrior dedicated to maintaining peace across the universe. However, its first host used it to carry out a genocide against his homeworld, reducing it to a barren wasteland and corrupting the symbiote into a bloodthirsty predator. It was also captured and weaponized at some point by an alien arms-dealer named Haze Mancer. Despite this, it retained its desire to protect and empower its hosts, eventually leading to the other corrupted symbiotes viewing it as an aberration and imprisoning it.
  • Dark Is Evil: Downplayed as while it can be bloodthirsty and arrogant, it cares for and loves its hosts very much even though it hurts them — with the ones that it cares the most being Spider-Man, Eddie Brock and Flash Thompson. It is subverted after it's purged of the hatred and the corruption that influences it.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: After being purged of its hatred and corruption, the symbiote is benevolent, but still has a menacing appearance when not bonded to Flash.
  • Deadpan Snarker: When allowed to speak for itself, the symbiote often displays biting wit and a venomous tongue.
  • Deal with the Devil: The symbiote made a deal with Mephisto to obtain demonic powers via the Hell Mark, though it later admitted this was a mistake.
  • Declaration of Protection: When it is berating Flash for his poor treatment of it, it mentions all it wants is to protect him.
  • Dem Bones: In a What If? story that showed what could have happened if everyone had remained on Battleworld, Spider-Man and the symbiote's minds eventually became one, and Spidey's body has been reduced to nothing more than a skeleton they use as a base for their humanoid form.
  • Demonic Possession: After Zarathos was separated from Alejandra and captured by Blackheart, the symbiote seized control of Flash intending to absorb the Spirit of Vengeance and gain demonic powers. Later, Daimon Hellstrom possessed the symbiote with a powerful demon to turn it into one of his Monsters of Evil, but Venom used the Hell Mark to suppress it. While the symbiote and the demon initially got along, the symbiote realized the demon was slowly pulling a Grand Theft Me on it and shunted the Hell Mark and demon onto its long-assimilated clone, which it puked up and bonded to Andi, turning her into Mania.
  • Depending on the Artist: In the early 2000s, the symbiote's spider symbol was drawn to look like a bony protrusion, or something similar. It was the same with its clone from the Patricia Robertson/She-Venom II series. Some of the portrayals of it in the mid-2010s give it an "H. R. Giger-y" look similar to the Xenomorphs from the Alien franchise, even when it's completely amorphous.
  • The Dreaded: Despite its weaknesses being more-or-less common knowledge and often being a force for good, SHIELD considers the Venom symbiote to be a top-level threat to humanity, on par with Doctor Doom, Magneto, and the Red Skull. Symbiotes in general are this throughout the galaxy, as a drunk Kree who'd never been to Earth before recognizes it as a corrupted Klyntar and wets himself before being eaten.
  • Eating the Enemy: When bonded to Deadpool, Mac Gargan, and Flash Thompson, the symbiote tended to deal with threats by eating them. Even robots and deific beings like Asgardians, Frost Giants, and Old Ones (albeit glamoured as fairies) are on the menu.
  • Emotion Eater: In some storylines the symbiote feeds off its host's negative emotions, and amplifies them as well. This becomes a problem when the symbiote is purged of its rage and bloodlust, since there's nothing stopping Flash's own hotheadedness from causing it to relapse.
  • Energy Weapon: In Venom #27, it learns how to use a version of the tesseract-evulsing Arm Cannon ability its counterpart from Venom: The End developed, though it seems to need to channel energy instead of splitting atoms on its own.
  • Enlightenment Superpowers: By letting go - or rather, being forcibly purged - of its bloodlust, the symbiote becomes exponentially more powerful.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Despite being corrupted, arrogant and bloodthirsty it still has morals as it takes care of the hosts instead of taking them over unlike most of its corrupted fellow symbiotes.
    • After finally getting its wish to rebond to its first host granted in Superior Spider-Man #24, the symbiote is the one disgusted by "Spider-Man" and tries to leave him to return to Flash, only for Otto to force it to stay bonded to him.
    • After being re-corrupted it attacks and injured a priest in a fit of jealous rage but regrets what it did because the priest was only trying to help Eddie with the problems that he was having with it so it goes to the hospital and apologises to him for what it did to him.
    • It will not kill the ones that it cares about and loves the most which it stops Gargan from killing Eddie even though he was trying to kill it when he became Anti-Venom.
    • It will keep its word of leaving those alive as it takes over Groot which then took over Rocket Raccoon who then speaks to Star-Lord that it will leave them alive because it only wants to take their ship to go to whoever's sending out signals to it and it clearly does not like doing violence on those who are good-hearted and noble people as it gives out a sad look while telling Star-Lord why it needs the ship. It leaves them alive after taking over Drax showing just how much restraint it has in taking them down.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Technically has no name, so it is variously referred to as the "Black Suit", "The Symbiote", or simply "Venom". Thus far, the only confirmed member of its species (discounting possible symbiotes like Krobaa and Dreadface) to have been given a real name, and not just a nickname, is Gabriel Summers's minion Zzxz.
