Venom is of a race of alien symbiotes that are formed from a thick, liquid, organic material. They, as their symbiotic nature suggests, depend on other beings to help them sustain their life force. In exchange for this relationship, the symbiote offers great powers to its host. Unfortunately for the host, the symbiotes are not keen on the idea of separating and eventually start to fully consume both mind and body of their hosts. Removal of the symbiote is often only possible through the usage of strong sound waves produced from intensely loud and sustained noises.
The symbiote itself is sentient and has chosen different hosts throughout the years; among them were Spider-Man (Peter Parker) and Eddie Brock. Later on, there were others such as Angelo Fortunato and Mac Gargan; and even Ms. Marvel and Red Hulk have acted as hosts for the alien symbiote, as well as Ann Weying (Eddie Brock’s ex). The current host is Flash Thompson.
When the Beyonder created Battleworld in the events of the comic “Secret Wars “, Deadpool released the Symbiote from a machine that he had thought created new costumes. The creature bonded with him, but Deadpool quickly abandoned it, reasoning that it would be cruel to force a sentient being to bond with a twisted creature like him. It is implied that bonding with Deadpool’s severely fractured psyche may be part of the reason for the symbiote’s violent and possessive behavior. The symbiote capsule was then found by Spider-Man, whose red and blue tights had been ripped to tatters during a previous battle. When Spider-Man grabbed the little black ball, it instantly slithered over his body, covering him from head to toe. But it did not pattern itself after his red-and-blue costume. Rather, it took on the appearance of the garment worn by Julia Carpenter, the new Spider-Woman, whom Spider-Man had been admiring. The web-slinger was amazed at the properties of his new suit, but never questioned the mechanisms behind them. For instance, it could mimic any type of clothing whatsoever, making Spider-Man’s need for spare clothing obsolete. It also contained a “dimensional aperture” where he could place his camera, spare change, and other items without adding bulk to the costume. The costume was also capable of generating its own organic webbing. When the other super heroes that were with him used the machine, their clothes did not give/add any new powers to them.
Once Spider-Man returned to Earth, the alien costume could not tolerate being separated from its host for long periods of time. At night, when Spider-Man’s alter ego, Peter Parker slept, the Symbiote would take control of him and battle evil. Peter realized that when he always woke up from bed, he is still exhausted. Later, Spider-Man battled the Puma, who perceived that the wall-crawler’s webs were organic. Startled by this revelation, Spider-Man accepted Reed Richards’ offer to study the costume. Richards learned that the costume was actually a living alien Symbiote, a parasite trying to graft itself permanently to Spider-Man both mentally and physically. Richards succeeded in separating the alien costume from its host by shooting it with a “sonic blaster.” He then contained the being in a special environmental cell. But the alien was much more intelligent than anyone perceived. It tried to hypnotize Franklin Richards, but failed. Unfortunately not stopping it, it escaped from its cell and made its way to Peter Parker’s closet where it waited, disguised as a spare red-and-blue costume. Spider-Man unwittingly donned the costume, which immediately made itself apparent. He brought it to the tower at Our Lady of Saints Church gambling the intense sound of its bells would destroy it. Spider-Man lost the gamble, and he succumbed to the bells before the costume did. However, the empathic parasite had preyed upon the emotions of Spider-Man long enough to learn how to feel, and in feeling, to act. Sacrificing itself, the alien costume saved Spider-Man then crawled away to die. In actuality the Symbiote, weak and dying, slithered down into the church where Eddie Brock knelt in prayer at the altar. Raised a Catholic, he begged forgiveness for the suicide he was contemplating.
Eddie Brock had been a successful columnist for the newly revived Daily Globe until he began writing a series of articles about the ” Sin-Eater murders”. A bogus offender had confessed to Brock about committing the murders. While protecting the murderer’s identity under the First Amendment, Brock wrote a series of stories in the Globe detailing his dialogue with the supposed killer, until mounting pressure from the authorities forced him to write an exclusive revealing the murderer’s name. Although that edition of the paper sold out immediately, Spider-Man soon revealed the true identity of the Sin-Eater to be Detective Stan Carter, making Brock a laughingstock among his fellow journalists. Fired from the Daily Globe, he was forced to write venomous drivel for scandal newspapers. Brock’s wife left him, and his future appeared to be over. Brock blamed his predicament on Spider-Man.
