Venom In Animation - A Retrospective
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As he first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #299 in 1988, all the pre-1990’s cartoons had long gone by the time Venom would’ve been able to premiere so the character made his animation debut in Spider-Man: The Animated Series in 1994. Given how immediately popular Venom was after his debut, one of the big things everyone was looking forward to seeing was how the show would handle Venom. As producer/story editor John Semper told Marvel Animation Age “From the start, we knew we had to do Venom and Carnage, because at that time they were the biggest things in the Spider-Man universe”.
I remember so much of the hype for the show was when Venom and Carnage were going to appear. Both were prominently featured in the very first wave of the toy line (surprisingly, as Carnage wouldn’t premiere until the middle of season three) and Venom was the last thing you saw before the logo in the opening credits. The series had the benefit of knowing that Venom was hugely popular whilst it came as a surprise to his original comic creators – David Michelinie originally purposed that Venom be killed in Amazing Spider-Man #400 so the symbiote could join without various other cast members (he even joked about having it join J. Jonah Jameson!). The series took an original route with Venom rather than adapting the comics like they did with most villains. In a rather brilliant move, Eddie Brock was introduced before Venom as a work related rival to Peter Parker. For a short while, he was Jameson’s number one reporter at The Daily Bugle. Like Jameson, Brock hated Spider-Man with a passion and didn’t think too much to Peter either. The two were pitted against each other for $1000 bonus on whomever gets the scoop on this strange Lizard creature that has been seen stalking the sewers. When reptile mutagenics expert Dr. Curt Conners is believed to have been kidnapped by the creature, both of them think to visit Conner’s wife to see where the Dr is before Spider-Man is attacked by The Lizard himself. In one of the shows best fight scenes, The Lizard outmatches Spidey before throwing him into Billy’s treehouse. Peter manages to get a photo of the ‘future handbag’ but drops his camera in a puddle. Upon The Lizard’s escape both Spider-Man and Brock discover that Conners is the creature as Mrs Conners confeses to Spider-Man and Brock hides in the bushes. In one of the most amusing scenes in the show, Spidey then hangs Brock from a lampost to stop him reporting the story
Brock: You can’t do this!
Spider-Man: I already have! I won’t let you ruin Conners life.
The episode concludes with Brock looking foolish after accusing a perfectly human Conners of being The Lizard and Peter looking like a million bucks after delivering photos of Spider-Man fighting The Lizard in the sewers (and bless him, he gave the money to his Aunt to pay the bills.)
Brock would make a final appearance before The Alien Costume saga kicked in, as he joined Norman Osborn and Spencer Smythe in a plan to defeat, unmask and arrest Spider-Man. In a plot orchestrated by Norman Osborn who had a debt to pay to The Kingpin The Black Widow (the giant robot Spider Slayer, not the Russian Avenger). After the robot accidently kidnapped Flash Thompson dressed up in a Spider-Man costume rather than Spider-Man himself, Brock unmasked Thompson and it became clear that he wasn’t in fact Spider-Man, making Brock, Jameson and their entire network look foolish. Jameson came up with a cracking quip before firing Brock.
“The other networks are laughing at me Brock, even Fox! Can you imagine the humiliation?!”
I always liked the way they built up Brock’s hatred of Spider-Man before he bonded with the symbiote, I think the show was at it’s best when it added original twists like this.
The next time we would see Brock on the show, the alien had landed.