Appearing in 1st story
- Grendel Symbiote (First appearance) (Unnamed) (Controlled by Knull)
- Kangaroo (Brian Hibbs)
- Jack O'Lantern (First appearance)
- Grizzly (Maxwell Markham)
- Sym-Soldier Program (First appearance)
- Vikings (Only appearance; death in dream)
- Beowulf (Mentioned) (Dream)
- Knull (Mentioned)
- Fact Sheet (Referenced)
- Spider-Man (Peter Parker) (Mentioned)
- Norman Osborn (Mentioned)
- Jack O'Lantern (Jack) (Mentioned)
- God (Invoked)
- Flash Thompson (Mentioned)
- U.S. Army (Mentioned)
- Captain America (Steve Rogers) (Mentioned)
- U.S. Government (Mentioned)
- S.H.I.E.L.D. (Mentioned) (Defunct)
Races and Species:
- Scandinavia (Dream)
- United States of America
- Vietnam (Photo)
- Hell (Invoked)
- Goblin Glider (Mentioned)
Synopsis for 1st story
In medieval Scandinavia, a group of Norse warriors attempt to bar the doors of Heorot Hall against an attacking monster, their jarl demanding to know where Beowulf is. Black tendrils burst through the door and snare the warriors, yanking them through the air into the gaping maw of an enormous beast, which speaks in an alien language as it devours them.
Eddie Brock, viewing these events as a nightmare, is initially confused; not recognizing the place or the language, but feeling like it belongs to him. Abruptly realizing that the dream is not his but his symbiote's, Eddie awakens as a bolt of lightning splits the sky overhead. Sitting up, he notices he is alone before correcting himself that he is never alone, looking to where the Venom symbiote is huddled in the darkness, separated from him. He tries to reassure it that the thunder won't hurt it, but it interrupts and asks if he saw the monster. Eddie replies that he did, noting that he didn't know it even could have nightmares, and the Venom symbiote replies that it didn't know either. As it rebonds to him, the symbiote asks why its mind hurts and if Eddie knows what's wrong with it, but when he tries to reassure it that nothing's wrong - heading into his apartment's bathroom - it snarls that he's lying, demanding to know why he's taking anti-psychosis medicine if nothing's wrong. As Eddie takes a handful of pills, the symbiote begs him not to shut it out and that it can be better. He apologizes to it as the pills begin to take effect, staring into his unkempt reflection as it suddenly launches into a furious tirade, threatening to kill him from the inside and eat his brains. Eddie tries to calm it down until its voice goes silent, pondering the symbiote's latest backslide into murderous rage and bloodlust - which at its worst is so intense that it frightens him. A police scanner interrupts his brooding, declaring that the Jack O'Lantern has been sighted. Transforming into Venom, Eddie notes that he lost his job at the Fact Sheet due to being unable to concentrate on writing with the symbiote screaming psychotic nonsense into his brain and trying to force him to kill everyone around him. While he can barely control the symbiote enough to get from Point A to Point B by web-swinging, he's affirms to himself that he's not completely useless despite being sidelined.
In a warehouse, Jack O'Lantern attempts to carry out an arms deal, unloading high-tech guns that he claims came from Norman Osborn's private stash and don't trigger Spider-Man's Spider-Sense. His buyers - the Grizzly, Kangaroo, and Hippo - are skeptical and dismiss him as an idiot; but before Jack can respond, the lights go out and they are surrounded by police. Taking pictures from a nearby rooftop, Eddie laments that the symbiote's renewed bloodlust makes him unwilling to engage in combat lest it go berserk. Despite feeling like a coward and telling himself he would've intervened had something gone wrong, he's relieved that the situation is under control. As soon as he thinks that, Jack O'Lantern pulls out a pistol and shoots one of the cops, fleeing into an alley. The Venom symbiote takes over, reducing Eddie to a passenger in his own body. He pleads with the symbiote to stop, but it only responds with maniacal laughter and bloodthirsty screaming as Venom pounces on Jack, shattering his pumpkin helmet. The man - who is not the real Jack O'Lantern - recognizes Venom and surrenders, begging for mercy and saying he just found and stole Jack's costume and gear.
