In November, Marvel Comics introduced a brand new character as the Venom symbiotes latest host in the pages of Venom #1, from writer Mike Costa and artist Gerardo Sandoval.
Lee Price, Venom's new host, is just the latest in a long line. Since Venom's creation in 1988 (after being introduced as a new Spider-Man costume in 1984), the Venom symbiote has bounced from host to host, changing its role and demeanor to match.
To mark the occasion of the new Venom Marvel NOW! series, here's a look at every character to play host to the insane alien Klyntar, ranked from worst host to best host.
Note that to be included on this list a character needed to have a significant run or storyline as Venom. There are plenty of instances of other established superheroes and villains bonding with the Venom symbiote for a single panel, issue, or brief storyline. We're not going to go into each and every one of those, just the character who have really added to the Venom mythology.
Venom #1 is on sale now. Venom #2 hits comic book stores on Dec. 21, 2016.
9. Patricia Robertson
Before being called Venom, Patricia Robertson was a U.S. Army communication specialist. The reason she brings up the bottom of this list is because the symbiote she bonded with wasn't even actually Venom, but a Venom clone.
Robertson encountered the clone while on a mission to the Ararat Corporation, which was secretly being run by an alien colony that wanted to exterminate all humans on Earth.
The second downside to Patricia's "Venom" run is that the storyline was never properly resolved. Patricia decided to challenge Eddie Brock and the true Venom symbiote, but the true symbiote easily absorbed the clone into itself. The Venom supposedly resolved to continue Ararat's mission, but the Venom series this all occurred in was canceled and the mission was never followed up on.
8. Ann Weying
Ann Weying is the ex-wife of original Venom Eddie Brock, and her Venom story is borderline embarrassing.
When Ann found out that Eddie had become Venom and was trying to kill Spider-Man, she stepped in and convinced Brock and Spider-Man to bury the hatchet. Unfortunately, a delusion killer called Sin-Eater shoots Ann and Venom bonds with her in order to save her life.
As the condescendingly named "She-Venom," Ann becomes a vengeful woman cliche who rages at the men who have wronged her. Eddie Brock manages to take the Venom symbiote back from Ann.
Later Ann is arrested on false charges and used as bait to lure Eddie Brock out. Eddie sends the Venom symbiote to Ann to help her escape, and she becomes She-Venom once more.
Ann is horrified and traumatized by her time with the Venom symbiote so much so that she kills herself after seeing Spider-Man swing past her window in a black costume, fearing that the symbiote has come back from her.
Does this sound like a terrible story? It should. Ann was never given much agency and primarily was used as a tool to motivate Eddie Brock. She's a Venom best left forgotten.
7. Angelo Fortunato
When the Venom symbiote and Eddie Brock finally grew tired of each other, Eddie sold the symbiote on the black market. The buyer was Don Fortunato, a mafia capo.
Don Fortunato purchased the symbiote as a sort of "gift" for his son, Angelo. Angelo was shy and meek, which infuriated his father.
Upon bonding with the symbiote, Angelo learned Spider-Man's secret identity and decided to try to kill the hero to prove himself to his father. It didn't go well. After failing to slay Spider-Man, the Venom symbiote decided Angelo was too week of a host for him. The symbiote abandoned Angelo while in the middle of swinging between building, letting Angelo fall to his death.
Angelo Fortunato's tenure as Venom only lasted two issues. While not long-lived, Angelo's story is a tragic one befitting the alien monster that is venom.
Deadpool's relationship with the Venom symbiote is entirely the result of modern day retconning of past stories, but it's some pretty entertaining retconning at least.
The Deadpool's Secret Secret Wars miniseries revealed the Deadpool was actually present during the events of the original Secret Wars miniseries from the 1980s, but nobody remembers that he ultimately wished for everyone to forget he was there.
The story reveals that Deadpool briefly bonded with the alien symbiote before Spider-Man encountered it, and hints that merging with Deadpool's mind may have been what drove Venom insane and made the symbiote so aggressive.
The still ongoing Deadpool: Back in Black miniseries reveals that Deadpool reunited with the Venom symbiote while on Earth. After Spider-Man rejected the symbiote, the symbiote went looking for someone familiar and found Deadpool.
