Venom is one of Spider-Man's most popular villains. The black and white appearance of the alien creature known as the symbiote stands out, as does the ways the symbiote modifies the bodies of its various hosts. He's an iconic character, with an iconic personality and look.
For a long time, fans have assumed Venom to be the bad guy. The creature, or at least the power it grants, seems to corrupt its host, whether that be Eddie Brock or Spider-Man himself. When the "evil" symbiote and a weak person of impure intentions combine, the supervillain Venom is born.
At least, that's what it always seemed like. But more recent events in Marvel's comics point towards Venom not being so bad after all.
Spoilers for Venom #1 below!
Until Venom's most recent host (we'll get to that in a minute), Venom occupied the body of Flash Thompson, a classic Spider-Man character and soldier who lost his legs fighting in Iraq. When Venom combines with Flash, the duo go on to become a powerful team. Flash seems able to tame Venom's darker side, and the two go on to be heroes, even serving with the Guardians of the Galaxy as an ambassador from Earth.
This all leads us to Marvel's latest Venom series. Venom is on the hunt for a new host, having left Flash behind. Usually readers learn about Venom through the thoughts and narration of the various host the symbiote occupies, but this new series takes readers into the mind of Venom itself. It's because of this that readers learn, perhaps surprisingly, that Venom wants to be a hero, though it notes that being a villain is much easier.
Enter Venom's latest host: Lee Price. Lee is a former Army Ranger who lost two fingers in battle, and has since struggled to find work. Venom runs across Lee serving as a bodyguard during the sale of an illegal toxic gas. The deal quickly goes south, but Venom sees potential in Lee and takes over the body of a nearby homeless man in order to save the former Ranger from an untimely fate.
Venom seems attracted to Lee because of his solider-like nature. Readers come to understand that Venom and Flash seemed to have gotten along well, with the symbiote remarking that Flash was one of "the most decent men I've ever known." It appears Venom is assuming Lee to be more of the same.
Unfortunately for Venom, Lee isn't near as decent. After Venom fuses with Lee, Lee quickly takes control of the situation and kills all of the survivors of the deal gone wrong, including the completely innocent homeless man caught in the crossfire. He does this in order to keep his newfound power a secret so he can figure out how to use his new "abilities" to his benefit.
It makes for an interesting new status quo for Venom, one that seems poised to return the symbiote to its villainous ways. The fact that it now appears the symbiote itself is good but is being exploited by a villian in the form of Lee makes it all the more interesting. Venom's newfound kind-of-good-guy status also brings into question years of Spider-Man history. Maybe previous Venom's weren't so bad after all, and it was largely due to hosts like Eddie Brock that led to Venom being chiefly regarded as a villain. Future issues are bound to reveal more of the symbiote's inner thoughts -- if it can manage to survive working with its new host.