In the last installment of Venom... Bam! Crack! Snap! Toxin vs. Venom! Toxin bites off the head of a creature who had been altered by U-Foe machines! Venom retreated from the battle badly beaten. The machines which had infected the creature reproduced and took over a group of hobos bent on destroying Toxin and Venom.
|Executive Producer:||Alan Fne|
|Chief Creative Officer:||Joe Quesada|
|Editor In Chief:||Axel Alonso|
|Senior Editor:||Stephen Wacker|
|Cover Art:||Declan Shalvey, Jordie Bellaire|
Our next installment of Venom begins with Flash wheeling through the aisle of the new school in which he works. Flash realizes that the kids are all wondering who he pissed off to receive the bruising on his face. When he looks up, Flash is startled to see Eddie Brock at the end of the aisle. He’s worried that Toxin will cut loose and kill the innocent kids around them.
When the hero and villain are within a few feet of each other, Eddie explains that tracking Flash down was simple and he wants to end what they began last night. Eddie suggests they go somewhere isolated, Flash rejects, and Brock decides he’ll release Toxin anyways. In response, Flash says that he’ll never allow him to hurt the kids, but Brock suggests that he’s already doing so by bringing his symbiote near them.
Flash yells at Eddie to end his “holier-than-thou spiel” and explains that he knows Eddie really wanted to bond with the Toxin symbiote. Brock is about to attack Flash when he smells “oil and blood.” He says, “Looks like you and me ain’t the only monsters who decided to get an education today.” (Oh, that was painful.)
Elsewhere in the school, the police are defeated by the hobos taken over by the robots last issue. (I’m going to call them hobots from now on.) They begin attacking kids and the fire alarm is sounded. Flash hears the alarm and he tells Eddie that he’s going to help the kids because they probably brought the situation there. After gathering some kids (including Andi) into a classroom, Venom and Toxin start off to defeat the hobots.
Soon, the hobots wander the hallways until Toxin emerges and starts eating one. Quickly, Venom tendrils erupt from the vent and smash a hobot around. A kid films the battle as Venom contemplates if Toxin was correct about the hobots not being people and him not being a hero.
Toxin seemingly gains the upper hand when he bites the head of a hobot, but soon they rebound by slashing him to the ground. Venom wonders if he should allow the creatures to kill Brock, but decides otherwise. Venom bursts through the ground and quickly tears apart the villains. Literally tears through. Flash seems to be taken over by the symbiote, but he shows no resistance.
Toxin finishes off the last hobot and asks Venom if he’s ready for round two. Venom asks, “You still want to do this? After everything that just happened?” Toxin asks why he thinks he can control the symbiote and Flash responds that he has to. “That’s the difference between you and me, Eddie. You turned your back on everybody…everything. There was no reason for you to keep the beast at bay. But me… I’m trying to build a life,” Flash says. Toxin decides to tell Flash that he will watch him, wait for him to lose control, and kill him. Venom says that he would want that to occur. Then, Eddie simply leaves.
In the aftermath, a reporter states that there are few fatalities in the school, and that Toxin was seen leaving the scene. When the reporter spots Flash leaving the school, Flash says that Eddie was the only one who fought the cyborgs and he took off. “It’s a good feeling, knowing someone’s out there looking out for you…watching out for whatever comes next,” Flash ends as a U-Foe parasite wanders the streets.
So this is the end to the highly anticipated Toxin arc? Toxin simply walks away? That’s weak. Especially since Eddie was still convinced that Flash would lose control and he’d still need to kill him at the end. This issue kind of reminded me of ASM #375, but that issue had a productive build-up to Eddie’s revelation to trust Spider-Man meant good. You have to somewhat wonder if Brock, in the conclusion of this issue of Venom, thought the same about Flash, but didn’t say it. After all, he did witness him saving the kids in the school. Sadly, after rereading Bunn’s Toxin/Eddie scene at the end, I still don’t really get the impression that Brock trusts Flash. Therefore, it makes no sense why he just left.
I was surprised by the character development for Flash’s character this issue, something he’s lacked since Bunn took over this title. By standing up to Brock about his heroism and ability to control his symbiote, Flash has hopefully overcome his insecurities of not being a good person. It’s also interesting how Flash is thankful that he has Eddie watching him, considering how he was trying to kill him ten minutes ago.
One thing I’ve gotten confused about over this arc is, when Flash becomes large and venom-like, is he losing control of the symbiote? That’s what it meant in Remender’s run, but Bunn seems to write it differently. Flash doesn’t seem to complain when it occurs, but he did bite off Toxin’s arm last issue when it happened. Isn’t that a sign that he’s lost it? He hasn’t been taking his meds. Flash seems like he encourages the transformation, though. Did he come to an agreement with the symbiote or something? Bunn needs to clear this inconsistency up.
As I mentioned last issue, the hobots are boring villains. They simply serve to move the plot along and unite Venom and Toxin. And let me say that I wasn’t excited when the U-Foe robot showed up in the end. It’s kind of like watching Crocosaurus, a terrible B-lister movie nobody likes, where the monster is killed but in the closing scene, it’s revealed that it left behind eggs. You’re supposed to get excited, but you don’t.
Lastly, Shalvey’s art is sufficient enough for this issue. He’s really good at symbiote action and horror, but fails at drama. The backgrounds are also lacking; when Flash and Eddie are talking in the crowded hallways, the backdrop is empty. I’ve finally figured out why I haven’t been satisfied by his art, though: Flash’s head is shaped weirdly and it looks flat. Yep. Everybody should read Ellis and Shalvey's Moon Knight, though. That’s the best comic I’ve read this year.
One web for the art, one web for the character development. The abrupt ending, the hobots, and Venom's confusing eruptions halt me from rating it higher.