by Spencer Irwin
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Legacy heroes (and villains!) always present a bit of a conundrum. The inheritors of the mantles tend to bring much needed diversity and fresh perspectives to their stories and quickly amass fanbases, but of course the original characters have lifelong fans who aren’t happy to see their beloved heroes pushed aside, even temporarily. To me, the obvious solution has always been to have multiple characters share names and roles: why not have two Captains America or two Hawkeyes, four Flashes or a million Green Lanterns?
Both this conflict and this solution seem to be the core of Dan Slott, Mike Costa, and Ryan Stegman’s new crossover event, Venom Inc. It’s a story that finds the various men who have been Venom fighting over their right to symbiote, and which, at least for the moment, seems to be finding great joy in including as many Venoms as possible.
The latter aspect mainly comes from the villain, calling himself Maniac, who has stolen a symbiote from the hero Mania and is using it to enlist D-List villains into a kind of symbiote hivemind. Just like the rest of the issue’s cast, Maniac wants to be Venom, but he’s willing to share the power (and fully capable of it as well), understanding that there’s strength in numbers (even if he does retain complete control over all his cronies).
Eddie Brock and Flash Thompson, meanwhile, both have valid claim to the symbiote.
Eddie is the “original,” the beloved classic Venom, but Flash put genuine work into redeeming Venom and making the name his own, making it stand for something. Even the symbiote himself is torn between its two former hosts, unable to decide between the two even as they go for the Air Bud route of letting the symbiote choose its host for itself.
The symbiote chooses the same option as I — why not have two Venoms? — but simply doesn’t have the physical capability to possess two hosts at once, keeping the Brock/Flash conflict alive even when a clear solution is on the table.
The only character (and notably, a former symbiote-host himself) who doesn’t want to be Venom is Spider-Man, who believes the symbiote to be so dangerous that it should be destroyed. Who is right here? Should the symbiotes be destroyed, claimed, or shared? Is there any solution that can satisfy everyone? Probably not, but it should be a lot of fun to see Slott, Costa, and Stegman try.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?