Warning: spoilers ahead for Venom #30!
In the finale issue of Venom’s current “Venom Beyond” arc from Marvel Comics, Eddie Brock and his symbiote join a small band of resistance fighters in a dark alternate future. Together, they take the fight to Codex, the evil ruler who has covered the world in a hive of symbiotes under his control. However, the new villain Virus returns as well in this closing chapter, and it’s confirmed that the hodge-podge of armor he wears was once War Machine’s armor, but has since been Venom-ized.
In Marvel’s current Venom series from writer Donny Cates with art by Luke Ross, “Venom Beyond” began with Eddie Brock getting trapped in an alternate future along with his symbiote and his son Dylan. All three of them were sucked into a chronal gateway built by the Maker, but were followed close behind by the new villain known as Virus, whose identity was at the time unknown. After traveling through the portal, Virus attacked Venom and Dylan, wearing what looked to be components of old Iron Man armor and a Green Goblin glider held together by duct tape. After landing in this dark, symbiote-covered future, Eddie and Dylan found their way to the resistance, while Virus was captured by Codex’s forces. Codex learned that Virus was in fact Mac Gargan, the Spider-Man villain Scorpion and former host of the Venom symbiote, seeking revenge against Eddie for leaving him paralyzed in the Absolute Carnage event.
While Codex gave Gargan an all new Scorpion-symbiote suit to take out Venom, Eddie and Dylan removed Gargan’s suit, and Eddie managed to orchestrate a truce. Now, in Venom #30, it’s revealed that Gargan’s old armor holds the key to getting Eddie and his son home. With the armor still in the possession of Codex, the resistance stages an attack, holding off the sinister symbiotes while Gargan gets his armor back. When he puts in back on, it’s revealed that Codex’s scientists and engineers repaired it, and this reality’s version of Reed Richards confirms that the armor is a Mark III armor that once belonged to War Machine, albeit one that Gargan upgraded with a Venom-style paint job. Once he gets the armor back, Gargan decides to call off the truce.
Thankfully, Richards came prepared with an EMP blast that knocked Gargan out of the armor and also took him out for the rest of the battle. While Codex was soon neutralized and the world was free from his symbiotes and control, Eddie and Dylan had to wait a full year for Richards to build them a new chronal gateway, allowing them to return back to their own reality. Ultimately, they chose to leave Gargan imprisoned in the alternate reality.
Recently, Marvel has been taking every available opportunity to “fuse” its characters. This was most notable in the Infinity Wars crossover – which resulted in an entire reality of fused characters like the Soldier Supreme (Captain America and Doctor Strange) and Ghost Panther (Ghost Rider and Black Panther.) Here, at least, there’s an in-story reason for one Spider-Man villain to wear War Machine armor themed after another, and readers get to enjoy a mash-up of their favorite characters alongside a compelling story. With symbiotes about to swarm the Earth, hopefully there will be even cooler theme-mash-ups in store for fans, as the upcoming issues of Donny Cates’ Venom will be tying into King in Black, and the invasion of Knull the Symbiote God.