    • Eddie has recently taken to calling it "His Other"
  • Evil Costume Switch: Has been used as one for Spider-Man in most media following the 1994 Animated Series.
  • The Exile: The 1995 "Planet of the Symbiotes" arc revealed that the symbiote was the sole member of its species to refuse to kill its hosts, and as a result was imprisoned until Spider-Man accidentally released it.
  • Evil Parents Want Good Kids: Zig-zagged. On one hand, Carnage is viewed as far too depraved even by Venom's standards, but on the other, grandchild Toxin turning out too heroic also displeased the symbiote, to put it mildly. Post-cleansing, the symbiote has voiced concern over how its past children have turned into monsters and explicitly wants to make sure that its latest, youngest spawn turns out good.
  • Expressive Mask: Due to said "mask" being the symbiote's face.
  • False Soulmate: The symbiote believes it's meant to be with Peter, who wants nothing to do with it.
    Spider-Man: He doesn't have to be dead. You could save him if you wanted to. It's not too late, even now.
    Symbiote: Do not want Brock. Never did. Only you.
    • Later on after being cured they make up for everything that's happened between them while working together to stop Osborn who is bonded with the Carnage symbiote.
  • Fake Memories: Venom vol 4 #11 reveals that its been routinely feeding Eddie false memories of other family members and possibly even him having cancer so that they never would leave each other again, seeing as there's something big coming their way.
  • Fangs Are Evil: Even with no host, the symbiote often manifests a huge maw full of fangs. This is seemingly a universal trait of corrupted (and even some non-corrupted) Klyntar, to the point where the Toxin symbiote sneers that Venom let the puny humans defang it.
  • Fantastic Drug: The effect the symbiote has on its host has been compared to a highly addictive drug, one that just happens to be sentient and carnivorous.
  • Fate Worse than Death: How it regarded the prospect of returning to Eddie in The Spectacular Spider-Man: The Hunger. Shortly afterwards, it and Eddie parted ways, although it's tried to rebond with him twice after his cancer was cured.
    Symbiote: To combine with the flesh of Eddie Brock is to accept his cancer; an eternity of disease and suffering.
  • Fight Off the Kryptonite: While the symbiote is always weak to fire and sonics, how weak it is to them varies, as it once cowered at the sight of a lighter, but tanked an explosion while bonded to Mac Gargan, and likewise tanked being blasted by Jack O'Lantern's broomstick glider's Weaponized Exhaust, flamethrowers, and even hellfire when bonded to Flash.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: The symbiote and its fourth host, Flash Thompson, have gone through many trials and tribulations together, and over time developed a begrudging respect for each other that became genuinely sincere after it was cleansed. Even after returning to Eddie it inwardly admits it misses him, and a still-corrupted version of the symbiote in Secret Wars: Spider-Island was proud to call Flash its friend.
  • Food Chain of Evil:
    • The symbiotes are the preferred prey of the Xenophages, who find ones that have been bonded to their host for a long time (like Venom) to be particularly delectable. Them aside, feral symbiotes seem to be feared as one of the galaxy's alpha predators, if Zzxz and the symbiotes that attacked S.W.O.R.D is any indication.
    • One of the worlds they conquered was eaten by Galactus. Due to their Genetic Memory and Hive Mind, the entire species is now innately terrified of him, to the point that the mere sight of the Silver Surfer caused the Carnage symbiote to experience a Freak Out, one that was severe enough to briefly traumatize Cletus, who the symbiote left out of fright.
    • The Poisons are a species of crystalline aliens with the ability to "consume" Klyntar symbiotes, erasing their individuality. During Venomverse the Poisons exclusively target incarnations of Venom.
  • From Camouflage to Criminal: The symbiote was bred to be an Agent of the Cosmos, a noble soldier keeping peace across the Cosmos. Instead, it was corrupted into a bloodthirsty predator and has bonded to several career criminals and warlords.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: A meta example, seeing as how the symbiote started out as a new costume for Spider-Man and was initially unpopular with fans, so it was retconned into an alien parasite that later became one of Spider-Man's most dangerous and popular enemies.
  • Genetic Memory: Possesses a weakened version of the non-corrupted symbiotes' Hive Mind in the form of inheriting genetic memories of its prior hosts and the symbiote species' prior conquests.
  • Glasgow Grin: Its mouth is disturbingly wide and lacks cheeks.
  • God-Eating: When bonded to Mac Gargan, Venom went on a feeding frenzy in Asgard during ''Seige — quipping that Asgardians were the Kobe beef of people.
