Channel Awesome
Spider-Man: Planet of the Symbiotes

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October 24, 2011
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A terrifying story of bodily possession, invasion, and alien menaces! It's a pity THAT story couldn't be the plot for this one.

Linkara: Hello, and welcome to–

(Suddenly, he is interrupted by the sound of the strange buzzing that has been dogging the series for several months now. He grabs his magic gun and aims at wherever the noise is coming from, looking around. It stops, however, and he puts the gun down)

Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall (suddenly spreads arms wide with excitement) WHERE IT'S OUR THIRD YEAR ANNIVERSARY!!

(Cut to a shot of the phrase "Happy Third Anniversary Atop the Fourth Wall", with fireworks going off in the background while triumphant music plays in the background)

Linkara: And as is tradition, we're going to take another look at the Clone Saga! (beat) Sort of.

(Cut to a montage of Spider-Man "Super Special" comics)

Linkara (v/o): Yeah, I'm kind of cheating on this one. Today's comic isn't really another step in the Clone Saga story. None of the events of it had any impact on the larger narrative of the Clone Saga. It's kind of a miniseries that ran through five "super specials" released in 1995. Then why am I counting this as part of the Clone Saga reviews? Mostly because it was written and released during the Clone Saga and features Ben Reilly in it, so it might as well be a Clone Saga story. Chronologically speaking, this takes right before "Maximum Clonage", so there's nothing that I need to catch you up to date on, at least in terms of the Clone Saga itself.

Linkara: Today, we're looking at "Planet of the Symbiotes", where we see the true origins of my favorite Spidey villain, Venom.

(Cut to shots of Venom from the Spider-Man comics)

Linkara (v/o): I've been wanting to give my thoughts on the Symbiotes for a while now, mostly because I see plenty of people who don't like the storyline "Maximum Carnage". Well, fair enough; different opinions and all that, but sometimes I see opinions about Venom and Carnage themselves being terrible villains, which I particularly disagree with. Plenty of ideas that seem terrible could be made to work in the hands of good writers. For those who don't know the origins of these characters, allow me to explain.

(Cut to a shot of the cover of an issue of "Marvel Super Heroes: Secret Wars", showing Venom on the cover, wearing a black costume intended for Spidey)

Linkara (v/o): In the mid-'80s, Marvel held one of its first big crossover events: "Secret Wars". It's an entertaining romp with some great moments and epic plot, but the largest lasting change from it was the introduction of a black costume for Spidey, later revealed to be an alien Symbiote that was taking his body for a joyride while he slept. Peter got rid of the suit, which then bonded with journalist Eddie Brock. Brock, pissed at Spider-Man because he had unwittingly got him fired, merged with the Symbiote and became Venom, dedicating himself to destroying Spider-Man as revenge. Venom himself wasn't a bad idea. When he came around, he showed why it worked: someone who had all the details of Peter Parker at his fingertips and totally hated him. It's a level of menace and fear that makes for thrilling stories: he had most of Spidey's powers, but he was stronger than him, he didn't set off Peter's Spider-Sense, and he knew all the ways to get at him on a personal level. So what if the costume itself is an alien? Venom, to me, is the perfect nemesis for Spider-Man, maybe even a little better than the Green Goblin, and I know that might seem like blasphemy, but that's how I feel.

(Cut to shots of the comic "Venom: Lethal Protector")

Linkara (v/o): The problem that arose with Venom was writers who didn't get him. With popularity comes a desire by people to see them more and see them in different lights, so many tried to make it into an antihero. While Venom may have his own twisted sense of ethics, I felt it was also better if he was focused on Spider-Man rather than try to make him some sort of a good guy. Also, some writers were just flat-out weird with how they wrote him, suddenly making him into a monster by... wanting to eat brains? The hell?

(Cut to shots of the second antagonist of note for today: Carnage)

Linkara (v/o): Carnage, a spawn of Venon's costume, is more one-note than Venom. He has all the abilities of the Symbiote costume, but not the intelligence and knowledge Venom possessed. Cletus Kasady, the host for the Carnage Symbiote, is just an insane psycho killer, who is also clearly inspired visually by the Joker. However, I felt that Carnage represented a different challenge for Spidey that did work. While Venom could represent a villain's single-minded goal of destroy Spider-Man, Carnage was taking the raw power of the Symbiote suit and using it on everyday people, believing that murder is the ultimate expression of free will. True and utter anarchy in every sense of the word. He doesn't have a plan, he doesn't have an end goal, he just wants to kill and destroy. And thus, this kind of killer, an almost animalistic brutality, allows writers to explore how far Peter will go before he compromises his own ethics, which is what they did in "Maximum Carnage", pushing him to the limits of how far he should go to stop people like Carnage.

Linkara: The Symbiotes are great for those two roles, but almost every other time they try to create other Symbiote characters, they failed miserably.

