Venom is officially a successful franchise with two movies to its name. The character is not a typical comic book villain. Instead of being born from radioactive chemicals or influenced by an abusive childhood, Venom is a symbiotic creature from a planet called Klyntar. Not always a bad guy, the symbiote’s behavior is often influenced by the host he bonds with. Most notably in the comics, he’s been influenced by those who hate Spider-Man.
That’s because Venom made his first appearance on the comic book scene in Amazing Spider-Man in 1984. When Spider-Man damaged his suit on the Battleworld planet, he found a new black suit to take its place; he just didn’t know that this “suit” was actually a symbiotic alien. Peter Parker eventually separated himself from the symbiote, and Venom has gone on to take over a dozen comic book characters as hosts. The best known is probably Eddie Brock (played by Tom Hardy in the recent movies).
Updated by Amanda Bruce on November 12, 2021: A second Venom live-action movie means fans get yet another look at the powers and weaknesses that make up Venom’s approach to heroic acts. Some of his abilities (and the things that threaten him) in the comics still haven’t made it to the big screen, though. Fans might want to brush up on their Venom lore before his next big-screen appearance — whether that’s in another Venom movie or somewhere in one of Spider-Man‘s stories.
Digestion might seem like a normal bodily function instead of a superpower, but with the Venom powers is a very special form of digestion. Whereas most human beings aren’t equipped to digest very specific types of foods as a result of intolerance or allergies, Venom doesn’t appear to have that problem.
When he bonds with someone, they are capable of eating anything. Venom loves a good piece of chocolate, but he’s also fond of human brain. In the history of the comics, Venom counts amongst his meals humans, cyborgs, squirrels, Atlanteans, Kree, Asgardians, Frost Giants, and more.
Some things about Venom make no sense, but everyone can agree he is certainly a survivor. Perhaps it’s because the race of symbiotes like Venom are able to adapt to the physiology of any species that they can also adapt to different environments. Regardless, Venom is able to allow his host to breathe in any environment.
In the comics, readers have seen Venom and his host survive in space and underwater. How is this possible? Chief amongst the things that has to happen is for oxygen to make its way to the human host. Venom is able to filter oxygen from the environment to do just that. Whether he’s filtering it like a fish in water or just absorbing it through the surface of his body isn’t clear, but fans see that he can do it.
One of the reasons Venom has so many abilities is because of the Klyntar base ability: the power to clone other powers. Venom copies the powers of any host he bonds with.
This is why, in the comics, Venom has all of Spider-Man’s abilities and can actually block himself from being detected by Spider-Sense. In the 2018 live-action movie, that isn’t the case since the symbiote hasn’t yet met Peter Parker. In addition to the ability to clone powers, Venom also has “genetic memory,” so the symbiote keeps those powers even after moving on to a new host.
The most iconic images of Venom involve a strong jaw that can open wider than usual and a prehensile tongue along with some very sharp teeth. But just because that’s all comic book readers see at first glance doesn’t mean that’s all there is to Venom’s mouth. In addition to the tongue and teeth, Venom also sports some very dangerous saliva.
Within the saliva is an acid, much like the Xenomorphs in the Alien franchise. That same acid that can break down substances on contact isn’t just in Venom’s saliva, though; it’s also in his blood. That means injuring Venom can be just as perilous to an enemy as him attempting to bite them.
Just like Venom can use his body goo to create webbing, he can also use his body mass to create other organic pieces for his host. In some cases, that might mean whole new body parts. When Flash Thompson bonded with the symbiote, he was a combat veteran who lost his legs during the war in Iraq. Thompson was actually chosen by the government to act as the symbiote’s host.
In order for the duo to work together, the symbiote created new legs for Flash to use.
In addition to becoming a part of his host and simply “blending in” with them, Venom can actually camouflage his body in any way he sees fit — which might mean going nearly invisible. It also includes being able to manufacture clothing for his host.
This is why Venom appears as a “suit” for Spider-Man, and it’s also why Eddie Brock always appeared to wear a trusty black tee shirt. Venom made the kind of clothing his host needed at the time. But the camouflage doesn’t just apply to color and clothes; Venom can also shapeshift his appearance to mimic other people!
