Warning: spoilers for King in Black #5 by Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman are ahead!
There are few characters in Marvel Comics who have had the privilege of wielding Thor’s weapon, Mjolnir, and Venom is the latest to prove that he is worthy of its power. In his final showdown with Knull in King in Black #5, Venom (Eddie Brock) summoned Mjolnir from Thor’s hands and used it in conjunction with Silver Surfer’s board (written by Donny Cates, pencils by Ryan Stegman, inks by JP Mayer and Ryan Stegman, colors by Frank Martin and Jason Keith, letters by VC’s Clayton Cowles). Originally used by Odin, Mjolnir has an enchantment placed on it that makes it impossible to lift by anyone unless they are “worthy.” And as opposed to characters like Beta Ray Bill, Loki, Jane Foster, and Captain America, who have lifted Mjolnir, Venom is neither a god nor a typical hero that the hammer would present itself to. As a deeply troubled anti-hero who finds glee in violence, Venom would seem like one of the last people that the hammer would consider worthy. So how could Venom lift Mjolnir in the first place?
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To back up for a moment, The King in Black event has been full of surprising moments, with Venom’s use of Mjolnir being just the tip of the iceberg. The symbiote god, Knull, overpowered many of Earth’s mightiest heroes early on, and as one of the oldest beings in the universe, seemed to be three steps ahead of the heroes at every turn. Crucial to the events of King in Black was the death of Eddie Brock in the event’s second issue, imbuing his character with an extra sense of purpose in King in Black #5 after he was resurrected.
There are a number of different explanations for why someone as flawed as Venom could successfully wield Mjolnir, and it mostly comes down to the fact that Venom had help from the Enigma Force. The Enigma Force is an ancient entity that represents life and light in the universe, and it helped resurrect Eddie after his death. After bonding with the Enigma Force, Venom summoned Mjolnir from Thor’s hand as he went to battle Knull for the final time. Venom combined Mjolnir with Silver Surfer’s board, creating a powerful battle axe that allowed him to take down hordes of Grendel dragons with minimal effort. With an entity like the Engima Force on his side, it isn’t difficult to see why even someone like Venom could pick up Mjolnir.
Venom Is Truly Worthy.
This is by far the most simple explanation, as it is in keeping with how Mjolnir has been used by other heroes besides Thor and Odin over the years. At the moment of his final battle with Knull, Eddie Brock had come to terms with how his sins had led to not just the endangerment of the planet, but also his son, Dylan Brock. He felt immense guilt about having dragged Dylan into such horrifying circumstances, and upon his resurrection, was doubly motivated to become a hero that his son could be proud of.
No longer afraid of Knull and his inky theatrics, Venom came ready to face his foe one last time. Given the unique connection he has to Knull due to his symbiote, Venom was genuinely worthy in this moment, because only he had the insight and personal motivation to beat Knull once and for all. In this sense, this theory gives Venom his due as a hero.
“Worthy” Is All Relative For Mjolnir.
With Mjolnir, it is also important to be cognizant of its history, and how the notion of worthiness has changed throughout time. Asgard’s history is fairly violent, and by today’s standards, Odin would not look all that heroic back when he was first wielding Mjolnir. Therefore, it is likely that “worthy” could be interpreted slightly differently by Mjolnir than it is by comics fans today.
If Mjolnir operates with a more antiquated definition of “worthy,” then it is possible that Venom could be deemed acceptable without being “good” in the wholesome, Captain America sense. This accounts for some of Venom’s more anti-heroic qualities that set him apart from so many other characters in King in Black.
The Enigma Force Is Worthy.
Returning back to the Enigma Force, it is possible that the Force itself is worthy of Mjolnir, rather than Venom alone. This checks out because it represents life and light in the universe, as the very opposite of Knull and his darkness. Also crucial to the Enigma Force is that it has the Uni-Power of Captain Universe, making it one of the most powerful forces that a character can bond with in the Marvel Universe.
In this sense, the Enigma Force can also be understood as the cosmic precursor to how the Super-Soldier Serum enhanced Steve Rogers in World War II. It brings out the best qualities in whoever it bonds with. In the case of Eddie Brock, it harnessed his love for his son, Dylan, as a motivator that Knull simply has no counter to.
The Enigma Force Is Immune to Odin’s Magic.
