When talking about Marvel and Spider-Man lore, you're bound to come across the living organisms known as the Symbiotes. As you probably already know, the Symbiote attached itself to Peter Parker's suit (giving us the glorious black suit Spider-Man) before going rogue and bonding with Eddie Brock to become the villain known as Venom. The Symbiotes have gone on to spawn more Spider-Man bad guys, leading them to become one of the most invasive villains ever.
What makes this more interesting is that it was eventually revealed that the Symbiotes are actually not just some sort of weird organism. They are actually a species of alien called the Klyntar. Better yet, they aren't inherently evil. The Klyntar are actually a peaceful race of aliens. The Venom and Carnage symbiotes that created Spider-Man villains were considered "outcasts" among their own race. The Symbiotes have since then come in contact with cosmic heroes like the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Because of the nature of the Symbiote bad guys, it was just recently announced that Venom would be getting his own movie produced by Sony (jury's still out on whether it will be in the MCU or not). In honor of Venom potentially getting the big-screen treatment he deserves, we've decided to look at the various Symbiotes that have risen in Marvel's history.
Of the Klyntar, these are the 15 most powerful Symbiotes.
Kicking off this list is the Venom Symbiote. Considering that it was a given that he would be on this list, we felt it necessary to place him first. Venom was the first Symbiote villain who spawned when it merged with Eddie Brock, a fellow reporter at the Daily Bugle. Considering that Peter Parker was the reason that Brock was eventually fired, he accepted the Symbiote gladly, believing that he would be able to enact revenge on Spider-Man. Because of this, Venom sports very similar powers to Spider-Man himself, but also has added strength and reflexes to boot.
Venom has been a unique addition to the Marvel Universe because he has since left the realm of being a bad guy. He has become an anti-hero and had several adventures that definitely put him on the side of a hero more than anything else. He has been known to even work with Spider-Man on several occasions, mostly to fight other Symbiotes, though. Venom has since then become a fan favorite character in Marvel's canon, often appearing in video games, TV shows, and the aforementioned spin-off film. Time will tell if it turns out well for the tortured anti-hero.
The Venom Symbiote didn't have to live on Earth alone for very long because it eventually spawned several children -- all of whom found unique hosts and performed their own destruction. One of them was the Agony Symbiote. Agony didn't play a big part during its appearance in the comics, and it was arguably the least powerful of its siblings. As a matter of fact, the host human that it attached itself to was murdered by one of its brothers. It eventually gained a new host but spent a lot of time as a Symbiote without a real body.
Don't let that fool you, though. Agony still has plenty of abilities that make it a great contender on this list. All of the trademark attributes are present- such as super strength and reflexes. The one thing that made Agony unique was that it could absorb all kinds of chemicals, even Spider-Man's webbing. It could also take the chemicals that it absorbed and fire them out of its body in the form of acid. This instantly made Agony a much tougher Symbiote to take down, though it hasn't shown its ugly face again for quite some time.
It's an unfortunate circumstance when a father is trying to be a hero and his children are going haywire. Another one of the children of Venom was Lasher. It was the result of experiments conducted by the Life Foundation to create new superhuman guardians. The tests went awry, and we got the children of Venom. The Lasher Symbiote bonded with a mercenary, and from there, the circumstances only became worse. Spider-Man and Venom had to team up in order to dispose of it.
After the dynamic duo beat the Venom children, Lasher made a return due to the science of the Life Foundation. It was at this point that the Symbiote (along with its siblings) tried to expand their army in order to invade the Earth. However, their efforts would prove fruitless as Lasher would end up dying while trying to accomplish this feat. In life, there wasn't much shown about Lasher's abilities, but it is assumed that it could do much of what the other Venom Symbiotes could (with some unique abilities). The standout attribute of this Symbiote was its appearance. Taking a dark green costume made Lasher easy on the eyes at the very least. Like Agony, Lasher was betrayed by one of its siblings.
Another one of the Life Foundation Symbiotes and Venom's children was Phage. Like its siblings, there isn't a lot known about Phage apart from a few standout examples in the comics. What makes Phage a bit more memorable is that it was able to obtain multiple hosts during its lifespan. While there was the trademark "Average Joe" host, Phage eventually stumbled across the Merc with a Mouth, Deadpool himself, and bonded with it. You can imagine the snarky and dangerous Symbiote that would've resulted from such a combination.
Eventually, Phage would be revitalized in order to bond with a member of a group called the Mercury Team, along with its siblings. Then, Phage would work alongside Venom and Spider-Man to take down the Symbiote known as Carnage, who had been terrorizing the entire state of Colorado. It was after this event that Phage and Deadpool worked together in order to hunt Carnage and destroy it once and for all. Phage bears all of the abilities of its siblings and has the unique attribute of being able to transform its arms into deadly blades that can slice through just about anyone and anything.
Yet another of the Life Foundation Symbiotes (there were about five in total) was the blue one named Riot. Similar to its siblings, Riot was substantially weaker than other singular Symbiotes like Venom due to the fact that it was a spawn rather than its own substance. That being said, Riot was still a capable fighter when it helped to bring down a power-crazed Carnage after the villain had taken over Colorado.
