An avid comic collector and fan for nearly 20 years, Vic started collecting comics around eight years old. Comic investing since the 2000s.
Alright, when we're talking about the first appearance of Venom, we have to make some things a bit clear here. We are not talking about just the symbiote here, but the symbiote and Eddie Brock together. Why this criterion? It's because the Venom character is first known as the combined entity of Eddie Brock and the alien symbiote together in both physical appearance and in personality.
Also, we're not talking about an arm or a supposed "off-panel" appearance that no comic fan would even know about unless David Michelinie revealed so in an interview. We're not just talking about a costume, either. We're talking about the clear appearance of a character that we all recognize as the original Venom.
With that out of the way, let's get to the first appearance of Venom now.
Amazing Spider-Man #299
This was the time I was deeply getting into comic collecting, and without a doubt, Todd McFarlane's Spider-Man run got me into the character of Spider-Man. It also introduced me to a certain character called Venom, and he's arguably one of the best Spider-Man characters to have come out of the Copper Age era.
While we see the shadowy figure of Eddie Brock at the end of Amazing Spider-Man #298 and a string of symbiote goop crawling up his forearm, we actually do not get a clear view of Venom in that issue. We do, however, see Venom as we know him and in all his glory at the end of Amazing Spider-Man #299. There is no mistake about it.
Venom's First Full Appearance?
Whether you're into the whole cameo vs. first full appearance debate in the comic collecting hobby, there's no doubt that the majority in the hobby agree that Amazing Spider-Man #300 is the more desired comic to get, and it is still considered Venom's first full appearance. Many even believe that ASM #300 is a classic cover, and whether you agree, it is highly recognizable. Most everyone in the hobby knows this Todd McFarlane cover.
What is not subject to debate is that Amazing Spider-Man #300 does detail the first told origin of Venom, and lo and behold, the origin explains how the rejected symbiote and Eddie Brock first meet and bond. Before the typical supervillain origin is told by the big bad himself, Brock tells Spidey their name is Venom and due to the garbage he's now paid to write as a ruined writer.
A little context here. So Eddie Brock was a writer who was writing about the Sin Eater murders for a well-established newspaper. He got an interview from one Emil Gregg who confessed to being the Sin Eater. Because of pressure from law enforcement, Brock ended up revealing his source and had to out Gregg as the Sin Eater in an article.
However, Spidey battled and captured the real Sin Eater not long after, who ended up being one Stanley Carter. Eddie Brock ended up being ruined, and he actually blamed Spider-Man for it.
Lifting weights to reduce stress, but his rage and hatred for Spidey was just too much. Brock ended up being at the very church where Peter Parker separated from the symbiote via the sonic vibrations from the church bells in Web of Spider-Man #1. It was there the symbiote fond a suicidal Eddie Brock. Attracted to his hatred for Spider-Man, the symbiote bonded with Brock and became the comic book supervillain (at the time a villain) we all know and love as Venom.
Why the Merging of the Venom Symbiote and Eddie Brock Makes Venom
We have to establish that the symbiote that would become Venom was first seen as simply the black costume in Amazing Spider-Man #252. This initial black costume was later revealed to be a sentient alien being and its origin was told in Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars #8. I should say the origin of how Spidey gets this new suit is told in Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars #8.
While it was retconned decades later that Deadpool was the symbiote's first host, Spider-Man was the first to host the symbiote publishing-wise. After a while, this symbiote tried to permanently bond with Peter Parker, and upon realizing the costume was a sentient parasitic being, Peter ended up rejecting the symbiote and split from it. After being rejected by Spider-Man, the symbiote somehow retained Peter Parker's abilities as Spider-Man and was attracted to Eddie Brock's mutual hatred for Parker. Thus, the symbiote bonded with Eddie Brock to become the original Venom, and the hatred for Spider-Man was enhanced after the two bonded.
Despite the symbiote's resentment toward Spider-Man, he did see Eddie as an inferior host and that Parker was his soulmate. The point is that these basic characteristics of Venom were first established with the anti-hero's original pairing of the symbiote and Eddie Brock. Other characteristics evolved later with other hosts added by later comic writers, but even Venom's bulky physical appearance was originally established with Eddie Brock as the host.
The Creation of Venom
When it comes to the creation of Venom, there are certain stages that must be, at least, given a nod to. I want this to be perfectly clear, however. The character of Venom started out as a villain for Spider-Man and the character we all know and love today was absolutely created by David Michelinie and artist Todd McFarlane. Too many are confusing being "inspired by" and "creation" as the same thing.