Linkara (v/o): The other Venom spawn were all basically one-note bad guys who had some interesting visual appeal, but no personality. Toxin, Carnage's spawn who became a hero, was just okay, and while it's an interesting idea of a guy having to fight the Symbiote's more psychotic urges, it's just kind of "eh" to me. But with the popularity of the Symbiotes in the mid-'90s, it was decided to do another event around them during the Clone Saga, this time showing us even more Symbiotes than ever before!

Linkara: So let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "Planet of the Symbiotes" and see why this story is a failure of global proportions.

(AT4W opening titles play; title card has "Only Want To Be With You" by Hootie and the Blowfish playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)

Linkara (v/o): I'm reading this one from a trade of "The Clone Saga", so no covers. But even if I wasn't, we're gonna be speeding through five comics today, so we don't have a lot of time for covers anyway.

(The comic opens to the first page)

Linkara (v/o): Part One begins in "Amazing Spider-Man Super Special #1". We open with Spidey fighting Neo-Luddites, who all have matching uniforms, mass-produced gear, and laser weapons. Even Spidey has to laugh at the complete hypocrisy.

Spider-Man: You say you're Neo-Luddites, want to eliminate technology-- but you do it with stolen laser rifles?!?

Neo-Luddite: The Devil's arms serve well against the Devil's work!

Linkara: Luddites in the '90s who reject technology and then subsequently use the most advanced forms of technology to commit terrorist acts. This is like a rejected Monty Python sketch.

Neo-Luddite: Besides, destroying that Clystron wave modulator is worth any compromise! It compacts energy waves, multiplying the strength of any attached power source by ten!

Linkara: And of course, because this is a fictional comic book universe, such a revolutionary device is never seen or mentioned again in future stories.

Neo-Luddite: Technology already blights the environment-- this "advance" could increase that deterioration tenfold!

Linkara: Maybe it's not a good idea to base your environment terrorist philosophy off of The Airzone Solution.

Linkara (v/o): They drop the device on Spidey, who can't get away in time, so instead, he kicks the thing through the high roof.

Spider-Man: (thinking) Can't tumble away in time! But with the proportionate strength of a spider-- I don't have to!

Linkara: Apparently, spiders are good soccer players. (shrugs) Who knew?

Linkara (v/o): Meanwhile, Eddie Brock stands on a rooftop and talks to his Symbiote, wondering if, due to a then-recent miniseries, he's actually doing harm by being Venom. He wonders if, perhaps, the Symbiote is responsible for making him more violent, but that gets interrupted by seeing Spidey playing "kick the can" with the major advance in technology. As Spidey continues fighting the Neo-Luddites, Venom swings in, drooling Ecto Cooler – that was another thing the writers started doing Venom – and attacking them, too. He webs one of the Luddites up and prepares to kill him, but then stops himself as he tries to figure out why he thought about killing him. However, Spidey is further distracted by the Neo-Luddites somehow turning the machine on, which shoots out a bright light. Venom and the Neo-Luddites escape in the confusion, and Spidey hears sirens in the distance, deciding to web up the remaining terrorists and swing away. He overheard the Neo-Luddites mention the word "Sperzel", thinking that he's heard it before, but can't place it.

Linkara: And according to a Google search, "Sperzel" is a brand name for guitar tuning pegs. I guess those Neo-Luddites love to rock out.

Linkara (v/o): He also wonders about Venom's hesitation and hopes it's a chance to finally put Venom out of business. Then we cut to Peter with Mary Jane, where he then proceeds to say the exact same thing. Oh, how we do love padding. Spidey heads to the headquarters of the Fantastic Four, where the Thing is letting him do research on Venom. Why he would need to research Venom is headscratching, since, as we are reminded in the next two pages, HE ALREADY KNOWS ABOUT VENOM!! But yeah, two pages recapping the origin of the black costume.

Spider-Man: (thinking) Well, that didn't teach me anything new, but it did solidify my focus.

Linkara: Well, that didn't teach us anything new, but it did waste two pages that could've been used for something better.

Linkara (v/o): He finds a reference to Sperzel, and the Thing explains that Anton Sperzel is a cybernetics engineer that Reed Richards used to consult with. Spidey remembers now that he heard about him back in school and remembers that Sperzel is giving a demonstration that day.

Spider-Man: What do you say, Ben? Feel like a little clobberin' time?

Thing: Hey, does Clinton like cheeseburgers?

Linkara (v/o): No, no, no, that's just him talking about warlords.

(Cut to a clip of a sketch on Saturday Night Live, showing Phil Hartman as Bill Clinton eating a cheeseburger)

Clinton: See, right now, we're sending food to Somalia. But it's not getting to the people who need it, because it's being intercepted by warlords.

(Cut back to the comic)

Spider-Man: I appreciate your help, Ben. Those Luddites were pretty fanatical...

Linkara: And stupid. Don't forget stupid.

Linkara (v/o): We cut to an auditorium, where Sperzel is hyping up his latest invention.

Dr. Anton Sperzel: What I'm about to show you, my fellow scientists, is the next step in virtual reality!

