When I started doing the second volume of What If, I knew it was only a matter of time until we started getting the 90s guys. Wolverine’s shown up a few times already and in What If vol 2 #1, we got the first Punisher appearance. Complete with giant head. Now, of course, it’s Venom’s turn.
For those who are unaware or only know Venom from Spider-Man 3 as the ooze monster that possessed Peter Parker and made him dance, Venom first appeared… sort of in the giant Secret War crossover. Peter had shredded his usual costume and started wandering around, stopping at the first thing that “looked like it wanted to create a costume.” Impeccable logic there, Spidey. Anyway, it did indeed make Spidey his kick-ass 80s black costume. Then it turned out it was an evil parasite, tried to possess Peter, had to be murdered with bells (All aliens hate bells, as you well know.) and later possessed some asshole and became one of the most popular villains ever if you are polling people’s younger brothers.
So this week we ask what would happen if Spider-Man never got rid of the symbiote. Peter’s feeling pretty run down lately (Mostly due to the symbiote running around with his body after Pete’s gone to sleep at night but also because of regular sex with his current main squeeze, the Black Cat. Often while suspended in webs which is goddamn weird.) The Cat suggests Spidey picked up some sort of space bug whilst Secret Warring. Then she runs off before she gets Space Clap or something. Classy.
Peter visits his friend/foe Curt Connors AKA the Lizard AKA who diagnosis Pete as completely space flu free. He’s less of an authority on the effects of evil costumes on people so that bit of research has to wait a couple of days for the Fantastic Four to get back into town. When they finally do, Reed gives the costume the once over.
“Bad news, Spider-Man.” Reed says. You’ve got a full body skintight tapeworm.”
“There is literally nothing good about what you just said.” Spidey replies as his body clenches with seizures and the costume takes over. Luckily, Reed manages to stun Spidey with one of his giant science guns. Then he seals the webslinger in a giant glass case because we all know symbiotes are afraid of glass. A quick phone call to Dr Strange leads to some mystical backup but even that doesn’t help when Spidey kicks his way out. So much for the glass idea. Spidey knocks Strange and Richards out and then heads off into the night.
Meanwhile, for some reason, the Avengers are fighting it out with a (surprise surprise) extremely pissed off Hulk. They’re very excited when it appears that Spider-Man has arrived to help out. They’re less excited when it turns out he’s just there so that the symbiote can ditch Peter’s now burnt out body and take over the Hulk instead. Well… this probably could have gone better.
Venom Hulk fucks off, leaving Earth’s Mightiest Hero and Starfox to help Peter. It seems the Symbiote feeds off adrenaline (something that has never come up in any Spider-Man comic I’ve ever read but whatever, other worlds than these, blah blah.) and it’s pretty much drained Peter leaving him with the appearance of an eighty year old man.
When he regains consciousness, Old Man Peter goes to visit his Aunt May for one last time and give some last touching words about… power or responsibility or something. Then he leaves before she dies of a heart attack. Ironically, said heart attack kills Pete that night while he’s going over his symbiote notes. This tragic death will lead to Aunt May making a deal with Mephisto to save Peter and destroy her marriage to Mary Jane but that’s not important right now.
The next day, Black Cat and the Kingpin meet up at Spider-Man’s secret funeral. I guess Fisk gets really sentimental when people he hates dies. I don’t remember any of this crap when he thought Daredevil was dead but whatever. Anyway, he and Cat seem to hit it off finally and he gives her a lift home.
Meanwhile, Reed’s working on another giant science gun that will actually kill the symbiote which is probably a great idea since it’s strapped to the fucking Hulk right now and that dude is terrifying when he’s not freaking out on tanks in the desert. He also figures out a way to track the symbiote and brings the Avengers to Mt. Rushmore to finally put a stop to Venom Hulk. The rest of the FF stays home for some reason. I guess nobody thought having the Thing who regularly beats up the Hulk or the Human Torch who is basically made of the stuff the Symbiote is afraid of was a good idea. Nice job, smartest man in the world.
So Venom Hulk appears, pleads for mercy with Thor and then attacks him because he’s a total douche from space. Thor does some excellent shitkicking on the symbiote and it eventually drains off, leaving only Bruce Banner. Thor examines the wad of alien smear on his hammer when it jumps off, engulfing him as anyone who has ever seen a horror movie could guess. I’ll let it slide because I don’t imagine Thor is a big movie guy.
Having now possessed an actual god, the Symbiote takes the next obvious step and… goes and hides in a cave. Master strategist, this fellow. It’s a shock we’re not already dead. Anyway, this cave hiding gives Reed a chance to make a really long distance call to Black Bolt of the Inhumans. Luckily for everyone, the Symbiote is also weak against sonics and knuckles and Black Bolt has both. He yells into the cave, blasting the symbiote off its Asgardian host. And also completely destroying Mt. Rushmore. Whoops.
Reed and Dr Strange argue over what to do with the beaten Symbiote when Black Cat appears and zaps it with her own stolen giant science gun. Turns out she found Peter’s notes on how to build the thing and then took them to the Kingpin whose scientists put it together. Now she’s gotten revenge for her boyfriend and all it cost her was a lifetime of servitude to New York’s most powerful gangster. So, I guess that’s a win!