Penance Stare Immunity
Ghost Rider’s Penance Stare is an interesting power in the comics. Whomever the current Ghost Rider is can typically use the stare to get whatever he wants out of an enemy. But some enemies don’t respond the way he might want them to.
Venom is one of them. For some reason, the stare has absolutely no effect on the symbiote. Whether this is a result of Venom bonding with someone who also possessed the Ghost Rider spirit in the past is unknown. It could just be that certain supernatural abilities don’t affect the Klyntar.
In comic books, there is lots of talk about how to resist a telepath. People who can get inside the minds of others are pretty scary — heroes or villains. Luckily, Venom can usually resist. The most common method of resistance in comic books comes in the forms of mental blocks put in place by other telepaths, or training in mentally walling oneself off. Less common is sheer force of will. But for Venom, it’s none of those things specifically that allows him to resist telepathic attacks.
Instead, his resistance is based on the fact that his telepathic energy is spent communicating with his host already.
Spontaneous Weapon Creation
Though Venom doesn’t typically carry around any specialty weapons on his own, some of his hosts have had preferences for weapons beyond sharp teeth and acidic saliva. Having a physical weapon is different than simply using powers. That poses the question of can Venom create weapons the same way he can clothing or limbs?
The answer is yes.
Like many of the super-powered individuals in Marvel comics, Venom heals (and heals his hosts) very quickly. One thing he can heal that most other powered people can’t is cancer.
When Venom bonded with Eddie Brock, the latter was at a low point in his life. His career wasn’t going well, his family left him, and he had an aggressive form of adrenal cancer. Venom didn’t mind the cancer initially. In fact, he kept Eddie’s cancer under control, even if he wasn’t able to cure it. Fans know this because Eddie’s cancer often returned in the comics when Venom was with a new host. He did keep it from becoming fatal, though.
Hearing The Voice Of The Universe
It’s a little unclear just what the “voice of the universe” is. It seems to come from everywhere, and Venom can hear it out in the middle of space. The voice isn’t necessarily a separate voice in his head (like those of Venom and his host), but instead, it’s more like listening to Spider-Sense telling him that someone is in trouble. The voice of the universe gives Venom direction for where to go.
It’s a positive voice that helps Venom help other people. This particular voice only speaks to Venom after he’s returned to his home planet and been “cleansed” of insanity. It also only seems to speak to him during the Venom: Space Knight run.
Existing Independently Of A Host
Throughout the comics, Venom is largely known for one thing: needing another being to survive. Most of Venom’s stories involve him being bonded to human beings on Earth — but he doesn’t always have to be.
Much like the voices of the universe, existing independently of his host doesn’t occur very often in the comics.
Venom doesn’t track an individual by following footprints, scents, or using an electronic device. Instead, he has his own unique version of tracking. Venom can actually use the black goo that makes up his body mass for the job. By detaching pieces of himself, Venom can plant them on others like an electronic bug.
Because of his connection to his own body mass, Venom can find those little pieces of himself anywhere; all he has to do is concentrate. Likewise, Venom can also use this ability to track any of his offspring, though with practice, some of them have been able to stop him from sensing them.
Creating Pocket Dimensions
Creating a whole new dimension in time and space can be difficult in the comics. Just ask any sorcerer. Venom doesn’t create new dimensions where new people or planets exist. though. Instead, he uses them for storage. Venom creates a literal pocket in time and space to allow his host to store objects.
Most notable is when Venom was bonded with Peter Parker. Since Peter was known for getting amazing images of Spider-Man in action, he often needed his camera on him. Venom would simply create a pocket out of thin air for Peter’s camera so he wouldn’t have to carry it on them during a fight.
Body Chemistry Manipulation
If Venom can manipulate the external appearance of his hist body, it might seem obvious that he can also manipulate the body internally. But he doesn’t just move organs around. Venom can also chemically manipulate his host body.
This means he can actually change levels of different chemicals in the body to get an outcome he wants. If he needs the host to sleep so he can be in control? He can make that happen. If his host is too amped up? He can make them calm down. He can even make his host forget things happened altogether.
