Venom: Tooth & Claw #1

Issue Date: 
December 1996
Story Title: 
Into the Jaws of Death

Larry Hama (script), Joe St. Pierre (pencils), Al Milgrom (inks), Tom Smith (coloring), Ken Lopez (lettering), Tom Brevoort (editor), Bob Harras (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

In lower Manhattan, Eddie Brock is possessed by the creature Dirt Nap. Over in a nearby subway station, two young boys are trapped in a flying orb along with Donna Diego (Scream). They soon discover that the orb is actually a spaceship used to hunt symbiotes and that its target is Venom. On the orders of Chimera, the disguised Dirt Nap heads to the offices of Landau Luckman & Lake, where he finds Logan sitting in the waiting room. Sniffing the air, Logan recognizes the man in front of him but can’t place it. At that moment, a young boy, an agent of LL&L named Emmett, arrives. After scanning the stranger, Logan and Emmett see that it’s Venom trapped in Dirt Nap. Eventually, Venom is able to escape. Logan knows that he can’t kill Dirt Nap because he still possesses the young boy he absorbed a while ago, but Venom has no such concerns. Just then, the orb arrives and smacks Venom in the head. In all the commotion, Dirt Nap transforms back into a rat and escapes through a nearby warp chamber with Venom and the orb following after. Learning that Chimera is messing with the chambers, Logan changes into his yellow and blue costume and he and Emmett give chase on a motorcycle.

Full Summary: 

In lower Manhattan, a large man walks down the street. From an alley, a voice calls out to the big dude, telling him he looks like he’s got smarts. He bets he knows a good deal when he sees one. Turning towards the voice in the alleyway, the man asks them if they are talking to him and that they want them to come into the alley. Perched on top of a dumpster, a rat tells him “duuuuh, can’t do business out on the street.” When the man mentions that he’s a rat, the rat with the yellow smiley face on his back replies that his powers of observation are, like, too astute for words. They call him Dirt Nap.

Dirt Nap then proceeds to ask the big man if he’s got a name. The man informs him that his name is Eddie. Eddie Brock. Brock then asks Dirt Nap what kind of deal a talking rat can cut him. Dirt Nap tells him that it’s like this – he gets in on his action, he gets to be his silent partner, real silent and real inside. With that, Dirt Nap increases immensely in size and begins to devour Brock. As he does, Brock transforms into Venom and tells the rat that he chose the wrong fall guy this time. He can do the morphing trick too and he thinks he’s going to find that Venom is a nasty pill to swallow. Dirt Nap calls Venom a slobberin’ mouth breather and proceeds to tell him that he’s downed tougher cookies than he. And what he eats, he absorbs.

With that, Dirt Nap devours Venom and Brock is immediately possessed by Dirt Nap, complete with red eyes and a yellow smiley face on his shirt. Making his way out of the alley, Dirt Nap remarks that was a bit on the tough and spicy side. But it sure did have a heap o’ mass and a wild combination o’ tasty genes. Lucky for him, he still has some time to kill before his appointment. He can stroll leisurely over there and walk some of this off.

Further downtown, two young boys are riding their skateboards down the street. One of the kids tells his friend, Jerry, that they should go subterranean. Jerry tells his buddy, Rocky, he’s down. Making their way into the subway station, Jerry asks Rocky if this is the station where all that weird action went down with Venom and that monster and Rad Eddie. Rocky replies yeah, totally awesome stuff. Skateboarding across the wall, Rocky tells Jerry to watch him go vert…

At that moment, he reaches a door with a sign that says keep out and he falls inside. Rushing to see if his friend is alright, Jerry finds Rocky inside a utility store-room and that he has trashed it. Holding his head, Rocky replies that he almost trashed his head too. Jerry then tells Rocky that they should try to clean up the room and book out before they get read the riot act. Rocky agrees and as he begins to clean up the room, he finds a device that looks like a football from the fifth dimension. Finding a switch on it, Rocky pushes it. When he does, the device expands and a hatch opens up. In awe, Rocky and Jerry thinks what is happening waaaay cool.

Nearby, Donna Diego (Scream) runs through the subway system. As she does, she states that the Phage’s lair must be down there somewhere. That symbiote-eating alien had to have a ship to travel there from another galaxy and she’s betting he was on his way back to it with her and Venom when the table where turned on him. The Phage was just too efficient at hunting down symbiotes like her and Venom. It must have had some means of finding them, a tracking device. If she can locate it intact, she’ll be able to hunt down other symbiotes, the leftovers who are still hiding out after the symbiote invasion.