Linkara: (as Dr. Sperzel) Now, say it with me: "We are, we are!"

Dr. Sperzel: By wearing this helmet, an operator can "see" through sensors attached to the mark-7 diagnostic drone behind me. He or she will then be able to maneuver that vehicle, by thought alone, into the most hazardous of environments...

Linkara: So... it's nothing like virtual reality.

Linkara (v/o): Not to mention, piloting it by thought is, well, lame. What happens if the person panics? At least, with handheld controls, someone can take over quickly, or just instinctual hand movements can help steady themselves.

Dr. Sperzel: ...toxic wastes, nuclear meltdown, even an active volcano!

Linkara: Okay, forget about the thought control crap; it doesn't matter what kind of remote control it has. The problem is having the drones SURVIVE hazardous environments! Radiation and lava aren't exactly kind of electronics, if you get my drift.

Linkara (v/o): There's a lot more comics to go through, so let's sum up the rest of this one: the Neo-Luddites show up to try to kill Sperzel, but fortunately, Spider-Man and the Thing show up to knock them around. The Luddites gain control of the remote-controlled craft, but Venom also arrives to stop them, too. Spidey takes his chance to strike a nerve at Venom, asking him if the Symbiote is insane and controlling his actions. Venom hesitates and in the confusion leaves, allowing Spidey and the Thing the chance to stop the Luddites completely. Afterwards, Eddie tells the Symbiote to leave him completely so he can make a decision about what he wants. And then we get really silly. The Symbiote slinks off into the night and we get narration about it.

Narrator: Now more than ever it is alien, truly alone. Rejected by all it's cared for, by those it had sought only to serve-- it pulls sorrow from its core, a hurt that embodies all that is lonely and forlorn-- and pours that pain into a silent shriek, a psychic wail that reaches to the very stars above!

(Smiling, Linkara raises his finger in the air, and a snippet of Simple Plan's "Untitled" plays)

Singer: How could this happen to me / I made my mistakes...

Linkara (v/o): Yes, that's right, the Symbiote feels sad, so it's screaming. And apparently, it's a psychic scream that affects people all over the city, making people feel melancholy and angsty. However, the other thing that the Cry of the Emo does is summon an alien vessel that teleports into a forest, revealing Symbiote-like faces in the dark, ending part 1. All in all, though, part 1 wasn't too bad; an ominous ending, with some silliness. The Neo-Luddites were stupid, but they were just a means to an end of getting the story along.

(Cut to a shot of a side comic, featuring someone named Ollie Osnick, AKA Steel Spider)

Linkara (v/o): Now, the individual issues of the Super Specials also contained other stories, but since they're unrelated to "Planet of the Symbiotes", we're gonna skip them.

(The next story begins)

Linkara (v/o): Next up is "Adjectiveless Spider-Man Super Special #1". We open on Long Island, where there's a sign for a "Science Expo". I love how in fictional stories, science is just that generalized a thing that one can have a convention around it without going into a specific field.

(Cut to a clip of The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra)

Dr. Paul Armstrong (Larry Blamire): Seriously, Betty, you know what this meteor could mean to science. It could mean actual advances in the field of science.

(Back to the comic again)

Linkara (v/o): A guy who looks... not unlike 90s Kid comes walking in as if he's possessed, which in fact he is, as a Symbiote flows out of him and murders a security guard. We then cut to Manhattan, where a poorly-drawn Peter Parker is playing with Reed Richards' Sonic Gun, a weapon he's used before against the Symbiotes, particularly in "Maximum Carnage". Mary Jane's lopsided face asks Peter why he has to go look for Venom.

Peter: We've been over this a thousand times! I brought Venom's alien Symbiote to Earth! What it does, I'm partly responsible for! And--Hey! Could you stop posing? I'm serious here!

Linkara: (as Mary Jane, posing like her) I can't, I'm a woman in a comic book. I'm always posing!

Linkara (v/o): Peter provides exposition that, since the last issue, there have been several high-tech thefts that, based on reports, sounds like they were done by Venom. Mary Jane proceeds to act like an idiot.

Mary Jane: (holding up the Spider-Man outfit) Well, if you have to go, better put this on. Don't want to see my husband on the noon news in his jammies!

Linkara (v/o): Yyyyeah, you start to realize a little why some people wanted these two divorced or split up if you're writing her as if she's a moron. Peter might want his Spider-Man costume? No kidding! At a nearby hospital, we see that Cletus Kasady is in a coma, thanks to events in another miniseries, and we saw the same thing very briefly in the previous issue. The doctor hits a panic alarm because he's convinced he saw Kasady move, but the guards don't take him seriously, believing he's still in a coma. I certainly believe him, though. In the previous issue, he was in a coma with his eyes closed. But in this one, his eyes are open!

