The Wrong Side: Venom vs. Superman

  

The Wrong Side: Venom vs. Superman

In this feature, I examine comic book fights that were particularly notable in the wrong side winning (or at least that the fight wasn’t won the “right” way). This really isn’t a big deal, of course, as it doesn’t really matter if the “wrong” person won a fight. But it’s fun to talk about!

If you want to suggest a fight for future inclusion in this feature, drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com. Don’t suggest a fight in the comments!

Today we looked at the time that Venom pretty much kicked Superman’s ass…

As always, the first page spotlights their power levels and the second page examines the fight itself.

And as always, the first question we need to ask is…

How did these people do when they fought Spider-Man?

Superman faced off against Spider-Man in 1976’s appropriately named Superman vs. Amazing Spider-Man (by Gerry Conway, Ross Andru and Dick Giordano). In it, Lex Luthor and Doctor Octopus infuse Spider-Man with “Red Sun” radiation to make him more of a match for Superman…

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But even there, he’s not really a match for Superman…

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And when the effects of the radiation wear off, well, then they’re not even in the same ballpark…

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Now, this was PRE-Crisis Superman, but POST-Crisis Superman defeated the Hulk in DC vs. Marvel #3 (by Ron Marz, Claudio Castellini and Paul Neary), so I don’t know how much different Superman is from Spider-Man now, especially since by 1976, Superman’s powers had already been reduced significantly.

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When Venom first showed up in Amazing Spider-Man #300 (by David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane), we established that Spider-Man really needs weapons (Venom is susceptible to sonic weapons and fire) to stop him or cleverness (at the end of the issue, he forces Venom to use up so much webbing that the suit can’t make anymore and Venom crashes to the ground from the roof, knocking him out cold)…

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In the rematch in Amazing Spider-Man #316 (by Michelinie and McFarlane), things are still more in Venom’s favor…

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This continues the next issue…

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(Spidey ultimately wins by offering himself to the symbiote, causing a psychic backlash between the suit and Eddie Brock).

Finally, in Amazing Spider-Man #375 (by David Michelinie, Mark Bagley and Randy Emberlin), Venom again fares very well against Spider-Man (in a story designed to spin Venom off into is own series)…

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So Superman is a lot stronger than Spider-Man, and Venom is stronger than Spider-Man. So how should Superman fare against Venom?

Let’s find out!

25 Comments

John King

August 16, 2015 at 5:12 am

My opinion – if Venom had been so increased in strength to contend with Superman like that then Spiderman would not have been able to knock Venom off the roof with his swinging double-kick (or whatever you call it)

Iron Patriot

August 16, 2015 at 5:16 am

I could be wrong here, but wasn’t Superman depowered a bit around this time?

Shinken

August 16, 2015 at 5:19 am

I could buy Venom giving Superman trouble if it was written right. He does go toe to toe with Juggernaut, after all. This is written so badly, though – how does webbing Superman’s face helps Venom? Supes has x-ray vision!! Also, once Spidey shows up, he should explain Venom’s weakness, which would mean a single heat vision blast would finish the fight.

Omar Karindu

August 16, 2015 at 5:23 am

Once Venom got popular, he became inexplicably more and more powerful. In his first couple o appearances, he’s basically “stronger Spider-Man with slime tentacles and a disguise power,” but by the later appearances of the Brock version Venom can do stuff like shrug off gunfire and explosions or slug it out with people who are supposed to be a lot stronger than he is. It’s one of the clearest cases of popularity-induced power upgrades I’ve ever seen.

Heck, I’m surprised the story above didn’t do what so may Venom stories of the late 90s did and have Brock simply *ignore* his established weaknesses to sonics and fire because Venom Am Kewl.

Omar Karindu

August 16, 2015 at 5:29 am

I could buy Venom giving Superman trouble if it was written right. He does go toe to toe with Juggernaut, after all.

Which means it makes no sense when Venom comes back around and trades shots with Spider-Man without reducing the web-head to paste. ]

The miniseries where Venom fights Juggernaut — Venom: The Madness –had some kind of weird additional creature temporarily bonded to him; Venom loses the first encounter, gets bonded to some kind of reddish sentient goop, and then fights Juggernaut again, at which point a hole in time and space opens up so Venom can throw the Juggernaut through it.

Some guy has written it up here. It makes even less sense when you can see panels from the comic, but that’s what you get in an Ann Nocenti/Kelley Jones collaboration.

Omar Karindu

August 16, 2015 at 5:30 am

Sorry, the Juggernaut throws Venom through the mysterious space warp. Then Juggernaut-plus-red-goop somehow runs Juggernaut off. I…I don’t know what the Hell was supposed to be happening in that comic.

Kamino Neko

August 16, 2015 at 5:38 am

I have a new favourite Spider-Man line. ‘Oboy. I broke my hands!’

And yeesh. I think the universe-merging macguffin responsible for MvDC/Access has a cheating hax setting…so many mismatches went totally the wrong way.

Fraser

August 16, 2015 at 6:12 am

Doesn’t the opening of this story also have Venom threatening an innocent? Which violates his Prime Directive.

And no, the fight doesn’t make any sense either.

Michael P

August 16, 2015 at 6:42 am

The “official” explanation was that this took place during or right after Final Night, and Superman was heavily depowered, but I prefer the opinion of someone on CBR’s Rumbles board, who said that punching Venom would be “like punching someone wearing a suit made of pillows.” Of course, it makes perfect sense!