  • Good Counterpart: The Venom symbiote has one in the form of the Anti-Venom symbiote, which was formed when Martin Li accidentally fused the remnants of the Venom symbiote in Eddie's blood to his white blood cells. Unlike the Venom symbiote, the Anti-Venom symbiote had no will of its own, and was even immune to the symbiotes' traditional weaknesses.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation:
    • Deadpool's Secret Secret Wars #3 half-jokingly reveals that the true origin of the symbiote's corruption wasn't Peter rejecting it or Eddie Brock's hatred after all... but a couple of minutes spent bonded to Deadpool immediately before being found by Spider-Man for the first time. The two following events simply sent it on a downward spiral.
    • When it was touched by a minion of Oberoth'M'Gozz in the Thunderbolts Annual, the symbiote became temporarily inert after screaming unintelligibly, with Flash noting that he's never heard it make a noise like the one it'd just emitted.
  • Grayscale of Evil: Venom's color is Black and White in contrast to Spider-Man's colorful costume and starts out as a vilain, before becoming an Anti-Hero and the alignments get inverted with a part of Venom's Rogues gallery having color.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Even at its most corrupt, the symbiote will protect its hosts — especially its favourite hosts such as Spider-Man, Eddie Brock and Flash Thompson; as seen when it stopped Mac Gargan from killing Eddie Brock even after Eddie tried to kill it as Anti-Venom, with Mac complaining that it still loves Eddie.
  • Had to Be Sharp: The symbiote expresses this sentiment in Venom: Dark Origins, framing itself as the means by which weak, defenceless hosts can become apex predators.
  • Handicapped Badass: The US Army used a drug - possibly the same one Norman Osborn gave Mac Gargan - to suppress the symbiote, greatly limiting its ability to influence Flash. However, the drug's effects only lasts for 48 hours and the symbiote is still able to take over Flash when he gets angry. When Flash joined the Avengers, Hank McCoy created a perfected version that chemically lobotomized it, although its effects were still temporary.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: It was initially benevolent, but Deadpool's psychosis, Peter's rejection, and Eddie's hatred sent it down a dark path. Having been forcefully purged of its bloodlust, it was restored to its original benevolent state. Bonding to Mercurio seemingly causes it to succumb to corruption once more, though it admits being good was fun while it lasted. The next issue reveals that it was mostly an act, but it rapidly succumbs to bloodlust and hatred soon afterwards. It later began to recover only for it and Flash to be forcefully separated resulting in it needing to find a new host. Unfortunately it choose Lee Price because of his similarities to Flash but instead of the good man the symbiote expects Lee to be, Lee turns out to be a sociopath, who than uses it to launch his super villain career. Eddie later reclaims it and they return to being anti-heroes but the symbiote becomes sick thanks to chemicals put in Eddie's system by the FBI which starts to drive it mad. Eddie is able to cure it however, leaving it as a Face for the time being.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: During their falling out, Peter succumbed to the bells before the symbiote did. He would have died had it not used the last of its strength to drag him to safety before seemingly dying from its own injuries.
  • Hungry Menace: When corrupted, the symbiote is a ravenous blob of teeth and tentacles with a taste for flesh that it tries to influence its hosts into satiating. It only gets worse until the Klyntar hive mind purges its corruption.
    Mini-Marvels Symbiote: Sure, you're fine with my super-strength, but everyone gets all bent out of shape when I get the munchies!
  • Iconic Logo: The stylized white spider emblem on its chest and back, though each host other than Peter, Eddie, and Mania - who share the same design - has a unique variation.
  • If I Can't Have You...: Its relationship to Peter and Eddie can be boiled down to this, as whenever it's not trying to kill them it jumps at the first opportunity to rebond with them.
  • Irrational Hatred: The symbiote hated Spider-Man because he didn't want to be its host after finding out it is alive, and because of the corruptive effect Eddie Brock and Mac Gargan had on it but after being cleansed it no longer hates Spider-Man and it reconciles with him during their battle with the Red Goblin.
  • It Has Been an Honor: The symbiote says something to this extent to Flash when it returns to its homeworld. The alternate universe symbiote seen in Secret Wars: Spider-Island says as much when separating from Flash to bond to the Spider-Queen, retorting that Flash wasn't just another host, but its friend.
  • Kill It with Fire: Its second biggest weakness is fire, although it appears to have built up something of a resistance.
  • Killer Gorilla: After being accidentally separated from Flash by Scorn in Carnage U.S.A., the symbiote makes its way back to him by possessing a gorilla, which it even gives the Chest Insignia.
  • Killer Rabbit: One of the memories it shows Eddie Brock in Dark Origin portrays the symbiote bonding to a group of dying baby rodent-like aliens on a Death World in order to protect them.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia:
    • Dr. Strange's memory wipe purged the symbiote's knowledge of Spider-Man's secret identity, but not its desire to be re-bonded to him.
