Will It Take an Actual Superhero to Stop People From Parking in the Middle of Broad Street?
Venom read this month’s Phillymag.
That’s the only explanation. One can picture him in his apartment, noticing that lots of New Yorkers have moved to Philadelphia, throwing down the magazine and shuttling off to the City of Brotherly Love.
Okay, maybe that’s a bit implausible. But the backstory is true: Venom is moving to Philadelphia.
Casual superhero fans may know Venom from Topher Grace’s portrayal in the so-so Spider-man 3, but he’s actually a pretty cool character. He was number 22 on IGN’s list of top-100 comic book villains, and Wikipedia notes that S.H.I.E.L.D. considers him one of the four greatest threats to humanity. 1993’s Maximum Carnage, where Venom and Spider-man teamed up to save New York City, is a fond childhood memory of nerds in their late 20s.
Venom is not disgraced journalist Eddie Brock, the “original” Venom in the comics and in Spider-man 3. As with any comic, the backstory is a little complicated, but plow through it: Venom is a symbiote, a parasitic alien life form that can bond with a host and influence its abilities. In true Spider-man fashion, Venom originally debuted when Spider-man was searching for a new suit. After Spider-man rejected the bond, it moved onto Brock, who battled Spider-man before becoming a bit of a vigilante of his own.
After Brock sells the symbiote at a super-villain auction, Venom passes to Mac Gargan (formerly known as Scorpion) before being weaponized by the U.S. government and given to Eugene “Flash” Thompson, Peter Parker’s former high school bully who had his legs blown off in Iraq. The symbiote gave him the ability to walk again, but he couldn’t wear it for more than 48 hours at a time, lest it take over permanently.
Got all that? Eh, okay, it doesn’t really matter. Here’s the short of it: Venom is a cooler-looking Spider-man with all of his powers, and the ability to shape-shift into many forms. And now he’s all ours!
In December, writer Cullen Bunn and editor Tom Brennan tell the AP, Venom will move to Philadelphia. Flash Thompson will be “surrounding himself with new people—such as tabloid journalist Katy Kiernan and his new love interest, the Asgardian Valkyrie.” Tabloid journalist Katy Kiernan! I have to imagine this will be modeled on Stephanie Farr.
Brennan, who calls Philadelphia “a town full of heart, hustle and hope,” didn’t reveal too much to the AP about the move other than his desire for a superhero in Philadelphia and Venom’s desire for a fresh start. But, hey, Philadelphia’s own superhero sounds like a great idea, and Venom has been an interesting character in the past. What could be interesting with a regular superhero series in Philadelphia, as Bunn says in this interview on Marvel’s site, is that Philadelphia isn’t teeming with superheroes in the Marvel universe (um, and in real life). Venom has the whole city to himself!
The Watchmen of comic books set in Philadelphia is, of course, Duane Swierczynski’s Six Hours to Kill, a 2009 five-issue arc that saw the Punisher let loose in Philly, trashing McGillin’s Old Ale House, among other places. (The collected issues are available on Amazon, along with another Swierczynski-penned tale of the Punisher in Wildwood. Don’t get too excited; he stays offshore and doesn’t rough up hoodlums wearing boardwalk t-shirts.) Philly made an appearance in 2010’s “Grounded” Superman story arc, which put South Philly at 48th and Larchwood and also featured Superman refusing to fly.
Venom in Philly will have to be better than Superman’s trip here, but what exactly will he be doing? Obviously every Philadelphian ought to be excited at the possibility of a superhero and his or her service, solving all of life’s everyday problems with a little Marvel magic. Unfortunately, that’s probably not likely. So I came up with some more realistic ideas instead.
• Venom moves to South Philly, re-opens The Dolphin Tavern and settles into a life of go-go bar managing. Eh, this is probably too obvious.
• Venom comes to Philadelphia to clean up this town … literally. He takes a job at the Center City District riding one of those trash zambonis, and eventually rises through the ranks to take over when Paul Levy retires. Using his borrowed powers from Spider-man, Venom creates that giant hammock that’s going up next year in Race Street Pier in parks all over the city.
• Venom moves to Kensington, becomes a crazy cat person and adopts five kittens.
• Fed up by the scourge of cars parking in the median on Broad Street in South Philly, Venom starts a towing company and removes all the cars from the median. More move in, of course, and so begins a 20-issue arc where Venom battles Italian grandmothers, Mexican immigrants and hipster doofuses in a fight for South Philly’s soul.
• Venom picks up rapping, ends up on stage with Jay-Z and Kanye and the second annual Made in America Festival next year.
• Venom gets a job with SEPTA and crashes a bus into Monk’s.
• Venom moves to West Philly, becomes an even crazier cat person and adopts 10 kittens.
• With the mayor fielding misspelled street sign queries from wiseasses on Twitter, Venom will get into that action, correcting typos and grammatical errors public and private across the city.
• Dunn tweeted Monday: “One thing I must know for VENOM now. Where’s the best place for margaritas in Philly?” Shootout at Lolita!