VENOM-The Symbiote (1997)
Venom is a character that was first introduced in Amazing Spider-Man issue 300, written by David Michelinie and drawn by Todd McFarlane, way back in 1988. I bought that issue off the rack and I remember it well. It was actually issue 299 where we got our first look at Venom. Mary Jane had just returned home to her apartment when she saw who she thought was her hubby Spider-Man standing in the corner. Spidey was wearing his black costume in those days so all that could be seen in the shadows were the large white eyes of the mask and the white spider logo on his chest. As MJ approached the shadowy figure he stepped out into the light and Mary Jane and readers alike were shocked to discover that it wasn’t Spider-Man in the corner but a hulking new villain wearing an identical costume with an evil sneer full of pointed teeth . Todd McFarlane drew the f**k out of that Venom reveal. I was on the edge of my seat waiting for issue 300 to come out so I could learn all about this new character.
That first Venom story was great. The return of Venom story, also drawn by McFarlane and written by Michelinie, that began in issue 315 and ran for several issues was pretty good too. Soon after that Eric Larsen took over the art chores on Amazing Spider-Man. I like Larsen but Venom’s already exaggerated features became ridiculously amplified. His jaw stretched down to his chest and his tongue was all over the place. Micheline was still writing the character but Venom quickly became an over exposed one-note character and I got bored of seeing him. Other readers seemed to enjoy him though because his popularity continued to grow.
As a result, Marvel turned Venom into an anti-hero and gave him his own book. He starred in his first solo mini-series titled “Lethal Protector” in 1993. I bought the first issue but didn’t bother to collect the whole thing. I completely ignored the many Venom mini-series’ that followed (Death Trap, Funeral Pyre, The Madness, The Enemy Within, etc.). Those comics watered down the character even further by having Venom’s alien costume spawn a bunch of offspring which grew into a bunch of Venom knock-offs of various colours ( Scream, Lasher Phage, Agony, Riot, Hybrid, etc.). Venom and his flock proved so popular that they even got their own spin-off toyline from Toy Biz in the late 90s. Since I wasn’t buying the Venom books I had zero attachment to those multi-coloured clones and therefore wasn’t interested in buying their toys. My little brother had a few of them though.
I did however buy one figure from the venom toyline and it was this funky version of Venom himself. The package describes it as “Venom the Symbiote”. Venom has changed up his look a few times ( i.e Agent Venom) but I don’t ever recall him looking this bizarre. I know for certain that he never looked like this in a Spider-Man comic but I can’t say for sure that he didn’t sport this look in one of his solo comics. It is a very other-wordly take on Spidey’s alien nemesis.
I’m not sure if the fact that this toy is call “the symbiote” is meant to imply that this is Venom without Eddie Brock inside. That would make more sense as the symbiotic black suit always takes on a much more alien appearance when separated from its human host. However, the hostless symbiote usually looks more like a blob of goo. This Venom is more Xenomorph than it is Barbapappa. Perhaps it’s supposed to be the symbiote merged with a monster of some kind. I don’t know this figure’s origins but I don’t really care. I just thought this was a damn cool looking toy back when I bought it back in the 90s and I still do today.
Most of Toy Biz’s Marvel figures stood about4 to 5 inches tall. This guy is about 8”. He doesn’t always look it because of the way his double-jointed legs are designed to give him a hunch but when stood straight up he towers over other figures in the line.
The head sculpt on this thing is just crazy looking. It’s long and flat with weird bunny ears and the entire thing is is lined with individually sculpted teeth. He’s like a clam from hell. It’s extremely cool but I think it could have been even cooler if the mouth opened. The body is lean and muscly with randomly armored and veiny bits. His torso and neck seem to have a bio-mechanical vibe. I should also mention that he has a tail; thats new for Venom. Its long and curved with boney spikes running the full length. It’s articulated at the base only which is unfortunate because this thing would look great posed in different ways.
There isn’t much to say paint-wise but I like the addition of some greys to the character. They break up the solid white and black colour scheme you would expect to find on a Venom figure. I also like how the boney parts aren’t just solid white. There’s a splash of yellow on all them which make them appear weathered.
My favorite things about this figure are the appendages. The arms, especially the hands, are just awesome. Each finger is a pointy bone protrusion that is the stuff of nightmares. His hands are sculpted with open palms and spread fingers which gives him a very wide grip. This guy could choke slam Galactus with those bad boys. This figure’s feet are just insane and very H.R. Giger-esque. Instead of toes his feet come to long thick boney points. Could you imagine getting kicked by this guy? Ouch. It’s just all kinds of cool.