    • The symbiote's cleansing erased all of its memories of its prior hosts except for Flash and its original host.
  • Living Weapon: When the army confiscated the symbiote from Mac Gargan, they had the bright idea of using it as a combat suit by keeping it chemically lobotomized. The first few subjects succumbed to its bloodlust and were terminated, with Flash being the first to successfully control it.
  • Loud of War: Its biggest weakness is high-frequency sounds.
  • Lovecraftian Superpower: While the symbiote has consistently been capable of forming Combat Tentacles, some of the more visceral portrayals of it make it resemble something straight out of the Cthulhu Mythos: an amorphous black mass of writhing tendrils, spikes, and slobbering fanged mouths, ravenously devouring everything in its path.
  • Magic Enhancement:
    • Remnants of the Venom symbiote in Eddie's body were altered and fused with his leukocytes by Martin Li's Lightforce powers to become the Anti-Venom symbiote. The Anti-Venom symbiote could produce Lightforce-infused antibodies capable of curing any malady under the Sun, and was immune to traditional symbiote weaknesses — only being vulnerable to Mister Negative's Darkforce powers and a super-venom made specifically to kill it by Norman Osborn; though it did not possess a mind or will of its own.
    • The Grim Hunt and Venom Volume 2 arcs imply that the symbiote's bonding to Spider-Man connected it to the Web of Life, the supernatural force that empowers all spider-themed superheroes and villains. However, a FAQ in Spider-Verse officially jossed this, stating that the symbiotes' DNA is incompatible with the Web of Life.note 
    • During the Circle of Four arc, the symbiote attempted to absorb Zarathos and bargained with Mephisto to receive demonic powers via the Hell Mark, but neither panned out as well as it would have liked.
  • Maternally Challenged: Six of the Venom symbiote's offspring were corrupted, and for much of its existence the Venomsymbiote wanted to kill them — especially its eldest child, Carnage.
  • Mind Rape:
    • When Danny Ketch first used his Penance Stare against Venom, it worked for a few seconds, but then the symbiote's presence somehow disrupted it, causing an explosion that briefly incapacitated Danny. The next time he tried it, Danny made sure to use his Hellfire to force the symbiote to retract first, leaving Eddie defenseless.
    • When Johnny Blaze tried to use his Penance Stare (which was repeatedly implied to be weaker than Danny's) on Agent Venom during his challenge to see if the Thunderbolts could beat the unleashed symbiote, Venom was completely unfazed and laughed it off whereas Blaze was left unconscious from the memories of its past hosts and all the monstrous acts it had committed.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: After bonding with Eddie the symbiote consistently manifests a wide mouth of fangs even when not bonded to a host. Spider-Man practically said this word-for-word in one story. A few appearances show that it can look just as creepy without them.
  • My Suit Is Also Super: The reason Peter kept it and brought it to Earth is because of its versatility and the fact it augmented his abilities. One of the Spider-Man novels describes it as feeling light as silk but as durable as armor.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: After being cleansed, the symbiote is capable of hearing the voice of the cosmos and taking on humanoid form without a host for short periods of time.
  • Nice Guy: When it is not corrupted, the symbiote actually proves to be very sweet, kind and polite to people. Even when it’s being re-corrupted, it still maintains its politeness, as it apologies to the priest that it hurt, even feeling guilty about the incident. When bonded to Spider-Man in their mission to stop the Red Goblin's rampage, it finally reconciles with him and offers to aid him in his confrontation with Red Goblin even though the surrounding battle area is rampant with flames, a particular weakness of Venom's.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Aside from intense heat, sonic vibrations, and being eaten by other symbiotes and Xenophages, symbiotes are almost indestructible. Their hosts are less-so, but that's what the Healing Factor is for.
  • No Biological Sex: Has no sexual characteristics or gender identity. The default third-person pronoun for the symbiote is "it", though a number of characters refer to the symbiote using male pronouns. In addition, Spider-Man has joked that Venom's obsession and jealously makes it come off as a psychotic ex-girlfriend, much to the entity's annoyance.
  • No-Sell:
    • Due to their unique heritages, Lyra and Senator Ward are apparently completely immune to the symbiote, and everything it can throw at them. The latter was able to handle it like it was nothing more than a blob of silly putty.
    • When Johnny Blaze tried to take it out with the Penance Stare, the symbiote not only proved immune but is so saturated in evil that it causes him to burn out.
    • A group of Skrulls who attempt to take the symbiote from Flash and have it bond to one of them discover, just a little too late, that it prefers Flash.
  • Not Good with Rejection: The symbiote's reaction to Peter rejecting it was to break free of the Fantastic Four's containment and disguise itself as his original costume in order to rebond with him. Subsequently it alternates between trying to kill past hosts who've spurned it and forcing itself on them if the opportunity presents itself.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Venom Vol. 2 #41 reveals it's not nearly as brain-dead as Flash likes to think it is.
