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Once upon a time, Spider-Man (Peter Parker under the mask) had a beautiful, blonde girlfriend and a reporter rival who became an evil, flip-flop version of the wall-crawler.

One was killed and the other has reformed. Although Sandman (the dude who can turn his body into sand) has been getting a lot of the commercial time, two supporting characters have made more of a dent in Spider-Man’s comic book life: The hot blonde Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard) and the disgruntled Eddie Brock (Topher Grace/Venom).

Gwen Stacy

Someone should’ve told the Green Goblin that if you throw Spider-Man’s woman off a bridge, you should expect at least a punch in the face. Spider-Man loved Gwen Stacy, a girl Peter Parker met in college, and for kidnapping her, using her as bait to lure the wall-crawler to the George Washington Bridge, the Green Goblin deserved a war.

The Goblin (industrialist Norman Osborn under the mask (Willem Dafoe) had recently discovered Spider-Man’s true identity, laying bare all the weaknesses a super-hero costume are supposed to protect. Gwen proved the most accessible and was taken.

Like they’ve always done in each other’s presence, they fought like hell. During the tussle, the Goblin pulls his trump card, throwing Gwen over the bridge’s edge to certain death. But Peter Parker’s been Spider-Man since like the 10th grade; there aren’t too many things he can’t do. He spun a web, netting Gwen’s legs before her path met with water.

Be it fate (because heroes have to be reminded of their mission) or bad luck (maybe the force of the web was too strong this time) but, during her rescue, Gwen’s neck was snapped. Either way, Spider-Man blamed himself. His rage spilled over and onto the Green Goblin. The fight ended when the Goblin was impaled by his own glider.

For the first time after the death of his Uncle Ben (Cliff Robertson) (a death that Parker that could’ve prevented), his “with great power comes great responsibility” axiom was reinforced by pain of his own doing.

Peter moved on, eventually marrying Mary Jane Watson, brought to movie-life by actress Kirsten Dunst. But there’s always that lingering thought of what “could have been”. In a recent comic book series, Peter Parker, given the one thing his heart desired as a fantasy come to life, raised a child with Aunt May, Uncle Ben…and Gwen Stacy.

Venom

The oily stuff you’ve seen in the trailer, attaching itself to Spider-Man’s costume and turning his red and blue Spidey suit into shiny black is called an alien “symbiote”, which is a life-form that bonds and eventually takes over its host. For the symbiote to thrive, it feeds off emotion and is amplified by it; in the comics as well as what will happen in Spidey 3, it has a field day with the strong-willed, super-powered Spider-Man.>/P>

The symbiote represents how hate needs a spark to ignite the fuse. Everybody gets “I hate you” mad but they calm down eventually. Not so with the symbiote.

Sometimes, superheroes must band together to fight one intergalactic, cosmic threat, which is basically one omnipotent guy that demands the combined power of the Captain America, Iron Man, Fantastic Four, The X-Men, Spider-Man and friends to defeat him. In this particular case, the heroes fought in something called “The Secret War Against The Beyonder”. Without getting into too much detail, during the war, Spider-Man’s costume was torn and of course, as comic book luck would have it, there’s a super-hero costume repair machine at the ready. The machine gives Spidey the black oil, which grafts itself onto the wall-crawler’s body and soul. It looked so good that he brought it back home.

Of course, Spidey becomes aware that his new costume is in fact a needy, goodness-sucking alien and with the help of the Fantastic Four’s Mr. Fantastic (the guy who can stretch his body) he learns that only sonic vibrations can repel the black oil. The clanging of church bells separated the symbiote from its host.

Like a spurned lover, the symbiote starts to loathe Spiderman for rejecting him and finds another host, a reporter from a rival newspaper who has every reason to hate the success of photographer Peter Parker and adored-hero Spider-Man: loser Eddie Brock, who just happened to be praying in the church, not quite ready to kill himself. The symbiote and Eddie Brock merge to become Venom, black-costumed with claws for teeth. Spider-Man is basically fighting himself for Venom retains all of Spider-Man’s abilities, including his Spider-sense which alerts the wall-crawler of danger

Venom / Eddie Brock has spent years fighting against Spider-Man and along side him as an ally (Brock is, in his heart, still a good guy). After developing a brain tumor, Brock sells the Venom costume, completely reformed. Still, Venom finds another host, another Spider-Man-hating villain with a grudge.

The Spider-Man poster in which he hangs on a mirrored wall and you see both costumes at once, works on a couple of levels. Because, by the end of the film, Spider-Man will literally be staring at the darkness within that wants nothing more than to fight its goody-two-shoed brother.

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 70 - September 7915
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