Welcome to this week’s edition of Ye Olde School Café! In this exciting installment, I’ll be presenting the finale to the story “Spider-Man: Birth of Venom”! Up until now, we’ve seen Peter having trouble with everyone from Aunt May, Robbie Robertson, The Black Cat, Puma, Red Ghost, and the list goes on and on. On every front, Peter and Spider-Man are being assaulted physically and mentally. What does all this mean? Let’s find out….
As Mary Jane drops the bombshell on Peter that she’s known for a while now that he’s Spider-Man, the Black Cat comes swooping in through the window to greet Peter. MJ then gets disgusted after realizing he’s moved on romantically, and also because the Cat calls her a bimbo and tells her to get out. Peter tries to stop her, but she ignores him. We also see a quick interlude with Puma talking to his assistant about Spider-Man. He wants to get some footage of Spidey for their next encounter. Meanwhile, Peter is now alone in his apartment, and he’s stewing about all the recent activities in his life. He feels out of control for the first time in his life, and it scares him. As he falls asleep, the mind of Peter Parker is fighting against the Symbiote. The new life form wants to take total control of Peter, mind, body, and soul. Peter then wakes up screaming for his life, and decides to go see Reed Richards. Reed deduces that this suit is a living organism. Peter leaves it for Reed to examine, and Peter leaves with a paper bag on his head a la The Unknown Comic. He takes care of a couple of thugs, then heads home. As he is wallowing in self-pity, a knock at the door startles him. It’s MJ and she wants to talk to him about her past, and her reasons for looking him up after so long. Back at the Baxter Building, the Symbiote is trying to bust out of the test tube it’s been trapped in!
The next day, MJ tells Peter about her abusive father, and other sordid details of her past. The two walk in the park together, talking the entire time about her life and what it has led her to. Meanwhile, the Hobgoblin is terrorizing (and stealing from) people all over the city. Peter and MJ agree to be friends, but you can tell things are heading in another direction for sure. The Hobgoblin then meets up with the Rose, and the two plot to overthrow the Kingpin as the big crime boss in the city. At this point, we also get to see Reed Richards trying to figure out what the Symbiote actually is and what it can do. He talks to She-Hulk about it, and then heads back into the lab for more tests. After a long day, Peter returns home and watches some television. He watches the news and is stunned to find out that the Hobgoblin is still alive and was going berserk all day while he and MJ were walking around the park. The Symbiote escapes the lab of Reed Richards, and heads straight for Peter’s apartment. Once there, it hides next to Peter’s old costume. When Peter jumps off of the couch after seeing the Hobgoblin to suit up, the Symbiote makes its move. It lunges onto Peter and the fight is on. Peter struggles mightily, but the Symbiote’s grip is too strong. He heads outside to try and rid himself of the black suit, but is jumped by some punks outfitted with wings so they can commit crimes easier. Spidey easily thrashes them, but then swings out of control and slams right into a bell tower.
As Spidey is getting his eardrums blasted, he notices that the Symbiote is taking the loud noise worse than him. It appears that extremely loud sounds are a weakness of the Symbiote, and it slowly releases its hold of Peter. As Peter is lying on the floor, the Symbiote tries to leave, but can’t stand to watch its host suffering. It pulls Peter out of harm’s way and slinks off into the church. Little does Peter know, someone else is in this very church tonight, and his name is Eddie Brock. At this point in continuity, Spider-Man and Peter’s lives would still be full of crazy adventures. The death of Jean DeWolff; a city wide crime war between the Hobgoblin, the Rose, and every other crime boss in the city; then Peter proposed to MJ for the second time, and she accepted. They got married, and Peter had to face Kraven the Hunter as well. This all leads up to Peter feeling like everything was starting to come together for him, but he can’t shake the feeling that someone is stalking him. And this brings us to the famous issue of Amazing Spider-Man #300.…
As MJ returns to the apartment one night, she sees Peter in the dark. She questions him as to why he was sitting in the dark, but gets no response. She seems to realize that something is wrong, and when the person steps out into the light, she sees why. It’s not Peter at all, but someone else wearing the Symbiote. Later, when Peter returns home, MJ is a hysterical mess. Peter tells her it’s OK, then she explains why she’s so upset. As they talk, we watch as Eddie Brock slinks away to his apartment to lift some weights and get psyched up for his ultimate battle against Spider-Man. As Peter and MJ go to bed, Peter thinks back about the whole wild adventure of himself and the Symbiote. He then comes to the conclusion that someone else has let it attach itself to them. The next day, Peter swings by his old apartment to pick up a sonic blaster he borrowed before from the Fantastic Four. As he leaves dressed in his regular clothes to meet MJ, he gets the feeling someone is following him. Not getting anything from his Spider sense, he dismisses it and meets up with MJ. He photographs MJ for a modeling gig, then the two go to Aunt May’s house for dinner. In the meantime, Brock kills a police officer that witnesses him breaking into an apartment building.
Later that night, Peter is talking things over with Robbie at the Bugle. He glances out the window and sees someone web-swinging by. He immediately darts out after him. Once he tracks the guy to an abandoned building, he creeps inside. Immediately, Brock grabs him and tosses him up against a wall. Spidey, not knowing who is under the costume, demands to see his face. At this point in the story, Brock reveals himself to Spidey, then goes on to tell him why he’s out for revenge. Brock explains to Spidey that he’s the reason that he’s out of a job (Peter revealed the true identity of the Sin Eater to the world), and his whole life has fallen apart because of Peter. As Brock is prattling on, Spidey is slowly reaching for the sonic blaster he brought with him. He grabs it, but Brock is too fast for him and swats the gun away. He then delivers a pounding to Spidey that really has him on the ropes. Spidey then grabs a piece of metal lying nearby, and smashes Venom in the face with it. This gives him enough time to grab the gun and blast Venom with it. Spidey then realizes that if he keeps it up, it would kill not only the Symbiote, but Brock as well. He lets up, but then turns his back on Venom. Venom then comes to and knocks Spidey out.
When Spidey wakes up, he’s webbed to the inside of the bell tower and Brock is dressed as a priest. Brock tells Peter that since he tried to use these bells to kill the Symbiote, now he’s going to use them to kill him. As he walks away to avoid the noise, Spidey is struggling to try and rip his hand free to stop the bell from smashing into his face. He succeeds, but can’t keep stopping the bell that is gaining momentum every time it swings. Just as he breaks free, Venom returns and then the two start to brawl again. This time, though, Spidey knows what he’s up against. He swings to the top of the tower, and Venom follows. Spidey immediately kicks him in the face, but Venom shoots a web to hang on to. Spidey then grabs a piece off of the tower with a sharp edge, and cuts the webbing. This sends Venom plummeting to the ground at such a high rate of speed that he hits the ground like a ton of bricks. Afterwards, Spidey takes Brock to the Fantastic Four where he is put in an observation tank. Peter returns home to MJ and the two are excited for the new chapter in their lives together.
I’ve got to admit, that the fight between Spidey and Venom could have been more epic. That said, the build up in this story line is quite good and was the result of great writing from Defalco, Louise Simonson, and David Michelinie. Ron Frenz, and of course Todd McFarlane, did a fantastic job in portraying Spidey, and as of issue #300, it seemed like a totally new web-head was ushered in by McFarlane. That now iconic cover has sent him to crazy heights as an artist, and will always be the way a majority of people remember Spidey. Personally, I’m more of a John Romita fan as far as Spidey goes, but I won’t deny McFarlane’s skills or influence on Spidey even to this day.