Forgotten Characters: Hybrid
Whatever happened to Hybrid?
I love symbiotes.
I love the concept of a living superhero costume. I love the visual of the ooze-like alien swarming over someone’s body. I like the viciousness they bring to battle. I just think they’re cool. And so too do a lot of comic book fans, otherwise why would Venom and Carnage become such huge characters in the 90s?
Speaking of the 90s, that’s when my favorite symbiote debuted: Hybrid!
But like most passing fads, the symbiotes’ popularity eventually died out. Sure Venom still gets first-class billing, but all of the other dozen or so symbiotes created at the height of their popularity have either been killed off or simply disappeared into the comic book ether. Hybrid faced such a fate after his debut in the 90s. But I’ve got good news for you Hybrid fans – he’s back! Sort of!
More after the jump!
Who is he?
To understand symbiotes and Hybrid, we should start at the beginning with Venom. Does everybody know Venom? He was one of the main villains in the movie Spider-Man 3. He typically shows up in all of the cartoons, including the one from the 90s and the more recent Spectacular Spider-Man. Venom is a pretty big deal. He debuted in the 80s, and actually has a fairly complicated origin. To put it simply, Spider-Man was once possessed by an evil alien symbiote, which sought to bond with him both mentally and physically. The alien itself was a sentient black ooze, and it spread over Spidey’s body and turned into his now classic black costume.
Eventually Spidey freed himself from the alien, and it instead bonded with disgraced reporter Eddie Brock. Both Eddie and the symbiote were mad at Spider-Man was different reasons, so they teamed up and become the murderous, monstrous Venom!
Unlike most villains, Venom knew all of Spider-Man’s secrets because the alien knew them. So Venom terrorized Peter Parker’s wife Mary Jane, his Aunt May and basically made Peter’s life hell. As a result, everybody really loved him. Fighting Venom was a big deal during his first few appearances. Spider-Man was pushed to the extreme to defeat him, and often times could manage little more than a stalemate. Plus Venom looked really cool.
Well since one symbiote was popular, Marvel wanted more! Soon Venom’s symbiote gave birth asexually to a new symbiote, which bonded with psychotic serial killer Cletus Kasady to create Carnage.
The great thing about Carnage was that he just straight-up murdered people. He didn’t want to rob banks, didn’t want to rule the world and he didn’t want to get revenge on a hero. Carnage just killed people, and now he had incredible super-powers to do it. New York City was gripped in terror as Carnage went on a rampage, killing dozens, injuring hundreds. It took the combined efforts of Spider-Man, Venom, the Avengers and half a dozen other heroes to finally stop Carnage.
And since two symbiotes was popular, why not more?
In the story Venom: Separation Anxiety, some bad guys made the Venom alien give birth to five more symbiotes!
The symbiotes were Riot, Agony, Lasher, Phage and the only one that actually mattered, Scream, the Female Symbiote.
The others were more or less fodder, but Scream had several interactions with Spidey, Venom and others. She also ended up murdering the four others, so clearly she came out on top in that regard. Scream survived her earlier appearances and actually made a few minor appearances later in the decade. In fact, she even managed to survive those and, technically, Scream is still alive and out there in comic book land. She just hasn’t officially appearance since 1996.
But I’m getting off topic. We’ve finally reached Hybrid, the character that this entry is actually about.
When I said that Scream killed the four other symbiotes, what I meant was that she killed their human hosts. The four symbiotes actually survived and were taken into custody, held at secret upstate facility for testing. But the symbiotes broke free and combined together into a ‘hybrid’-symbiote. Then they bonded with Scott Washington, a simple guard at the facility. Scott was a good guy from Bedford-Stuyvesant in NYC, who was just trying to make it as a guard. When the symbiotes bonded with him, Scott felt sorry for them and helped them escape.
That cost Scott his cushy guard job, and he was sent back to the ghetto. Not long after, he and his brother ran afoul of some gang members in Brooklyn. Scott and his brother stood up for themselves, and that got them targeted. The Easy X gang broke into their house and opened fire, paralyzing Scott and killing his brother. The escaped symbiotes found Scott soon after, but now Scott was different. He was angry and wanted revenge against the Easy X gang. And with the power of Hybrid, he got his revenge – in a superhero sort of way!
The story of Hybrid was told in back-up features in Venom comics in 1996. Venom’s popularity had turned him into an anti-hero, who protected innocents rather than eat brains. That led to an over-saturation of the market with Venom comics. My brother and I had one of the series, which is where I first met Hybrid. His story was cool, he looked cool, and he quickly became a favorite of mine. But unfortunately, Hybrid only got those two stories. One was his origin, the other was a short sequel in which he fought off an attempt by some bad guy scientists to capture him. After that, he was gone.
Why should you care?
Whereas the last two characters I featured in ‘Forgotten Characters’ remain gone, I have good news: Hybrid is back! Sort of! He would have been a perfect candidate for this series in the first place, but I recently learned that Hybrid is back in comics. That’s pretty exciting news! And it prompted this entry.
Last year, Marvel published a Carnage mini-series in which the evil symbiote came back and kicked some butt. Killed some people too. This year there’s a sequel: Carnage: U.S.A. in which Carnage has taken over a small town in Colorado and the Avengers and Spider-Man are sent in to stop him. But Carnage has taken over all the people in the town, and soon takes over the Avengers as well. Only Spider-Man remains free, but he can’t beat Carnage alone. So the military falls back to Plan B: A team of symbiotes to take on Carnage. Writer Zeb Wells clearly remembers the 90s, because check out the team:
But don’t get your hopes up. Hybrid makes ‘his’ appearance in issue #2. It’s cool that he’s back, but he’s not back in the way I remember him. He’s no longer Scott Washington. The guy in charge mentions that Washington wasn’t cooperating with the military, but he ‘changed his mind’. Through most likely diabolical means, the government stripped Washington of the Hybrid symbiote and then broke Hybrid back into the four original symbiotes.
Then gave those symbiotes to a badass team of Special Forces operatives!
It’s a strike force composed of soldiers using weaponized symbiotes! That’s a pretty cool idea. I can get behind this plan. It would be silly to expect Marvel to bring Hybrid back like he was, in some full 90s revival. I’m just excited that they remembered him! Plus only issue #2 is out so far. Maybe by the end of the mini-series, Scott Washington and Hybrid may return for real! I’ll keep my fingers crossed. It’s great to have Hybrid back in some form.
So I guess the real question is, in putting together a team of symbiotes, did Zeb Wells forget about Scream? Whatever happened to the Female Symbiote?
Do you have any favorite characters who have long been lost to comic book limbo? Or maybe from TV or movies? Send me an e-mail at Hench4Hire@gmail.com and I can feature them in Forgotten Characters!