As Venom towers over the man, silhouetted by lightning, Eddie laments that this isn't him and that the symbiote isn't listening. As the man continues to beg for mercy, Venom stabs a clawed thumb into his right eye, the police arriving seconds later and telling Venom to freeze. As they open fire ineffectually, Venom turns around to reveal his eyespots have become a crimson spiral, porous holes appearing on his body, his spider-emblem turning into a red dragon, and protruding red veins forming all over his arms and legs. The symbiote speaks in the same alien language the monster in Eddie's nightmare had used and, as it moves to attack, Eddie feels his mind once again drowning in the dark ocean of its bloodlust. As the symbiote continues to speak in the alien language - saying that its god, Knull, is awake and coming - Eddie inwardly reels in pain - the words cutting into his mind like broken glass. As Eddie begs for someone to kill him before the symbiote hurts anyone, an explosive bullet hits Venom in the face and detonates. As the smoke clears, Eddie calls out and asks if the officers are alright. The shooter, mistaking him for Flash Thompson, says that they'll be blind for a few minutes but are otherwise unharmed. Eddie informs the shooter of his mistaken identity, and the shooter remarks that that's disappointing but that he'll have to make do before shooting Eddie in the neck with a tranquillizer dart.
As Eddie regains consciousness, the symbiote - sanity restored for the moment - urges him to wake up. The symbiote demands that Eddie kill the man who attacked them, forcing his eyes open and sneering that he's worthless and that it should abandon him for a better host. Realizing that the anti-psychotics have worn off, Eddie yells at the symbiote to shut up - noticing that the person who abducted him has chained him to a chair, amps wired to incapacitate the symbiote and a blast furnace to cause it further discomfort and kill them if need be. Seated in a chair nearby, a middle-aged African-American man with a scarred face chuckles at Eddie's outburst and takes out a lighter, Eddie realizing he knows his way around symbiotes. Eddie demands to know what the man wants with him, and the man replies that he needs Eddie's help - admitting that he wanted Flash Thompson but that his intel on who's bonded to the Venom symbiote must be outdated. The man asks Eddie what he knows about Project Rebirth 2.0, Eddie telling the symbiote to sneak a tendril along the floor and incapacitate him. The symbiote demands they kill him, and when Eddie rebukes it the symbiote apologizes and says it doesn't know what's wrong with it. Speaking out loud, Eddie says that all he knows is that Project Rebirth was the military program that created Captain America, and that the government had restarted it a few years ago to weaponize his Other, the Venom symbiote. The man chuckles at Eddie's nickname for the symbiote and tells him to go on, Eddie angrily directing the symbiote to attack him while speaking out loud that the government bonded his symbiote to Flash Thompson to create a new supersoldier program.
The man interrupts Eddie and informs him that Project Rebirth 2.0 was not a "new" supersoldier program, but the latest iteration of the Sym-Soldier Program - holding up an old photograph of himself and several other soldiers bonded to symbiotes. The man mocks Eddie's surprise, telling him he's far from the first human to bond to a symbiote. The man introduces himself as Rex Strickland, stating that he and his comrades were bonded to symbiotes a long time ago, and were recruited by the U.S. government to act as supersoldiers. Stating that before he gets into the details there's a few things Eddie should know about him, he uses his lighter to burn the Venom symbiote's tendril as it moves to grab him and tells Eddie that he's forgotten more about symbiotes than Eddie will ever know. When Eddie expresses disbelief, Rex asks Eddie if he knows what his symbiote's real name is, how old it is, what it likes to eat, what its ideal temperature is, how many hosts it had before it came to Earth, whether it even prefers humans as hosts, and whether he ages while bonded to it - pointing out that he himself is far older than he looks. Rex tells Eddie that he can teach Eddie about his symbiote and help him fix it, asking Eddie if he's had any nightmares lately. Defeated, Eddie asks Rex what he wants, and Rex explains that he left the Sym-Soldier Program a long time ago to become an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., but that his comrades had permanently bonded to their symbiotes and went insane, being cryogenically frozen afterwards. Now that S.H.I.E.L.D. has fallen, Rex's comrades are being transported to a black box site to be executed, and he wants to rescue them. Eddie asks where Rex and his friends got their symbiotes, and Rex responds by asking if Eddie wants to help him find out.