The series follows Deadpool as he used the symbiote to web-sling around New York City, and as characters like Power Pack and Black Cat mistake him for the actual Spider-Man. The latest issue even implies that an encounter between Deadpool with the symbiote and Kraven the Hunter gave Kraven the inspiration for the events of the classic Spider-Man story "Kraven's Last Hunt."
Take Deadpool's history with the Venom symbiote as the tongue-in-cheek comedy that it is meant to be, and it's hard to deny the charm.
It may come as a surprise to see Spider-Man at the middle point of the list, but he's kind of an awkward circumstance.
Yes, Spider-Man was the first to encounter the alien symbiote (at least until Deadpool got retconned into Secret Wars) and he was the one who brought the symbiote back to Earth.
On the other hand, Spider-Man was never actually Venom. In fact, one could argue that the symbiote's Venom persona was created specifically as a reaction to Spider-Man's rejection.
In the end, that rejection of the symbiote suit is the most important gift Spider-Man gave the Venom legacy.
4. Mac Gargan
Mac Gargan, the Spider-Man villain formerly known as the Scorpion, had an extended run as Venom in the early 2000s. His tenure as the Venom of record for a good chunk of modern Marvel history is enough to get him this far on this list.
However, Gargan did very little to distinguish himself among the best Venoms of the Marvel Universe, and added basically nothing to the character's mythology.
Mac Gargan's Venom is best known for being a part of Norman Osborn's post-Civil War Thunderbolts team, and later for impersonating Spider-Man as part of Osborn's Dark Avengers squad.
But beyond that, Gargan was just an oversized, more monstrous and less interesting version of the Venom's who had preceded him, and proved to be an even less serious threat to Spider-Man.
Gargan put in too much time as Venom to be discounted, but his Venom was just not that interesting, amounting to little more than an enforcer for Norman Osborn.
3. Lee Price
It may be surprising to see Lee Price, who has only appeared in one comic book so far, this close to the top of this list. In fairness, it was a pretty good comic book.
Who would have expected that a comic book would make readers actually feel bad for the Venom symbiote itself? But that's exactly what Mike Costa and Gerardo Sandoval managed to do in Venom #1.
Lee Price, the human host for Venom, is more monstrous than the Venom symbiote itself, and after spending so much time as a true superhero, the Venom symbiote does not want to go back to a life of crime. But Lee Price has the symbiote trapped.
The very concept of this Venom storyline, that way it flips the script on the character's established power dynamic, instantly makes Lee Price's Venom far more interesting that most of the Venom's who have preceded him.
2. Eddie Brock
Eddie Brock is the first character to go by the name Venom, and for most, he is the definitive version of the character.
Venom is a product of the early days of the "grim and gritty" era of comic books. Even as Eddie Brock, the character's personality was pretty one note: kill Spider-Man.
But Eddie Brock's Venom is remembered for Todd McFarlane's monstrous original design, and for being among the most threatening of Spider-Man's foes, even if he wasn't the most interesting.
Eventually, Venom tried to give up his quest for revenge on Spider-Man and became the "lethal protector," a violent anti-hero. He even got his own archnemesis with the creation of symbiote spawn called Carnage.
Eventually, Brock gave up the Venom symbiote, but he couldn't stay out of the game forever, and returned as Anti-Venom and Toxin.
1. Flash Thompson
By bonding with Flash Thompson, Venom was saved from the fate of a relatively obscure relic of the 1990s and reached new heights few could have expected.
Binding Venom to Flash, who had returned from the Iraq war after losing both of his legs in battle, which was a brilliant idea that allowed writers to explore themes like the seduction of power, but it went far beyond the initial concept.
Flash began working with the Venom symbiote as a one-man black ops team for the government. Since them, "Agent Venom" has been a member of the Avengers, joined Thunderbolt Ross's Thunderbolts squad, became an Avenger, went to space as part of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and even became a space knight.
Along the way, Flash and the Venom symbiote's relationship changed. The symbiote grew to like being a hero, which make his recent twist of fate all the more tragic.
The key is that the Venom symbiote actually underwent significant character development during his time bonded to Flash Thompson. That's something barely done with Eddie Brock, only so far hinted at with Lee Price, and hardly acknowledged by his other hosts.
It is no contest really. Flash Thompson is the best thing to ever happen to Venom.