(Cut to Linkara with Phelous)

Phelous: Great continuity! (gives a thumbs-up)

(Cut back to the comic)

Linkara (v/o): At one of the tech crime scenes, the Scarlet Spider shows up next to Spider-Man, saying he decided to look into the technology thefts, too. And it seems everybody's coming out tonight to look into it, since across the poorly-drawn room is a human-sized ventilation system that's kicked open by Eddie Brock. Eddie has also cut off his mullet since the previous issue and shaved it into some kind of flat, point hairdo. Eddie says he doesn't want the Symbiote doing any damage, so he came to look into it. Spidey decides to give him the Sonic gun, because sometimes Peter is kind of stupid like that. Even the Scarlet Spider calls him aside to tell him what a moron idea that is, though Peter does have a somewhat good explanation: that the sonic beam isn't dangerous to humans and that the gesture might help gain Eddie's trust to keep him from rebonding with the Symbiote.

Linkara: And on the other hand, he might hesitate or decide to destroy the weapon if he feels a compulsion to rejoin the Symbiote, and you lose your best weapon against it!

Linkara (v/o): The Scarlet Spider suddenly exclaims that they've got to get to Manhattan before the Symbiote steals the "Clystron Wave Modulator", that super-special energy device from the first part. He says he just has a hunch about it, and fortunately, this is not bad writing, just clumsy foreshadowing. They head to the lab and see the Symbiote carrying around tech. Using the Sonic Gun, they repel the Symbiote from its host, who begs them for help. After the battle, Eddie's eyebrows grow three times their normal size and he points that his Symbiote would never join an unwilling host, meaning something's wrong. The Symbiote got away with the Wave Modulator, and Scarlet Spider has another hunch that they should head north.

Spider-Man: (thinking) Ben's a clone! Could he be forming a new power, something psychic? And if so, could it be... dangerous?

Linkara: (as Spider-Man) His ability to see what happens later on in this script could be CATASTROPHIC! THE WHOLE CITY COULD GO UP IN FLAMES!!

Linkara (v/o): We have a brief interlude of Mary Jane worrying about Peter. One of the issues writers and fans had with the marriage of Mary Jane and Peter Parker is that a lot of the time, the writers just kept writing the same scene with her: worried and mopey about Peter's safety. As such, it felt like she had no purpose to the story. I would argue that the writers were lazy and didn't try to find something more useful to do with her, like they would any supporting cast member. Also, a suggestion from a story perspective: if you think her scenes are pointless, THEN JUST STOP CUTTING BACK TO HER! If you're just gonna keep showing her worried, it is pointless to the story! Just keep the flow going and don't interrupt the plot to remind us she exists. It's not like we ever cut to J. Jonah Jameson in this story, reminding us that he hates Spider-Man. Anyway, the three arrive in the North Woods and discover a group of Symbiotes working on some kind of giant device, installing the Wave Modulator into it to boost its power. And then Eddie Brock has a seizure.

Linkara: (as Eddie, imitating his seizure expression) Could you tell me what emotion I'm conveying with this face?

Linkara (v/o): They realize that the Symbiotes responsible for the tech thefts wasn't the Venom Symbiote, making them wonder where it is. Oh, and naturally, they have no shock or horror about seeing a dozen or so Symbiotes doing this. Now, if I were there, I'd maybe be terrified to see all these things, considering what we know of the Symbiotes, but no, this is just another day in the park for them. A fight ensues, and this really gets to the core of why this comic fails. The idea of hundreds, maybe even thousands of Symbiotes being let loose on the city is a pretty horrifying thought. Think John Carpenter's The Thing meets The PuppetMasters; alien shapeshifting organisms that consume you and use your body to do what they want. This isn't a horror story, it's action schlock at best. The Symbiotes aren't any different than goons with some special powers. They all have the same goofy grin as Venom, but lack the menace that made Venom so terrifying: namely, his knowledge of Spider-Man. So they're not a direct nemesis with wisdom about how to hurt the hero. They're not being used as a secret invasion that can instill paranoia by creatures that are virtually undetectable. They're just... there! Oh, and it turns out that the Venom Symbiote was disguised as the Scarlet Spider's hoodie, partially bonding with him without his knowledge, and that's why he kept having those hunches. Kind of a letdown of a reveal that also means that Spidey's line from earlier about the "dangerous new powers" of the Scarlet Spider was completely pointless. Good move, writers. Long story short, the device gets activated, and the three are teleported away, ending part two.

(Cut to a closeup of the cover of the third story)

Linkara (v/o): We continue in the "Venom Super Special #1".

(The comic opens to the first page)

Narrator: An endless instant ago...

Linkara: (exasperatedly holding up hand) Stop! "An endless instant"?! (massages his forehead and shakes his head at how stupid that sounds) Okay, go ahead.