  • Offing the Offspring: Instinctually hates Carnage (its spawn), and Toxin (its... grand-spawn). The Venom/Carnage miniseries states this is the norm, and that a symbiote having anything other than an antagonistic relationship with its offspring would be weird.
    Venom: Love? Between father and child? That's creepy... perverse... unsymbiote.
  • Ominous Obsidian Ooze: In all of the Venom Symbiote's incarnations, it is a shapeshifting blob of black gunk that can bond with a host and give them superhuman powers (usually at great cost).
  • Outside-Genre Foe: Of all of Spidey's rogues gallery, who are mostly science and technology-related but still more-or-less Earth based, the Venom symbiote stands out by being an alien lifeform.
  • Overly Long Tongue: Beginning with Erik Larsen's run, the symbiote is often portrayed with a prehensile serpentine tongue.
  • Panacea: With the exception of a few drugs and poisons tailored to suppress it, symbiotes render their hosts immune to any terrestrial disease (except diabetes) and can even keep terminal illnesses like cancer in remission for prolonged periods of time or outright cure them. The Anti-Venom symbiote takes this Up to Eleven by producing antibodies for every malady the human body can be afflicted with and then some.
  • Papa Wolf: Not usually, as it's spent a long time trying to kill its spawn, but the symbiote is this towards it's youngest child, perhaps as a result of it being spawned after the symbiote's cleansing. During and after the symbiote's pregnancy with it, it went out of its way to protect it from attacks it could withstand — putting Eddie in danger in the process — and taking raising it with Eddie very seriously. It also shares this protectiveness to Dylan as well, considering that it corners Carl in his mind while disguised as Eddie, gives him a verbal dressing down and coldly threatens to kill him if he goes near Dylan or Eddie again.
  • Parental Favoritism: In contrast to the symbiote's usual hostile approach to their children, its attitude towards its youngest spawn is a complete 180. The fact that the symbiote's biggest fear is having its youngest spawn turn out like its older siblings puts this quite aptly.
  • Parents as People: Portrayed particularly well with its latest spawn. The symbiote's fears about having another baby after its previous offspring were corrupted into monsters, it going out of its way to protect the infant while pregnant, and wanting to raise the infant right with Eddie definitely play into this trope.
  • Picky People Eater: When bonded to Eddie, the symbiote developed a taste for brains, which was explained as it needing chemicals found in brains to survive but it would limit it's victims based on Eddie's morality and later would willingly substitute brains for chocolate. After abandoning Eddie, it's become much less picky about who and what it eats.
  • Power Copying: The Venom symbiote bestows its hosts with powers similar to those of Spider-Man, but amplified. With Mac, it once manifested a scorpion tail, and with the Superior Spider-Man it turned his waldo spider legs into biomechanical Combat Tentacles.
  • Power Nullifier: The symbiote set off Peter's Spider-Sense when it first bonded to him, but it spent so long bonded to him that once it bonded to Eddie it no longer registered as a threat. Though there have been one or two instances of Spider-Man sensing Venom, either due to continuity errors, or to imply that Venom can "turn off" the nullification ability.
  • Prodigal Hero: The symbiote was imprisoned by its brethren for not being evil. With some irony, years later it arrived on the symbiote homeworld as a bloodthirsty monster, and was promptly purged of its hatred.
  • Projectile Webbing: After bonding to Spider-Man, the symbiote learned how to convert its constituent matter into webbing, which it uses both for transportation and restraining enemies. This "organic webbing" is both thicker and stronger than Spider-Man's own, but overusing it weakens the symbiote.
  • Puppeteer Parasite:
    • While bonded to Peter, the symbiote would take his body out for crime-fighting joy-rides while he was sleeping. After bonding to Eddie the symbiote developed a habit of usurping control of its subsequent hosts Mac Gargan and Flash and going on feeding frenzies.
    • It also did this to Peter, the Hulk, and even Thor in a What If? story. (In that Alternate Universe, it was not a symbiote at all, but a true parasite.)
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: If given the opportunity to speak for itself, the symbiote is fond of dishing out scathing remarks and criticisms to both its opponents and unsatisfactory hosts.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: During Flash's tenure as a member of Red Hulk's Thunderbolts, the white parts of the symbiote became red, making it look similar to the original concept for the symbiote created by Randy Schueller.
