Appearing in "Escalation: Part 1"
- Absent Throne
- Symbiote Hive (Main story and recap)
- Thor Odinson (Only in recap)
- Anti-Venom Symbiote (Referenced)
- Tel-Kar (Only in flashback)
- Friends of Humanity (Mentioned)
- Edward Snowden (Mentioned) (Topical Reference)
- Beyond Corporation (Photo)
Races and Species:
- Knull's Symbiote-Armor (Only in recap)
- Knull's Necrosword (Only in recap)
- Lightforce (Referenced)
- Mjolnir (Only in recap)
- Spearhead Armor (First appearance)
- Planet of the Symbiotes (Only in recap)
- King in Black (Only in recap)
- Kree-Skrull War (Only in flashback)
- Extreme Carnage (Referenced)
Synopsis for "Escalation: Part 1"
At the Life Foundation's headquarters in the Ildefonso Archipelago, Carlton Drake recaps what humanity has learned about symbiotes over the years to Mr. Carson - the leader of the PMC team sent after Venom; concluding that all they really know about symbiotes is that every assumption they've made has been proven false - or at least more complex than they first seemed. Mr. Carson asks what Drake's point is, so Drake draws an analogy by asking how him many holes one would have to poke into an umbrella before it ceased to be an umbrella. Confused, Mr. Carson asks what that has to do with taking down Venom, and Drake responds that he doesn't want to "take down" Venom but poke as many "holes" in it as possible to see what it changes into.
Alone in an abandoned factory outside of Sacramento, the Venom symbiote has an existential crisis while mourning Eddie Brock's death, lamenting that it has lost everything it ever held dear -- its god, its favorite host, its Hive, and the trust of Eddie's son Dylan. Recalling its past, the symbiote notes that it was once feared as a warrior of Knull and a soldier in the Kree-Skrull War alongside Tel-Kar; its unspeakable true name a symbol of death, destruction, and despair... and yet on Earth it's been relegated to the form of a dog, sneered at by pathetically weak humans it once would have seen as prey. The Venom symbiote admits that it's considered leaving Dylan Brock to fend for himself after Eddie's death, but that each time it tries to do so it finds itself compelled to stay and watch over Dylan by its memories of Eddie and what he would have wanted.
Elsewhere in the factory, Archer Lyle shows Dylan some photos of herself and Eddie working together; the teenager marvelling at how young his father looks in the photo. Archer regales Dylan with the story of how she and Eddie first met when she was a young, headstrong war correspondant and Eddie a rookie reporter looking for leads on a missing gold scandal. Once they parted ways she heard nothing from him for years, only to suddenly get a message from Eddie saying he was going to die in just under a week and that the ones responsible were called the Absent Throne. Archer admits that at first she thought Eddie was crazy, but then she began investigating and discovered that the Absent Throne is a shadowy cabal that has been pulling the strings of the reformed Life Foundation, the Friends of Humanity, Alchemax, the Beyond Corporation, and other various other lobbiest groups and corporations - with their interests being centred around symbiotes. Archer shows Dylan her next lead, an Exodynamics research facility in Plymouth, England, and Dylan volunteers to help. Archer reluctantly agrees on the condition he not bring Venom, though Dylan insists on bringing Sleeper - who is still in the form of a cat.
Later, Dylan bids farewell to the Venom symbiote, assuring it that he'll have Sleeper with him in case trouble strikes. The Venom symbiote asks Dylan why he is so afraid of it, assuming the form of a dog and asking if he sees a fleabitten old pet when he looks at it, before transforming into its humanoid form and asking if he sees it as a monster made of living darkness from the depths of space that will devour him the moment he lets his guard down. As the Venom symbiote sneers that he's being a coward, Dylan bitterly retorts that - having been inside his head - it should know better than anyone what he sees when he looks at it: his father, and a reminder that Eddie is dead. Fighting not to cry, Dylan turns and storms off, followed by Sleeper.
At the research facility, Archer rappels down an elevator shaft from the roof and tasers a security guard into unconsciousness. Grabbing his badge, she radios Dylan to warn him about the patroling guards. As Sleeper incapacitates the guards, Dylan assures her that he can handle himself. Archer lets Dylan into the building and tells him they need to make it quick since silent alarms may have been triggered. Arriving at a room with a bunch of computers, Archer tells Dylan to search the next room and copy any data he finds. However, Dylan enters the room to find it's a containment unit with armored doors and walls. Closing the door, Archer reveals that Absent Throne found out she was looking into them and agreed to let her live if she gave them Dylan. Alchemax soldiers enter the room and aim weapons at Dylan, Sleeper assuming its humanoid form to fight them. As Dylan is tranquilized and Sleeper incapacitated with sonic weapons, Liz Allan - CEO of Alchemax, and one-time friend and ally of Eddie and Dylan - remarks that Archer shouldn't have been so worried. Agreeing, Archer laments that she still feels sorry for Dylan, Liz coldly states that whether he knows it or not, Dylan is in the middle of a symbiote arms race and that what she and Archer have done will save a lot of lives. Dylan is strapped to a gurney and Sleeper loaded into a container, the two of them being loaded into the back of an Alchemax van to be transported elsewhere.
At the Life Foundation's headquarters, Mr. Carson asks Carlton Drake how they're going to "poke holes" in the Venom symbiote if for all they know it will adapt to their weapons and develop an immunity to fire and sonics. Drake replies that they will just have to resort to escalation to overcome the symbiote's evolution, pressing his hand to a biometric scanner and opening a door to reveal an advanced suit of powered armor. Turning to Mr. Carson, Drake says they have an estimate as to where Dylan Brock and the Venom symbiote are hiding and asks if he wants to take the Spearhead Armor out for a test drive.
• As everything Dylan Brock has come to know and love unravels around him, he is beginning to realize a terrible truth: The VENOM SYMBIOTE is not a harmless pet, no matter how much it pretends to be one. It's an alien. A dangerous, violent, often bloodthirsty alien. Whatever bond it had with Dylan's father, Eddie Brock, special as it may have been…is gone. And Dylan might be soon too.
- Per Extreme Carnage Omega #1, at this point in time Sleeper should be bonded to Hank rather than still living with Dylan in the form of a cat.
- Carlton Drake burning holes into the eyespots on a photo of Venom gives it a resemblence to its corrupted state when bonded to Mac Gargan and Flash Thompson.