Linkara (v/o): Anyway, they're teleported to the titular Planet of the Symbiotes, which looks a lot better, since it's not being drawn by someone who can't draw faces. They can't draw other things, but still... The Symbiotes now resemble H.R. Geiger's Aliens, which I'm sure was intentional. The Symbiotes swarm them, and they tell Eddie to use the Sonic Gun, but he's paralyzed with fear. However, he snapped out of it pretty quickly and starts repelling the attackers. By the way, with the green shirt and short hair and huge gun, Eddie Brock now resembles the Doom Marine. (as Eddie Brock acting as the Doom Marine) Rip and tear! Rip and tear your guts! Oh, crap, you things don't have guts! That can't be good! (normal) We get some instances of bad '90s artwork here, like Eddie's impossible spine, but let's move on. The Symbiotes back off, which, according to Spidey, is because they're probably not used to resistance or pain. That, is extremely stupid and lazy. But anyway, they hijack a floating car and fly off, looking for a place to gather their thoughts and figure out a plan. After another pointless cut back to the truly psychotic Mary Jane, we see that Spider-Man and his amazing friends have found refuge in a spot that doesn't resemble parts of the female anatomy whatsoever. They try to get information from the Symbiote, but it refuses to bond to the Scarlet Spider.

Scarlet Spider: Nuts, I was afraid of this. Eddie-- you're going to have to become Venom!

Linkara: (sarcastically) Another brilliant idea from our fearless hero: you finally get Venom to reject the Symbiote, so now, just let it bond with him again! Nothing could go wrong with that plan! (gives a thumbs-up)

Linkara (v/o): Hey, here's a dumb idea, Petey: why don't you bond with it? You were its first host after all, and in previous comics, it has shown a desire to return to you. No, no, just let Eddie have at it again. You're the king of good ideas, Pete! Anyway, it becomes Venom again, and after doing some bodybuilding poses, it explains its backstory. The Symbiotes are a race of conquerors that are addicted to the strong emotions of host creatures, particularly adrenaline rushes. The Venom Symbiote wanted to more permanently join with a host instead, to belong rather than dominate, and as a result, was considered an outcast in Symbiote society.

Linkara: Aww, the Symbiote just wanted to be loved! That's why it hijacked Peter Parker's body and used it without his permission to go web-swinging around while he slept and then tried to force itself on him when Peter rejected it and constantly tries to make people commit violent acts! (smiles and nods, then shrugs with a look of disgust on his face)

Linkara (v/o): The Symbiote was imprisoned, to later be vaporized, but that prison was then transported to Battleworld during the Secret Wars, where it then joined with Peter. It latched onto Ben Reilly because of his similarity to Peter, and it saved them by dragging them into the teleporter, which they happily refer to as a Stargate, and it's probably no coincidence that this book came out a year after the original movie. They build the Stargates, because they completely use up their hosts and leave them desiccated corpses. They usually send out scout ships to find new planets to invade, and when they heard the Venom's emo cry, it homed them in on Earth. However, they're too far away for radio contact, so stole local technology to build the Stargate.

Linkara: Yes, the Symbiotes are so advanced that they have interstellar travel and warp-gate technology... but their telephone technology is still lagging far, far behind. Or maybe they just didn't want to use up their minutes if it turned out to be a wild goose chase. (shrugs) I don't know.

Linkara (v/o): Back on Earth, even though less than a day has passed, Cletus Kasady has been transported to a high-security government installation. There, they hook him up to machines that will allow him to talk through brainwaves, because... uh, science? I don't know why the hell they'd want to talk to a deranged psychopath in a coma, but whatever. Back on Planet Symbiote, or rather, Planet Parasite, given what we know about them, they decide the Stargate is their best chance of getting back to Earth, and then they can use technobabble to destroy the Stargate on the planet so they can't go through.

Linkara: (confused) Aaaand... what stops the Symbiotes from building another one? They were able to MacGyver one up on Earth using tech there, so I imagine the alien planet's got to have better stuff than us.

Linkara (v/o): Eddie's trusting the Symbiote again, so yeah, good call there, Pete. After some padding, they arrive back at the unguarded Stargate because the Symbiotes are evidently morons that sent everybody out looking for them. One of them has to stay behind to destroy the gate, and at first, the Scarlet Spider elects to do so because he's just a clone, but that's rejected because he's suddenly colored black by mistake. No, actually, Venom decides to stay, since the gate is Symbiote technology. Spidey says he doesn't like it, but just goes ahead with it, because this entire story could actually be retitled "Spider-Man Is a Dick To Venom". However, it turns out that it was the three of them who are morons and not the Symbiotes, who are all lying in wait, using their camouflage abilities. After a fight scene, they go through the gate, but their technobabble failed, and Symbiotes all come charging through.

(Cut to a shot of the cover of the fourth story)

Linkara (v/o): Part 4 is in "Spectacular Spider-Man Super Special Awesome #1", whose cover I'll comment on briefly. It shows the population of New York in Symbiote form, but they're all different colors, which is one thing that irritates me about this book. Admittedly, there's no reason to believe that the Symbiotes aren't all supposed to be black, but it just makes for a visually uninteresting villain force if they're all just black goo with vaguely Venon-esque faces.

(Cut to a shot of the cover of a Venom comic: "Separation Anxiety")

Linkara (v/o): The Venom spawn Symbiotes may not have been the most interesting characters, but at least they visually looked different from one another to give us something nice to look at other than...

