Appearing in 1st story
- Mary Brock (Illusion or holographic simulation) (Revealed to not actually exist)
- Dan Brock (Illusion or holographic simulation) (Name first revealed) (Revealed to not actually exist)
- God (Yahweh) (Mentioned)
- Knull (Illusion or holographic simulation)
- Carnage (Cletus Kasady) (Mentioned)
- SFPD (Mentioned)
Races and Species:
- Astral Plane
- United States of America
- New York (Illusion or holographic simulation)
- United States of America
- Hell (Invoked)
Synopsis for 1st story
A young Eddie Brock sits in the dark waiting room of the hospital, visibly anxious. A voice calls out to him, and as he looks up he sees Mary Brock sitting beside him, which she wasn't a second prior. Standing up, Mary tells him that he can't ignore this forever and offers her hand, saying she knows he's scared but that she's there for him. Taking it, they walk down a corridor towards the cancer ward - Eddie not noticing the monstrous shadow that Mary is casting on the wall. Inside the cancer ward, Eddie sees his father standing over a withered man with fanged teeth and solid black eyes; the walls and floor covered in living darkness oozing from the man's body. Calling himself "Uncle Dan," the withered man assures Eddie he won't hurt him. Eddie suddenly ages to adulthood, asking what's wrong with Dan; and Mary turns to smile maliciously at him, her eyes turning solid black as she says that he's infected with the Abyss. Eddie protests that this isn't how he remembers things happening; Carl assuring his son that everything will be alright, that they're family, and that he will look after Eddie. As the world spider-webs with cracks, Eddie recoils in shock and demands to know where he is.
In reality, the Maker probes at the living darkness cocooning Eddie's body, muttering to himself. Standing in the doorway, Dylan Brock asks if his half-brother is alright. The Maker tells Dylan that Eddie is decidedly not OK, as he has cancer... frowning and uncertainly muttering "... I think." to himself. When Dylan expresses confusion, the Maker states that given Eddie's medical history even a baby could diagnose his cancer's resurgance, but the Venom symbiote is repelling his efforts to assess Eddie's condition - coiling tendrils around his equipment and crushing it. The Maker tells Dylan to get out, as he intends to remove the Venom symbiote from Eddie and the shock and withdrawal could potentially kill him. Musing at the irony of killing Eddie to find out what's killing him, the Maker dons a pair of high-tech gauntlets wreathed in green energy and smiles sadistically as he quips that that's the burden of science. Horrified, Dylan runs out into the hallway calling for help, witnessing Carl Brock being hauled away by a pair of Project Oversight agents. Carl demands that Dylan come with him, but instead he runs in the opposite direction.
As darkness swirls around him, Eddie suddenly finds himself in Our Lady of Saints Church, wondering where he is now. Mary suddenly appears, casting a shadow with a fanged maw as she asks how he could've possibly forgotten the place where he was born; jagged white eyespots appearing in the shadows as Eddie looks down to see a gun in his hand. He rebukes her statement, saying he came to the church to commit suicide. The church continues to distort, the stained glass windows depicting Venom in place of the saints -- holding a Knull-controlled symbiote in his hands. Her eyes turning black, Mary asks Eddie why he wanted to kill himself; and as he stares at his reflection in the gun's barrel Eddie says that he'd lost everything and was already dying of cancer. Mary asks Eddie why he came to the church, and Eddie says it was to say goodbye to God. As Knull's crimson spiral forms in the darkness behind her, Mary asks what happened at the church and why Eddie didn't die. Glaring up at her, Eddie says she knows what happened. As red eyespots appear in the darkness behind her, Mary says that she does -- her mouth transforming into a fanged maw. The darkness engulfs Eddie and transforms him into Venom as "Mary" tells him to embrace the abyss and let it heal him, telling him that she will protect him and that he will never be alone. The darkness suddenly explodes off Eddie's body and he screams in pain, "Mary" reduced to an amorphous mass as she realizes that the Maker is interfering.
In the real world, the Maker blasts Eddie and the symbiote with green energy, smiling sadistically as both scream in pain and telling the symbiote that the pain will stop when it separates from Eddie. In his mindscape, Eddie has the sudden realization that Mary never existed, and demands to know why "Mary" would mess with his memories. Reforming, "Mary" tells Eddie to calm down and that he's very sick, saying that his cancer has returned. Eddie rebukes "Mary" for lying to him, saying that she showed him his uncle dying of cancer -- the hospital room reappearing, with Knull-controlled symbiotes leering down at them from the windows -- but that he now remembers that he never had an uncle in the first place. Eddie's angry gesture shatters the scene and unmasks "Mary" as the Venom symbiote, Eddie mournfully asking why it's done this to him when he thought they'd grown past its corruption and that it loved him. Reaching out to him with a tendril, the Venom symbiote says that it manipulated his memories in order to make him want to stay with it. Eddie recoils in horror and growing rage as he realizes that he'd never had cancer in the first place; accusing the symbiote of modifying his memories and altering his body chemistry to register false positives on medical tests, all in order to make him afraid to separate from it when its bloodlust became too much for him to stomach. The symbiote protests that it was weak and terrified of being alone after Spider-Man's rejection. Eddie states that he understands that might've been the case during their initial tenure as Venom, but demands to know why it would do this to him after their reunion. Rather than answer, the symbiote tells him that it found evidence that Carnage is back and more powerful than ever, and that they have to be together to stand a chance of taking him on. Ignoring its attempt to change the subject, Eddie demands to know why it would go so far as to excise chunks of his memories and pretend to be braindead; the symbiote admitting that it is afraid he is going to separate from it again. Eddie angrily asks why it would think that, and the symbiote retorts that learning Dylan Brock's true identity would cause Eddie to reject it.
Eddie regains consciousness, trapped in a bubble of green energy. He demands the Maker let him go, but the evil Reed Richards retorts that there's still a number of tests he wants to run and that he wants to separate him from the symbiote. Eddie demands to know where Dylan is, the Maker saying that the authorities contacted his father to pick him up. Horrified, Eddie tells the Maker that he has to get to Dylan first, the Maker saying that if he disables the containment field the symbiote will rebond to him, but if he removes the symbiote now, Eddie will likely die. Telling the Maker to do what he has to quickly, Eddie states that Dylan is in mortal danger. The Maker expresses confusion, remarking that he's sure Eddie's little brother will be fine, but Eddie states that Dylan isn't his brother - he's his son.
Elsewhere in the hospital, an enraged Carl Brock corners Dylan in a janitorial closet, towering over his terrified grandson.
• The sinister symbiote skulks the streets of San Francisco!
• With the symbiote silenced and Eddie finding parts of his memory missing, will he be able to find the answers he’s looking for in the Golden City?
• Or will the return to his old stomping grounds reveal secrets better left buried?
- Donny Cates clarified on Twitter that Eddie did have terminal cancer prior to becoming Anti-Venom, though this was a result of the Venom symbiote altering his body chemistry as part of its gambit to convince him he already had the disease.
- This issue's variant cover by Dave Gibbons is a homage to the artist's own cover from Watchmen #1, and a reference to a running joke on Twitter started by Venom penciler Ryan Stegman that Venom was better than the critically-acclaimed Watchmen.