Continuing her way through the subway station, Donna recognizes that the scent of the Phage is strong there. Entering the utility closet, Donna finds the same metal device that the boys had found earlier.

Reading a piece of paper, Dirt Nap (in the form of Eddie Brock) reads the address of 387 Park Avenue and mentions that this is where she told him to meet her. Look presentable she said. Huh, this is about as presentable as she’s gonna get. Entering the building and making his way onto the elevator, “Brock” thinks to himself that something’s not digesting down there. Inside the elevator, as the other riders discuss their recent lunch, Dirt Nap holds his stomach and realizes that Brock hasn’t been absorbed at all and that he’s as indigestible as that other one – Wolverine.

Exiting the elevator, Dirt Nap finds himself in front of the offices of Landau Luckman & Lake. Before he enters the office, he knows that he has to get in control; he can’t let any absorbee get the better of him. Realizing this is the place all right, Dirt Nap states that if this Chimera broad is as bad as she seems, she oughtta be able to…

Entering the office, Dirt Nap is shocked to find Wolverine inside and wonders what he is doing there. He knows that he has to chill out. He can’t let him recognize him like this. He just has to brazen it out is all.

Upon seeing the spaceship, Donna mentions that it’s so small. The Phage traveled across the galaxy in a vehicle about the size of a Chevy Lumina. Entering the ship she notices that the inside is ten times as big. It must utilize a topological anomaly to bend and fold space in on itself. After hearing some voices say “whoa, check out this screen,” Donna discovers that there’s somebody else in there. Entering another room of the ship, Donna finds Jerry and Rocky looking at a screen that has a large image of Venom on it with crosshairs on his face. Jerry then tells Rocky to come take a look at all the controls lit up. Rushing towards them, Donna yells at them not to touch any switches.

Just as Rocky yells out that they’re busted, Jerry pushes the button. When he does, the whole ship begins to cave in. Donna recognizes that it’s collapsing, folding in on itself. Rocky then calls Jerry a dimwit, he set them up to get bent, folded and mutilated. Donna tells them no. They are within the field of the topological anomaly. Their bodies are simply being compressed along with the spaceship. Jerry says that’s a relief and asks where they are going. Donna says they activated the tracker, and the designated target is Venom. With that, the small orb speeds out of the utility closet.

In the waiting room at Landau Luckman & Lake, Dirt Nap (in the body of Eddie Brock) reads a Highlights magazine while Logan sits across from him reading an issue of Time magazine. While they do, Dirt Nap thinks to himself that he, Logan, is staring at him. No prob; he’s never seen this husk before. He then wonders what he is saying. He saw what he did to all the Dark Riders in the citadel. He ground them into puppy chow. He’s the whole reason he’s bookin’ outta this plane of reality. Getting nervous, Dirt Nap wonders where that crazy sock-puppet broad is. Sniffing the air, Logan asks the man sitting across from him if he knows him. Smiling nervously, Dirt Nap asks if he’s talkin’ to him.

As the orb makes its way out of the subway station and onto the street, Donna mentions that the Phage must have used the ship in this mode to track down symbiotes. It’s small and fast enough not to be noticed. When Jerry asks how they know this thing isn’t headed out into space, Rocky replies because he can see where they’re going. And that’s up Park Avenue South against the traffic at two hundred miles an hour.

Back at LL&L, Logan stands up from his seat and tells the man across from him that he is talkin’ to him. He has a real familiar stench. In fact, he’s got two familiar scents. Dirt Nap tells him not to get personal. Just then, a young man enters the office through a portal wearing armor and carrying a number of high powered weapons. The young man, Emmett tells Logan ‘cheese Louis, they got them a moiderous furball goin’ down over to section five. Da Expediter sez she’s sort o’ tied up if he catches his drift. She’s gonna be a little late fer his appointment. He then asks who his buddy is; Marlon Frankenstein? Logan tells him that he ain’t no buddy of his.

Turning his attention to Brock, he tells him that he ain’t got no appointment wid da Expediter. Putting a scanner to him, Emmett exclaims Judas Priest! Dis gazoonie’s got three central nervous systems and only one o’ dem is human. When Logan asks the stranger what his story is, Dirt Nap asks that he wants a story? A wino comes up to him on the street and he says “I haven’t had a bite all week. So I bit him.” With that, Dirt Nap opens his jaws.

Leaping into action, Logan states that he recognizes those bicuspids; this is a shape-shifter with the name o’ Dirt Nap. Popping his bone claws, he adds that he tried to put the chomp on him a while back but he disagreed with him. Emmett says that after he gives him a hot plasma gargle, he’s gonna think da tooth fairy been woikin’ overtime. As Dirt Nap begins to lurch forward, Logan tells Emmett to get back, he’s gonna regurgitate. After Emmett asks whuzzat, Logan tells him that he’s gonna hurl.