What made Riot a bit more impressive than its siblings was that it was built much stronger than the rest. While it's never clearly stated, the visual cues suggest that Riot is the strongest of its family. On top of that, Riot is also capable of moving faster than what the human eye can detect. This makes Riot a threatening adversary to any who opposed it. While Riot doesn't carry any more unique abilities, it does tend to morph its arms into giant impacting weapons like hammers. Going hand in hand with its superior strength, Riot immediately becomes one of the most amazing of Venom's children. This was further emphasized by it taking a hot-headed man as its host. Don't get on Riot's bad side.
Of all of Venom's children, there was one that seemed to be much more psychopathic than the rest of them. The Symbiote's name was Scream, and she was arguably the most powerful of the Life Foundation Symbiotes. Right off the bat, it was clear that she had much more sinister intentions than her cohorts, and that came to fruition in due time. Apparently, this was because her host likely suffered some schizophrenia, and that heavily factored into the mental stability of the Symbiote itself.
Scream was very impulsive and rarely relied on any grand plans. Instead, she took it upon herself to go nuts and kill whomever she desired (a similar philosophy to fellow Symbiote, Carnage). She ended up turning on her brothers and sisters, having killed Agony's host and cutting Lasher down where it stood. Scream had to be dealt with separately by Venom and Spider-Man, as she was much more terrifying than the rest. Like the other Symbiotes, she had many of the same abilities of her siblings, but also had the unique attribute of symbiotic hair. Her hair grew to great lengths and could be used as extra arms during battle, making her a much more terrible foe.
Eddie Brock wasn't the only person to take on the Venom Symbiote, and many scientists tried to take a piece of it and re-purpose it for use by other individuals. This was how the Mania Symbiote was created. It was a clone and extension of the Venom Symbiote. Unfortunately for the people in charge, the Mania Symbiote wasn't quite structured, often opting to kill and horribly maim any potential host that it came into contact with. It could even feed off of people's memories and use it to kill them in ways that they feared.
Because of how brutal and unfeeling it was, the Mania Symbiote would travel from host to host frequently, always seeking to gain the biggest advantage it could on the field of battle. This led it to bond with the Wolverine on one occasion, providing one of the most nightmarish combinations ever seen in Marvel Comics. Mania would eventually take control of a girl named Andi Benton, who was driven by vengeance. What made Mania even more frightening is that it was given a Hell-Mark by Mephisto that allowed it to summon all kinds of powerful demons before changing into a true monster itself. If that's not terrifying to you, I'm not sure what is.
While many spawn of Venom went on to become great and terrible foes, Carnage also had his fair share of children who made their own marks in Marvel history. This offspring of the murderous Symbiote went on to become known as Raze. What immediately made Raze so terrifying was that it bonded itself with an ex-FBI agent, granting it access to all kinds of training as well as memories of the US government itself.
However, Raze's legacy would go far beyond just being a villain and offspring of Carnage. As a matter of fact, one of Raze's old hosts would actually absorb it to gain power in a battle with Carnage. After that, Raze would be gone forever. It didn't make a huge impact, but the abilities of Raze cannot be ignored. As you'd expect by now, Raze had all of the trademark attributes of any self-respecting Symbiote on top of some alterations. Raze was especially adept at transforming its body and extremities into various weapons. It could change into tentacles, claws, fangs, blades, you name it. Raze was easily one of the most versatile Symbiotes to ever exist and had one of the scariest designs as well.
7 Superior Venom
As many people came to find out, the Venom Symbiote is not to be messed with. While having his run as the Superior Spider-Man, Otto Octavius went through some strange actions. He was pitted against Agent Venom at a time and offered the vigilante a procedure that would enhance his abilities. Instead of making good on his word, Octavius extracted the Venom Symbiote that instead bonded itself to him. No longer was he the Superior Spider-Man, but the Superior Venom.
At first, Octavius swore up and down that he had full control over the Symbiote. However, it was only a matter of time before the parasite fed on his negative emotions and took control. The Superior Venom then went to war against the Avengers and put up a powerful fight before they were able to finally detain him. However, the damage had been done. The Symbiote, combined with Peter Parker's abilities and Otto Octavius's intelligence, ended up being one of the greatest short-time foes that the Avengers ever faced. The Superior Venom's existence even caused the Avengers to want to bring in Spider-Man, knowing that there was something up with the wall crawler.
One of the earlier Symbiotes to come to Earth was the Carnage Symbiote. When Eddie Brock was incarcerated for his crimes, he was placed in a cell with Cletus Kasady. Kasady had been a damaged psychopath who would kill anyone he didn't like. He killed his grandmother and brought harm to an innocent dog. As he got older, Kasady would do enough damage to cause him to serve eleven life sentences in prison. While Brock was there, the Venom Symbiote became pregnant and gave birth to the Carnage Symbiote, which bonded itself to Kasady. The sadistic monster was then born.