GammaGuru

August 16, 2015 at 7:03 am

How about the crossover where Batman defeated the Hulk by kicking him in the stomach, which somehow knocked the wind out of him and forced him to suck in gas? General Ross should have borrowed Batman’s has all of those years.

Luis Dantas

August 16, 2015 at 7:08 am

Venon rarely ever makes sense.

Duff McWhalen

August 16, 2015 at 7:14 am

I like the idea that since Spider-Man beats absurdly more powerful opponents inexplicably, a bigger and stronger version of Spider-Man beats Superman. It’s funny that they definitely tried to validate the whole thing by throwing in the Juggernaut comment. There were only like a dozen Venom comics by that point in time and they were hoping fans hadn’t actually read that one.

And does Spidey comment on meeting pre-crisis Superman?

Ninjazilla

August 16, 2015 at 7:32 am

I like Venom but that fight was some hot garbage.
Though I always found Ron Marz pretty overrated so not too surprised unfortunately….

ShaunN

August 16, 2015 at 7:52 am

Boy, the idea that Venom could even last a millisecond against Superman seem preposterous. I’m going to have to assume that Superman was seriously depowered when this happened. Otherwise, it’s just ridiculous.

As a comparison: this discussion reminds of the scene in the New Avengers where the Sentry flies Carnage into space and simply rips him in two. I’m not a fan of Carnage or Venom, but I assume they are somewhere in the same weight class. I would think Superman should have been able to do the same thing to Venom if he had wanted to do so.

SageShini

August 16, 2015 at 8:28 am

@ShaunN: Actually, Carnage outclasses Venom by a lot.

And this looks ridiculous–no amount of de-powering short of the Grant Morrison “Golden Age” stuff would ever put Venom near Superman. And that’s without Big Blue knowing his weaknesses. Heat Vision is cute, but he could do a super-sonic whistle. Or clap his hands together really hard.

IanC

August 16, 2015 at 8:40 am

Nothing about that crossover made any damn sense! This is the same series that had Wolverine beat Lobo, a Superman level villain!, without adamantium. Everything about this was wrong. As someone else pointed out, Venom didn’t exactly go around just attacking random people either. He wasn’t a “villain” in the traditional sense. Yes, I could see Venom getting the drop on Superman the first time they meet because Superman doesn’t know anything about him but that whole holding him by the throat? Yeah, no. One blast of heat vision, this fight is over, easily. No way Venom would be able to punch him without breaking his hand. The only Marvel character that stood any kind of real chance against Superman in a fight is Thor. “JLA vs. Avengers” handled this a lot better.

Shadowtag

August 16, 2015 at 8:44 am

Honestly, Spidey’s not really helping by not immediately blurting out “Fire. Sound. Hit him.”

Kyer

August 16, 2015 at 8:57 am

Did not enjoy.
Except for Superman calmly watching Spiderman hitting him in the chest. That was golden.

StevePOP

August 16, 2015 at 9:01 am

Been a while since I’ve really read Venom but couldn’t the writers say that the symbiote is still relatively unknown and that it could have acquired Krypton dust in it that could have made Superman a little weaker?

Kie

August 16, 2015 at 9:26 am

Is no one going to acknoledge the fact that superman beat the Hulk. I dont see how that would be possible in the least seeing as how the hulk would adapt to the fight. What I mean is Hulks real powers do not fully reside in his capacity for anger, but rather the lesser known fact that hulk also has the ability to adapt to whatever the situation calls for. So in a fight with superman Hulk would adapt to Supermans strength within the first min or so. Que DC fans argueing the laser vision. Well you see, unless Superman is thorough to erase every last atom with in Hulks being the Hulk can not be fully defeated. In the long run the Hulk would adapt to whatever it is Superman has to throw at him. Sorry y’all i had to throw that in there simply because I am a Huge marvel fan and i have to stabd up for one if its many icons. Spiderman on the other hand is as you guys suggested minced meat against Supes.

dekko

August 16, 2015 at 9:43 am

Honestly, I stopped paying attention after Spidey’s line, “How’d you get so hard so suddenly?”

Misthiocracy

August 16, 2015 at 10:03 am

Maybe the Symbiote Planet orbits a red sun?

melsner

August 16, 2015 at 11:33 am

“You HAVE gotten harder!”

Jason S

August 16, 2015 at 12:18 pm

Agree with IanC. Superman’s up in Thor’s class, and Thor would still be hard pushed to take him too. Heck, the only Marvel hero I can see confidently taking Superman on is the Silver Surfer. As on a good day, such as the most recent Battleword issue he can shrug off attacks from folks like the Maestro as if they aren’t even remotely in his league. (Of course on a bad day you can have him manhandled by the Black Panther..but what can you do?..Comics!!) Even Superman himself was awed by the Surfer casually waving his hand to restore a miniturized Metropolis back to full size, With Supes giving a “You…you have such power!?”!

But Spider-man, and by a consequence all of his villains too just aren’t in the Man of Steel’s league at all. I just chalk this issue up to the badness of the 90es and all the rampant desire to push Venom as a character which in the end, done him more damage than anything else. (Don’t think he had any business going to toe toe with the Juggernaut either. But hey, supposedly Superman beat jugs too, even if it was annoyingly off panel..)

buttler

August 16, 2015 at 12:33 pm

@Kie: Superman has consistently overpowered the Hulk every time they’ve met, but at least post-Crisis Superman had a harder time doing it than pre-Crisis Superman: http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/original/4/48810/1025333-superman_vs_hulk.jpg

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