Marvel’s Strongest Symbiotes (And Venom Isn’t #1)

It turns out Venom is way down on the symbiote pecking order.

Venom may be one of Spider-Man’s stronger foes, but he’s not the only symbiote character on the block. This villain’s breakout popularity in the late ’80s and early ’90s inspired a new wave of symbiote characters, from villains like Carnage to heroes like Scorn and Toxin. And some of these characters have proven to be stronger and more capable than Venom himself.

If you want to know how the major symbiote characters in the Marvel Universe measure up, we’ve put together a helpful guide. Read on — or watch the video above — to see where characters like Peter Parker and Eddie Brock fall on the list of the most powerful symbiotes.

Spider-Man

05 - Spider-Man

Peter Parker was the first person to bond with the Venom symbiote, which also puts him on the low end of the symbiote totem pole. It’s not that Spider-Man didn’t receive a significant power boost while wearing the costume. Bonding with Venom amped up his already impressive strength and granted him unlimited webbing (which is a huge help to any struggling superhero’s budget). However, the symbiote has only grown stronger since moving on to other hosts.

Plus, Peter never fully bonded with the symbiote in the way other hosts like Eddie Brock and Flash Thompson have. No sooner did he discover that the helpful black costume he stumbled across on an alien planet was actually a living, parasitic being than he discarded it and went back to the old spandex.

The Life Foundation Symbiotes

10 - Symbiotes

Early on in his career as a “lethal protector,” Venom was captured by Carlton Drake’s Life Foundation and had five samples of his costume taken and turned into new symbiotes. Four of those symbiotes – Riot, Lasher, Phage and Agony – are grouped together here. Because they only appeared in a handful of Venom stories and never had much of a chance to stand out as individuals, it’s tough to really rank one above another.

Theoretically, as offspring of Venom, these Life Foundation symbiotes should be stronger than their parent. But these characters never showed much skill in controlling their powers, and it wasn’t long before the human hosts were killed off and the Life Foundation symbiotes were sent adrift. They later returned as a fused symbiote named Hybrid, but even that new form wasn’t powerful enough to prevent Venom from killing their shared human host, Scott Washington.

Scream

16 - Scream

Scream is the one Life Foundation Symbiote who did stand apart from her brethren. The 1994 series Venom: Separation Anxiety revealed that Scream was trying to murder her compatriots and frame Eddie Brock for their deaths. The simple fact that she was able to overpower and kill Agony shows that Scream was more in tune with her symbiote than the rest. Even so, she was no match for Venom in the end.

Venom

23 - Powers

Venom made his reputation by serving as a bigger, meaner version of Spider-Man. When the symbiote passed from Peter Parker to Eddie Brock, it retained most of Spider-Man’s abilities – strength, speed, agility, etc. At the same time, finding a new host amplified the symbiote’s power and granted it several new abilities, including razor-sharp fangs and the ability to block Peter’s Spider-Sense.

In short, while Venom isn’t as strong as some of the more recent symbiotes that have sprung up in his wake, he’s certainly more than a match for Spider-Man. The symbiote’s power levels have also stayed fairly consistent as its switched among several new hosts (Mac Gargan, Flash Thompson, Lee Price) before finally returning to Brock.

Mania

26 - Mania

The Mania symbiote is another offshoot of Venom, and one that’s shown a much greater degree of bloodlust and rage than its parent. That’s in part because one of its wearers, Andi Benton, was also cursed by a supernatural brand called the Hell-Mark. More recently, the Mania symbiote has passed to a criminal named Lee Price. Lee has shown the ability to enslave others by infecting them with pieces of his symbiote, making him more than a match for the combined might of Venom and Spider-Man.

Space Knight Venom

33 - Space Knight

To date, the Venom symbiote has never been stronger than when bonded to Flash Thompson. That’s right, Peter Parker’s former high school bully became one of several hosts for the Venom symbiote. Luckily, Flash helped steer the symbiote down a better road. During this period, Venom even joined the Guardians of the Galaxy and traveled to its home planet, where its warped mind was cured and he developed an even closer bond with Flash.