(Cut to the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang watching Terror From the Year 5000)

Crow: Glorious black and... slightly less black.

(Cut back to the comic)

Linkara (v/o): The situation on Earth has deteriorated rapidly as the Symbiotes have already begun spreading across the globe. A news report exposits about heroes like Black Bolt and the Human Torch that have had success in fending off Symbiotes, while others, like Captain America, had less luck.

Linkara: (as Captain America, holding up his shield) Damn, if only these Symbiotes were asthma-based, then I could easily defeat them!

Linkara (v/o): Yet another scene of Mary Jane worrying, and then cut to Spidey being chased by people possessed by Symbiotes... all of whom naturally still have their hair and clothes, because, you know, there's nothing more frightening than a Symbiote wearing plaid or a Symbiote with a mullet. And hey, that's what people look like when covered by a Symbiote, right? I mean, just look at Venom here! He's actually nude and bald under that thing! Anyway, the three escape the Symbiotes and try to figure out where to get some weapons to fight off the invaders. At the installation housing Carnage, a Symbiote takes over one of the guards, promising him to let him run the installation when the Symbiotes are in charge. Oh, and naturally, this guy's mustache remains, despite the costume enveloping him. Man, just imagine how much scarier Venom would be if he grew a big, bushy mustache. It then stabs Carnage, who's out of his coma or something, whatever, but Carnage's Symbiote actually mutated his blood previously so that spilling it allows him to become what he is. However, it does even more than that, since he absorbs the other Symbiote into his own. Spider-Man, Scarlet Spider and Venom head to a local mall to pick up weapons, because, you know, flamethrowers are usually widely available in shopping malls. Venom goes off to monologue to himself about how this is all his fault for sending away his Symbiote and its cry summoned the Symbiotes here.

Venom: I was worried that the violence we generate as Venom was more your influence than my choice! And your race is obviously a savage one! On the other hand, violence seems to be the only way to stop the horrors being suffered by so many innocents! And in that light... can it truly be wrong?

Linkara: Is it wrong to use violence to stop the evil, sadistic, inhuman goo that wishes to enslave us and then use us up like a dirty towel? (points to camera while speaking in a deep voice) THESE ARE DEEP QUESTIONS.

Linkara (v/o): Seriously, was that your big introspective moment? "Maximum Carnage" asked whether killing is truly the only solution to murderers like Cletus Kasady. That's actually a philosophical debate. Asking whether it's wrong to use violence to stop an invading alien force is just... dumb! Peter heads to a Radio Shack to try to use a cell phone to call Mary Jane, but the battery's dead.

Linkara: How much do you want to bet this whole thing was just meant as a cell phone ad? (announcer voice) Sprint battery dead while alien Symbiotes try to take over the world? Try Verizon!

Linkara (v/o): Another pointless Mary Jane scene, and we're off to the Scarlet Spider. The Symbiotes are conquering the world, so what does he do? He goes to a clothing store to get a new hoodie, because he feels naked without his whole costume, he says, and uses a sharpie to draw a perfect new spider on it. I see now why people didn't want him to turn out to be the real Spidey. Anyway, after the ten, twenty minutes he spends on something so important as a new logo, he goes to another store to grab propane torches and heads back to meet the others, who didn't get any weapons themselves.

Linkara: It's amazing that despite the fact that the Scarlet Spider wasted more time than any of the three, he was still the most successful.

Linkara (v/o): The Symbiotes arrive at the mall and attack. Spidey hits on the idea to turn the mall sound system into a weapon, turning on "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head", then putting a microphone up at the speaker to cause feedback. The Symbiotes are repelled, and they withdraw to figure out a new plan. Their idea: they'll turn the Stargate on reverse, then use Venom's emo cry again, amplified, and cause the Symbiotes pain so they'll want to leave.

(Cut to a clip of an episode of Spider-Man: The Animated Series)

Spider-Man: This is starting to sound like a bad comic book plot!

(Back to the comic again)

Linkara (v/o): This is an amazingly lazy and dumb plan! One, how did they know that the emo cry was causing normal people angst? Two, why would a cry for help cause other Symbiotes enough pain to want to retreat? Three, it'd just be easier for them to kill Venom, something even the Scarlet Spider points out, than to force a massive retreat for millions back through one tiny little gate. But whatever, let's speed this along towards its dumb conclusion. They head back to the Stargate, and like a video game, the two need to keep the Symbiotes off of Venom while he works. However, it turns out to all be for nothing, as the Stargate on the other side has been deactivated, meaning the entire Symbiote invasion force is on Earth, and there's no way to send them back. However, the issue ends with the arrival of Carnage, who has been snacking on so many Symbiotes that he has become a giant.

