UPDATE: Writer Don Cates has since clarified on Twitter that the character isn't, in fact, a symbiote. Original store continues below.
Free Comic Book Day is coming up on May 2nd in the United States, and Ryan Stegman just gave fans a first look at a brand new symbiote character named Virus. Stegman and Donny Cates helped guide Absolute Carnage last summer and now, they're pressing onward with the symbiote. Virus won't make his debut until that day in May, but the groundwork has already been laid for some big developments to come. *Spoilers for Venom #23 to come.* The lasting image from the recent issues of Venom is Captain America dropping a bomb on the creature along with the Carnage remnants on Venom Island. The explosion means that Eddie Brock has to face a world without his partner. But, it looks like this new symbiote will play into things somehow.
Stegmann wrote on Instagram, "🚨 NEW CHARACTER ALERT🚨 in the upcoming FCBD issue, @dcates and I have created a new character named VIRUS. Read it to find out all about him!"
So, is there any more to glean about what's to come? Well, Cates sat down with SyFyWire to talk about the upcoming developments. It should come as no shock that the issue with Virus is absolutely key to the Venom run going forward.
"The events of Issue 26 kick off this arc called "Beyond." I've structured my entire run with pieces that reflect each other and talk to each other," Cates explained. "What I mean by that is that Volume 1: "Rex" is about the symbiote and symbiote lore. Volume 2: "The Abyss" is a reflection of that in that it looked at Eddie's lore, diving deep into who Eddie Brock is and his family. Absolute Carnage is a prelude to a larger thing, and we'll see the opposite of what that is coming very soon. With Venom Island, we're looking back at his history, revisiting certain things from Venom's past. With "Venom Beyond," all I will say is that we will be looking into the future."
"I would say that people should definitely pick up Venom #26," he continued. "I hate to be this guy, but I tend to tip my hand in favor of retailers so they can help themselves. I would absolutely recommend they stock up on the FCBD issue as well as Venom #26 for the appearance of some very important new characters."