Spider-Man: Spider’s Shadow finds a new host for the Venom symbiote, turning one of Marvel’s greatest minds into its worst threat in a What If tale.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Spider-Man: Spider’s Shadow #3 by Chip Zdarsky, Pasqual Ferry, Matt Hollingsworth and VC’s Joe Caramagna, on sale now.
Ever since it was quietly introduced in Secret Wars as a new alien costume for Spider-Man, the Venom symbiote has been one of the most quietly terrifying beings in the Marvel Universe. Capable of bonding with other life forms and changing them into a monstrous new version of themselves, it’s only been through hard work and years of experience that the symbiote has grown to care for some people and even help protect the world it’s so often threatened.
But in other words in the multiverse, the symbiote became more malicious more quickly, such as in Spider-Man: Spider’s Shadow, where the symbiote just overtook one of Marvel’s most gifted — and potentially ruinous — minds in this What If? tale.
In the world of Spider-Man: Spider’s Shadow, an errant distraction caused by the Hobgoblin kept Spider-Man from approaching Reed Richards about his symbiotic suit until it was too late, and he became increasingly bonded to the alien organism. Embracing its more inherent dark side, Spider-Man has taken on a new definition of heroic responsibility: one that sees him slaughter his enemies. It becomes such a desperate threat that J. Jonah Jameson ends up throwing his lot in with the Sinister Six and working with them to lay a trap for the Wall-Crawler — in turn resulting in the deaths of most of the villains. But in the chaos, Jonah is able to get the symbiote off of Peter using a Spider-Slayer.
But even as they enter an entirely different kind of dangerous world thanks to the final actions of the Kingpin (which in the event of his death at the hands of Spider-Man reveals his identity as Peter Parker to the world), another hero is targeted by the symbiote: blaming Peter’s interaction with Reed Richards for the world realizing how dangerous Spider-Man was becoming and in part leading to their separation, the symbiote returns to New York and infects him. The Venomized Mister Fantastic soon goes to work, seemingly using his intellect and his new powers to create more symbiotes. His first subject is his longtime friend and teammate Ben Grimm. Strapped to a chair and seemingly exposed to a red symbiote with yellow eyes, the alien organism is last seen spreading across Grim’s body and illuminating his eyes.
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Venom-Fantastic has already created five more symbiotes beyond that one, implying that he not only intends to infect the rest of the Fantastic Four but other heroes as well. This isn’t the first time a version of Reed Richards was bonded with the Venom Symbiote — but the previous iteration should give an idea about how dangerous it can be. The Maker — the demented Reed Richards of the Ultimate Universe — discovered trace amounts of his world’s symbiote and used samples of the symbiote from the core Marvel Universe to take control of the symbiote — granting him a powerful new weapon. In the hands of a brilliant but dangerous mind, the Venom symbiote might be one of the more fearsome forces on the planet.
It appears that this might quickly become a world truly bathed in darkness by the shadow of Spider-Man’s actions, with the inspired symbiote seemingly intent on spreading to more than just one hero. This could lead to a world where the symbiote’s influence targets the rest of the hero community — starting with Reed Richards and the rest of the Fantastic Four.
KEEP READING: What If: Spider-Man’s Symbiote Saga Sinister Six Adds A SHOCKING New Member
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