Venom Reveals How Giving Up On Being a Good Guy Made Him a Better Hero

The Marvel Universe has always been full of morally ambiguous figures on all sides, though, very few if any, are as conflicted as Eddie Brock. When he first burst onto the scene, he was a bully at best, only for the Venom symbiote to take that to a dangerous new extreme. Following his transformation, Eddie became an abject villain in nearly every possible way. Thankfully, it wasn’t long after when Eddie and his alien compatriot embarked on a new mission. Of course, that doesn’t mean Venom went from terror to hero overnight, although the reason why is shockingly sound.

Venom: Lethal Protector #5 (by David Michelinie, Ivan Fiorelli, Bryan Valenza, and VC’s Travis Lanham) finds Eddie Brock in the fight of his life against the legions of villains who have decided to join in the hunt for Venom’s head. Of course, even the worst mechanized minions or superpowered assailants aren’t enough to stop Venom from winning the fight. What they do offer, however, is some valuable insight into how easily a person’s selfish desires can corrupt them just as easily as their self-doubt. Apart from all the bravado that has been slung recently, it was the vulnerability of others that put them at risk the most. In recognizing that, Eddie was determined to be strong when the people who need saving are weak. And it all starts with being as callous as he can be.

Ever since Eddie’s first appearance in 1986’s Web of Spider-Man #18 (by David Michelinie and Marc Silvestri), he has been an antagonistic figure in the lives of most of those who know him. This was largely due to the myriad of personal and professional problems that Eddie seemed incapable of overcoming, not to mention the trauma he endured during an exceptionally violent childhood. When Venom and Eddie first bonded, the symbiote amplified all the negative emotions and impulses that were already present, all while adding a few of its own into the mix. While they were eventually able to move beyond those early struggles, the persona they cultivated in the process wasn’t easy to dispose of, especially when it proved to be such a potent weapon.

Eddie may have had plenty of reasons to be angry at the universe for where he was at this point in his life. However, the events of Venom: Lethal Protector #5 shine a light on how carefully he crafted his image as an antihero. Rather than the frenzied, raging tirades that he was previously known for, Venom instead took up far more calculated tactics. From putting greater forethought into the battles he would fight to leveraging his reputation as a cannibalistic criminal, Eddie spared no effort in reestablishing Venom as a new breed of monster.

For a time, Eddie’s decision to eschew all sensitivity worked out better than he could have hoped. Not only was he regarded as a serious threat by the rest of the world’s superpowered denizens, but he didn’t have to worry about any of its heroes making him a target so long as he stuck to his own lane. After so many years of keeping to himself, Eddie would form new relationships — most importantly the one between him and his son, Dylan — that helped to bring him out of his self-imposed shell.

Luckily for both of them, Eddie had gone a long way in lightening up before meeting Dylan, yet that didn’t keep them from getting off to a rocky start. The fact that Dylan was almost an exact reflection of Eddie’s early years didn’t help, even if it was an illuminating experience for the latter. In the end, Eddie was able to come around to become a genuinely empathetic albeit infinitely imposing King in Black, thanks to everyone who continued to put up with him when he purposefully made himself as unappealing as possible. It might be hard to imagine, but deciding to be a bad guy was the best thing Venom ever could have done.

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