Soon after, Brock began an intense physical workout program hoping to reduce the stress his life had become. However, such physical exertions only increased his violent obsession with Spider-Man. Although his body had been honed to near-perfection, Brock’s mind was reduced to an all-consuming vessel of hatred. It was this fierce emotion that attracted the empathic parasite. In order to survive, the alien costume had to feed off the nearest and greatest source of emotion. The Symbiote joined mentally and physically with Brock, whose emotions overwhelmed the already confused alien. The dominant thought on both their minds was that of Spider-Man. But Brock’s sheer hatred for the crime fighter twisted the Symbiote’s feelings to a similar extent. In effect, Brock’s emotions drove the Symbiote insane, just as their bonding may have driven Brock over the edge. Brock soon discovered that the costume gave him all the powers of Spider-Man, and more. It also added bulk to his already large frame and increased his strength to superhuman levels. Calling himself “Venom”, Brock directed the costume to sprout a hideous grin and plotted his revenge. Through the costume, Venom learned a great deal about Spider-Man, including his secret identity.
Brock taunted Peter Parker with minor assaults, such as pushing him in front of a moving subway train. The alien costume could cancel out the wall-crawler’s spider-sense presumably by projecting conflicting frequencies upon Spider-Man’s brain waves. Venom finally made a bold move when he confronted Parker’s wife, Mary Jane, at their old Chelsea apartment. Although Venom’s twisted sense of morality did not allow him to physically harm Mary Jane, Spider-Man immediately realized the nature of this threat. Taking the time to retrieve the sonic blaster from the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man challenged Venom at Our Lady of Saints Church. Although he fired the blaster at Venom, Spider-Man soon discovered that the Symbiote could not be separated from Brock because it had completely bonded with him. Trying to escape and rethink his options, Spider-Man was caught unaware by Venom. He captured Spider-Man and secured him to the inside of the church bell with a considerable amount of webbing. Spider-Man narrowly escaped the bell’s crushing clapper before defeating Venom by forcing him to deplete his webbing supply, of which the alien Symbiote was actually comprised. Before the alien could regenerate enough of its mass to become a renewed threat, Spider-Man brought Venom to the Fantastic Four who imprisoned him in a sonic containment cell.
Sometime later, the Fantastic Four shipped Venom to The Vault, a government prison for super-powered criminals located in the Colorado Rockies. A young guard named Hugh Taylor, who had just been assigned to the Vault, was fooled into thinking that Venom was a fallen colleague and released the gate mechanism which imprisoned the criminal. With a bit of remorse, Venom then killed the naive guard and promptly made his escape to New York City where he once again confronted Spider-Man. This time Spider-Man used psychological warfare upon Venom, by taunting the alien symbiote to return to him. The alien, torn by its love-hate relationship for Spider-Man, tried to leave Brock and re-establish its link with its original owner. Brock, greatly distressed by what was happening, pleaded with the symbiote to remain with him but it ignored his pleas. The symbiote begins its slithery flow onto Parker’s body, when the trauma of trying to detach itself from Brock’s nervous system was too much to bear. The alien costume and Eddie Brock were both knocked unconscious and were subsequently returned to the Vault, where they were incarcerated. Since then, Venom has gone through many changes.
The next fight, Venom went after Spider-Man around the same time Jonathon Caesar, an insane and obsessed fan of Mary Jane Watson-Parker, sent two mercenaries Styx and Stone after the wall-crawler. Venom unintentionally became involved in the plot when the two attempted to follow him through the sewers in the hope of finding Spider-Man. Unfortunately for them, Venom escaped the sewers in his human guise. After yet another fight with Spider-Man, Styx and Stone found the two and attempted to kill Spider-Man. Fortunately for Spidey, albeit in a bad way, Venom would not allow anyone else to kill Spider-Man, save himself. Attacking the two, the fight ensued. Styx, the living cancer, touched the Symbiote, killing it in the process. With the Symbiote seemingly dead, Eddie Brock was sent to a normal prison. However, later, it was revealed the Symbiote was merely sent into a comatose state, seemingly immune to Earthly diseases. Returning to Eddie Brock, the two easily escaped. In the breakout, however, the suit left a small spawn behind it, which would bond with Eddie’s cell mate, Cletus Kasady. No one would know about this for months. Eddie brought Spider-Man to an island in the Caribbean, away from people and innocents, in the hope of killing him alone. However, Spider-Man later realized that Venom would only be happy if he knew that Spider-Man was dead. Faking his death, Spider-Man made Venom believe that he had died. Happy at last, Venom thought there was no reason to return to civilization, having all he needed on the island, and stayed there.
A few months later, however, the psychotic serial killer known only as Carnage emerged, beginning a slaughter spree throughout Manhattan, in which hundreds died. Spider-Man attempted to stop him, but learned the hard way that he was outmatched physically, despite his superior experience. Realizing that Carnage possessed a Symbiote, Peter reluctantly turned to Venom for assistance in order to stop this menace. Contacting the Human Torch, they traveled to the island where Spider-Man had left Venom. When Venom saw that Spider-Man was in fact still alive, he attacked the two. A brief spat ensued, after which Venom listened to Spider-Man’s reasoning. Venom agreed to help Spider-Man stop Carnage in exchange for his freedom. Spider-Man reluctantly obliged, starting the first of many uneasy alliances between the two.
