THE AVENGERS versus THE SYMBIOTE
What If The Alien Costume had Possessed Spider-man? (Marvel comics)
Where: What if...? #4 When: October 1989
Why: Danny Fingeroth How: Mark Bagley
The story so far...
In our reality Peter Parker was able to free himself of the influence of the alien symbiote he obtained during the Secret Wars, but in another universe Peter Parker was not so fortunate.
Reed Richards was able to intervene and remove the symbiotic costume to contain it, but neither he nor Dr. Strange could prevent the creature escaping to again seek out the Spider-man once more.
The symbiote reemerges during a battle between Dr. Strange and Hulk, and wrenches the green goliath from being banished to another dimension. Combatting Strange and Hulk, the symbiote recognises an even more powerful host, and thus the incredible Hulk becomes the possessor of the black costume.
Leaving behind a frail and aged Peter Parker, the symbiote-Hulk now has the combined might of Peter Parker, Dr. Strange, Reed Richards, Black Cat and the Avengers in pirsuit of it. But will they survive long enough to stop it?
Mr. Fantastic (#16): Mr. Fantastic has a victory against the Red Ghost and his Super Apes.
Hulk (#7): Hulk has tangoed successfully with the Thunderbolts and Daredevil.
Thor (#12): Thor has had victories over Captain Marvel and Super-Skrull.
Venom Symbiote (#11): The Symbiote has been possessed by Peter Parker, Eddie Brock and Mac Gargan.
The Avengers [#2]: The Avengers have battled and won against She-Hulk and the Secret Avengers.
Tale of the tape...
Strength: Thor 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Mr. Fantastic 6 (Genius)
Speed: Photon 5 (Super Speed)
Stamina: Hulk 6 (Generator)
Agility: Symbiote 7 (Unlimited)
Fighting Ability: Thor 6 (Warrior)
Energy Powers: Scarlet Witch 7 (Solar Power)
Wow, we're running a bit late today, and we've got a lot ahead of us!
Sadly Peter Parker, having been sapped of his energy, suffers a death of old age before the fight can be taken to the symbiote-Hulk, but as Reed Richards would discover, he did provide key scientific theorums that, combined with Richards' thoughts, provided key to victory.
Which I suppose brings us straight to a huge advantage for the team going up against the Symbiote, and that's Mr. Fantastic. He's one of the greatest scientific minds in the Marvel universe, and one of the foremost authorities on alien life.
So you can trust that Peter Parker's research is in good hands.
You'll see the line-up of the team consists of: Mr. Fantastic, Thor, Dr. Strange, Vision, Starfox, Photon, Scarlet Witch, the Human Torch and the Wasp.
We know the symbiote has vulnerabilities to sonics and flame/heat, so presumably Photon and Human Torch are a big plus in this field. If they can get a clear shot they could potentially end the fight in one shot, so there you go.
Vision is presumably a heavy-hitter who could not be possessed by the symbiote because he's an in-organic lifeform. I don't know the specifics of that, but let us assume that the Vision's strength and varying skills of tangibility would be useful in at least slowing the symbiote down.
The symbiote is entering this fight whilst possessing the Hulk. Which means he's got a massive well of energy to draw upon, likewise, he's bringing an impressive physical strength with him. Which is a pretty big deal, because the Hulk alone could probably tackle the Avengers.
That said, the Symbiote's inherent weaknesses make him a bit of a softer target, even with the Hulk, so unless he steamrolls them, he's in trouble.
The Math: The Avengers (Total) The Symbiote (Average)
The Pick: The Avengers
What went down...
With the team seeking out the Symbiote, Thor stumbles across it revelling in the power of the Hulk, lifting chunks of Earth without a care in the world.
Thor considers alerting his companions, but the Symbiote spots him, apparently as per a premeditated plan to lure the Norse God out.
The Symbiote claims remorse for the death of Peter Parker, and claims to have achieved true symbiosis with the Incredible Hulk. He claims to be restoring Bruce Banner's mind, and be curing him of the Hulk in the process of absorbing the gamma power for himself. A fate far more beneficial than that of Parker's.
The words mean little to Thor who readies to take the Symbiote into custody, provoking the true intent of the alien creature. He spews forth his own brand of webbing, swatted away by the thunder god with the use of a twirling Mjolnir.
The Hulk-powered Symbiote manages to level Thor with a thundering left-hook, but the god assures the creature that he is far from helpless, tossing the mighty Mjolnir verily!
The Symbiote oozes away from his felled host, revealing a frail Bruce Banner where there should be Hulk. Revealing the Symbiote's claims to be true!
Thor feels a brief moment of remorse, believing himself responsible for the deaths of both alien and host, but no sooner than Banner stirs than the Symbiote leaps forth onto Thor!
