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Is the New Venom a Haunt Rip Off?


Reading the new Venom story-arc, one gets a feeling of deja vu.  Something seems strangely familiar here. If you have read Image Comics current run of Haunt, that may go a long way in explaining this phenomena. Is the new Venom just a rip off of Todd McFarlane’s Haunt?

We all know Venom was originally created in part by Todd McFarlane way back in Amazing Spider-Man #299. Mr McFarlane has gone on without Marvel at the company he co-founded, Image Comics, to create other characters like the very popular Spawn, and with the help of Robert Kirkman, a newer character and series called Haunt. With Marvel currently handing over of the Venom alien symbiote to Flash Thompson to be used as a weapon for the government, the Venom story is starting to sound suspiciously similar to the latest Image/McFarlane-Kirkman creation.

For those unfamiliar with Haunt, it is the story of Catholic priest Daniel Kilgore and his murdered secret agent brother Kurt who haunts him here on the Earthly plain. Quite by accident while defending Daniel’s former girlfriend and Kurt’s widowed wife, they discover that they can combine to form a the super powered Haunt. Read all about the series here at with articles Catch Up with the First 10 Isssues of Haunt (by Ortegatron) and A New Haunt Story Arc Starts Now (by Robb Orr) This new Venom is the story of Flash Thompson and an alien symbiote. They will combine to form Venom and be a secret agent. Let’s look at some of the elements to these stories:

Story Elements Venom Haunt
Symbiote(like) Suit X X
Works for the Government X X
Life Going Nowhere Before Powers X X
Time Limit On Using Powers X X
Heavy Gun Play X X
Duel personalities when super powered X X
Created by Todd McFarlane X X

All of the above mentioned McFarlane creations have a similar common thread that runs through them and obvious themes that make them instantly recognizable as being created by Todd. All have religion in their origin, all have a sort of living suit as their weapon, and all are less than perfect heroes. Comic book companies have a long history of imitating successful characters at competitor’s companies. Imitation is basically responsible for the birth of the entire superhero genre and the proliferation of super-teams without a doubt. In fact lots of superheroes are nearly clones of each other. Aquaman and Namor, Thanos and Darkseid, the Flash and Quicksilver for example; and so many more that it boggles the mind. The difference here is Venom was created and has enjoyed long popularity, even without Todd McFarlane.

The fan base was undoubtedly shaken by the terrible reviews of the character in Spider-Man 3. Now in a effort to revamp the character Marvel appears to have looked at Venom’s creator and followed his lead.  Or maybe they just weren’t aware of their former star-artist’s creation and story over at the third largest publisher of comics, Image [trying to keep a straight face]. At any rate, imitation is said to be a form of flattery, so the Haunt team must really be feeling the love. It is very likely that the Venom story will quickly diverge into new territory and we may feel a little guilty at these early comparisons.  If this series of events does not come to fruition, may we be as bold as to suggest a Venom/Haunt crossover battle royal?  At one point Batman and Spawn had a crossover book, so why not?  Oh right, all the rocky Image/Marvel relations and letter’s page mud-slinging in the 90’s.  Maybe it is time to hug it out fellas. If the prospect of reading a less than original use of your former favorite brain loving symbiotic relationship sours you on Marvel, Take Haunt for spin. All the McFarlane fun and none of the sadness wishing Brock was there.

Huge thanks to Robb Orr for co-writing this with me!!

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Comments (6)

This was a great piece! Very interesting, I need to check out Haunt it sounds awesome!

Skott of Fables

Well, I recall the beginning of Image and how every single character they had was a rip off of Marvel. Look at Spawn, he's basically the Marvel Universe in one character. Spider-Man's mask, Dr. Strang's cape, he had Union Jack's shirt, Punisher's skulls, Ghost Rider's chains…

But I don't think Venom was created by McFarlane…I seem to recall the concept was created by a reader and purchased by Marvel. Other people were involved but I think all McFarlane did was come up with the final look that we know as Venom now.

Very interesting stuff. Gotta love some controversy!

Or is it the other way around?

I think I mentioned this on the first Comic Booked Podcast…can't remember, but I've definitely noticed it!

Just some gentle rib poking and pot stirring. I dig Venom. We kid because we care!

Jordamus: You should check out Haunt. It's cool.

Skott: I would say Venom was McFarlane. The orginal idea was unstable molecules or something so Spidey could have a nifty black suit. That idea was furthered into the suit being alive. I would argue it's when the symbiote hit Brock we got Venom. The duality, the bent moral code, all the Venom elements Marvel replaced with brain hunger. Besides the symbiote I don't think there is much Venom with Flash in the suit.

Andy: I'm not sure about the other way around. Haunt is many issues ahead of Flash /Venom

Robb: I dig Venom too.

Everyone digs Venom.

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