Created 1988, Venom is not only one of Spider-Man’s most popular villains, but also one of the most recent. It’s rare that modern additions to superhero canon are able to become classics. Venom is one of the few examples of this phenomenon, having instantly captivated web-head readers since his first appearance.
Venom remains a fan-favorite Marvel villain. Since his debut, the symbiote scoundrel has taken on several hosts and identities. Likewise, the Marvel multiverse is rife with various Venoms—some better than others. This list will look at the versions better and wore than the original.
10 Better: Gwenom
Spider-Gwen is a recent addition to the Spider-Verse, but her appearance has quickly caused waves throughout the Spider-Fandom. Spider-Gwen is loved for being a fresh take on a well-known marvel archetype. Furthermore, she’s got one of the best-designed suits in the multiverse.
Likewise, when paired with a symbiote, Gwenom embraces her punk-rock roots with an all-new killer costume. Like the character herself, this book’s retelling of the Venom mythos takes familiar aspects of the 616 Spider-Verse and twists them into unique stories. Gwenom also has perhaps the most creative moniker out of all the alternate-universe Venoms.
9 Worse: Ultimate Venom
Ultimate Spider-Man, in it’s prime, was the best modern retelling of the Spider-Man mythos. With that said, not every aspect of Ultimate Spider-Man was stellar. Ultimate Venom is among one of the more lackluster retellings of OG Spider-Lore.
The look and bare-bones of Ultimate Venom are mostly the same. Eddie Brock is absorbed by a symbiote with a grudge against Peter Parker and Spider-Man. However, the origins of the symbiote itself are tied to Peter Parker’s father, rather than extraterrestrial life. Tying this character to the Parker lineage just feels like uninspired storytelling.
8 Better: Host Rider
Between Gwenom, and now Host Rider, it seems like the key to a great alternate-universe Venom is clever wordplay. It isn’t just wordplay that sets this version of Venom apart from the rest. In this universe, Host Rider is equal parts alien symbiote, and satanic spirit, with a dash of Robbie Reyes.
Despite the fact that the symbiote is traditionally weakened by fire, this version of Venom is awesome. Maybe it’s a little overkill, but it is a ton of fun to see two of Marvel’s coolest-looking characters fused together.
7 Worse: T-Rex Venom
Old Man Logan is a rare example of a comic book adaptation that is better than the original. Written by Mark Millar, it features tons of ridiculous and needlessly grim story elements—including but not limited to incestuous Hulks, a relationship between Hawkeye and Spider-Man’s daughter, and of course, a symbiote T-rex.
Maybe it’s a stretch to say that the T-Rex Venom is too ridiculous, considering that Host Rider is on this list as a positive. However, this take on the infamous symbiote adds nothing to the mythos and is frankly less interesting than the original. Thank Thor that this idea stayed far away from Fox’s version of Old Man Logan.
6 Worse: Sony-Verse Venom
The most recent cinematic version of the symbiote certainly isn’t the worst on-screen Venom, but it isn’t perfect either. With that said, the effects and character design are fantastic. Nonetheless, this take on Eddie Brock and the symbiote leaves much to be desired by long-time web-heads.
Firstly, Peter Parker is an integral aspect of Eddie Brock’s origin and motivation as Venom, so to tell an Eddie Brock origin story without Spider-Man just feels lacking. His whole purpose is to be the anti-Spider-Man, and his costume feels empty without that classic white spider emblem on the front.
5 Better: May Parker Venom
In Earth X, Peter Parker’s daughter, May Parker, is overtaken by the Venom symbiote. Unlike her father, who rejected the symbiote, she embraced it. Due to May’s honed spider-sense abilities, she was able to take full control of the symbiote without any of the negative side-effects.
Because of her advanced spider-sense, and her familial history with the symbiote, May Parker makes for an excellent alternate universe Venom. She’s clad in an eye-catching costume that uses design elements from both Venom and Carnage. The only downside is that she isn’t as remembered as other alternate universe Venoms.
4 Worse: Reign Venom
Kaare Andrews’ 2007 series Spider-Man: Reign saw an old, grizzled, retired Spider-Man return to his crime-fighting past when New York is threatened by an authoritarian regime. Yep, it’s basically a retelling of The Dark Knight Returns, except in the context of a character for whom a dark and gritty story makes zero sense.
In Reign, Venom is essentially Mayor of New York, pulling all of the strings in the background. This universe’s version of Venom is needlessly dark, and also way more calculating than previous versions. Venom works best as an irresponsible brute, a shadow-reflection of Peter Parker.
3 Better: Venom 2099
There have been a few renditions of the Venom from the year 2099 since Peter David first wrote the title back in 1992. This entry is concerned with the most recent iteration of the future-universe Venom, whose alter ego is Alea Bell. Like some of the 616 universe’s best versions of Venom, Alea Bell is a reluctant anti-hero.
After being exposed to the symbiote in medical testing to cure a disability, Bell finds herself conflicted between having new abilities as well as killer personality attached to her. Like the original Peter Parker, Alea is a young person who is down on her luck. As such, Bell’s Venom is a perfect reflection of the original, much like Venom was always intended to be the evil shadow of Spider-Man.
2 Worse: Spider-Man 3
When the trailer for Spider-Man 3 came out, fans were beyond hyped. Sam Raimi’s first two movies were instant classics and their bright and colorful influence is still seen in the MCU today. Unfortunately, Spider-Man 3‘s Venom has gone down in history as a huge disappointment.
On paper, the character is pretty comic-accurate. However, the rest of the film is so bloated that Venom comes into the story out of nowhere and disappears just as fast. Furthermore, Topher Grace’s casting as Eddie Brock proved to be controversial, as many fans were unhappy with a Venom who didn’t look like a bodybuilder.
1 Better: Contest Of Champions Venom
The Contest Of Champions Venom is from an alternate universe wherein he has already defeated Spider-Man. He wears Spidey’s tattered costume as a trophy-cape. This version of Venom is better than the original in that he’s achieved everything that the original set out to, way back in 1988. This is the fully self-realized Venom.
Every version of Venom brings something new to the table, but the best ones are able to make changes while also adhering to the original mythos. The best versions of Venom are those that are the dark reflection of Spider-Man, or in this case, the dark reflection of the alternate universe’s fill-in Spider-Person.
Venom has appeared in a ton of Marvel universes throughout his history. Some of these takes are better than the original, while some are worse.