  • Redemption Failure: Zig-Zagged. The symbiote's cleansing by the Agents of the Cosmos is undone when it bonds to Mercurio, causing it to relapse back into its evil state. While it later comes to its senses, wanting to be good but struggling to suppress its violent urges, bonding to Lee Price and being tricked by Spider-Man causes it to almost completely revert back to its bloodthirsty, villainous self when it returns to Eddie Brock. It still wants to do good, but will now kill anyone that would in any way threaten to undo its bond with Eddie. It's later on shown to still have a healthy sense of self-awareness and ability to feel remorse, however, and after being cured by Alchemax it shows enough restraint not to murder Spider-Woman when she assaults it and Eddie in their own apartment, opting to try and convince her to leave them peacefully instead. As shown in Poison-X, the Symbiote is occasionally more reasonable than Eddie himself. After being cured when bonded with both Eddie and Flash at the same time, it is a straight hero now along with Eddie.
  • Reformed, but Not Tamed:
    • The symbiote actually prefers Flash Thompson as a host, or so it said just before ditching him for Eddie - it did return to him, though - but that doesn't stop it from taking him over and eating people when it gets mad.
    • After reuniting with Eddie, the symbiote wants to be heroic, but its re-corruption is interfering with this and conflicting with Eddie's insistence that they not relapse into "Lethal Protector" mode.
  • Restoration of Sanity: In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, the Venom symbiote returns to the symbiote "homeworld" of Klyntar, where it is cleansed of all the rage and hatred and bloodlust it had accumulated; rebonding to Flash Thompson as a newly minted member of the Agents of the Cosmos. This proved short-lived, as Venom: Space Knight undid the symbiote's cleansing midway through, causing it to oscillate between its new good and old evil personas until eventually it got cured while being bonded to Eddie and Flash at the same time so it's now rid of the corruption for good.
  • Revenge Before Reason: The symbiote was very spiteful, especially towards old hosts who've spurned it, and is obsessed with either killing or rebonding to Spider-Man and Eddie but after being cleansed it is no longer spiteful and can be reasonable nowadays.
  • Royal "We": The symbiote likes to be acknowledged by its host and often takes offence if they don't use first person plural pronouns. A sign of it beginning to influence its host is them using the first-person plural in reference to themselves, though some hosts have averted this trend.
  • Sanity Slippage: Venom: Space Knight, Venom Vol. 3, and the rebranded Venom Vol. 1 show the symbiote slowly succumbing to rage and bloodlust again after being cleansed by the Klyntar Hive Mind, almost-completely reverting back to the predatory monster it once was despite Flash and Eddie's best attempts to restore and preserve its sanity. It later on starts getting better again, but still isn't completely freed from it's bloodlust.
  • Serial-Killer Killer: When it goes off on its own in Venom: The Hunger, the symbiote initially sustains itself by feeding only on "deserving" victims like a Domestic Abuser and gang members. The rift that had grown between it and Eddie causes it to be a lot less choosy in the similar Spectacular Spider-Man storyline also titled The Hunger.
  • Shapeshifter Weapon: The Venom symbiote was first shown possessing this power during Eddie Brock's fight with Nova, though it was rarely used and most writers acted like it was unique to Carnage. When bonded to Mac Gargan it once formed a scorpion-like tail to emulate his former identity; and when bonded to Flash it frequently formed weapons like blade-arms and tentacle-flails.
  • Shipper on Deck: During the final group battle against Lee Price, the Symbiote tells Eddie that Black Cat is "very capable". Eddie actually agrees, but reminds the Symbiote she probably hasn't forgotten or forgiven that they beat her half-to-death when they first met.
  • Shooting Superman: The symbiote can absorb gunfire and even send it right back, but high-caliber weapons can still penetrate it.
  • Skeleton Motif: In more visceral depictions of the symbiote, the spider-emblem's legs are drawn as resembling bones, giving it the semblance of a ribcage.
  • Starfish Alien: The exact nature of its species varies Depending on the Writer, but as a symbiotic shapeshifting blob from outer space, it definitely qualifies. This is especially the case in Venom: The Hunger, where the forms the symbiote takes while running around on its own ran the gamut from a "serpentine monster" to "thing with a bunch of faces" to "a spider-like monster".
  • Stronger with Age: According to Flash, the symbiote is magnitudes more powerful than it was when it first bonded to Spider-Man, and Klaw deduces that the more hosts a symbiote bonds to the stronger it becomes.note 
  • Superpowered Evil Side: The symbiote functioned as one for Mac Gargan (initially) and Flash Thompson, taking over them if they got angry and being more than happy to chow down on whoever had the misfortune of pissing them off. Retcons have it functioning as one for Peter too, making him more aggressive and callous the more it bonds with him.
  • Sweet Tooth: It didn't mind eating chocolate in place of brains... for a while.
    Eddie (dumping out a sack of candy bars): I feel the Other salivate with anticipation.
  • The Symbiote: The Venom symbiote is arguably the Trope Namer and certainly the Trope Codifier, being an amorphous alien organism that functions as a living costume for its host.
  • There's No Place Like Home: Stories like Hunger and one from Spider-Man Family posit that the only thing the symbiote may want more than Peter is to return to its pre-pariah life on its planet of origin. It gets that wish in Guardians of the Galaxy #23.
