What If…? Dark teases a horrifying new Venom host

Christopher Baggett
What If...? Dark: Venom #1 cover artMarvel Comics

What If…? has returned with a new dark take on classic ideas. The first issue revisits Spider-Man’s symbiote suit and turns Fantastic Four’s The Thing into Venom.

Comic book stories set in alternate timelines is a fairly common occurrence now, but they all take their cues from Marvel Comics’ What If…? Since 1977, the series has popped up from time to time to tell wild and exciting stories across the multiverse. 

What If…? has had two ongoing volumes, both of which were beloved. However, the title has been primarily a returning mini-series for the past decade or so, focusing on telling stories set during events like Civil War or Avengers vs. X-Men. The most recent entry takes a slant on things with What If…? Dark. 

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In What If…? Dark, the worlds are explicitly darker and more upsetting multiverses than any seen before. The first entry of this new mini-series turns one of Marvel’s most pivotal moments on its head and creates not one but two terrors for the Fantastic Four to face. 

What If…? Turns Fantastic Four’s The Thing into Venom

What If…? Dark: Venom is set in the hours after Spider-Man rid himself of the symbiote. In the original story, the symbiote is imprisoned by Reed Richards for further examination. Meanwhile, The Thing has returned from an extended period in space. 

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What If Dark: Venom - The Thing bonds with Spider-Man's SymbioteMarvel Comics
What If Dark: Venom – The Thing bonds with Spider-Man’s Symbiote

Here, The Thing is dejected and encounters the symbiote. In What If…? Dark, these moments collide, and The Thing is merged with the symbiote. It preys on his desire to appear human again and is able to reverse his transformation. 

It’s an incredible moment and, honestly, a remarkable story to witness. The Thing, furious that Reed continues to warn against bonding with the symbiote, leaves. It’s a recurring story beat for the FF that The Thing is depressed over his inability to appear human regularly. Though Reed has found short-term solutions in recent years, he remains unable to transform permanently. 

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While this is a one-off story, it is worth noting this could turn into a significant first appearance with enough fan outcry. What If…? has occasionally proven the testing ground for new ideas or less popular characters.

Perhaps the most famous instance is another Spider-man character: May Parker, aka Spider-Girl, the future daughter of Peter and Mary-Jane who starred in multiple books of her own after her What If…? debut. For now, though, Symbiote Thing remains a unique footnote and an exciting idea. 

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About The Author

Christopher Baggett started writing about comics on the Internet when he was 14 years old. Since then, he's written professionally for a host of sites, including ComicsBeat, Comic Book Resources, and The HomeWorld. He's most knowledgable about the legacy heroes of the '80s and '90s that he grew up with and believes Wally West is the best Flash - and he'll fight anyone over it. For tips, news, press and more, contact Christopher at christopher.baggett@dexerto.com