Thor struggles desperately, but having absorbed the power of Hulk, the Symbiote proves to be a match for his flailing and tearing.
As the Avengers arrive on the seen Thor makes one last gesture of resistence, summoning the might of the heavens in the form of a lightning bolt to strike the creature into submission. Sadly, the only one weakened by the bolt is Thor himself.
Reed Richards attempts to sway the battle of wills with a sonic blast, but the Symbiote has already taken strength from the mighty Thor.
Dr. Strange cannot do anything without dooming Thor himself, but Reed Richards proves unwilling to do what is necessary, concerned about the effects of his Terminator-Blast on the Avenger.
Meanwhile -- the Symbiote, having subdued Thor and taken the form of a Thor silhouette with cape and black hair, flees into a cave to complete the bonding process uninterrupted. The Human Torch attempts to follow in pirsuit, and narrowly avoids death as godly lightning floods from out from the cave.
Captain Marvel [Photon] follows in, moving at incredible speed in the form of microwaves. She plunges into the torso of the alien-costume possessed Thor, but with the energy of a god he channels Captain Marvel's energy back through his hammer -- sending her hurtling back from whence she came!
Starfox manages to catch her upon her violent exit, as the team of heroes are forced to face the inevitable. Dr. Strange and Vision put forth the grim proposal -- the omin-blast terminator ray may be their only chance.
Reed Richards requests a half hour to consider another alternative. What he comes up with is enough to stir a reaction from the creature.
Black Bolt steps into the cave beneath Mount Rushmore, and solemnly stares down his foe.
The Symbiote, still struggling to take complete control over the thunder god, swares he will kill the Inhuman before he can unleash his deadly blast of sound, but he leaps too slow.
Black Bolt screams, and the sonic force emitted is enough to shatter the American landmark around them.
Thor survives, and with the Symbiote is reduced to little more than a stain.
Dr. Strange steps in to begin a spell to expell him to a benevolent dimension, when a lethal omni-blast comes out of nowhere to destroy the creature once and for all!
The Black Widow has her revenge. The Symbiote is a menace no more.
What if... the Symbiote had bonded with Spider-man?...
The winners, of course, are Black Bolt, Black Cat, and the Avengers. As the possessed tools of the Symbiote, Thor and Hulk share the defeat. Sorry to all fans concerned.
I've left it literally until the eleventh hour today, and it was quite a big one. Lots of heroes and statistics to consider with this one.
I like to think the majority stock our United States viewers have means I'm safe. It's still Wednesday for yourselves, but here, I'm a little disappointed with myself. Sorry to let you guys down.
Jokes aside, those who aren't in-the-know might be interested to know that while the Symbiote appeared four years prior, Venom had his first appearance barely a year prior to this issue. Which, I thought was slightly interesting.
With the Spider-man 3 feature mere months away, it's interesting to note that Venom hasn't reverted to the over exposed schedule he featured throughout the nineties, at the height of the character's popularity. Perhaps understandably so, Marvel has made efforts for most previous features to capitalize on the mainstream exposure of the characters, pumping characters like Green Goblin, Dr. Octopus, Dr. Doom and others into the books.
Most recently Sandman has certainly felt this injection in popularity, appearing in various versions of the Spider-man books including the core titles, and also the Marvel Adventures series, aimed at young, movie-going readers.
Venom, currently worn by the Scorpion, has had a smooth bonding with the Symbiote, which has developed a personality quite distinctly different from the power-hungry super villain of this particular issue of What if...
During the exchange of the symbiote the creature's concerns were less focused on the consumption of energy, as much as they were seeking out a 'good roommate' for a host. Someone strong, with likeminded interests, but who would maintain control of their faculties, unlike Hulk and Thor in this feature.
Which I guess just highlights the dangers of alien symbiote costumes, kids.
Sure, sometimes they might seem like your friends, but they can snap and turn on you in a second. Leaving you behind a frail, white-haired husk with your best years snatched before you could have them!
I'm enjoying the Gargan take on the character and his inclusion into the new Thunderbolts team written by Warren Ellis is one of the more enticing elements of the book. I don't think it's been what anyone would have imagined when announcements paired Ellis and Thunderbolts together. Something a little more bombastic and exciting was certainly what came to mind for me, particularly when big names like Bullseye, Venom and Green Goblin were coming out.
Still, it'll be interesting to talk more about that in the near future!
For the time being, keep the hits coming!
It's been a pleasure to see plenty of new and old visitors alike!
Oh, before I go -- note the Mark Bagley pencils!
Certainly one of the most iconic pencillers to work on the character in the last ten years, made particularly recognisable via Ultimate Spider-man and a slew of Marvel/Spider-man merchandising. Check it out, kids. History!
The Fight: 4 The Issue: 5