The Amazing Spider-Man has been everybody’s favorite, friendly neighborhood web-slinger for the better part of 6 decades ever since making his comic book debut in 1962. Ever since his most humble beginnings, Spidey never had a bad bone in his body, but things changed when the dreaded symbiote latched onto him in Secret Wars issue #8. In Marvel canon, a symbiote is an alien parasite that controls the mind of it’s host and warps their personalities into something more vicious. Spidey was a victim of this parasitic mind control and when he realized the drastic, menacing change in his personality, he quickly rid himself of the black suit that leached off his mind like a leach. Unfortunately for Spider-Man, when the symbiote detached from his body, it moved on to bonding with Eddie Brock. When the symbiote and Brock became one, he became one of Spider-Man’s most popular, polarizing villains: Venom.
Venom made his debut in the #300 issue of The Amazing Spider-Man and he has been a thorn in Spidey’s side ever since. Venom’s initial debut in the comics was as an adversary to Spidey, but in due time, Venom grabbed himself a devoted fan following among readers. Thanks to his growing popularity, Venom was made into an anti-hero. He may have the killer instinct of a supervillain, but potential in both his powers and fan appeal to make just as great of a hero. In the later years, the Venom symbiote has latched on to a countless number of hosts. Just as there have been many hosts who used the symbiote’s powers for evil, there have been many who used those powers for good. Here is a list of instances where Venom (whether its host was Eddie Brock or someone else) fought for the virtues of all things good.
15. Amazing Spider-Man #375
Whether he plays the role of hero or villain, Venom has always had a complicated mindset. He is arguably at his most complicated in issue #375 of The Amazing Spider-Man where Venom finds himself kidnapping the long lost parents of Peter Parker and then saving them in the same issue. Interestingly enough, even when he kidnaps them, Venom makes a point to let them know he doesn’t want to hurt them. As far as Venom is concerned, Venom thinks he’s protecting Spidey’s parents from Spider-Man himself. Things go out of hand when the two get ambushed by supervillain Silver Sable and her Wild Pack. When the Wild Pack engulf in flames the amusement park that Spidey’s parents are held captive in, Venom does the unthinkable and actually rescues them from the fire. He’s also able to save his ex-wife, Anne, from being crushed by a ferris wheel with help from Spider-Man.
14. Clint Barton
Those who know anything about Clint Barton know him best as Hawkeye from The Avengers. Some comic readers may even be familiar with his brief run under the ninja warrior identity of Ronin. One version of Clint Barton that is seldom talked about or even known about is when he became infected by the Venom symbiote and became the new Venom. Thanks to the events of Civil War, the symbiote parasite latched itself on to Hawkeye, but he was able to control the symbiote long enough to fight alongside Captain America during the war. He played an essential part to Spider-Man’s strike force unit on the team and helped obtain something for the Beast’s machine. It is during this time where he is able to defeat King Ock, a brain dead version of the Kingpin who used the tentacles of Doctor Octopus to make a suit after killing the tentacled villain.
13. Marvel Mangaverse
In the Marvel Manga universe, Venom is not an alien symbiote, but a human man who used to belong to the Spider Clan, the same clan that Spider-Man belonged to. The two branched off from each other once Venom turns over to the dark side (manifested in this universe as the Shadow Clan) and kills Spidey’s Uncle Ben. When the two finally battled each other, Spider-Man defeated Venom, but spared his life opposed to enacting his vengeance. Feeling like he owed Spidey a favor for sparing his life, Venom saved him in return when Spidey found himself possessed by an evil amulet (this universe’s version of the symbiote). Venom sacrifices his own life and the amulet reduces him to mere bones. Long presumed dead, Venom was lucky enough to magically reappear with new powers. Back on the side of heroes, Venom would become the new leader for the Spider Clan.
In one of the stranger ironies of the Marvel Universe, the respective daughter and grandson of archenemies Peter Parker (Spider-Man) and Norman Osborn (Green Goblin) happened to grow up to be best friends in the reality of Earth-982. Mayday Parker and Normie Osborn III also grew up to fight side by side as crimefighters Spider-Girl and Venom. Though he takes exception to being called Venom (to him, the name has been long stained by the crimes of Eddie Brock years prior). Unlike his father Harry and his grandfather before him, Normie never had a mean streak to him. Apart from being overly sensitive, he was always a nice guy with no signs of future villainy. The Venom symbiote attempted to re-bond to its former host, Peter, but failed and was instead forcibly bonded to Normie. With help from Spider-Girl, Normie was able to gain control of the symbiote and suppress the symbiote’s aggressive nature. Instead of destroying the symbiote, Normie used his newfound control over it to kickstart his own superhero career as Dusk.
