Hulk

Marvel Once Merged Hulk, Venom & Ghost Rider Into One Bizarre Hero

Marvel Once Merged Hulk, Venom & Ghost Rider Into One Bizarre Hero
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Today, we look at how Hulk, Ghost Rider and Venom once combined to form one hellishly awesome superhero.

In “Our Lives Together,” I spotlight some of the most interesting examples of shared comic book universes. You know, crossovers that aren’t exactly crossovers.

This one is tricky because it is part of an outright crossover, but it is still one aspect of the crossover that I think stands out so much that I couldn’t help but give it a spotlight bit, and so I’m using “Our Lives Together” for it.

Last week, I did a Look Back about the 10th anniversary of The Circle of Four storyline, but since one of the coolest moments took place mostly in March, I thought it was worth just spotlighting that aspect of the comic separately.


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WHAT WAS THE CIRCLE OF FOUR?

As a brief recap, Venom #13 brought together a sort of twisted version of he New Fantastic Four (the short-lived version of the team that was made up of Spider-Man, Wolverine, Ghost Rider and Hulk when they thought that they needed to avenge the death of the original Fantastic Four) to Las Vegas. Flash Thompson had recently gone AWOL with his Venom symbiote and the Red Hulk (Thunderbolt Ross) decides to bring him back to the Army. Meanwhile, Laura Kinney (X-23, the clone of Wolverine) was in Vegas because some bad guy stole some of her blood and she wants it back (and revenge on him for stealing it). Johnny Blaze and Alejandra Jones (the new Ghost Rider and the former Ghost Rider) just happened to be in the area when they discovered that the bad guy that X-23 was in town to take down was actually the demon Blackheart and he has literally brought a piece of Hell to Las Vegas…



Johnny Blaze used all of his powers to hold the incursion from Hell at bay, but it involves him riding his bike basically in a centrifugal around the demonic stuff, as well as a powerful talisman holding it back, but he also calls Daimon Hellstrom to come help out.

Meanwhile, Alejandra, X-23 and Red Hulk and Venom (they had to stop their fighting when the demons came a-coming) all find themselves in front of Blackheart…


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HOW DID THE HEROES ALL COMBINE INTO THE MERGED VENOM/GHOST RIDER/HULK?

First, the heroes had to face off against demonic opposite versions of themselves (the dark X-23 had to fight against a perky cheerleader demon called X-666, for instance) and that took up a while, but even when the heroes seemingly defeated their opposites, Blackheart was able to trick/seduce/manipulate Alejandra into canceling out the talisman that Blaze had used to confine hell to just Las Vegas itself. So now hell was spilling out of Vegas and only Daimon Hellstrom and Doctor Strange could hold it back, which got even worse when Hellstrom decided to throw in with his “brother,” Blackheart and turn on Strange. So only Strange alone was holding back the tide. The talisman being destroyed also sent the four heroes into their own personal hells, where they were tormented by seemingly happy versions of their lives that had awful parts in them. Alejandra’s betrayal, though, also gave Blackheart control of the Spirit of Vengeance, which was not good.


The heroes split up in Venom #13.4 (by Rick Remender, Jeff Parker, Rob Williams, Lan Medina, Nelson DeCastro, Terry Pallot, Marte Gracia and Antonio Fabela), with X-23 going to convince Blaze that he had to actually use his powers to ride his bike the OTHER way (he was riding a circle around Vegas trying to keep Hell from expanding) and the other three heroes try to get the Spirit of Vengeance from Blackheart. When they got a hold of it, though, it was hard for Venom to not want the Spirit of Vengeance for itself…


Blackheart then sent Venom and Red Hulk flying and tried again to seduce Alejandra. She told him of their plan and he then threw her out a window…



But then he saw the result of the true plan (that they didn’t tell Alejandra, knowing she would betray them and also, you know, not be willing to go along with it) – the Venom symbiote had merged with the Red Hulk and they used the Spirit of Vengeance to become one awesome merged hero!


The conclusion was in Venom #14 (by Remender, Parker, Williams, Tony Moore and Val Staples).

There is something so awesome about Ghost Venom Hulk Rider saying “We Am Smash for Vengeance!”


The problem is that when the Venom Ghost Hulk Rider tried to use his “Penance Punch”…


is that the whole point of the Penance Stare is to show people all of the terrible things they’ve done, but Blackheart GAINS his power from being a terrible person!



Meanwhile, Alejandra is trying to get the Spirit of Vengeance back and is willing to screw the others over for it (she throws Flash out of a car that they are in when the dude has no legs). X-23 is trying to get Blaze to drive the opposite direction to hopefully bring hell back down (they don’t even know if that will work).

Hulk Ghost Venom Rider then discovered Blackheart’s antihesis (like the villains that he used against the heroes earlier) and while that’s going on, Blaze agrees to drive the opposite direction (after blowing up Blackheart’s demonic contraption that brought hell up in the first place). ..


It worked and Hulk Ghost Venom Rider gave the Spirit of Vengeance back to Alejandra and the symbiote to Flash…


The Avengers showed up and Red Hulk convinced them to forgive the AWOL Flash (this led to Flash joining secret avengers, also written by Remender at the time). However, Hellstrom noticed that the four heroes, who had been killed and resurrected in their trip to hell, were now all marked with demonic markings…ruh roh….


But that’s a story for another day!

Okay, folks, if you have a suggestion for another interesting piece of shared continuity, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

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