Once they returned to New York, the combined efforts of Venom and Spider-Man to stop Carnage’s rampage on two separate occasions were met with equal failure. Finally, however, during a rock concert at Madison Square Garden, they stopped Carnage after he was trying to kill J. Jonah Jameson. After Spider-Man destroyed Kasady’s Carnage symbiote through the use of the stage’s sound system, Venom attacked him. He still possessed enough hatred to attempt to choke him. Luckily, Venom was stopped by the Fantastic Four. After years of animosity, Venom reached an agreement with Spider-Man and called a truce.
After forming a truce with Spider-Man, Venom would relocate to the West Coast, San Francisco. Starting out as a “Lethal Protector”, Venom would come across a hidden underground city. A man known as Roland Treece was sending hired guns to exterminate these people so he could claim the hidden gold reserve below the underground city. Venom decided to protect these people from Treece and infiltrated Treece’s company. Venom’s actions had gotten Spider-Man’s attention, however, and Spider-Man would travel to San Francisco to bring Venom down once and for all. While Spidey searched for a lead on his former enemy, Venom was being pursued by a team of of highly trained soldiers known as the Jury. The Jury was brought together by Orwell Taylor, the father of the young Vault officer Venom killed during a Vault breakout. The Jury relentlessly attacked Venom, nearly killing him until the Life Foundation rescued, then captured, him. Carlton Drake, head of the foundation had plans for creating super guardsman similar to Venom’s first offspring, Carnage, and violently ripped from Venom five spawn, creating the Five Life Foundation Symbiotes and joining them with their best personnel. Spider-Man encountered one of the new symbiotes, a female human joined with a symbiote, and followed her back to the Life Foundation. Realizing that Spider-Man’s intrusion was in order to track down Venom, and since Venom was no longer useful for the foundation, Drake had the symbiote violently separated from Eddie, nearing killing Eddie.
Eddie would later free himself and team-up with Spider-Man, reuniting with his own Venom symbiote. The five new symbiote tested out their powers against the combined efforts of Spider-Man and Venom, but their symbiotes where seemingly destroyed by a machine triggered by Venom, and the human host where thought dead after the Life Foundation complex self-destructed. Having escaped the exploding building, the two spider-powered foes would join forces against Roland Treece and prevent him from killing all of the inhabitants of the underground city. Spider-Man then returned to New York while Venom would remain with the underground city.
Carnage would later escape again and be joined up with other super villains and start the Maximum Carnage. Once again, Spider-Man and Venom would fight him again after Carnage called out Venom on TV. Venom would later assemble his own team including Cloak, Dagger, and Morbius. They fight Carnage. At one point, Venom gets captured and tortured by Carnage and later escapes. He and Carnage later fight near a small plant and Venom defeats Carnage in a big explosion.
However, some time later (in Separation Anxiety), the Life Foundation Symbiotes would return. After being separated from his own symbiote by the Scarlet Spider, Eddie Brock was sent to a research facility. The five Life Foundation Symbiotes broke into the facility to escape with Eddie. They kept Eddie captive until he would agree to help the human hosts control their own symbiotes. But one of the five symbiotes, Donna (Scream) would kill off the human hosts of her fellow offspring one-by-one. When the Venom symbiote escaped from it’s imprisonment and rejoined with Eddie, the two would defeat Scream and leave her and her four dead comrades (with their symbiotes still alive) for the authorities (the remaining four symbiotes would merge into one and bond with Scott Washington to become Hybrid.
Venom was recruited via an ultimatum by the government to be a special operations counter-terrorist agent. Venom agreed, but one stipulation of the deal did not sit too well with him. A bomb was planted in his chest to assure complete and utter obedience. After a few missions, Venom became tired of the situation and had the Symbiote perform surgery on him and extracted the bomb. A brouhaha ensued wherein the end result was Eddie Brock lying unconscious and the Symbiote dead, only to return later on and re-join with Eddie. Thus Venom was whole again and looking to square things with Spider-Man once again. He had lost his memory and no longer knew the secret identity of Spider-Man, but knew that a Venom blames Spider-Man for his wife’s death deep seeded hatred resided within him for the webhead.
Shortly after the reunion, Venom joined the Sinister Six for a brief period in order to get at Spider-Man. After being scorned by the group, he hunted down certain members of the team for revenge (including Electro, the Sandman, and Alyosha Kravinoff). Later Eddie Brock approached his ex-wife Ann Weying, and at the thought of having the Symbiote back in her life, she jumped out of her apartment window and killed herself.
Venom blamed Spider-Man, whom he had a skirmish with right before Ann died. Thus the hatred for the old web-head was fueled anew.