Demon Days: X-Men takes several Marvel characters into an alternate world of Japanese folklore and introduces a new version of Venom.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers from Demon Days: X-Men #1 by Peach Momoko Zack Davisson and Ariana Maher, on sale now.
The Venom symbiote has bonded with various species since it first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #252 by Tom DeFalco, Roger Stern, and Ron Frenz. The symbiote has bonded with Eddie Brock, Flash Thompson and even a Tyrannosaurus Rex, but none of these compare, however, to the creature Venom bonds with in Demon Days: X-Men #1.
This issue ventures to the early years of Japan within a new Marvel Universe. Psylocke is reimagined as Sai, a wandering swordsman with Wolverine as her trusty wolf companion. The pair stumbles across a village that was recently raided by the Oni, ogres that live in the mountains. Psylocke agrees to kill the Oni in exchange for a place to rest. While discussing the Oni with a villager, Psylocke is interrupted by a man who claims Orochi, the Great Snake, has returned and already eaten two people. The village refers to Orochi as Venom, and for good reason. The giant snake has the iconic symbiote mask over its head. Orochi is depicted in Japanese Folklore as a massive eight-headed, eight-tailed snake with cherry-red eyes as red as cherries.
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The villagers take Psylocke to a Jushi, a sorceress who mixes medicine and magic. The Jushi claims that Venom can only be stopped with the help of the Oni. Psylocke heads out in pursuit of the Oni and is ambushed by the creature, who strikes quite a resemblance to Red Hulk. Not only does the Oni look like Red Hulk, it even carries his catchphrase, “Hulkmaru Smash!” The Oni agrees to help in exchange for the guarantee that the villagers will not overextend their boundaries.
With the Oni on hand, the village is ready to face the giant snake. The villagers, Psylocke, Logan and the Oni all play vital roles in an attempt to defeat the snake. After a slice from Sai, Venom turns its attention towards the Oni and reveals what he truly is, a Yokai.
Yokai are a class of supernatural monsters and spirits from Japanese folklore. This is the same category that the Oni falls under, but this creature was much more malevolent. The Oni fights through the snake’s vindictive words and is able to wrap the beast’s tongue around a pillar. This provides the perfect opportunity for the team to attack. A Moonstar-esque villager fires arrows while riding on Logan, as Sai jumps across the battlefield to the Oni and slices the tongue from the beast. The Red Oni gives Venom one last Hulkmaru Smash releasing the creature from the symbiote’s grasp as Venom floats up into the atmosphere.
This comic showcases the perfect mix between Japan’s vibrant cultural heritage and the Marvel Universe. While Marvel’s heroes are no stranger to visiting different time periods, Demon Days: X-Men does things quite differently by bringing the ancient spirits and beliefs of feudal Japan to life with a unique, distinctive art style.
Marvel’s story of “The Tale of Kirisaki Mountain” in Demon Days X-Men is a flawless combination of Japanese folklore and Marvel. And in making Venom an Orochi, Marvel has created one of the most menacing versions of the symbiote ever.
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