WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Venom: The End #1 by Adam Warren, Jeffrey “Chamba” Cruz, Guru e-FX and VC’s Clayton Cowles, on sale now.
We’ve seen a lot of high-profile deaths in comics since The Death of Superman in 1992. Since then characters like Spider-Man, Batman, Wolverine, Wonder Woman and Captain America have all gone down in various blazes of heroism and glory. Increasingly, though, these deaths have lost their narrative heft. This is because in these cases, the resurrection is as common as death, making it hard to truly feel the loss of our favorite characters.
Instead the most impactful last stands of our favorite heroes have been the smaller ones. Small, quiet deaths that come not through the proverbial death ray, but instead something as simple as a bullet, or the snapping of a neck from a sudden jolt. It is this kind of end that Eddie Brock meets in Adam Warren’s Venom: The End #1.
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Marvel’s The End series, such as Miles Morales: The End, take a look at the last days of various Marvel characters. In the case of the immortal symbiote, this means that Venom: The End looks not at the last day of Venom, but of humanity itself. Warren tells us that while the majority of the Symbiotes are effectively killing machines, Venom was a little bit different. Venom had an interest in biological life forms, and especially in Eddie Brock, who it truly loved. Now there is an important difference to note here between Venom and the object of its affections — Venom is an immortal extra-dimensional fragment of a destroyed hive-mind and Eddie Brock is a this-dimensional muscle guy from New York City who is entirely mortal. This means that while the Venom symbiote can heal Eddie’s wounds it can’t stop him from aging, and this is what ultimately does Eddie in.
The symbiote, desperate to save Eddie, tries in vain to prologue his life, terrified of losing the being that it has been connected with for so long. As Eddie’s organs begin to deteriorate, Venom replaces them with “venomized cellular analogues,” until internally Eddie is mostly consisting of Venom pieces even down to his cellular structure. After two hundred years Eddie’s brain begins to decay and his neurons start to die. Desperate, the Symbiote replaces them and the information they contain with yet more of itself. Eddie’s memories begin to fill up with the dymbiote standing in for the people in his life until he can’t remember anyone else. After 500 years, and the end of the age of superheroes, all human life has been extinguished and Eddie is finally beyond saving. Realizing it’s time to let him go, Venom withdraws itself from Eddie’s body, which crumbles to dust in Venom’s arms.
What makes this so impactful is that Eddie doesn’t go out saving anyone. It’s not heroic; in fact, it’s a failed act of love and heroism. Venom, a character whose name is rarely synonymous with either love or heroism, tries desperately to hang onto someone he loves and fails. While this is a one-shot story and doesn’t carry any sort of implications for any events to come in the Marvel universe, there is something profound at that moment, something humanizing and relatable. Venom’s is a pain which many have felt and many will feel, a pain that is part of the human experience, but seldom part of the Superhero experience. And like all of us, Venom is forced to keep going in spite of the pain it is in
As the universe is overrun by the artificial super-intelligence colossi known as the Godminds, which eradicate all biological life, Venom becomes its defender. Using the information stored within itself to create new life, Venom uses the powers of the many mutants with which it bonded to gain powers that aid it in this goal. Eventually Venom travels through time bonding with every living organism that ever existed and in doing so storing there information within its own cellular structure. When Venom’s last stand finally comes and the God Brains come calling, Venom tears itself apart and uses every ability in its arsenal to recreate a new universe in which all the organisms with which it bonded are brought back and placed in their correct timelines. Venom is destroyed but its death is in and of itself an act of creation of the highest magnitude. As Venom’s consciousness flickers out, the last thing we see is a memory of Eddie and the other people Venom loved and was willing to destroy itself to preserve.