The Venom Symbiote was given to Flash Thompson, as current readers should know, and he isn't necessarily the greatest at controlling it. Recently, Flash played a key role in The Circle of Four, the most horrid Venom story I've read in a long time. Well, Venom stopped Blackheart, son of the devil, from spreading Hell throughout Earth, yadda, yadda, Captain America accepted Flash as Venom, yadda, yadda, all of the jazz. While he was gone, all of his friends and family (including the girlfriend he just broke up with, Betty Brant) didn't know where he was. Essentially, his social life is done.
Also, Eddie Brock is no longer Anti-Venom after the events of Spider-Island. It sucks, but it's true. As seen in prior issues, he is now...Eddie Brock, Symbiote Slayer! (I got that terrific lesson of intensifying my writing by Terry Kavanagh, my role model. Just kidding.)
|Executive Producer:||Alan Fine|
|Chief Creative Officer:||Joe Quesada|
|Editor In Chief:||Axel Alomso|
|Senior Editor:||Stephen Wacker|
|Inker:||Nelson DeCastro, Terry Pallot|
|Cover Art:||John Rauch, Tony Moore|
|Lettering:||VC's Joe Caramagna|
It's a rainy day in New York City. Scott Washington, the red symbiote known as Hybrid, is climbing over rooftops when his feet are suddenly snagged by a trap. He falls into a pile of trash in an alleyway where he is met by a sonic bomb. He stretches his hand out to destroy it, but it's crushed under the foot of Eddie Brock. Brock, holding a gun that looks far too large to hold any less than 500,000 bullets, tells Scott that he has been doing good heroic work but his symbiote is a threat. He explains to him that it is too dangerous and he knows of no way of taking it off him. So he shoots him with bullets that must be specialized because Hybrid turns to a crisp immediately. That sure was fast.
In the Lighthouse Station, home to the Secret Avengers, Flash Thompson (with new prosthetic legs) is surrounded by Beast, Valkyrie, Hank Pym, and Captain America. All of them are standing by the Venom Symbiote, which is safely inside a container and has been injected with a serum to keep it under control. Beast says, "I think with this, the Venom Symbiote will be as safe as any other magic armor or magic relic or radioactive nipple lasers." Giant-Man replies, "Radioactive nipple man is no longer an Avenger anymore, Beast. Don't you read the newsletter?" Beast then tells them that the symbiote is completely under control. When Cap asks if it will bond to Flash at all, Hank Pym says that it will not, but it will still be kept under his watch when it isn't used for "Avengers purposes."
Flash questions if, in case he needs it, it will be available to him personally. Beast tells him that he doesn't need to deal with any threat alone, but Pym says that he can send it to him over the phone using his Pym particles. They will be monitoring his use, though. Beast asks him if he feels any bonding to it, after wearing it for many days on end during Circle of Four. Flash lies and says, "I'm damn glad to be rid of the thing for a while."
"I'm glad that we could make this work," Cap says. "To be able to take something that caused so much pain and use it for the good of society. I know you won't let me down, corporal." If only he saw Venom in Issue 12...
Valkyrie escorts Flash out of the room and the Avengers reveal that they still don't fully trust Flash. Hank Pym brings up the point, "And then there's another very real dilemma...Are we going to tell Spider-Man?"
Meanwhile, when Flash tries making small-talk with Valk in the hallway, she responds, " Look on the upside, if Captain America is wrong about you, you will be dead very soon and won't have to worry much." Flash is surprised by this comment. "It's been an interesting couple of months," Flash says. "Suddenly I'm an Avenger, shrunk down to the size of an ant, being shown around a tiny space station by a beautiful Asgardian goddess..." Valkyrie notices that he called her beautiful and thinks that he's hitting on her. Flash becomes embarrassed. He starts fumbling over his word until Valk sends him back to his apartment using a teleportation machine.
Back at his apartment, Flash is welcomed by Peter Parker, who was knocking on his door, yelling that his landlady said that he hasn't left his apartment in days. Flash makes a lie of where he was and Peter immediately identifies it. Peter does a scan of Flash's apartment and is happy to find no booze.
