Monsters ain't that bad

Cody Delistraty wrote about monsters and their “more nuanced” nature. Are they misunderstood and capable of teaching us more than their evil existence lets on?

Though Freud posited that Medusa’s hair represented sexual repression, a symbol of castrated genitalia and the madness to which that might lead a person, the poet Ann Stanford, in her “Women of Perseus,” unpacks the more nuanced psychological effects of Medusa’s rape and the complications it adds to understanding her. Commenting on Stanford’s work, the poet and scholar Alicia Ostriker notes in her article “The Thieves of Language” that “the trauma ‘imprisons’ Medusa in a self-dividing anger and a will to revenge that she can never escape, though she yearns to.”

Consumed by this vengeful desire, Medusa might be not so much a monster as a tragic figure. Given the way her story as a “monster” has been told over the last few centuries, however, you’d be hard-pressed to know it.

When depicted as wholly and unchangeably evil, the classic monsters of literature and myth help make sense of a complex world, often with Biblical clarity and simplicity. The existence of pure evil implies the existence of pure good. Heaven or Hell. The Light Side of the Force or the Dark Side. Mount Olympus or Hades. The idea is that though we must choose a direction, it’s a straight and clear path.

While the article centres on monsters and evil entities as a whole, I believe this argument is acutely accurate for female monsters such as Medusa. And it’s always men who write about them in this way. I’ve never really seen Medusa as a monster really; if anything, I’ve quietly cheered her on whenever she’s turned a dude into stone. We could do with more of that in the modern world.

Monster-related: Venom, the symbiotic supervillain – good or evil?

TheArtfulGabby is doing Halloween makeup every day for charity

The very talented TheArtfulGabby demonstrated her makeup talents for spooky season by transforming into different characters every day this Halloween month for charity. So far she’s done Frankenstein’s monster, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Joker (the 3 most recent ones), Harley Quinn (my personal fave), and some Marvel characters (Black Panther and Spider-Man).

I’m scaring myself with horror games over on Twitch and doing 31 days of Halloween makeup to raise money for the Born Free Foundation! They’re an amazing charity that work to stop the exploitation and suffering of animals in the wild and in captivity. I’m not a fan of horror at all, so this is a big challenge for me this year, but we’re currently on £930 when our goal was £450! At £1,000 I have to shave my eyebrows off live on stream! Eek! 😂

TheArtfulGabby

The attention to detail is incredible. Go follow Gabby on Instagram, Twitch, and check out Born Free and help save the animals.

Carvell Wallace on Candyman and the exploitation of Black pain in cinema

Carvell Wallace wrote a brilliant essay on Candyman and chronicled a history of Black pain in cinema for The Atlantic.

Ultimately, DaCosta’s Candyman character becomes a cipher that the film’s characters, and by extension its audience, have no choice but to live with—the absence upon which anything can be projected, bequeathed by centuries of Black trauma. This is perhaps where the film hews most faithfully to the Clive Barker short story upon which it is based. “I am rumor,” his monster reminds his victim, and us, in “The Forbidden.” “It’s a blessed condition, believe me. To live in people’s dreams; to be whispered at street corners; but not have to be. Do you understand?”

I enjoyed Candyman (1992) even if it was a white liberal depiction and exploitation of Black pain as Wallace surmised. Candyman (2021) rewrites, recreates, and renews the ghosts of that film (figuratively and literally) and extends the lore for Black people to feel much more than they could imagine—myself included. I want to watch it again and I will at some point. It was an intriguing film and something to be appreciated and studied (but maybe not by and for white people).

Grab a pair of Venom socks

venom socks

Does your sock drawer lack panache? Cachet? Any other superfluous French word to describe taste? Then you need a pair that stands outs amongst your black and white socks and, ironically, a pair of Venom socks has both with hints of blue, red, and pink.

Okay, cheesy sales pitch over. These Venom socks are cool AF and, according to the Amazon listing, doesn’t require batteries which is what you want in a pair of cotton socks. They’re also safer than wearing a symbiote suit and becoming a homicidal anti-heroish alien-human hybrid monster. But if you were one already, wouldn’t a cosy pair of socks be the best thing ever?

And if you don’t believe me, check out some of the reviews:

Great print, great quality. These socks are soft, warm, have cushion, and a great classic tv version of Venom from the 90’! They are a bit tight at the first and the second times, but become more comfortable over the time. After 3-4 uses, they are now perfect and so comfortable! Love the print, love the quality. Worth the price!

Super qualité!

I bought these for my 8 year old son and he loves them… I’m sure these where ment for a man but my son used them for crazy sock day and they fit comfortable

Buy a pair on Amazon today.

(h/t Steph)

Venom, the symbiotic supervillain – good or evil?

Venom

When it comes to supervillains, their evilness varies. Sometimes they come from the depths of Hell while others just want to have a laugh (like the Joker). They act as the literary opposites of their superhero counterparts in a semiotic relationship and no other villain personifies that trait than Venom, the alien inverse of Spider-Man.

Trigger warning: this article contains themes related to suicide and murder.