Just then, Venom begins to pull himself out of Dirt Nap’s mouth. While he does, he tells the mutant that he can’t digest him. His enzymes can’t break down his other’s symbiotic tissue. And what you can’t break down, you can’t absorb. Firing his weapon at Dirt Nap, Emmett remarks dat’s some ugly lunch he’s upchuckin’. Punching away at Dirt Nap, attempting to escape, Venom asks him didn’t his mother teach him not to speak with his mouth full?

Seeing Dirt Nap writhing all over the place, Emmett asks Logan if dis bozo is some kinda human boa constrictor or what. Logan informs him that Dirt Nap is a shape-shifter who can absorb genetic imprints and take on the appearance o’ whoever he eats. Slicing away at Dirt Nap, Logan remarks that he doesn’t know whose mug Dirt Nap is wearin’ right now but that big nasty lump in the barf is none other than a psycho-chicken name o’ Venom. Free from Dirt Nap’s clutches, Venom asks psycho-chicken? He has to take this from a hairy mutant with claws?

Grabbing Dirt Nap by the collar, preparing to deliver the killing blow, Logan tells Venom that he’ll deal with him after he turns out the lights on this dirt-bag. Before he does, Dirt Nap tells him time-out and reminds him that if he does him, the kid he just transformed into gets aced along with him. Seeing Dirt Nap’s face, Logan asks that he’s still got the genetic imprint o’ that kid he swallowed in Times Square? He can’t shut him down until he does everything he can to get that kid back.

Venom remarks that is gallant and commendable Muskrat, or whatever his name is but he is operating under no such restrictions. When Venom leaps at him, Logan tells him that the moniker is Wolverine and he has to get past him first…

At that moment, a stainless steel sphere enters the room and cracks Venom in the head. Giving chase to Dirt Nap, Venom exclaims that he’s escaping. Emmett remarks that he ain’t goin’ nowhere and shoots the orb. Logan informs Emmett to cease fire and asks if there is a W.C. on the other side o’ the door. Emmett asks warp chamber? He ain’t just whistlin’ Dixie. Whatever that was, it fried half the control panel. Tackling Dirt Nap, Venom says to him that he’ll eat his brains for knocking him down for hors d’oeuvres.

Inside the orb, Donna mentions their ship is still homing in on Venom. Jerry says turn it off but Donna tells him not to touch any controls. They don’t want it to warp out on them. When the ship cracks Venom in the head again, Dirt Nap transforms into a rat and leaps into the warp chamber, escaping. Giving chase, Venom follows Dirt Nap into the warp chamber. Programmed to do so, the orb follows Venom into the warp chamber as well.

Turning to Emmett, Logan asks him where this particular warp chamber leads to. Emmett tells him that it’s on da fritz. That’s why da Expediter was hung up. They’ve been havin’ some trouble wif dat gaslight frail again, messin’ up somethin’ fierce. Ain’t no tellin’ where or when dat ol’ warp chamber leads to now dat Chimera been noodlin’ wid it.

Changing into his yellow and blue costume, Logan tells Emmett that every time he steps through one of those warp chamber doors, he gets a six-pack o’ fire fight popped in his face. This time, he’s ridin’ through in style on his ol’ rat hog with his fightin’ togs on. Hopping on the motorcycle, Logan asks Emmett if he’s ready to kick butt and take names. Emmett tells him that he can punch his ticket “one way to throw down city.” With that, the duo make their way into the warp chamber after Dirt Nap, Venom, and the orb.

Characters Involved: 

Venom (Eddie Brock)

Scream (Donna Diego)

Dirt Nap

Wolverine (Logan)

Emmett (agent of Landau Luckman & Lake)

Two young boys – Jerry and Rocky

Various unnamed residents of Manhattan

Story Notes: 

Venom and Scream battled the Xenophage in the subway station in the Venom: The Hunted mini-series.

The Planet of the Symbiotes storyline was depicted in the 1995 Spider-Man family annuals. Specifically, Amazing Spider-Man Super Special, Spider-Man Super Special, Venom Super Special, Web of Spider-Man Super Special, and Spectacular Spider-Man Super Special.

Wolverine first met Dirt Nap and was possessed by him back in Wolverine (2nd series) #95.

A feral Wolverine killed the Dark Riders in the citadel back in Wolverine (2nd series) #100.

Issue Information: 
Written By: