What If Just Made Marvel's OTHER Symbiotes Even More HORRIFYING
WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for Spider-Man: Spider's Shadow #3 by Chip Zdarsky, Pasqual Ferry, Matt Hollingsworth and VC's Joe Caramagna, on sale now.
The Marvel Universe has long been home to symbiote heroes and villains, but their history has never been quite as twisted as it is within the pages of Spider-Man: Spider's Shadow. In this What If? tale, Peter Parker, having never given up the Venom symbiote has become an almost unrecognizable version of his former self. After embracing his darker half, Spider-Man has led a brutal campaign of death against his various rogues.
Thankfully, Peter Parker's reign of terror has finally come to an end. However, the threat of the symbiote persists. And make matters worse, it has even just formed its very own version of the Life Foundation, and with it a whole new breed of symbiotes with some help from the Fantastic Four.
Following the death of Aunt May during an attack on her home by the Hobgoblin, Spider-Man has been on a supervillain killing spree. The threat of being hunted forced the Sinister Six to reform with a roster including J. Jonah Jameson himself, who pulled Peter free from the wreckage after the dust had settled. Now free from the symbiote, Peter has a chance to take control of his own mind once more. Unfortunately, the symbiote itself didn't perish in the fire, and in the time since it has returned to the Baxter Building, where the symbiote bonded to Reed Richards and began the process of spawning a new generation of its own kind with which to "save" the world.
This is far from the first time that the Venom symbiote has given birth in a lab, and the last time that happened led to some of the most iconic Marvel characters of the '90s. While Venom's first spawn, Carnage, had already been introduced, his next brood wouldn't appear until 1993's Venom: Lethal Protector #4 by David Michelinie and Ron Lim. They were products of a shadowy organization called the Life Foundation, which had kidnapped Venom and forcibly birthed from him five more symbiotes to be bonded to a ragtag team of killers and mercenaries. Scream, Agony, Phage, Riot and Lasher spent years tormenting both Venom and Spider-Man before their original hosts were killed. Since then, Scream has established herself as a hero while her kin have fallen back into terrorizing the innocent.
From the looks of things, Reed has developed six other symbiotes through similar means. Although their color schemes don't quite line up, these could very well be the same symbiotes that Venom has given birth to in the primary Marvel Universe.
If the Venom symbiote that has bonded to Reed Richards isn't stopped soon, Spider-Man and the few allies he has left could very well be facing an army of symbiotes that they are in no way prepared for. The symbiote is well aware of Reed's incredible intelligence and has targeted him specifically to take advantage of it. To make matters worse, Reed has already begun bonding another symbiote to Ben Grimm, aka the Thing. Johnny Storm might be safe from his symbiote-possessed brother-in-law, but Sue Storm isn't, and a Venomized Fantastic Four leading the charge could very well be more than the rest of Earth's heroes can handle.