Sunday, March 31, 2013

A New Jesus

Happy (late) Easter, Venomaniacs! For you Christians out there now is the time of rejoicing for the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the gift of candy bunnies, but resurrection is partly what today’s post is about. Comic book characters, as I’m sure we all know, often get brought back from the dead in numerous ways, no matter silly and ridiculous it may be. It almost makes it seem as if no one can ever truly stay dead. This is why we have the saying: “No one dies except Uncle Ben,” which is exaggerating but it gets the point across. The type of resurrection I’ll be discussing today is more of a symbolic resurrection, like a born again Christian. More specifically, I’ll be discussing the resurrection of everyone’s favorite symbiote host: Eddie Brock.

Is that Eddie or Mac? Hard to tell.
Eddie had been struggling with cancer that the Venom symbiote had given him since “The Hunger” arc of The Spectacular Spider-Man in 2003. After watching The Passion of the Christ, Eddie auctioned off the symbiote to super villains and donated all the money to charity. From there on he was haunted by the symbiote as he was slowly dying in the terminal ward. This was a scary time for the Brock purists. Eddie was on the verge of dying and someone else was Venom. Shouldn’t we have been happy that Eddie was finally rid of the very thing that ruined his life? Eddie had always been known as Venom, so what use was he to “the powers above” at Marvel? It was a troubling time, that is until 2008. A new Spider-Man arc called “New Ways to Die” shall come to pass. We were teased with a symbiote with a reverse color scheme to Venom, and of course people weren’t too thrilled with another symbiote, I wonder why. We would learn in an interview with writer Dan Slott and a later statement from senior editor Stephen Whacker in The Amazing Spider-Man #666 that this new “symbiote” was born from an idea Whacker had of flopping Venom’s colors around and had the name “White Venom.” Slott decided on the name “Anti-Venom” because it was an actual word and because “White Venom” sounded like a bar drink. In this same interview, Slott also mentions that Anti-Venom may not exactly be a symbiote (he could’ve been a skrull since Secret Invasion was starting up, but you know). Eddie Brock would also be a part of the story, Slott says: “Eddie Brock is important to the mythos- he’s had such a rich history of hating Spidey and Peter… He’s one of the most important Spider-Man characters of the ‘80’s, ‘90’s, and naughts- with or without the symbiote.” I love that so much.  

Symbiote related covers are the only ones that matter.
August 20, 2008 released the first part of “New Ways to Die,” The Amazing Spider-Man #568 and would run to issue #573. Eddie was found by Martin Li in Our Lady of Saints Church, the same church where Eddie became Venom. Li helped Eddie put his life straight. He was given a job at F.E.A.S.T. and Matt Murdock took care of Eddie’s legal problems by “proving” to the court that Eddie couldn’t be reasonable for anything he did as Venom, yeah, yeah, OK. Eddie couldn’t escape the symbiote's influence though; he attacked one man at F.E.A.S.T. and was still having violent hallucinations. While in F.E.A.S.T., Betty Bryant goes crazy seeing Eddie there, who she still thinks is Venom. Martin Li places his hand on Eddie and the remnants of the Venom symbiote attach themselves to Eddie’s white blood cells. Norman Osborn and The Thunderbolts are off doing whatever to get Spider-Man, and Venom believes he is tracking down Spidey due to the symbiote being able to sense old hosts. Gargan stumbles onto Eddie in F.E.A.S.T. by “accident.” Was Gargan just mistaken, or was the symbiote trying to find Eddie because he was recently cured of his cancer? The world may never know. The symbiote tries to rejoin with Eddie and the reaction of the symbiote turns Eddie into ANTI-VENOM.
Anti-Venom’s powers are revealed to be the same as Venom’s (no surprise there) and has no weakness to sonics or fire (even being able to survive a mini atomic bomb generated by RadioactiveMan and Songbird). Since he is called “Anti-Venom” he is able to dissolve the Venom symbiote with his touch as well as cure people of anomalies in their body. He goes pretty hardcore. His healing powers get him in trouble when he tries to rid Spider-Man of the remnants of the symbiote inside him and deciding he might as well get rid of the radioactivity in his blood, but is stopped before he can complete the process. Now whenever he’s in close proximity to Spider-Man, Spidey's powers cut out. All of these abilities make Anti-Venom one hell of a monster, he’s near impossible to take down unless you have a special formula specifically designed to take him down… or if he releases too much of his antibodies… or a magic sword.
Eddie after his sacrifice of his Anti-Venom for a Spider-Island cure.
With his new found abilities, Eddie becomes much of the old Lethal Protector, he attempts to write off his past by being a hero, but some people like Punisher and Spider-Man don’t believe he can change. Eddie himself becomes more of a man of faith than he ever has been, some people found him too preachy, but I think it fits his circumstances pretty well. Eddie was nothing but a cancerous husk on the edge of death after he gave away the symbiote and all he had left was his faith. When the monster came back to bring him down again, he is given this mysterious power to repel the “demon.” It is never revealed to Eddie that Mr. Negative gave him his powers so to him it’s the very act of God that gave him his powers, and he must do right to prove himself worthy of such a gift. Did it get to his head during Spider-Island? Well yeah, but he had finally found a way to prove everyone wrong, to heal everyone and become the hero. In the end he would have to sacrifice his antibodies to save everyone from their sins (JEEESUSSS). That would be the last we would see of Anti-Venom, besides the Revengers story but that’s before Spider-Island and we don’t talk about that.
Gone but not forgotten.
Did our savior, Anti-Venom, leave us too soon? I think he did, he was proving to be a popular character outside of comics with his major appearance in Spider-Man: Edge of Time, a mini series, and a lot of merchandise including: a Diamond Select Figure, a minimate, a Heroclix figure, and other items other symbiotes never got the chance to get. It felt like he was becoming the third top symbiote along with Venom and Carnage. But Eddie went out the way he would want to, being a hero. If he was real you know… we can still believe. He would not receive a hero's reward after Spider-Island, but he was never looking for one. He just wants to do the right thing. As for the reasons the “higher powers” might have decided to get rid of Anti-Venom? I don’t really want to say that Anti-Venom was created solely for Spider-Island, but it is a possibility. I’d like to see it as that since Spider-Island would be a turning point for our other spider related peoples such as Kaine becoming Scarlet Spider, Flash going AWOL, and Superior Spider-Man forming in the distance, maybe it was time for Eddie to turn over another leaf also. With a new Venom series I can imagine Remender wanted to use Eddie as a regular, but having a character who could easily curb stomp Venom wouldn’t be very fair would it? I guess you could say they could’ve easily just removed his healing powers, and that’s true they could have, but truthfully I can’t think of a real reason why they decided to ultimately throw him out the window. All in all it boils down to if Eddie's new role as Toxin justifies Anti-Venom’s removal. At the moment I do not think so, I’d very much rather see him as Anti-Venom long-term. There was so much more he could've been and done. I would've loved a Cloak and Dagger team up against Mr. Negative, personally. I am very giddy about all this Toxin business, though. It’s something I look forward to sharing my thoughts about at a later date, but I really hate all the waiting.  
Cannot wait.

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