Warning: contains potential spoilers for Venom #25!One major rule of time travel makes the Marvel Universe almost unique in modern pop culture. Time travel stories have been a staple of the science fiction genre for over 100 years, and with its explosion in popularity came certain rules regarding time travel – including one infamous law known as “the Butterfly Effect.” Now, in a preview for Venom #25, fans learn exactly how this rule works in the Marvel Universe.

Venom #25 is written by Al Ewing, drawn by Sergio Davila, Sean Parsons, Ken Lashley, Cafu and Julius Otha, colored by Frank D’Armata and lettered by Clayton Cowles. The preview opens with Doctor Doom and Eddie Brock arriving in what appears to be prehistoric times. As they make their landing, Doom reflects on the short story ‘A Sound of Thunder’ by Ray Bradbury. In that story, a time traveler steps on a butterfly in prehistoric times, causing a massive shift in society when he returns; this concept, that minute changes in the past can result in massive differences in the future, came to be called “the Butterfly Effect,” appearing in everything from Sliding Doors to The Simpsons. Doom, while acknowledging Bradbury’s talent, says this theory is flawed – after all, Bradbury was not a real time traveler like Doom. Doom says that events have weight, and changing the course of time is possible, but incredibly difficult. Doom concludes by saying: “if you want to significantly alter your destiny… you have to kill a lot of butterflies.”

The butterfly effect has become a huge part of science fiction and pop culture, but the concept was originally popularized by Ray Bradbury, and later generations of writers have played around with it. A notable recent example was in 2023’s The Flash. When Barry Allen tried to travel back in time, he found his actions in the past not only altered his own future, but other parts of the timeline as well. Barry’s actions in the past had a ripple effect in the time stream. Other fiction relies on the idea that events can’t be changed, and will always coincidentally play out as intended. Indeed, in Marvel lore, most time travel actually just branches the timeline, creating a new, changed future while leaving the original intact. Doom is one of the only people who can genuinely alter the timeline, and even he admits it takes immense effort.

If anyone on Earth knows the rules of time travel, it is Doctor Doom. Doom was one of the first humans to create a working time machine, beating other scientific heavyweights such as Reed Richards to the punch. This is bad news for Eddie Brock – he’s currently fighting against a distant future version of himself called Meridius, and his one hope is to change the events that will transform him into the unfeeling monster. While that’s still possible, Doom makes it clear that it will require extreme action.

The story will continue to unfold in Venom #25, perhaps allowing Doctor Doom to put his ideas about the butterfly effect to the test. Doom and Eddie Brock have arrived in Earth’s distant past, and begin fighting almost as soon as they get there. Doctor Doom does not care that his actions in the past could impact the future in some way, but he has always been characterized by staggering arrogance. Marvel‘s time travel officially rejects the butterfly effect, but it’s still possible that Doctor Doom vs Venom could have some mind-bending consequences.

Venom #25 is on sale September 13 from Marvel Comics!

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