I usually don't like guessing games in comics. Not that is can't be fun, trying to figure out who a certain character really is - but it's been so over used in recent years that I've grown tired of it; the "Who is the Red Hulk" being the most recent and worst example of all. Yet sometimes they do it right. A new Venom series is coming out this March, and while Marvel is heavily taking advantage of no one knowing who the new host might be - Marvel is at least coming clean about it soon, with an introduction and expiation in an issue of Amazing Spider-Man in February. So it got me thinking who this new Venom is actually going to be.
First off, the first and best Venom will always be Eddie Brock. He encountered the Symbiote after Spider-Man forced the shape-shifting creature off of himself. Sharing a hatred for Spider-Man, Brock and the Symbiote complimented each other well. The Symbiote not only gave Brock all of Spider-Man's former powers - but also all the knowledge of his real identity. Spider-Man was facing a true dark reflection of himself. He fought and tormented Spider-Man for many years, becoming wildly popular with fans. While the Symbiote was essentially a scorned and angry creature, Brock eventually wielded the suit well enough to enforce his version of justice. This lead Venom to being an Anti-Hero. He considered everyone else innocents - everyone but Spider-Man; but he even eventually made a truce with Spider-Man, leading to his own adventures.
Years later, and after being severally mis-utilized and over exposed - I think Marvel had a hard time using Venom effectively. They tried returning him from an anti-hero back to being a straight up villain, but it all felt false considering his former, if twisted, perception of justice. Marvel eventually opted for the revelation that Brock had cancer - and the Symbiote was the only thing still keeping him alive. Also - it was revealed that Brock hadn't been in control of the Symbiote in a long time.
Not knowing exactly how to use Venom without Brock in control, though, proved problematic. Marvel tried a new series with a new Venom who jumped from host to host, attempting to create and air of horror and mystery. It didn't work out well. Eventually it was revealed the whole series was following a dissected copy of the real Symbiote, and eventually remerged it with the real Venom.
Marvel decided to try and change things - and removed the suit and tried to let Eddie die. It wasn't very effective, though, as Eddie was brought back, surviving an attempted suicide - and the Venom suit was passed along to the less popular villain Mac Gargan, aka the Scorpion. I think this really pushed Marvel into a corner, as Gargan simply wasn't good enough as Venom - and all attempts to try to make Gargan like the old Venom ultimately failed. He became a one-note villain, eating people in a vain attempt to stay edgy and relevant. Worse still, he simply became a lackey for Norman Osborn (the Green Goblin) as part of the Thunderbolts and Dark Avengers.
Eddie Brock was simply a seemingly necessary part of the equation, which Marvel couldn't easily put back together. Combining him with the Symbiote again would simply be cruel to Brock, and also not solve the problem of Brock being primarily in charge. So Dan Slott came onto Amazing Spider-Man with a brilliant idea: Anti-Venom. After being touched by the villain Mr. Negative, a new opposite version of the Symbiote was born and bonded to Eddie Brock. Anti-Venom is literally poison to the regular Symbiote - and it gave Brock back his strength and sense of purpose. He's again an Anti-Hero. Not entirely well used, with a mini-series failing to gain traction -- but I still hold out hope Marvel can make good use to this new direction for Brock.
Now, as for Gargan - the symbiote it was removed from him, and he's going to become the Scorpion again. So who is the new Venom host going to be?
Well, so far it's been indicated that the new host is already a supporting character in Spider-Man's life. This new Venom is also going to be used as a weapon by the government, attached to a host who will carry out missions around the world. He's essentially going to be the Venom equivalent of James Bond. A new military Venom design has been revealed - though it looks like he might still revert to the tongue-wagging version when the Symbiote gets out of control. (It's apparently not going to be an amicable alliance.
So, who in Spider-Man's world is going to be the New Venom?
Everyone seems to be picking Vincent Gonzales as the odds on favorite. He was introduced into Spider-Man's universe as a cop who disliked the web-slinger. It was eventually revealed that Gonzales was faking evidence to make it look like Spider-Man was a killer - and he went to jail. He recently was released sporting a new Green Goblin tattoo, so I don't know how that would work with the series. It seems to me Gonzales could easily work as the new Venom host - as the government might give him a second chance to do good. Best of all, with his past conviction and the reason he went to jail, the government would know he isn't afraid to get his hand dirty when trying to achieve his goals.
I, however, don't personally think it's going to be Gonzales. My top pick for the new host is John Jameson, son of J. Jonah Jameson. Why Jameson? The new writer and artist of the Venom series recently had a good run re-developing a deceased Punisher as Franken-Castle. This points to a taste in goofy horror - which John Jameson can easily provide. See, John has long since had these on-again off-again powers to turn into the Man-Wolf. A Venom-themed Man-Wolf just seems too perfect a combination for this creative team! Think of it; the Man-Wolf powers aren't a constant affliction, so it wouldn't prevent Jameson from being a host. Plus it would be a twisted kind of irony if Jameson was Venom - as his father J. Jonah Jameson has always been elevating his son as a true hero, in comparison to Spider-Man. Being a Spider-Man look-alike would instantly give some family tension to the equation. Also, John Jameson has military experience, being a Colonel in the U.S. Air Force -- so becoming the Government's latest secret agent wouldn't me much of a stretch. If there's anyone on this list I'm betting on, it's Colonel John Jameson!
Another choice could be Flash Thompson. An ardent fan of Spider-Man, Flash has always idolized the web-slinger; so a chance to be a hero like Spider-Man wouldn't be a stretch. He's in the military, having served in Iraq, so experience in special covert operations isn't outside his skill set. The only problem, though, is that he lost his legs in Iraq. He's become quite notable for this in recent years - having sacrificed so much for his country. So how could Flash possibly be the new Venom host without legs? Well, the Symbiote has always shown an ability to grow and be physically larger than it's host (on Gargan the suit would balloon to twice or three times his normal size) - so it could be possible the Symbiote could fill-in for those missing limbs. Flash would have mobility again, and get to serve his country as a Spider-Man themed Super Spy.
I wouldn't count on it being Flash, though. It is still a pretty "out-there" theory to put someone as disabled as him in such a psychically demanding position. Plus it would probably be somewhat disrespectful to take such a real condition, a reality-based character in Spider-Man's life, and switch his story in such a manner.
My last pick for the new Venom host would be Randy Robertson, son of Daily Bugle Editor Robbie Robertson. Dan Slott has said he's specifically trying to bring Randy back into Spider-Man's world, as he was severely under utilized until now. Could there be even bigger plans, to make Randy the new Venom host? He might not have military or law enforcement experience like the other characters - but he's fresh-faced enough to be a youthful and inexperienced hero as the New Venom.
So, who will play host to the new Symbiote? We'll all find out this February in the special "Point 1" issue of Amazing Spider-Man #654.1. That issue has been tailored to be a perfect jumping on point for either Amazing Spider-Man or the new Venom ongoing series due in March. While we're still not going to get the original Brock/Symbiote dynamic -- I am very excited for this new series. Rick Remender wowed me with his nuanced and dynamic take on Uncanny X-Force - so I'm expecting good things from this second 90s character reinterpretation.