Odin’s magic is extremely powerful, and while he uses it to help hold down reality in the universe, the Enigma Force may not be subject to it. The Enigma Force is almost as old as the universe, and as Venom #4 demonstrated, Knull may be older than reality (written by Donny Cates, pencils by Ryan Stegman, inks by JP Mayer, colors by Frank Martin, letters by VC’s Clayton Cowles). Therefore, it is possible that the Enigma Force is older than reality, if it is already almost as old as Knull.
Odin is obviously not the only god in the Marvel Universe, and the others that do exist, like Zeus and Ares, are not required to answer to him. As such, it could be that the terms in which the Enigma Force came to be were forged by another god or group, making it outside the realm of Odin’s influence. This would explain why Venom was able to shape Mjolnir into a battle axe with Silver Surfer’s board.
Mjolnir Allowed It, Because It Is Sentient.
Enigma Force and Venom’s Worthiness aside, Mjolnir is still a somewhat sentient being, able to act on its own accord. Evidence for this can be seen as recently as Avengers #36, when Mjolnir refused to be used as a weapon against Black Panther, because his ancestor had wielded it a million years earlier (written by Jason Aaron, art by Javier Garrón, colors by Jason Keith, letters by VC’s Cory Petit). It is possible that, because of the Enigma Force is such an old entity, Mjolnir has a preexisting relationship with it, making it accessible at the time of Venom’s need.
Skeptics of Venom’s worthiness may prefer this explanation, because it shifts attention away from Eddie Brock’s personal qualities. Clearly, both Mjolnir and the Enigma Force have a much more storied history than Venom, and there is no telling how their paths may have crossed earlier on in time. In addition, it should also be noted that Venom summons Mjolnir from Thor’s hand, rather than picking it up off the ground, leaving room for the possibility that Mjolnir acted on its own accord.
Mjolnir’s Enchantment Is Corrupted.
Lastly, Venom’s use of Mjolnir could be explained by the fact that Mjolnir’s magic has been acting faulty lately, allowing for just about anyone to pick it up. A recent arc in Thor’s comics, also written by Donny Cates, have shown that Mjolnir’s magic isn’t working properly. In Thor #7, a random mechanic in Oklahoma was able to pick it up after Thor cast the hammer down to Earth as an experiment (written by Donny Cates, inks by Aaron Kuder, colors by Matthew Wilson, letters by VC’s Joe Sabino). With the strength of Odin’s enchantment corrupted, it is easy to imagine why Venom was able to summon the hammer before battling Knull.
Still, it should be acknowledged that Thor #7 was published around the same time that King in Black was being set up, and there is no telling that the two events should be understood as occurring simultaneously or even concurrently. Thor appeared to have no difficulty wielding Mjolnir in King in Black, which suggests that the events of Thor #7 probably weren’t happening at the same time as King in Black. But for fans that still are not sold on Venom’s worthiness, this provides part of a possible explanation for why Eddie Brock could use such a powerful weapon.
Worthiness Doesn’t Equal Effectiveness.
Related to Mjolnir’s partial sentience, it could be that Mjolnir chose to help Venom because he was the universe’s best chance against Knull. Even though Eddie Brock is not “worthy” in the same way as Thor, using a weapon like Mjolnir gave him a crucial upper hand in a fight against Knull. It should be noted that Thor fought Knull more than once during King in Black, and while he came close to defeating him, he never succeeded.
This interpretation could be seen as setting a strange precedent for future uses of Mjolnir, as it is not simply a weapon of convenience in the Marvel Universe. But the fact remains that Knull was an unusual foe that traditionally heroic characters could not defeat on their own. As a villain, Knull necessitated an unconventional character like Venom to fight him. King in Black as an event already disturbed the axis of heroism that fans are used to seeing in Marvel Comics, and Venom being able to use Mjolnir despite not fitting the standard image of “worthiness” is in line with the event’s disruption of expectations.
Ultimately, the King in Black event forced fans to expect the unexpected, and Venom’s use of Mjolnir is one example of this. It is likely that no one theory explains why Eddie Brock used Mjolnir on his own, but rather a combination that takes into consideration existing events and histories in the Marvel Universe. Either way, the legacy of King in Black is that it provided the chance for an anti-hero like Venom to step into a more heroic role, while still centering the contradictions that make Venom’s character so compelling. And nothing fits this bill more than a troubled man with a symbiote wielding an ancient weapon reserved only for the “worthy.”
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