  • Time Abyss: Venom is indicated by Venom: Dark Origin #4 and Venom Vol. 4 #4 to have been created by Knull himself on Gorr's homeworld after his loss of All-Black, making it billions of years old at the very least.
    • Taken even further in Venom: The End, where he ends up outliving almost all other living things in the universe, before eventually dying in a Heroic Sacrifice at the ripe old age of 1.5 trillion years old.
  • To Serve Man: In its corrupted state, symbiote is a ravenous predator not above influencing or forcing its host to commit cannibalism. The 1996 The Hunger miniseries explained that the symbiote needs phenethylamine for its own health - which can be found most abundantly in two sources: human brains and chocolate. The 2003 Spectacular Spider-Man arc — also titled The Hunger — and other story lines going back to the "Planet of the Symbiotes" arc state that the symbiote drains its host of adrenaline, but these seem to have been forgotten following the symbiote's separation from Eddie.
  • Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth:
    • While it was being held in the Baxter Building, the symbiote tried to coerce Franklin Richards into releasing it. When Franklin got close, the symbiote sensed how powerful he was, immediately backed off, and started cowering.
    • Dirt Nap is a mutant who can copy a person's appearance and powers by swallowing them whole, and storing them in his body. Venom and Scream's symbiotes didn't agree with him, and... well...
    • When the symbiote first met Ben Reilly, it tried to leave the unconscious Eddie for him, sensing his similarities to Peter. It found the state of mind Ben was in at the time distasteful, and quickly returned to Eddie.
    • The symbiote tried to eat Eddie in Venom: The Hunger, but spat him out because Eddie had slathered himself in things like bug spray and cleaning chemicals in anticipation of this happening.
  • Took a Level in Badass: In conjunction with Took a Level in Jerkass: the symbiote was once the least evil member of the corrupted faction of its species, and was content with "playing superhero" as a shape shifting costume. Three hosts later, the symbiote is considered a top-tier threat by SHIELD, will seize total control of its host's body unless chemically suppressed, can tank explosions and fire-blasts, and has shown that it is not afraid of abandoning unsatisfactory hosts and surviving prolonged periods on its own.note  Even before Eddie full-on rejected it and started its period of host jumping, it grew enough to be able to take Spider-Man in a 1-on-1 fight without a host.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: It is now a kind, polite and good-hearted alien being who does not try to hurt anyone; and even when it got corrupted again, it kept itself in check, even apologizing to the priest that it hurt in a fit of jealous rage. While the symbiote is willing to use lethal force against dire threats like Malekith and Carnage, in general it stays that way even after being cured.
  • Truly Single Parent: Symbiotes reproduce asexually, and Venom "gave birth" to Carnage, Agony, Phage, Riot, Lasher, Scream, Sleeper and technically Anti-Venom and Mania.
    Toxin: If you're my father, Carnage — who's my mother?
    Carnage: That ain't quite how the biology pans out, buster.
  • Underestimating Badassery: A lot of people, including Spider-Man, have assumed that the symbiote is borderline harmless on its own. They usually learn the hard way that it is capable of putting up a fight even without a host.
  • Unexplained Recovery:
    • It seemingly died after coming into contact with Styx, but then reappeared to break Eddie (and, inadvertently, Cletus Kasady) out of prison.
    • The symbiote disintegrates after being given a fatal overdose in Venom: Finale, but resurfaces without explanation some time later. After a failed attempt at returning to Peter, it finds and forces itself on Eddie.
  • Unwanted False Faith: The symbiote lashing out at Kraven for mentioning Spider-Man's name awed him into revering it as a dark predatory deity, the Spider's Black Spirit.
  • Upgrade vs. Prototype Fight:
    • The Carnage symbiote is more resistant to attacks that affect Venom, is even stronger than him and Spider-Man combined, and has abilities the Venom symbiote doesn't. However, since Kasady is an utter bastard next to Brock's Anti-Hero (and pretty often there's other heroes like Spider-Man there to help 'soften up' Carnage), Venom most often comes out on top. This is played with during the Minimum Carnage arc, where Flash is forced to emulate Carnage in order to defeat him.
    • The symbiote itself can be considered the "Upgrade" to Spider-Man; Venom bestows on hosts all of Peter's innate super-powers with some improvements such as increased strength and not being reliant on web-shooters — not to mention its own innate powers like Combat Tentacles and Shapeshifter Weapon. It's also not detectable by Peter's Spidey-sense, giving it a distinct edge against that specific fighter.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: All it initially wanted was to be bonded with Peter and — in the words of Killer Thrill — "[play] superhero". Unfortunately, Deadpool's psychosis, Peter's rejection, and Eddie's hatred brought out the worst in it and it didn't look back until its corruption was purged. So it is now — for the most part — back to being a sweet, cute little kid who likes being a superhero.
