Last issue, Venom aimed to bust the D.O.A., a Nazi-worshipping occult with a new supernatural aim. With his new reporter friend, Katy Kiernan, Venom found some leads that set him face-to-face with a group of demons. There, he met Daimon Hellstrom, who has switched to the side of evil. Hellstrom informed Flash that he has been marked by the devil from the Circle of Four. Daimon, using this to his advantage, then possessed Venom with a demon...
In the Neverwake Factory, Daimon Hellstrom watches successfully as the demon Venom is possessed by takes complete domination over Flash’s body. When the demon wants a snack, Daimon allows it to eat one of his disciplines. When it is unsatisfied, Hellstrom reveals a group of possessed men who have been “seasoned” especially for it. The demon, though, identifies that the men are unwilling underneath the possession and Flash has an internal conflict with the monster. Daimon is impressed and says that Venom will make a great addition to his zoo. Infuriated, Flash slams Daimon’s head into the floor and flees the building.
Outside, Flash has control over himself, but finds that whenever he breaths in, he tastes “all the world’s misery and shame.” He tries puking it out, but decides he needs to “yank” the monster out of his soul. At Katy Kiernan’s apartment, Venom stumbles into the window and reveals to her that he thinks he needs an exorcist.
Later, at an exorcist’s store, the exorcist, Reggie, has drugged Venom and offers to let Katy look behind his mask while she can. Katy refuses and Reggie starts the session successfully. The demon quickly begins to communicate with Reggie. It tells him that it doesn’t want to possess Venom because he is marked and forbidden. Reggie asks the demon to leave Venom’s body, which angers it.
Apparently, it has been trying to “break free” but Flash keeps dragging it down. Then, it subdues itself and Flash takes back power of his body. Reggie exposes Flash to his situation and suggests he finds Daimon Hellstrom to figure out how to release the demon.
At the Bronx Zoo, Hellstrom is walking through the “Exotic Animal Walkabout” with his disciplines. One man explains to him how someone called Mistress Sin sanctioned this operations hoping for results. He explains how Agent Venom may interfere, which Daimon rejects and forces him to run away.
But Agent Venom is directly behind him, posing as a discipline. Flash quickly takes down the disciplines and gets into a skirmish with Daimon Hellstrom. Venom demands for the demon to be released from him, but Daimon and a bunch of his demon minions counter him. Then, Hellstrom introduces him to the Monsters of Evil, a creatively named force of demons that he plans on forcing Venom to join. (The demons don’t look very welcoming, though.)
Remember how I was worried that the whole demon possession thing would be a nothing more than a gimmick? Well, I had a reason to be concerned. The demon, throughout the beginning sequence and exorcist interrogation, loses any edge it may have had. It’s corny and doesn’t bring any sense of fearfulness to me. Frankly, I’m having trouble figuring out why the demon was added into the series when Flash has a symbiote to deal with that is far more fearsome than any stupid supernatural crap.
You know what upsets me more than the demon in this story? Flash’s reaction to it. When a writer is thinking of a story for a character, they must figure out why that particular story is right for that character and how that story works for that character in comparison to others. The problem with this story is that Flash’s reaction is really predictable and bland. If you simply slapped a different costume on Flash, then this story could have applied to Captain America. Or Spider-Man. Or many other characters. Also, Bunn’s voicing of Venom doesn’t capture his internal conflict which has become the defining element of this series.
The biggest problem I have with this story is the incredibly thin plot. There is no complexity to Flash’s situation any more. The climax will be simple. Flash will fight the Monsters of Evil (plus Daimon Hellstrom) and if he fails, he must become one of them. See, in Rick Remender’s run, he specialized in developing plots formulated specially for Flash and his internal battle. This is just a generic story that could work for any character and which doesn’t carry any real feeling of importance.
The art in this issue is pretty mediocre. It’s nothing special, really. The action looks good enough, but the drama is terrible. The facial expressions express only basic emotions and the storytelling lacks a captivating panel layout. Particularly, the art does a poor job at adding fear to the demon which possesses Venom and the Monsters of Evil all look ridiculous.
I was going to give it 2.5 webs, but there isn't really anything good about this issue.