(Cut to a closeup of the cover for the fifth and final installment in the series)

Linkara (v/o): "Planet of the Symbiotes" concludes in "Web-Up Spider-Man Super Special Extreme Maxi-Ultra Supreme Awesome Bodacious Special #1". After seeing Carnage absorb the Symbiotes, our heroes make a run for it and head back to Mary Jane, who's listening to the radio broadcast asking if anybody is out there, as the streets are still engaged in heavy fighting. Also, she's not wearing any pants, because an alien invasion is the best time to be skimpy. Then again, maybe she was just in the middle of changing clothes, since she's changed her outfit about four times over the course of one, maybe two days. The three arrive at the apartment, and Mary Jane puts on some pants and a Hootie and the Blowfish shirt.

Linkara: Appropriate, since the Symbiotes and humanity come from two different worlds, and the Symbiotes (points to screen) only want to be with you.

Linkara (v/o): They've come back to take a break and regroup, and we see Venom and the Scarlet Spider on the couch, drinking beer.

Linkara: Yeah, the truth of the matter is that TiVo hadn't been invented yet, and they didn't want to miss the Super Bowl.

Linkara (v/o): Eddie's sporting another hairstyle and hair color, now orange instead of blond, and nearly shaven off instead off the pointy thing. Ah, consistent artwork in a multi-part story; who needs it? Venom thinks the emo cry plan can still work if they amplify the psychic agony that brought them there and give the Symbiotes an empathic overload, forcing them into protective comas.

Scarlet Spider: He's nuts, but he could be right!

Linkara: Or he could be incredibly stupid! Is this seriously what happens to Symbiotes when they get sad? They make all the other Symbiotes feel worse?

(Cut to footage of Barry Manilow's "Can't Smile Without You")

Manilow: (singing) I feel sad when your sad / I feel glad when you're glad...

(Cut back to the comic)

Linkara (v/o): They go to the Our Lady of Sorrows Church, where Eddie first became Venom, since he'll be the most focused there. Carnage shows up to attack Venom, since he realized that the Symbiotes were causing chaos, and, well, that's Carnage's thing. The Spider-Men lead him away while Venom begins the biggest karaoke of "Crawling In My Skin" ever felt on Planet Earth. The Spider-Men manage to hurt Venom [sic]...

(Editor's note: "Carnage, I misspoke")

Linkara (v/o): ...but are overwhelmed by a sea of Symbiotes. The psychic cry isn't strong enough, but Eddie realizes that they can be amplified if he merges completely with the Venom Symbiote. It's actually a pretty horrific image, so kudos there. Kind of ruined, though, by the pretentious narration talking about how they're "together now forever," and "they're one being," and blah, blah, blah. The Symbiotes feel the shriek and coalesce into a single being, feeling unimaginable despair and horror until they disintegrate. Peter and Ben go back to the church and scold Venom, since he told them they'd just be put into comas. Venom explains that the only way the Symbiotes would truly die is by choice. Thus, he forced them into committing mass suicide.

Linkara: (feeling uncomfortable) I've gotta say... that's actually pretty clever. I'm serious, that's actually a great way to end a threat on that level! Mind you, it's completely ruined by the fact that they did it by making Venom feel really, really sad, and then yelling really loud. That's... where it just doesn't work.

Linkara (v/o): Venom escapes and Carnage is recaptured off-panel, and Peter is kind of glum about the whole genocide thing, but Mary Jane tells him that sometimes, the end do justify the means, which Peter agrees with, completely disregarding the conclusion made by "Maximum Carnage", but whatever, who cares? Happy ending, even for Venom. He's happy that he's rediscovered his goal of protecting innocents.

Venom: And for that reason, we are...and will forever remain... VENOM!

Linkara: Until later on, when he decides to get rid of the Symbiote, despite him being permanently joined with him, thus letting Scorpion become Venom, and Eddie Brock becomes the stupidly-named "Anti-Venom". (snaps comic shut and holds it up) These comics suck.

Linkara (v/o): There are good ideas here, I won't deny that. However, the artwork is all over the place, sometimes decent and other times completely goofy or exemplifying the worst of the '90s. The Symbiotes themselves are boring adversaries in this: visual uninteresting and not as scary as something like this should be. This should be horrifying, a comic filled with tension and dread by the overwhelming nature of the crisis, but it barely phases our heroes. There are a bunch of plot holes, and the idea that Venon feeling anguish is enough to kill off an entire race of beings whose goal is to feel emotions is just dumb.

Linkara: Marvel tried this idea of a Symbiote invasion a few years ago with equally disappointing results. The idea is good, but it needs to be put in better hands. In the meantime, though–

(Suddenly, Linkara is cut off by an alarm going off)

Nimue: Warning: Intruder is present in the living room.

(Linkara looks around, terrified, then runs out into the living room, where Iron Liz stands, BFG at the ready. The buzzing sound is heard and she aims her gun at it)

Linkara: (coming in) Where's he coming from?!

Iron Liz: All around us!

90s Kid: (looking around, scared) Dude, the chain gun is jammed! I can't get it to work!

(Linkara turns on his scanner and waves it around the room)

Linkara: You're right, I can't get a fix on the particle trace! It's all around us!