In the world of comics, there's a whole library of comic characters, places, aliens, and technology that were created by past writers and artists that are at the disposal of current writers and artists. Sure enough, a concept or idea can be twisted, tweaked, and molded into its own thing. Hence, Venom.
With that out the way, a comic fan named Randy Schueller absolutely needs to be mentioned, and he answered the call of a Marvel contest that was seeking aspiring comic talent. Schueller turned in an idea of Spidey of getting a new costume and designs for this new costume. His original design had the connecting spider logo on the chest and back red instead of white.
"I came up with this idea that Reed Richards had made a new costume for Spidey using the same unstable molecules that the FF costumes are made of."
— Randy Schueller
Well, that didn't happen. However, the main editor-in-chief of Marvel at the time, Jim Shooter, liked Randy's concept and did buy it from him for a measly $220. In a letter that Schueller made publicly a few years ago, Shooter did mention that Marvel had plans to change plot details.
While the original concept was a more stealth costume for the web slinger, it seems Shooter made the call to make the new duds black and white, instead of black and red. Instead of using Randy Schueller's unstable molecules idea for the costume, Roger Stern borrowed the idea of some kind of self-healing bio-material that he had gotten from legendary comic artist John Byrne. John's original idea was to use this living, self-healing costume for Iron Fist to explain why his costume was always torn up and then repaired so quickly.
Enter Amazing Spider-Man #252, written by Roger Stern and TomDeFalco. This comic is the first appearance of Spidey's new black costume, and Stern soon left the Amazing Spider-Man comic title shortly after. Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz would reveal that Spidey's black costume was in fact an alien symbiote that was trying to permanently bond with him in Amazing Spider-Man #258.
An alien symbiote was established, and when David Michelinie took over on the series, he felt that could be the foundation for a character that could evade Spider-Man's spider-sense, an ability that gave the web-slinger a great level of defense against his normal foes.
At first, Michelinie proposed villains that evaded Spidey's spider-sense through cybernetic or technological means, but editors rejected those proposals. Finally, Michelinie proposed that the alien symbiote costume had absorbed Spidey's genetic material and, thus, would naturally be able to evade Spider-Man's spider-sense. Also, Michelinie decided that the symbiote would bond with another human host by the name of Eddie Brock. Marvel editors gave David the green light to develop this character that would become Venom.
Artist Todd McFarlane has stated that he designed Venom due to the fact that he hated the black costume and would not take on the Amazing Spider-Man title if they didn't bring back the red and blue costume he grew up on. In his creation story, it goes a long the lines of McFarlane drew the Venom design and gave it to David Michelinie to write a back ground story around it.
What About Amazing Spider-Man #298?
When it comes to first appearances in comics, things aren't always black and white, and things do often get convoluted. Eddie Brock does show up in Amazing Spider-Man #298 at the end but he is mostly in shadow. You get a partial glimpse of his eye, and he does transform into Venom but it is mostly off-panel. You do see the symbiote cover his hand, however. Should that be considered a first cameo? You actually do not actually get to see the Venom character revealed in this issue, but see for yourself with the teaser page below.
There has been stages and an evolution from an alien symbiote suit to the bonding of this symbiote and Eddie Brock to create the original Venom character. Apparently comic writer and co-creator of Venom, David Micheliniem, had to get the go-ahead from Marvel editors in order to develop a baddie that naturally evaded Spider-Man's famous spider-sense, and using that symbiote suit instead of tech was the game-changer in obtaining that green light.
Also, David Michelinie planned to have that symbiote suit attach itself to another human host, and that particular host was originally Eddie Brock who also christened their merging as Venom, a reference to the drivel he was forced to write after his ruination to eek out a living. This is why the pairing is synonymous with each other at least in the beginning for the character of Venom.
It's true that other later writers have used many other hosts for the symbiote under the Venom name. Flash Thompson is another popular host for the symbiote, and their merging became more popularly known as Agent Venom. With Flash Thompson, Venom was not the hulking beast he is often known for. However, bonded with his most recent host, Dylan Brock, who is Eddie Brock's own nine-year-old son, Venom has retained his bulky and monstrous look.
Venom has been one of the most enduring and fan-favorite villains turned anti-heroes to come out of the Copper Age of comics. Despite various hosts, the most popular pairing or incarnation of the character is still with Eddie Brock, but either way, it's clear Venom's popularity is not waning but getting stronger. The comics that have marked the various stages up to the character's transformation as his first appearance of Venom have also followed suit. Pun fully intended.
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