Bonding With Anything
In the real world, most symbiotic creatures have a particular species they prefer bonding with. Some creatures can only bond with specific animals. For the world of Marvel comics, Venom can bond with anyone. In addition to bonding with humans and other sentient beings all over the galaxy, Venom has already bonded with some pretty curious choices in the comics.
Old Man Hawkeye sees him bond with a dinosaur. But his host doesn’t even technically have to be a living being. In an old issue of Venom, he bonded with a car.
Surfing The Web
Modern technology means the majority of the population has access to the internet these days. However, in the “Carnage Unleashed” story arc of the ’90s, Venom took his internet access a little farther. Carnage planned to eliminate the people playing a game based on his life. In order to do that, he physically entered the internet. To stop him, Venom followed suit.
How? By using the same black goo that made up his body mass to travel inside a computer and follow the signal to Carnage. It doesn’t really make sense these days, but in the ’90s… it was still a pretty outlandish storyline.
While bonding with his host, Venom doesn’t just expect that he can control it. Most of the time, he needs to communicate with the person he shares a body with. That means, there’s plenty of telepathic communication going on.
And his host isn’t the only one Venom can communicate with; he can also communicate with the rest of his species via telepathy. Over time with the same host, Venom’s abilities strengthen, giving his telepathic reach a little more length. In fact, he spent so long bonded to Eddie Brock that once, he gave a telepathic scream that rivaled Shriel’s actual screams as it could be heard over the entire state of New York.
There are plenty of creatures that don’t need a mate to reproduce with in the real world, so this particular ability isn’t unique to comic books. In the real world, asexual reproduction usually occurs in insects or plants. Venom reproduces not unlike a plant. He is able to leave spores of his body mass behind. Those spores grow into symbiotes themselves.
This is exactly how Carnage comes to be. Venom leaves a spore behind when getting Eddie Brock out of jail. The spore then bonds to another prisoner, Cletus Kasady, and thus, Carnage is born. This is also how the Life Foundation ends up creating several more symbiotes in the comics.
It seems awkward to classify hatred as a superpower, but when it comes to Venom, it’s hard to ignore it. Hatred actually acts like power boost for him. Venom’s emotions, and the emotions of his host, greatly affect his ability to use his other powers.
When his own feelings are in line with his host’s, they work better together. This especially seems to be the case when they both are angry with Spider-Man. The more his host hates Spider-Man, the stronger their connection usually becomes, and the more ready Venom is to take him on. Of course, there’s also a flipside to that hatred — it can make Venom erratic.
There are a lot of ancient beings out there in the universe of Marvel comics. One of them is known as Knull. Knull actually created Klyntar, the planet of the symbiotes, and the creatures that inhabit it. Knull can exercise complete control over the hive mind of the Klyntar, which leads to some very dangerous times for the race because Knull likes to drive them to give into their bloodlust.
When Knull isn’t in charge, that bloodlust is usually fed by unstable host bodies or by “corruption” in the symbiote. That can happen by exposure to different pathogens or behaviors. The bloodlust can make Venom erratic and avoid listening to his host.
Overuse Of Webbing
One of Venom’s abilities picked up from Spider-Man includes the ability to shoot webbing to swing between buildings or wrap up enemies. The difference is that Venom’s webbing isn’t made of the same substance as Spider-Man’s, who in some stories manufactures his webbing from different chemicals instead of it being a part of his biological power set.
Venom uses the same black goo-like substance that makes up his mass to generate webbing to shoot. As a result, there can be too much of a good thing. If Venom uses too much webbing, it actually pulls from his own body mass, which weakens the symbiote “suit.”
Debuting in Marvel Comics in the ’90s, Xenophages presented a challenge for symbiotes. The alien race came to life in the pages of Venom: The Hunted, and as that title indicates, Venom was in danger. The Xenophages resemble large insects. Their saliva produces a neurotoxin that paralyzes their prey. Their prey? Symbiotes.
