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Venom’s Life Has Gotten Pretty Darn Weird In The Last Few Years  

Stephan Roget
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When someone asks, “What’s happening with Venom in Marvel Comics?” they might be talking about any number of earthly individuals - Eddie Brock, Mac Gargan, Flash Thompson, or even Angelo Fortunato - but they’d be wrong to do so. Each of those people has served as the host of the most famous symbiote in comics at one point or another, but Venom is the name of the alien costume itself - and it’s been on a wild ride for the last decade of its comic book adventures.

No matter which character is wearing the Venom symbiote, certain attributes remain the same: the black-and-white color scheme, the inherited Spider-powers, and an occasional desire to eat brains. The identity of the person underneath the suit matters, however, and different hosts have taken Venom to some rather extreme destinations in recent years - and into some situations that would have previously seemed unimaginable for the breakout antihero of the '90s.  

The US Government Pairs The Venom Symbiote With Peter Parker’s Old Classmate, Flash Thompson
The US Government Pairs ... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Venom’s Life Has Gotten Pretty Darn Weird In The Last Few Years
Photo:  Marvel Comics

Since being forcibly removed from Eddie Brock, the Venom symbiote has spent time with a number of hosts, including Angelo Fortunato, Mac Gargan, and even a brief dalliance with Carol Danvers (AKA Captain Marvel). The symbiote doesn't find another true partner until it falls into the possession of the US government and is grafted onto the unlikeliest of candidates - Spider-Man’s old high school bully, Flash Thompson.

By the time he acquires the alien costume, Flash’s character arc has traveled a significant distance beyond his teenage years. He has grown up, joined the armed forces, and even formed a genuine friendship with Peter Parker - only to lose his legs in the Iraq War in an act that earns him a Medal of Honor.

In Flash, the armed forces have a decorated soldier to pair with the sedated symbiote as a one-man black ops unit. As Agent Venom, Flash regains the use of his legs and is given another opportunity to serve his country.

Venom Merges With Red Hulk And Ghost Rider To Stop Literal Hell On Earth
Venom Merges With Red Hu... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Venom’s Life Has Gotten Pretty Darn Weird In The Last Few Years
Photo:  Marvel Comics

Under the pen of Rick Remender, Agent Venom became a somewhat surprise sensation in the world of comic books - which led to the character finding himself at the center of some serious crossover action. The "Circle of Four" storyline sees Flash Thompson and the symbiote team up with X-23, Ghost Rider, and the Red Hulk - in more ways than one.

Facing off against the demonic Blackheart, son of Mephisto, and his portal to hell on Earth, Venom and friends get creative. Flash passes on his symbiote to the Red Hulk, who also briefly accepts the Ghost Rider’s Spirit of Vengeance to become the sort of mashup superhero that childhood dreams are made of. The Hulk/Venom/Ghost Rider is an intimidating force that even Blackheart cannot withstand.

Flash Thompson Helps Venom Become A Legitimate Hero, And Even An Avenger
Flash Thompson Helps Ven... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Venom’s Life Has Gotten Pretty Darn Weird In The Last Few Years
Photo:  Marvel Comics

It takes some significant effort for the superpowered community of the Marvel Universe to accept the notion of Venom as a hero - especially Spider-Man. In time, however, the actions of Agent Venom begin to speak louder than the symbiote’s occasional bursts of cannibalistic rage, and the dynamic duo is welcomed into the ranks of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

As a fellow soldier, Flash Thompson earns the trust of Captain America quicker than that of most heroes, and Steve Rogers invites Agent Venom to join his covert roster of Secret Avengers.

In their time with the squad, Flash and the symbiote take on a group of hyper-advanced robots and an entire town of Carnages - and Flash even finds the time to strike up a brief romance with Valkyrie. 

Venom Leaves New York To Protect The City Of Brotherly Love
Venom Leaves New York To... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Venom’s Life Has Gotten Pretty Darn Weird In The Last Few Years
Photo:  Marvel Comics

After a series of harrowing events - including the apparent demise of the symbiote’s former host, Eddie Brock - Agent Venom decides to leave New York behind. Flash Thompson and his gooey alien partner pack their bags and move to Philadelphia for a fresh start. Whereas Venom once stalked the alleys of the City That Never Sleeps as a "Lethal Protector," he is now the slightly less-lethal protector of the City of Brotherly Love.

Flash picks up a part-time job as a gym teacher, and Agent Venom picks up a full-time sidekick, Andrea Benton. A student in Flash's gym class, Benton is able to convert a portion of the Venom symbiote into an entire alien suit of her own, and dubs herself Mania.

In the end, a long-term rivalry with the Crime Master brings Venom back to the Big Apple.