Carnage is stronger, faster, and deadlier than Venom. Due to it bonding with such a mentally unstable host who loves to kill, Carnage is as violent as violent can be. He doesn't hesitate to use his powers to rip apart anyone that gets in his way. When he starts causing problems, it often leads to Venom and Spider-Man teaming up to save the day. Carnage would go on to be one of the most frightening Marvel villains to ever exist. One of his killing sprees became so horrible that the heroes decided to call on Deadpool to deal with him as the best person to track a crazy person would be another crazy person.
5 Agent Venom
Eugene "Flash" Thompson was one of the most hated characters when Spider-Man first began. Being the high school bully, Flash spent a lot of time making life miserable for young Peter Parker. However, as time went on, the two became good friends although they parted ways after graduation. From then on, Flash went to the military and fought in a few wars. After he returned from Iraq, he had lost both of his legs and was appropriately confined to a wheelchair. Life wasn't too great for him in those days.
That was why Flash was okay with being a part of Project Rebirth. In order to gain his legs back, he was bonded with the Venom Symbiote to become Agent Venom. Surprisingly, Flash was able to maintain control of the Symbiote and became a powerful ally for many other superheroes. Agent Venom has all of the abilities you would expect from a Symbiote but also uses his military training to his advantage. Agent Venom has gone on to work with the Avengers, Spider-Man, and even the Guardians of the Galaxy. He remains one of the most admired Marvel characters to this day.
A lot of this article was spent focusing on Venom's children, and their original creation wasn't going to be the last time they appeared. After Scream had killed Agony's, Riot's, Phage's, and Lasher's hosts, they disembodied organisms then chose to form together. The resulting combination was known as Hybrid. (I know... really original.) Hybrid had many of the composite abilities of its siblings and was collectively much stronger than many Symbiotes that had come before it.
Because Hybrid was a combination of four powerful Symbiotes, it had many unique abilities that made it much harder to track down. Among them was an impressive camouflage ability that allowed it to effectively blend in with whatever setting was around it. Hybrid also kept the unique abilities that its constituents held while separate. It could absorb Spider-Man's webbing and other chemicals as a result of this. Hybrid altogether became an increasingly difficult Symbiote to overcome. The only downside of it is that each respective Symbiote had its own voice and would often disagree with one another. What made this worse was when a host had to listen to the four different voices in his or head while trying to make a decision.
Because Eddie Brock was the original host for a Symbiote, he gets all of the cool toys in the future. Eventually, the Venom Symbiote was removed from his body, but small traces of it were still left behind. Then, poor Eddie had to struggle with having cancer. Thankfully, the villain Mr. Negative decided to cure Eddie's cancer. However, Mr. Negative's abilities combined with the pieces of Symbiote left in Eddie's body. This combination then bonded with his white blood cells and an entirely new Symbiote was born.
This Symbiote sported a white and black appearance and had an amazing wealth of healing abilities thanks to Mr. Negative's intervention. This version of the Venom Symbiote was stronger than its predecessor. The most beneficial factor was that the Symbiote didn't have a mind, which left Eddie in full control of his actions. Keeping all of these factors in consideration, the organism was named Anti-Venom. Anti-Venom is one of the most powerful Symbiotes and at times even surpasses Spider-Man in overall strength and skill. Unfortunately, Anti-Venom does have a weakness. If it uses its abilities too much, its power will wane, leaving it susceptible to all kinds of attacks.
While not having much of an interesting name, Zzxz still remains one of the deadliest Symbiotes in the Marvel Universe. Another outcast among the Klyntar Race, Zzxz differs more from its species than just having a desire to kill. While most Symbiotes feed off of the emotions and adrenaline of their hosts, Zzxz instead feeds on the brains of anything it can get close to. Because of this, Zzxz has gone on numerous killing sprees just to satisfy its hunger and was dubbed as one of the five most dangerous criminals that the Shi'ar Empire has ever known.
Apart from feeding off of brains, there isn't much different about Zzxz. It retains the same attributes as all other Klyntar, including camouflage and sticking to walls. Zzxz was later used in the Cancerverse when a dark version of Xavier needed to be stopped. Considering how powerful Professor X's brain is, Zzxz had a glorious feast.
As the Symbiotes have evolved on Earth, there is one that is more powerful than the rest. The 1000th Symbiote in its lineage (and born from the Carnage Symbiote) is known as Toxin. It was young and naive. It bonded with a local officer and had many conversations about life and how to conduct itself in the real world. However, it was only a matter of time before Toxin was sought by other people, and it was revealed that it was the strongest out of all of the Symbiotes in the Marvel Universe.
It is important to note that while Toxin maintains abilities that other Klyntar hold, it is still much more powerful. Its super strength is more enhanced, its reflexes are much faster, and it's even immune to Spider-Man's Spider Sense. Toxin also has some new abilities that are quite useful. Living up to its name, Toxin can bite anyone and inject a lethal toxin into their bodies. It can also track just about anyone and anything in the world. Toxin can even recover from injuries so severe that modern medicine can't even cure them -- a healing factor that might make even Wolverine blush.
Sources: Wikia, Marvel Comics