The entire race feeds on symbiotes from all over the universe — specifically, they feed on the brain of symbiotes. When they use their saliva on their prey, it actually paralyzes the symbiote while still attached to the host, leaving the host vulnerable as well. Their paralytic saliva is also supposed to make their meals taste even better. It’s like built-in salt.
“Poisons” isn’t in reference to toxic chemicals ingested. Instead, the Poisons are a race of alien beings. Also referred to as a type of symbiote, Poisons are even more dangerous than the Klyntar. In a story that spanned the Marvel multiverse, the Poisons seeked out other symbiotes to “infect” and bond with to expand their race. Eventually, they came to Earth intending to conquer it.
With a hivemind, the Poisons stay in contact with one another and can impersonate virtually anyone. Once they make contact with an individual, they bond with them and take over. When they bond with Venom, or another Klyntar, they can take over the existing symbiote and his host simultaneously!
Like his weakness for loud sounds, Venom showed his weakness for fire early on in his comic book appearances. In fact, it’s nearly the oldest Venom weakness in the books. When Peter Parker first “wore” the symbiote as a suit, their relationship didn’t last long. Though the symbiote wanted to stay connected, Peter wasn’t interested.
The first time he separated the two, he used a combination of sound waves and fire. The sound waves actually did sever the bond. Once separated, Peter used fire to herd the symbiote exactly where he wanted him. With the help of the fire, Peter trapped the symbiote in a glass container.
The Ultimate Universe gives everything a slight twist compared to Marvel’s mainstream continuity. In that version of the comic book universe, Venom isn’t an alien being but a synthetic creation.
This Venom is actually created to combat cancer treatment. Genetically coded to the person the suit is designed for, the suit becomes a part of the person once “worn.” Pieces of the suit can still come off and “infect” other people, though, if someone incompatible wears the suit. Those pieces of the suit can be vaporized when dosed with an electric shock. Similarly, the suit as a whole is vulnerable to electricity, but the larger the piece of the suit is, the stronger the shock needed.
Despite being a symbiote that can bond to any being and exist in any environment, there are still a few external weaknesses that can damage Venom. One of those is sound waves. Extremely loud sounds (or extremely high frequency sound waves) can shock the symbiote, and even cause him to separate from his host.
Spider-Man discovered this not long after meeting Venom. In fact, standing in a church’s bell tower as the bell tolled, Spider-Man commanded Venom to leave him, which was enough to separate the two from one another. The experience also left the symbiote injured for months before he was strong enough to start using his powers with a new host.
The mercenary known as Styx is the subject of experimentation. After becoming a test subject for medical research, his body essentially became a humanoid cancer. Styx’s touch is typically lethal to those who encounter him. He requires skin on skin contact for his ability to work.
When he has it, his power essentially breaks down the organic matter in contact with him, and that breakdown spreads throughout the organism like a fast acting plague. Despite his own ability to heal, Venom is vulnerable to Styx’s power. It doesn’t destroy him, but it definitely slows him down.
If ever there was a character that qualified as an adrenaline junkie, it’s Venom. Unlike the average human, Venom doesn’t spend his spare time chasing a runner’s high or throwing his hands up on roller coasters. Instead, adrenaline is actually what feeds the Klyntar. In some versions of the story, the Klyntar actually prefer to stay with a host until they can no longer produce any adrenaline, then discard them and find a new body.
With Eddie Brock’s cancer affecting the production of adrenaline in his body, it was the perfect storm for Venom to use him as a host.
Peter Parker was the first human to host the symbiote in the comics (chronologically, a 2015 comic revealed Deadpool hosted him first), so the two have quite the history. Spider-Man isn’t always easily able to beat Venom, but he does have an edge over him. Why? Because Venom loves Peter.
For some reason, the symbiote became very attached to his host during their first outing together. Peter severed that connection and Venom has felt like a partner scorned ever since. The symbiote has such strong emotions toward Peter that they can hamper his abilities in a fight. When fans ask, “What is Venom’s weakness?” they might want to think less about his power sets, and more about the people in his life.
NEXT: 10 Things Everyone Should Know Before Watching Spider-Man: No Way Home
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