'Venom': Who Is Riot?

Who Is Riot - Cover
(Photo: Marvel Entertainment)

After the release of a new trailer at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend, the plot and characters in the upcoming Venom movie are really starting to take shape. The very first trailer only clarified Tom Hardy’s role as Eddie Brock and Venom with an ambiguous rivalry with the villainous Life Foundation. Now fans know that Carlton Drake, the leader of the Life Foundation played by Riz Ahmed, will be appearing as another symbiote and the film’s central antagonist: Riot.

The name will come as a surprise to any but the most dedicated fans of Spider-Man and Venom comics. Many fans expected to see Venom’s first offspring, the psychotic and deadly Carnage, appear. Carnage has long been the second most popular symbiote in the comics, and has appeared in various animated adaptations. Sony Pictures appears to have had very different ideas though, and went with a much deeper cut from the comics history.

That leaves a very important question for audiences excited about the Venom movie coming out on October 5th: Who is Riot? That’s a question we are prepared to answer, especially after having created a detailed synopsis and ranking of every symbiote in the Marvel universe earlier this year. So if you’re not sure who Riot is or what his appearance might mean for Venom, then just keep reading.

Who Is Riot - Symbiotes
(Photo: Marvel Entertainment)

Origins

David Michelinie, the writer and co-creator of Venom, carried over the Life Foundation from Amazing Spider-Man into Venom’s first solo series, Venom: Lethal Protector. It was there that he and artist Ron Lim created Riot and all of his siblings in the pages of Venom: Lethal Protector #4.

In order to understand who Riot is, it’s equally important to understand the Life Foundation. They were an elite survivalist group convinced that the Cold War would bring about the end of life on Earth as we know it. In order to avoid this fate, they crafted a variety of schemes in order to survive a nuclear holocaust and to rebuild society in its wake. Their primary motivation was a sense of entitlement and elitism, one that drove them to protect only the wealthiest in the event of an apocalypse.

Knowing there would be a need for an efficient police force in his imagined future, Life Foundation leader Carlton Drake wanted to create duplicates of the Venom symbiote that could be controlled by members of his own organization. He captured Venom and forced him to produce five seeds, much like Carnage, that would become their own symbiote forces and bond with various other people. Each new symbiote had a unique appearance and it was Riot that most resembled his progenitor as he was completely covered in black. Riot merged with security guard Trevor Cole and he, along with the others, caused havoc throughout San Francisco until they were stopped and seemingly killed by Spider-Man and Venom.

The Other Symbiotes

Lasher: This symbiote is the smallest of the group and features a pale blue coloration. He relies on sharp tendrils from his back when fighting.

Phage: This symbiote most resembles Carnage, including a light orange color with black tendrils. Like his “brother” symbiote, Phage relies on creating sharp weapons from his limbs.

Agony: This symbiote is a dark purple and one of the first two symbiotes to bond with a human woman. She can spit acid capable of burning through almost any material, another first for symbiotes.

Scream: This symbiote mixes both yellow and red in her appearance. She can use her hair in a similar fashion to Medusa, binding, choking, and slashing at her victims.

Who Is Riot - Life Foundation
(Photo: Marvel Entertainment)

Past Adventures

In the fashion of superhero comics, it was quickly revealed that neither Riot nor his host Trevor Cole had actually been killed in their dramatic showdown with Venom and Spider-Man. All of the Life Foundation symbiotes had survived, but were now concerned about their future as they struggled to control their symbiotes. Together they began to seek out Eddie Brock for help understanding how to balance their new forms, but received no assistance. Brock was paranoid and convinced these symbiotes did not have good intentions. As they continued to seek out their “father” for his help, the Life Foundation symbiotes began to show up dead, murdered by an unknown sonic weapon.

It was eventually revealed to Riot, after most of his siblings were already murdered, that it was Scream who had been killing her siblings. Scream had hidden her ability to create a sonic blade capable of cutting through symbiotes due to the same mental instability that led her to start a kill spree. Riot was unable to stop Scream and fell to her sonic blades as well.

This attack succeeded in killing Riot’s original host Trevor Cole, but failed to kill the actual symbiote. Riot and the other surviving Life Foundation symbiotes were locked away and would eventually merge into a new form called Hybrid. This too was short-lived as their father figure Eddie Brock returned, only to reveal his new role as Anti-Venom and murder the current host of Hybrid.

Where Is Riot Now?

Symbiotes are much more difficult to kill than their hosts though, and Riot survived once again. He was next revealed to be active in the miniseries Carnage U.S.A., now acting without a host. A government black ops group had used the damaged Life Foundation symbiotes, unable to bond following their encounter with Anti-Venom, as enhancements for soldiers. Riot and all of the other Life Foundation symbiotes helped to stop a developing threat from Carnage who was quickly replicating himself.

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Riot was last seen assisting in the defeat of Carnage once again, this time accompanying the anti-hero Deadpool after the black ops facility containing him had been destroyed. At the end of their adventure together, Deadpool let the Life Foundation symbiotes go, supposedly to return to their former government organization. However, they are never shown returning and could be anywhere in Marvel Comics at the moment.

With Riot officially announced as the primary villain in Venom, there’s no doubt that he and his siblings will resurface somewhere in comics soon enough. It also leaves the door open for more than symbiote appearing in the movie, given how co-dependent Riot and his sibling remain after two decades.