  • Undying Loyalty: It is loyal to the hosts that it cares about and loves even while it was corrupted — attempting to leave Mac Gargan to return to Eddie Brock when it sensed the latter's cancer had been cured, and attempting to leave Flash Thompson for Eddie as well. It still has that after being purged then re-corrupted and finally cured. Its loyalty to its hosts is what got it imprisoned and exiled, as it prefers to help its hosts instead of killing them, unlike its fellow corrupted symbiotes.
  • Vampiric Draining: The symbiote leaves Eddie in Venom: The Hunger and The Spectacular Spider-Man: The Hunger, and survives on its own by sucking phenethylamine (in the former) and a specific type of adrenaline (in the latter) out of people. A detective investigating the attacks in the latter even assumed they were the work of some kind of weird vampire.
  • The Voiceless: In its debut, it was mute. Beginning in the 2000s, however, it developed the ability to speak without using a host. It had an all lowercase internal monologue in 1994's Separation Anxiety, however.
    Symbiote: must find eddie. others pursue us. men with fire to hurt me. eddie will help. with eddie we are venom. we are strong. these stand in my way. they are nothing. they can die.
  • Voice of the Legion: Beginning in the 2000s, the symbiote talks using distorted black speech bubbles with white print.
  • Volumetric Mouth: Depending on the Artist, the symbiote is often drawn with a far larger mouth than any human could possess.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Can form tentacles and pseudopods, transform into clothing, transform the host and turn invisible by blending in with the background. It can also transform its host's limbs into wings to enable gliding, or into bladed or blunt weaponry — though it does not do this as frequently as its progeny.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Extreme noise and intense heat, the former more so than the latter.
  • Weak to Fire: Its weakness towards fire was greatly Flanderized in the nineties; in one instance, Spider-Man was able to fend Venom off with a lighter. Yes, the villain who once bested the Human Torch was frightened off by a tiny little flame. However, in the Siege arc, tossing Mac Gargan into an explosion does nothing more than piss him off.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The symbiote claims to be pregnant with a child it actually cares for in The Spectacular Spider-Man: The Hunger. The baby has not been brought up since, presumably due to either being miscarried, being intended as foreshadowing for what later became Toxin, or because the symbiote was just lying about it in an attempt to engender sympathy from Spider-Man.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • The symbiote has frequently berated Spider-Man for rejecting it when it only wanted to help him and make him stronger. Although given how the symbiote took Peter's body on nightly joyrides, Peter has his reasons.
    • In Venom Vol. 2 #41, it accuses Flash of rejecting its help when he confronts it, and outright attacks him for keeping it chemically suppressed in Superior Spider-Man #25.
    • In Venom #151, when Eddie tells the symbiote they need to trust each other, the symbiote reveals it knows Eddie was the one behind Spider-Man's betrayal in Venom Vol. 3 #6 and chews him out for it.
  • Whole Costume Reference: In-universe, the symbiote's appearance was based on the black-and-white Spider-Woman costume worn by Julia Carpenter, which Peter had been admiring.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: The sight of a cheap lighter and a campfire once caused the symbiote to quiver in terror, much to the derision of the Sinister Six during Eddie Brock's brief tenure as a member.
    Sandman: Will you look at the big, bad supervillain... afraid of a little fire! Whatta sissy! Let me give you a hand, tough guy! And to think... I useta have nightmares about you!
    Venom: DO NOT MOCK OUR PAIN!
    Electro: I've got to admit it is a pretty silly weakness for an alleged super-criminal to have.note 
  • Yandere: Both before its purification and after its re-corruption, the symbiote can't stand the idea of any of its favorite hosts — namely Peter Parker and Eddie Brock — not wanting to be with it. It jumps at almost any opportunity to rebond with them when it isn't trying to kill them for rejecting it, and is more-than willing to kill anyone who even tangentially threatens to undermine its bond.
  • You Can Talk?: The symbiote developed the ability to speak even without a host, starting with Sssssnake Talk-laden You No Take Candle and becoming more articulate over time, although when doped up by Flash it reverts back to its early manner of speaking.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The symbiote pulls this on Eddie (to try to return to Peter), Angelo (leaving him to die), Mac (to try to return to Eddie, and possess Carol Danvers), and Flash (to try to return to Eddie again, and later to try to bond to Kaine). Finally, the symbiote jumps at the chance to bond with SpOck after being separated from Flash, becoming the Superior Venom. It's Double Subverted in the last case, as the symbiote realizes that Spider-Man isn't the same as he used to be and tries to return to Flash only to have SpOck force it to stay bonded to him.
  • You No Take Candle: When the symbiote figures out how to speak, its grammar isn't exactly the best although it later learns how to speak articulately. Venom Vol. 3 portrays the symbiote lapsing back into this as its corruption worsens.

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