Venom is a character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character is a sentient alien symbiote with an amorphous, liquid-like form, who survives by bonding with a host, usually human. This dual-life form receives enhanced powers and usually refers to itself as "Venom". The symbiote was originally introduced as a living alien costume in The Amazing Spider-Man #252 (May 1984), with a full first appearance as Venom in The Amazing Spider-Man #300 (May 1988).
The Venom symbiote's first human host was Spider-Man himself, who eventually discovered its true nefarious nature and separated himself from the creature in The Amazing Spider-Man #258 (November 1984)—with a brief rejoining five months later in Web of Spider-Man #1. The symbiote went on to merge with other hosts, beginning with Eddie Brock, its second and best-known host, with whom it first became Venom. Venom has endured as one of Spider-Man's most prominent villains, and was initially regarded as one of his three archenemies, alongside the Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus. Since his debut however, Venom has evolved into an antiheroic figure, slowly distancing himself from his initial goal to ruin Spider-Man's life to try and do good instead, even putting aside his differences with and helping Spider-Man at times. After Brock, numerous other hosts for Venom followed; some of the most notable are the villain Mac Gargan, who was the main incarnation of Venom from 2005 to 2009, and Flash Thompson, who became the superhero Agent Venom from 2011 to 2016, before Venom returned to Brock in 2017. Venom's most recent and current host is Brock's biological son, Dylan. Venom is also depicted as having spawned several children—Scream, Lasher, Phage, Agony, Riot, Mania, Sleeper, and most notably, Carnage, who becomes Venom's archenemy after being bound to serial killer Cletus Kasady.
A fan-favorite character and well-known figure in popular culture, Venom (primarily the Eddie Brock incarnation) is the most recognizable Spider-Man antagonist not first introduced during the original Lee/Ditko run. He has been featured in various media adaptations of Spider-Man over the years, including feature films, television series and video games. The character was portrayed by Tobey Maguire and Topher Grace in Spider-Man 3 (2007), with Tom Hardy primarily portraying the character in the Sony's Spider-Man Universe films Venom (2018) and Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021), as well as an uncredited post-credit scene appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe film Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021).
The Eddie Brock incarnation of Venom is among Spider-Man's most famous rogues, and is regarded by many as a dark reflection of the hero. Comics journalist and historian Mike Conroy writes of the character: "What started out as a replacement costume for Spider-Man turned into one of the Marvel web-slinger's greatest nightmares". Venom was rated 33rd on Empire's 50 Greatest Comic Book Characters, and ranked 22nd on IGN's 100 Greatest Comic Villains of All Time.
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