Who/what is Venom?

A picture of Venom terrorising Spider-Man

Venom is a sentient alien symbiote from the Marvel Universe and came out of a request from Marvel for readers to send ideas for its comics in 1982. A man named Randy Schueller answered the call and asked if Spider-Man could have “a new black costume made of unstable molecules”. A year later, and Schueller got his wish. From there the character developed from a black Spider-Man costume to a fully-fledged villain with an appetite for destruction and human heads (more on that later).

Venom was introduced as the Symbiote in The Amazing Spider-Man #252 (May 1984) but didn’t get its first official appearance as Venom until The Amazing Spider-Man #300 (May 1988). Before then, the Symbiote was a regenerative suit for Spider-Man. It was shapeless, genderless, and took the molecular form of a viscous liquid, but could also mimic plain clothes. But it had a sinister secret: it could only survive when bonded with a host.

Peter Parker had the symbiotic costume examined by Reed Richards and the secret was revealed. Peter rejected the bonding and the Fantastic Four contained it. But of course, the Symbiote escaped and bonded to Peter again. With its weakness to sound waves, Peter used church bells to expel it from his body. Eventually, it found its most infamous host, Eddie Brock, and became the villain we know as Venom.

Eddie Brock

The best-known Venom host has had multiple storylines but the most common backstory is that Brock was a Daily Globe reporter (where Peter Parker was the photographer) and blamed Spider-Man for his career failure. He had worked on a story about Sin-Eater and believed he’d revealed his identity only to discover he was wrong.

Brock took up bodybuilding and worked for sleazy tabloids before contemplating suicide. While seeking solace in the church where Spider-Man rejected the Symbiote, it bonded with Brock after sensing his hatred for the web-slinger. He chose the name “Venom” due to the nature of his work.

Other Venoms

Different versions of Venom

Eddie Brock is one of many Venoms in the Marvel Universe. Other hosts have included:

  • Mac Gargan as “Scorpion”
  • Flash Thompson as “Anti-Venom”
  • Lee Price as “Maniac”
  • Tel-Kar
  • Malekith
  • Ben Reilly as “Scarlet Spider”
  • Anne Weying as “She-Venom” (Eddie Brock’s ex-wife)
  • Patricia Robertson
  • Angelo Fortunato
  • Kulan Gath as “Kulan Venom”

The Symbiote’s backstory

Born in the 998th generation from a race of parasitic alien Symbiotes known as the Klyntar, the Venom Symbiote separated from its first host and was “deemed insane by its own race” after they found out it wanted to stay with its host rather than drain it of its life (heavily frowned upon in the alien Symbiote community). It was imprisoned on Battleworld to keep it from dirtying the gene pool.

Venom’s “relatives”

Venom’s family includes the following Symbiotes:

  • Carnage (the “child”)
  • Toxin (Carnage’s “child”, and therefore Venom’s “grandchild” so to speak)
  • Scorn (another Carnage spawn)
  • Mania (born from Venom’s tongue which got cut off in a battle with The Thing)
  • Anti-Venom (a hybrid of Venom and Flash Thompson’s white blood cells, fused together by Mister Negative)
  • Scream
  • Lasher
  • Phage
  • Agony
  • Riot
  • Hybrid (a combination of the previous 5)
  • Sleeper (born from one of Venom’s seeds)
She-Venom

Is Venom good or evil?

It’s a difficult question to answer outright as there’s a spectrum of good and evil but I can say Venom isn’t good. Venom’s existence relies on feeding off a host; it’s a monstrous leech capable of killing. But the Symbiote has shown moments where it has cared for its host. When Peter Parker rang the church bell to repel it, the Symbiote left his body and moved him to safety before finding someone else.

Venom has also shown anti-hero tendencies, predominately in film adaptations, likely in order for viewers to warm to the character. His notable roles as an anti-hero in the comics came in 1993 and 1994 when he made peace with Spider-Man who saved his ex-wife, Anne Weying, saving homeless people from the Symbiote spawns, and to help Spider-Man defeat Carnage in Separation Anxiety.

Venom in popular culture

Venom as a character has plenty of tropes in the comics but its biggest pop culture boon is in Hollywood. There are also a host of Venom toy lines, from Hasbro, Disney and Funko Pop!

Venom: The Movie

Let’s cut to the chase – Venom wasn’t great. It was Sony’s second stab at the character (this one played by Tom Hardy) and they blew it, even if they did finally execute that anti-hero arc. But we’re getting a sequel (delayed until 2021) and Carnage will feature, played by Woody Harrelson who is even more evil.

But Venom’s first live-action film appearance came in Spider-Man 3, played by Topher Grace. The film was widely panned and spelt the end of any further films in the series as it was later rebooted (twice).

Video games

Venom has been a character in the following video games:

Further resources

To watch

To read

What more can we expect from Venom?

From leeching alien to oddly loveable monster pet, Venom is a disparate future for Spider-Man in the movies, as long as Venom stays with Sony. But everywhere else, Venom is more than just Spidey’s adversary and there’s plenty of life left in the jet black symbiote.