Appearing in 1st story
- Black Cat's Gang (Main story and flashback)
- Venom Symbiote (Main story and flashback)
- Tombstone's Gang
- NYPD (Mentioned)
- U.S. Army Rangers (Mentioned) (Only in flashback)
- Albert Einstein (Mentioned)
- Unnamed members of the Tombstone's Gang (Mentioned) (Deceased)
- Firebug (Mentioned)
- S.H.I.E.L.D. (Mentioned)
- The Thing (Ben Grimm) (Mentioned)
- J. Edgar Hoover (Mentioned)
Races and Species:
- Humans (Main story and flashback)
- Klyntar (Main story and flashback)
- Mutants (Mentioned)
- Alpha Centaurians (Mentioned)
- Earth (Main story and flashback)
- Hell (Invoked)
- Alpha Centauri A (Mentioned)
Synopsis for 1st story
The day after the botched arms deal, Lee Price walks into Black Cat's base carrying the briefcase containing the mutagen, thinking to himself that while something as valuable as the briefcase can open a lot of doors, it can also get him killed. Black Cat remarks that she'd heard the deal went bad and that Price had been the sole survivor. When Lee remarks that sounds about right, Black Cat and Mac Gargan question his choice of words. Lee simply states that all he knows is that they walked into a situation where the buyer had no intention of actually buying, considering it a failure above his pay grade. Gargan accuses Price of blaming them for the shootout, but Price denies this, saying what he meant is that he was paid to complete the deal, and having failed to do so opted to return the merchandise. Black Cat asks why he waited until the day after to bring it back, and Price responds he had no way of getting in touch with her outfit considering his only contact with them was killed in the alley. Gargan retorts that Black Cat's spies on the police force said several people died from something other than gunshots, and Black Cat asks Price what he was really up to last night.
The night before, after returning to his apartment, Price sits on a chair wondering why the symbiote - which he can feel inside him - has gone quiet. The symbiote abruptly manifests and starts berating him for killing the men in the alley. Smirking, Price acknowledges this, then adds that it helped him before going dark for two hours, stating that this is indicative of their relationship then that's good news for him. Manifesting its humanoid form, the symbiote retorts that it was weakened by its previous ordeal and that senseless violence is recently horrifying to it. Price latches on to the word "recently" and wagers the symbiote's left a trail of bodies in its wake in the past. The symbiote protests this, adding that one of the men Price killed was his friend, but Price coldly states he has no friends. The symbiote states it's been bonded to honorless, evil men like Price in the past and that it has had its fill of evil and will no longer be party to his doings, but Price retorts that the symbiote doesn't have any say in the matter. Enraged, the symbiote towers over Price in its fully-manifested state, snarling that just because it won't kill him doesn't mean it's wise to antagonize it. Price bashes it across the face with his chair, but the symbiote recovers and slams him into the wall, attempting to forcibly seize control of him. Price repels its tendrils through willpower alone and then punches it to the ground. Pinning it, he states that his Army Rangers training conditioned him to be immune to psychic incursions, and that they're going to have a serious conversation about who's actually in charge - revealing the confrontation was happening inside his head.
In the present, Price responds to Black Cat that he spent the night thinking. Black Cat responds that his reply makes it sound that his decision to return the merchandise was up in the air, and Price admits he briefly considered keeping it for himself, not knowing whether the botched arms deal was an ambush she'd set up or if she'd pin the blame for the slaughter on him. The symbiote manifests on Price's shoulder, stating that it recognizes the man standing beside Black Cat as Mac Gargan, and that he's a man hollowed out by rage and hatred. As the symbiote states it won't let Price work with them, Price ignores it and responds to Black Cat's inquery about why he decided to bring the merchandise back instead of selling it by saying she has a reputation for playing fair, while he doesn't know any of the other people who would have wanted to buy the box. Price states that he has skills that could prove useful to Black Cat's organization and, frankly, is in need of a job, mentally telling the symbiote it has no choice but to comply when it states it won't let him drag it into working for them. Black Cat pegs Price as a gambler and a survivor, accepting his offer with the statement that she can relate to those qualities and that her gang could use more people like him. Appearing on Black Cat's chair, the symbiote states that while Price has locked it out of his higher brain functions, it can still influence his autonomous nervous system. Price quickly grabs a nearby wastebasket as the symbiote causes him to vomit, and passes the incident off as nerves. Disgusted, Black Cat doesn't buy the excuse and tells Price to pull himself together and get rid of the wastebasket. Leaving, Price tells her that her pet Scorpion knows how to get in touch with him. As Black Cat tells one of her men to find a new location to set up shop, Gargan glares suspiciously after Price, saying there's something familiar about him and wondering how Price knew that he was the Scorpion.
Outside Black Cat's HQ, two FBI agents bicker with each other while on stakeout. Seeing Price exiting the building without the briefcase he'd entered with, they peg him as a bagman. With no facial recognition, the two agents decide to tail Price. Walking down an alley, Price berates a vision of the symbiote, telling it never to pull a stunt like that again and asking if it understands how dangerous that was. When the symbiote states it doubts they'd have him killed for throwing up in their wastebasket, Price states he meant it wasn't dangerous for him but for Black Cat and her employees, saying that the symbiote is the best advantage he's had in any situation, but only if it's kept secret. When Lee grouses about how difficult it is to get involved with organized crime, the symbiote asks if he wants to become a crime boss. Lee states that the boss is the public face, the one who gets pinched, but that he's perfectly content working in the shadows and getting paid what he's owed, and he's definitely not going to be pulling any stereotypical super villain shenanigans like robbing banks in broad daylight or holding the city hostage.
As he enters his apartment, Price thinks to himself that he's going to do this smart and not mix it up with superhumans in the streets. Price's train of thought is derailed by the sight of a man standing in his apartment who introduces himself as Firebug and the one who will be killing him, courtesy of Tombstone. Price states the man is far too young to be Firebug, but the man replies that the identity was enfranchised. Price thinks to himself that incinerators make for lousy weapons and that all Firebug probably knows how to do is spray and pray, remarking to the symbiote that they can take him. The symbiote snaps that it's not going to help him kill the would-be assassin, but Price replies that it doesn't have a choice as Firebug conjures a fireball and sets the apartment ablaze. Outside, the older FBI agent reminisces about how they used to have surveillance vans and had access to all kinds of resources, lamenting about how the FBI is little more than a line item on S.H.I.E.L.D.'s budget thanks to the appearance of superhumans. Their conversation is interrupted as they notice Price's apartment is on fire. Inside, Firebug calls Tombstone and says he took care of the hit, boasting about how meek and terrified Price was. He's cut off as Venom looms over him, roaring in pain and rage as he grabs Firebug and slams him through the wall of the apartment and to the street below. With Price's face half-exposed, Venom snarls that Firebug tried to kill him, but worse than that he saw him and that anyone who sees him has to die. As Venom prepares to deliver a killing blow, the younger FBI agent produces a high-ordinance rocket launcher and says that Price is under arrest.
• Venom was doing so well as a cosmic hero…
• …but now he’s back on Earth in the gutter.
• Who has taken possession of the symbiote and turned him back into the slathering, fanged monster?
- Despite telling Spider-Man that its memories of all its hosts other than its first and Flash Thompson were erased, the symbiote remembers being bonded to Mac Gargan.
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- 9 Image(s) from Venom Vol 3 2
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