It was during this time that Venom became a cosmic superhero known as a Space Knight and tapped into greater levels of strength than ever before. Unfortunately, this bond didn’t last, and it wasn’t long before Flash and Venom were separated and left to fend for themselves again back on Earth.

Carnage

35 - Carnage

For a while, Carnage was basically top dog in the symbiote pecking order. Just as Venom is a step beyond Spider-Man in terms of strength, Carnage surpasses Venom in terms of both power and potential for destruction.

Carnage was created when Eddie Brock and psychopathic murderer Cletus Kasady were cellmates. When Eddie escaped and left a trace of his symbiote behind, it fused with Kasady. The symbiote’s own emotional detachment pairs a little too well with Kasady’s insatiable bloodlust, resulting in a super-powered villain who loves murder and is capable of taking on both Spider-Man and Venom at the same time.

Scorn

41 - Powers

Carnage finally gained an enemy who could operate on his level when he accidentally spawned a new symbiote named Scorn. Scorn is bonded to a woman named Tanis Nieves. Because of its unusual origin, the Scorn symbiote is a fusion of biological and technological life. That means that not only does Tanis have strength to match Carnage, but her suit can bond and interface with various machines. Where sonic weapons are one of the few weaknesses most symbiotes share, for Scorn they can become a useful tool in battle.

Toxin

44 - Toxin

What threat could possibly make Venom and Carnage put aside their differences and work together? That would be Toxin, the first symbiote to spawn from Carnage. Carnage immediately recognized Toxin as a serious threat, as it basically wields the combined might of Venom and Carnage together. The fact that Toxin has an unusually developed personality and strong bond with its original host, Patrick Mulligan, only adds to its strength. Fortunately, despite Venom and Carnage’s shared fear of Toxin’s destructive potential, this symbiote has shown a tendency to fight on the side of good.

Anti-Venom

49 - Anti-Venom

Anti-Venom was born when trace remnants of the venom symbiote within Eddie Brock’s body were charged up by Mister Negative, creating a new, artificial symbiote in the process.

In terms of raw strength, Anti-Venom may not be the most powerful symbiote. Its strength is more or less on par with the regular Venom symbiote. But this hero is perfectly equipped to battle and defeat other symbiotes. Anti-Venom’s cleansing touch can literally burn other symbiotes, causing extreme pain and even death. In other words, it’s a very useful ally to have in any fight involving enemies like Venom or Carnage.

The Symbiote Super-Soldiers

54 - Super-Soldiers

The newest Venom series revealed that the US government once created a batch of super-soldiers empowered by samples of the Grendel, a primordial symbiote in the shape of a massive dragon. Given their direct link to the progenitor of the entire symbiote race, these super-soldiers proved both incredibly strong and very difficult to control. One flashback story showed them handily defeating both Nick Fury and Wolverine in the Vietnam jungle, with the latter only surviving because he showed the symbiotes compassion.

Red Goblin

60 - Carnage Bombs

In terms of bloodlust and sheer body count, Spider-Man villains don’t come any worse than Green Goblin and Carnage. And when you combine the two of them together, you have all the makings of one horrible, unstoppable villain.

That was the case in “Go Down Swinging,” a recent Amazing Spider-Man storyline where Norman Osborn willingly bonded with the Carnage symbiote. A new hybrid villain named Red Goblin was created as a result. Red Goblin compounds Osborn’s already considerable strength with that of Carnage, along with the ability to throw destructive “Carnage bombs.” Even traditional symbiote weaknesses like sound and fire are only minor nuisances to Red Goblin.

Knull

63 - Knull

The current Venom series has dramatically changed the origin and back-story of Marvel’s symbiote characters. It turns out that all symbiotes are spawns of an ancient god named Knull. Knull has existed since the earliest days of the universe, where he’s been waging a war against the Celestials for bringing light into his dark, lifeless realm. He sometimes takes the form of the Grendel, a giant dragon who inspired the creature in the epic poem Beowulf.

Needless to say, any character who can murder Celestials ranks among the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe. Venom and Carnage are just drops in the bucket compared to this guy.

Jesse is a mild-mannered writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter, or Kicksplode on MyIGN.

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