"When'd you become my mother, Parker?" Flash jokes. "When Betty showed up at my house a few days, hysterical, in tears," Peter replies. Apparently, Betty has been staying with Flash's mom while Flash was at work and told him that Flash broke up over the phone with her at night. Peter says that he called the V.A. and nobody has ever heard of his supervisor there. Busted! Flash lies yet again and tells Peter that he had taken up drinking after his dad died and has been too drunk to remember anything over the past few weeks. Peter takes Flash out to talk.
Scream, another spawn of Venom, is swinging through NYC. The symbiote's host, Donna Diego, is a delusional schizophrenic and got word that Brock has been slaying symbiotes. She follows the trail to his lair, in the sewer system. Sadly, it's a trap and Eddie, hanging from a pipe, drops a sonic bomb on Scream. Using webbing, he opens his furnace and pulls out a fiery knife. And, just like Hybrid, Scream is dead. Too bad.
At the Coffee Bean, Peter tells Flash that he knows how it feels to lose a loved one and that his family and friends are there for him. "But what I don't understand...Why take Betty with you?" Peter asks. Flash explains to him that he broke up with Betty to get her away from him because he's a monster or something. Peter says that Betty has been through a lot too and that he is handling the situation badly. "Last couple of months, it's like you're not even here anymore. And this is coming from the president of the stretched-too-thin fan club," Peter says. Flash is about to give in and tell Peter that he's Venom when his phone starts ringing.
It's Jess and she instructs him to come and visit her and his mom. Flash tells Peter that it's urgent that he meets them because he hasn't seen them since the funeral. When Flash enters, he begins an excuse about why he was gone for so long and his mom stops him. "Eugene, I lived with a lying drunk for 46 years, god rest his soul. If you can't tell me the truth about what's going on with you, don't tell me anything," she scolds.
Flash walks back to his house after telling her that he was drinking. When he opens his door, he finds Betty sitting on his bed. Betty is reflecting on how she didn't think they should get back together before, how she wanted to prevent future heartbreak. Then, she starts telling Flash off about how he didn't break up with her face-to-face and how she isn't going to spend her life like his mom, trying to fix a drunk addict. "We won't ever be getting back together," she finishes and then slams the door on her way out.
Flash sits there for a minute, reflecting on a picture of him and Betty when Hank Pym calls him for his first mission. He teleports away, leaving his terribly malfunctioned life behind him for the time being.
Ahhh, a supporting cast issue. We haven't seen one of these since Issue 5. Seriously, you could easily skip over this issue without missing much. A good writer is able to balance drama and action in one issue. Because of Circle of Four, Venom's personal life has been ignored for far too much. This issue was needed but I found it lacking.
Eddie Brock's slayings were very unsatisfying. I, for one, love continuity and I'm always looking forward to the return of C-lister symbiotes. It just doesn't do Hybrid and Scream justice to just kill them off in one issue without consideration for any of their fans. Usually, villains are killed off by other villains to make the killer look hardcore, as strongly shown by Kaine during the Clone Saga. But, we all know what Brock is capable of, so why do it? Plus, it makes no sense because the symbiotes that make up Hybrid were in the miniseries, Carnage U.S.A. once they were killed.
The other big event, Venom joining the Avengers, sounds flat-out ridiculous. Are you kidding me Marvel? "Venom will probably be lacking in sales after Circle of Four, so lets have him join the Avengers," editor Tom Brennan almost positively said at a retreat or something. Plus, his romance with Valkyrie scares me. I have nothing against female heroines, but she's just a lady rip-off of Thor. Like She-Hulk or X-23 or American Dream or She-Venom. (Who remembers her? That was actually kind of funny.) The idea of taking an existing male hero and make them female makes me mad. Why can't someone come up with an original idea for heroines? (Actually, Captain Marvel is pretty good.)
I am still stuck with the Agent Venom status quo. I feel like there is still much potential in it and the Secret Avenger status quo is already tiring me. Why did Remender need to change it so quickly? It feels like Slott's great idea to turn Venom into a black ops soldier has been thrown in the trash.
Lan Medina's art is exceptional. his shading is good and his people look realistic. (Though, their eyes aren't always pointing in the right directions or are cross-eyed.) I'm just angry that Flash's apartment magically cleaned itself while Flash was gone. Seriously. Compare the two different apartment scenes for yourself.
Not a great issue. It was certainly lacking a good battle scene. And I am angry over Hybrid and Scream's unceremonial deaths. R.I.P., my C-lister symbiotes.