11. Venom: Lethal Protector
In the six part 1993 comic book series, Venom: Lethal Protector, enemies Spider-Man and Venom made an agreement that they would stay out of each other’s way. This agreement came with only one condition: Venom was not allowed to commit any crimes. Begrudgingly agreeing to this wager, Eddie Brock moved from New York to San Francisco and after deciding to retire his career as a villainous criminal, he took up the task of being a heroic crimefighter. Venom found himself stopping an assortment of petty crimes in the San Francisco neighborhood and duking it out with the bad guys that he would have aligned himself with not too long ago. This series marked the first time in Marvel canon where Venom made the transition from being a supervillain to being an anti-hero. By the end of the series, Venom and Spidey wound up working side by side to take out Venom’s symbiote offspring.
Andi Benton is a teenage girl who lived in an apartment where her neighbor, Flash Thompson, worked as a gym coach at her high school. After noticing some strange things, Benton came to the conclusion that her coach secretly moonlighted as Agent Venom (more on him later). When mob boss, Lord Ogre, put a hit out on the life of Agent Venom, supervillain Jack O’Lantern released a poisonous gas against him and Andi when he noticed their connection. Thompson released a portion of his symbiote to protect Andi, but the symbiote ended up attaching to her and turning her into Mania. Mania adopted the essential anti-heroic attitude that usually was accustomed with hosts of the Venom symbiote. While Mania has a hellish mean streak to her personality, Agent Venom works hard as her mentor to make sure that she does not take her abilities far enough to kill or go on a rampage.
9. She-Venom (Ms. Marvel)
Those familiar with Carol Danvers’ abilities as Ms. Marvel should also be familiar with her resistance to toxins and poisons. However, not even the powerful Ms. Marvel could resist being bonded to Venom. During the events of the comic book series, Siege, Spider-Man found himself in yet another run-in and eventual battle with Venom. When Ms. Marvel swooped in to offer her helping hand to Spider-Man, she managed to rip the symbiote right from it’s host at the time, Mac Gargan. However, the symbiote immediately latched to Ms. Marvel and turned her into She-Venom. Though she tried to resist the symbiote’s wicked temptations for as long as she could, she did eventually start running amok across the city. Eventually, the ever quick-witted and resilient Ms. Marvel found a way to trick the symbiote into overpowering itself long enough to escape, but then it quickly re-bonded to Gargan after the fact.
8. Mayday Parker
This incarnation of May “Mayday” Parker, daughter of Mary-Jane Watson and Peter Parker, from Earth-9997 was not initially a superhero. Though her inherited powers started to develop as a teenager and she was trained to use her spidey sense thanks to “Uncle Matt” (aka Matt Murdock, aka Daredevil), Mayday never made an attempt to fight crime until she found herself bonded to a special symbiote. It was the same symbiote that bonded to Parker decades prior during the 80s comic book series, Secret Wars. The symbiote detached from its older and disheveled host, Eddie Brock, in order to use Peter Parker’s daughter as means of revenge. However, Mayday’s spidey sense was able to subdue the symbiote to her advantage and avoid being controlled by it. Instead, Mayday controlled the symbiote and under the identity of Venom pursued a career in fighting crime. With her dad long retired, Mayday became this reality’s friendly neighborhood superhero.
In the reality of Earth-982, Norman Osborn had the daughter of his rival, Peter Parker, cloned with symbiote DNA and kept her secretly contained in a stasis chamber for years. When the human-symbiote hybrid was finally released from her slumber, Mayday Parker was already well into her duties as Spider-Girl. When the two came face to face for the first time, the clone was convinced by the Parkers to dedicate her great powers to some great responsibilities. Renaming herself April, the clone hybrid sought to make May’s life easier by becoming the new Spider-Girl. When the two started to butt heads, April was inspired to strike out on her own as Mayhem. This led to May dying in a warehouse the two fought in. In order to avoid a future where Carnage symbiote clones ruled the world, April went back in time to sacrifice herself in the process of saving May. Despite her symbiote bloodline, Mayhem was able to die a hero.
6. Maximum Carnage
There have been several occasions where Venom found himself forming an alliance with arch-rival, Spider-Man. The most famous occasion had to be in the critically acclaimed comic book series, Maximum Carnage. Maximum Carnage saw the offspring of Venom, Carnage, wreaking havoc across the city and spreading, well, carnage. As the damage and deaths piled up, Spider-Man brought on the services of numerous superheroes and antiheroes to help him out. This included Iron Fist, Morbius, Firestar, and even his rival Venom. Even though his objective on this mission was less to be a hero and more to put his offspring in place, Venom actually made for a surprisingly valiant ally. On the side of heroes, Venom actually managed to save a few lives along the way. Venom even managed to save the day by beating the symbiote relentlessly enough to separate from its host after knocking Carnage into an electrical generator.