Later, Eddie walks down an underground tunnel used by S.H.I.E.L.D. to transport black ops mistakes; intending to rescue the men, get the answers he needs from Rex, and kill those responsible for putting the Sym-Soldier Program in motion. As he stands in the middle of the tunnel, a transport truck accompanied by two military support trucks approaches. Eddie notes that Rex informed him that the transport truck is automated, and that the support trucks are the real problem - being piloted by bone-dumb if innocent men. The soldiers within one of the trucks mistake Eddie for a homeless person, sneering that they're like rats and cockroaches, and give the order to run him over. Smirking, Eddie asks the symbiote if it heard that, and it replies that the men in the trucks are evil. Eddie asks the symbiote if it's up to this, worried it will go berserk again, and it replies that it will not fail this time and feels stronger than before. Transforming, Venom rams the transport truck - stopping it in its tracks - and sends its occupants flying. Eddie notes that he and the symbiote are working together as one again and revels in how right this feels. One of the soldiers in the support truck recognizes him, but Venom crushes him using the truck. Eddie wonders why the symbiote went insane in the alleyway before deciding to figure it out later. Venom reaches for the transport truck's back door, but before he can open it the door explodes open. As Venom gets up, he sees the four symbiote supersoldiers standing in the back of the truck, their faces covered with red spirals as they radiate the same darkness that the Venom symbiote had in the alley. One of the symbiote supersoldiers exits the truck and speaks to Venom in the alien language, making the same statement, and the Venom symbiote abruptly separates from Eddie and bows to the symbiote super-soldier, repeating the phrase. As the symbiote supersoldier's arm transforms into a blade, Eddie mentally screams at the Venom symbiote to protect him before lunging at the supersoldier. Eddie is impaled through the chest, shocking the Venom symbiote out of its stupor. It quickly rebonds to and begins healing him, telling him it didn't want to separate from him but that something forced it to. A flash of purple light radiates from the back of the truck, reducing the supersoldiers to silhouettes as they go back into it. The symbiotes' hosts, reduced to drained corpses, are expelled from the back of the truck - something inside having torn their symbiotes off. Ignoring the Venom symbiote urging him to lie still and let it heal him, Eddie sits up and tells it he has to know what's going on, asking what the language it spoke in was. The Venom symbiote tells Eddie that it's an ancient symbiote dialect not spoken in a million years, and the phrase roughly translates to "God is coming."
In the street above, the pavement splits and ruptures as a massive dragon-like creature erupts from the ground and soars skyward, silhouetted by the storm's lightning.
A VENOM NIGHTMARE 1000 YEARS IN THE MAKING!
A NEW SERIES BY DONNY CATES & RYAN STEGMAN!
In the wake of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s collapse, an ancient and primordial evil has been awakened beneath the streets of New York, and with it, something equally evil has awakened in that most Wicked of Webslingers – VENOM! Still a Lethal Protector of the innocents in New York, this never-before-seen threat could force Venom to relinquish everything it holds dear – including Eddie Brock! Join two of the hottest creators in comics today, Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman, for a VENOM adventure a thousand years in the making!
- A video interview with Donny Cates and C.B. Cebulski promoting this issue was released by Marvel online:
- The ancient language of the symbiotes is rendered using the same glyphs as the Demonic Script of Limbo.