(Liz looks over her shoulder to spot static appearing in the room)

Linkara: Dammit, why can't I get a fix on this thing? There's no reason why it shouldn't be able to! All right, let me try and re-calibrate this. We cannot let our guards down for a second! We don't know what this is capable of!

(Liz walks toward the static while Linkara continues to tinker with his scanner)

Linkara: I don't even know where this is supposed to be–

(He stops, suddenly, as he notices that Liz is gone and the room full of static)

Linkara: (terrified) LIZ!!

(He runs toward static, only to be knocked backward by it. Creepy laughter is heard)

90s Kid: Dude, are you okay?!

Linkara: (gasping for breath) This... This is too big for me. I can't do this alone. I need reinforcements. (turns on his wrist communicator and speaks into it) Joe? Joe, can you hear me? I need reinforcements. (no answer; he becomes panicked) Joe! Joe, can you hear me?!

(A montage of cuts occurs, as Linkara tries calling up various other Channel Awesome creators for help on his communicator, not knowing they have all gone)

Linkara: Apollo Z. Hack, are you there? (cut) JewWario? (cut) MarzGurl! (cut) Lupa! (cut; really panicked now) I'd settle for Dr. Insano! I NEED HELP!!

(Cut to a shot of the Earth, which has gone quite dark)

Linkara (v/o): (voice echoing) ISN'T THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE?!?!

(With no answer, Linkara stands there, utterly horrified that he and 90s Kid are completely alone. He shuts off the communicator)

Linkara: We're the only two left. We're the only two people left in the entire world.

90s Kid: Whoa. Heavy.

Linkara: Yeah, heavy. (suddenly, a thought comes to him) Heavy...

90s Kid: Yeah, dude! Major heavy load here, man!

Linkara: Heavy... "Heavy" is a poem...

90s Kid: I mean, dude, either one of us could be next, man!

Linkara: (trying to make sense of what's going on) Beneath the seas, besides the flame...

90s Kid: There was so much I wanted to do with my life, like play a CD 32x game!

Linkara: He called me... He called me and he distracted me...

90s Kid: Dude, I may never have a chance to meet Rob Liefeld.

(Linkara looks up, realizing what's going on)

Linkara: I'm a fool...

90s Kid: I know, dude. I mean, how could you not like Rob Liefeld? I mean–

Linkara: (turning sharply to 90s Kid, angrily) SHUT! UP!! (90s Kid recoils, startled, as Linkara speaks in an accusatory tone) I should've seen it before. I'm a complete fool! (takes out his magic gun and aims it at 90s Kid) It was you!

90s Kid: Dude, what are you talking about?

Linkara: I didn't want to believe it. After all, you're an idiot! But then, that's why you're the perfect cover. No one would suspect the innocently moronic 90s Kid, would they?

90s Kid: Uh, dude, you're not being radical right now.

Linkara: I should've suspected months ago.

(We flash back to a clip of Linkara's video of the "KISS Comics", showing 90s Kid there)

Linkara (v/o): Not even 90s Kid is creepy enough to suggest propping up Kurt Cobain's body on stage!

Linkara: (in flashback) There is something seriously wrong with you!

(Cut back to the present day)

90s Kid: But... But I...

Linkara: I didn't see it until now.

(Flash back to footage of further past episodes of Linkara's show...)

Linkara (v/o): You were the one who called and distracted me when the Ninja-Style Dancer returned with a warning. You were the only other person here when Harvey disappeared. Pollo vanished after we were all in a room together.

Linkara: And the only other person still left on this planet is YOU! Why, of all people, OF ALL CREATURES ON THIS PLANET, would YOU be the only other person still here?!

(All the time Linkara has been talking, 90s Kid stares, his face twitching and his expression slowly turning into a frown)

Linkara: But then again, you're not really 90s Kid, are you? You've been using his image this whole time, (90s Kid glares) hiding in plain sight from Lord Vyce. And I think I even know what you are. The clues were all there. Its voice is not its own. You have no voice or image of your own; you need to use others'. Your mere presence has been causing little glitches and errors all over the place, particularly in the credits of my videos. The poem... (smiles briefly) The poem gave away the whole story, but I didn't THINK about it correctly! There are so many ways of bringing you about, and you have so many names. (90s Kid scowls, hyperventilating, then smiles evilly) But in the end, it really all comes back down to the one thing to call you. A piece of the world is missing! IT DOESN'T MEAN IT'S GONE! IT'S YOUR NAME!!

90s Kid: This game has been very amusing...

(Suddenly, as he speaks, his voice turns electronic, just like the buzzing heard throughout the videos as of late. He reaches up to take off his sunglasses)

90s Kid: ...but I think it's time for it to end.

(He removes his sunglasses, revealing his eyes closed. He opens his eyes, revealing that they are glitching)

90s Kid: (buzzing voice) Huuuuuuummmmmmaaaaaaannnn...

Linkara: (alarmed whisper) Missing Number!