While he may be considered an anti-hero today, Venom has one of the most villainous appearances of all Marvel characters. Originally portrayed as a nightmarish version of Spider-Man, when Eddie Brock transforms, his body swells up to massive proportions and becomes covered with a slimy living skin capable of sprouting tendrils and attacking from all angles. Then there’s his mouth – a distended, disgusting mass of sharp teeth, slobber, and a prehensile tongue eager to taste your brain.
Given all of this, it’s understandable that most people would scream, go into shock, or wet their pants the second Venom enters the room. Weirdly, however, one of Venom’s greatest defeats came from a hero who not only stood his ground but laughed at the alien symbiote!
The incident took place in Spider-Girl #5, in the alternate future of the MC2 Universe where Eddie Brock had died and the symbiote was imprisoned in a SHIELD facility. Meanwhile, Spider-Man had retired following a battle that had cost him his leg and his teenage daughter May “Mayday” Parker had stepped up as New York’s protector Spider-Girl. May received help in her crusade from Phil Urich, a young man who had once been a heroic version of the Green Goblin during his teenage years.
Now a police scientist working with Peter Parker, Phil had seemingly retired from super heroics, but still retained a few powers from his days as the Green Goblin, One of these powers was his “Lunatic Laugh,” an eerie, high pitched laugh that Phil could generate with his vocal cords and use to shatter objects or keep people off balance. While Phil dreamed of returning to active duty, he contented himself with training May in the use of her spider-powers.
Phil got a chance to save the day again, however, when the Venom symbiote escaped and made its way back to Forest Hills where it found Peter Parker and bonded with him once more to become “Spider-Venom.” Spider-Venom attacked May, who was horrified to learn her father was in the suit. Switching to Spider-Girl mode, May learned from her mother Mary Jane Watson that Venom was vulnerable to sonic attacks and quickly recruited Phil from the police station.
Meanwhile, Spider-Venom was engaging in his warped version of heroism by attacking minor offenders like litterbugs. Spider-Girl engaged him in battle, but this was only a distraction for Phil to get into position and blast Spider-Venom with his Lunatic Laugh. The sonic attack hurt the symbiote, which retaliated by throwing a car at Phil, seemingly killing him. Furious, Spider-Girl attacked Spider-Venom, but then suddenly Phil emerged and began laughing harder than ever. The powerful sonic attack overwhelmed the symbiote and it crumbled, freeing Peter Parker.
While laughing might seem like a strange tactic to use in a battle, it proved surprisingly effective against a creature like Venom. The symbiote would later return in later Spider-Girl MC2 adventures and even reform – possibly because it knew that if it ever did get out of line, Phil Urich (who had resumed his heroic identity of the Green Goblin) would start giggling again. Laughter really is a powerful deterrent.