TKO Rules! screenshot redraw bc I love this shot sm
[caption plain text: TKO Rules! screenshot redraw bc I love this shot sm. end caption]
[image descriptions: The first image is a digital drawing of TKO swinging up a jackhammer, red sparks flying up in the direction he swung. He has brown skin, long curly dark brown hair, a dark indigo short sleeve shirt, short purple short pants, purple spiked wristbands, black eyeliner. He’s grinning, revealing sharp teeth, and is looking down at KO who is offscreen. The second image is the screenshot that the drawing is emulating. end image descriptions]
blazing hot take: venomous isn't a bad person and never was. he just got ROBBED by season 3 completely throwing out his previous character arc and making him edgy for no reason
Hey, that's totally valid! A lot of people seem to feel that way about season 3, so I get it.
If you want my two cents on it (which, I'm a massive season 3 apologist, so take this as you will), he's by no means a GOOD person, but he's not some heartless monster either.
Before I get to my main point I'm just going to go ahead and address the elephant in the room: Shadowy Figure, and by extension, Shadowy Venomous. It's not really like the season 3 reveals came out of nowhere--people had been theorizing about them for some time before they were confirmed--but Shadowy's foreshadowing (no pun intended) seems a lot less obvious than Laserblast's. Plus, there's the unfortunately rushed nature of season 3 and the Shadowy reveal. In Laserblast's case I think it's great as is. Even though I, like Boxman, would have liked to see it given another season to develop, I can't say I'm unhappy with what we got. The buildup to that episode is phenomenal and the reveal itself feels perfect for the show. Shadowy's is a bit different, mainly since it's so soon after Laserblast's and more, well, edgy. There's no real problem with that--OK K.O. is no stranger to the occasional edge, and I quite enjoy "Let's Get Shadowy" as an episode--but as a reveal, it does feel less well done, and I think a big part of that is simply because of how soon it comes after "Big Reveal." Like, we just found out Venomous was Laserblast, and they're already telling us that he's Shadowy too. Not that any of this is the fault of the creative team, mind you. They just worked with what they had.
Getting back on topic, though, after the Shadowy reveal, I couldn't help but try and make sense of it. It's clear that Shadowy serves a similar function to T.K.O., but if that's the case, where does he stem from? There's no way he just came out of nowhere, right? Shadowy simply has to correlate to Venomous's psyche somehow, the only question was what the correlation was. Looking at all the similarities, my best inference would be that Shadowy is, as expected, a manifestation of Venomous's worst qualities, but, more specifically, those qualities are ones that Venomous seems to either deny completely or justify in some way, convincing himself that they aren't as damning as they really are. Both are manipulative, megalomaniacal, and at least somewhat sadomasochistic. What sets Shadowy apart is that he owns up to them. It's what he is, and he embraces it, no questions asked. Venomous views these same qualities as either something that's just part of being a supervillain (sadomasochism), something he's long since gotten over (megalomania), or something that he never had an issue with to begin with (manipulation). Perhaps if the series were able to go on longer we'd be able to see him accept, confront, and improve these aspects of himself in more detail, especially after seeing the effect they had while he was Shadowy Venomous, but alas, we must settle for what we have.
Even prior to season 3, though, the few plans we see Venomous carry out on his own are undeniably more messed up than Boxman's tend to be. I mean, blackmail is arguable, but nearly killing Rad in order to break the main trio's team dynamic is a little much. What makes this even weirder is that Boxman's technically considered more evil, if their POW card levels are to be believed. Sure Venomous never so much as considers incinerating his own child minion, but you'll notice when Boxman brings it up in "All in the Villainy," Venomous's first response isn't "maybe we shouldn't incinerate the children period," but "that isn't going to work since my minion's not a robot," which... is pretty concerning, not gonna lie.
But therein also lies his biggest saving grace: Fink. I distinctly remember seeing where one of the show's crew members said, word for word, "Fink is his salvation," but considering that a) this was apparently said in a Discord server I don't have access to and b) I have no idea how to find the secondary source again, this should probably be taken with a grain of salt. Real or not, it's still an accurate statement. Fink is the one constant in his life post-Laserblast, and up until he starts dating Boxman, she's the only person he selflessly cares about. He's selfish by nature from the very beginning, even where Boxman is concerned up until "All in the Villainy." Boxman's complete disregard for the status quo gives Venomous the stimulation he so desperately craves, among other things. Boxman has a use, and that's reason enough for Venomous to keep him around. It's only when he falls in love with the guy that Venomous starts to view him more selflessly.
It's where Fink is concerned that things start delving a little more into headcanon territory, so bear with me here. I think she and Venomous started out similarly. He was at the lowest point in his life, recklessly experimenting on himself in his desperation to regain his powers, with practically nothing to his now literally dead name. At the very least, this trash rat gave him something. Maybe she aided him in his experiments somehow, but more importantly, she was just... someone. Someone to talk to. Someone who's actually around.
Someone who relies on him.
Someone who makes him feel important.
Someone who makes him feel powerful.
The man was slowly deteriorating in every sense of the word, but Fink gave him some semblance of a purpose when he needed it the most. Cob knows what would've happened to him if she had never come along. Probably long gone and long forgotten. Being the only thing to keep him tethered to the world outside of himself, it's not hard to imagine that he grew to care for her. To really care for her. Even more than he cared for himself. Which, depending on what you think he was like as Laserblast (personally I think he cared a little bit whether he thought he did or not, especially with Carol), could very well have been a first for him.
Whenever we see him in the show itself, it's worth noting that most of the time, Venomous is at his most selfless and most vulnerable where Fink is involved. He treats her more like a daughter than a minion (though both of them would probably deny it), but at the same time, he doesn't treat her like some helpless baby. He treats her like an individual and makes an effort to see eye to eye with her whenever he can. Yes, he exerts his power over her when he feel that he needs to, but this comes off more as him being a parent than him being abusive in any way. And yes, like any parent, he also makes his fair share of mistakes, but it's also worth noting that Fink is the only person he genuinely apologizes to until the last episode of the show.
Basically, as Zangief once said,