The Origin of Venom Shows How Marvel Can Use Retcons to Improve Their Knowledge


The origin of Venom and his symbiotes underwent two major changes in knowledge that radically changed their identity in Marvel comics. As a shared comic book universe written by several authors over the decades, Marvel Comics has undergone many adjustments and retcones. Although many fans don’t like the idea of retcons, with the right treatment, they can demonstrate how the best Marvel stories approach previously established ideas about characters like Venom and turn them upside down, enriching their story.

During the work of writer Brian Michael Bendis on Guardians of the Galaxy in 2013-2017, it was established that symbiotes are a species known as klintar. For many years, it was believed that the Klintars were a peaceful race of warriors who contacted various beings in space. Although Klintars were benevolent by nature, communication with some creatures and the formation of their intentions could easily spoil the symbiotes. It was believed that this was the reason why the Venom and Carnage symbiotes were such bloodthirsty antagonists, but as it turned out, this interpretation of the true nature of the symbiotes was only the first.

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While working on “Venom” in 2018-2021, writer Donnie Cates completely rethought the nature of symbiotes. Studying the history of Knull, the ancient god of symbiotes, Kates adapted the established history of Klintar and turned it into something completely unique. It turned out that Knull created symbiotes at the dawn of the universe for his war against the celestials. The symbiotes’ weakness for fire and sound was explained by Knull’s incessant creation of new weapons, which led to fierce heat and endless cacophony that forever scarred the symbiotes. It turned out that the name “Klintar” is not an arbitrary name of the species, but is a symbiotic word “cell”, as they began to call themselves after they trapped Knull on a planet of their own design. It even turned out that the reason for Klintar’s autonomy was that Thor’s lightning broke the connection between Knull and the symbiote galaxy.

Each of these additions to Klintar’s knowledge served to work with what was already established, instead of completely remaking it to serve a different narrative. Instead of rewriting the origin of the symbiotes, Cates was able to revise their origin, while respecting the knowledge laid down by Bendis. Instead of the Klintars not being benevolent beings at all, they were now benevolent in an attempt to get rid of the sins of Knull that had stained the universe so long ago. This reinterpretation of an established story is part of what makes Marvel Comics such a successful franchise, as the universe may be constantly changing, but what was important to the characters and their story remains.

The symbiotes Klintar and Knull have become one of the most popular characters in the recent history of Marvel Comics thanks to Donnie Cates’ participation in Venom and the King in Black event. Their revised ent proved to be extremely successful and will undoubtedly serve as an example for future writers of how to deal with the revision of ent.