5. Spider-Man (2000 Video Game)
Another time where Venom and Spider-Man fought side by side was in Spidey’s self-titled video game from 2000. Although, the game started off with the two on opposing sides. The plot of the game centers around the wall-crawler being framed by an imposter Spider-Man for stealing an experiment made by a reformed Dr. Otto Octavius as it was presented live in front of hundreds of people. Mistaking the imposter for the real deal, Venom tried to play hero by bringing Spider-Man to justice. Eddie Brock also wanted some revenge after the imposter destroyed his camera, putting his new job with the Daily Bugle in jeopardy. After the two fight, Spidey finally convinces Venom the two were being played against each other. To make up for hassling Spidey all over town, Venom spends the rest of the game helping Spidey find the true imposter (later revealed to be Mysterio), stop his grand plan, and save the day.
4. Toxin (Patrick Mulligan)
Like most symbiotes, Carnage became pregnant one day, but was stricken with fear when he discovered that his unborn child had the potential to become more powerful than both himself and Venom. When he tried to kill the new symbiote when it was born, Carnage was too weak to do so and instead passed it on to police officer, Patrick Mulligan. When Mulligan bonded to the symbiote, he became Toxin. Since the symbiote was still in its infancy, Mulligan was able to control its evil urges. In order to suppress the evil he did harbor, Mulligan secluded himself away from his loved ones while trying to teach the symbiote to use its powers for good. Mulligan’s positive values and mentorship left a reasonable impression on the symbiote as together, Toxin was able to fight crime, turn in criminals, and repress desires to kill. This heroic union was put to an end when the symbiote de-bonded from Mulligan after Mulligan was beaten to death by Blackheart.
After Eddie Brock de-bonded from the Venom symbiote, Brock was diagnosed with cancer. Finding a new leaf to help people, he started volunteering at a food shelter where he crossed paths with Mr. Negative. Mr. Negative used his powers to cure Brock of his cancer without knowing that there were still traces of the symbiote in Brock’s DNA. As a result, his powers fused Brock’s symbiote cells with his white blood cells, transforming Brock into a hybrid symbiote creature called Anti-Venom. Despite the similar build and monstrous features, Brock in his Anti-Venom suit isn’t nearly as villainous as he was in his Venom suit. In fact, as Anti-Venom, Brock retains his urge to help those in need. He does just that by using his healing abilities to cure those afflicted by any disease. Also, unlike the Venom symbiote, Brock is in full control of Anti-Venom’s actions and is more inclined to be a good guy.
2. Agent Venom
In 2011, Marvel decided to revamp Venom for the modern audience. They did so by inserting former high school bully, Flash Thompson, into the role and giving him a military-esque suit. After losing his legs while serving in the Iraq War, Thompson becomes a willing participant in a government experiment that calls for him to bond to the Venom symbiote. The project was so successful that Thompson ended up using the suit full time as a crimefighter. The only catch is that he cannot stay bonded to the symbiote for more than 48 hours or else he’ll become as savage as Eddie Brock’s Venom incarnation. Ever since he was first introduced into Marvel canon, Agent Venom has found himself as a member of several superhero teams, like The Thunderbolts, Secret Avengers, and the Guardians of the Galaxy. As a character in such high demand from such high profile hero teams, it’s safe to say that Agent Venom is one of the most efficient superheroes in the Marvel universe.
There have been two instances where everyone’s favorite Merc with a Mouth donned the guise of Venom. The first came in Marvel’s What If? series in the reality of Earth-90211. While on a hit job against The Beyonder, Deadpool found himself in The Beyonder’s flying limo. Suddenly, a black suited Spider-Man burst inside the limo demanding that Beyonder remove the symbiote from him. When Beyonder’s limo driver shoots Spidey out the limo, the symbiote detached from the web-slinger and on to Deadpool, turning him into Venompool. The second and most recent instance came with 2015’s Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars, which tells another what if tale that suggests Spider-Man wasn’t the first person to bond with the alien symbiote. Deadpool was and his overall craziness rubbed up off the symbiote long enough that it spawned Venom’s sadistic traits. In both scenarios, Deadpool’s status as a good guy is debatable due to not being the conventional hero, but he manages to retain his anti-hero status even with the symbiote attached to him.