In case you have been following Venom, you would know that the past few issues have been spent tying into the event, Minimum Carnage. This situation forced Flash to "confront the monster he could become" by battling Carnage with Scarlet Spider. Losing control is also a very possible situation for Flash since has been possessed by a demon by Daimon Hellstrom.
In Athol, Massachusetts, Venom is trying to get information from a group of thugs of the Harkspur Brood. When they refuse to give him material, he is forced to start attacking them with rubber bullets and his symbiote. He decides, though, that he doesn’t want them to hear what they have to say because they deserve the beating he’s giving them. Finally, a guy says that he will cooperate, but Venom hits him anyways, rendering him unconscious.
Later at the Raft, Venom is talking to Daimon Hellstrom, who gave him the info about the Harkspur Brood. Venom informs him that they knew nothing of the Decent, when the demons and devils select heirs to take their place. Daimon smiles, looking at the bright side that a few more “pawns are off the board.” Flash becomes angry that he is being used as a “clueless errand boy” and punches the glass that separates him from Daimon, cracking it. Daimon reminds him about how they need each other while Venom is directed away from the cell at the gunpoint of the guards.
In Upstate New York, Flash, Peter and Flash’s mom are checking out the Rose Manor, The Center of Wellness. Apparently Flash’s mom has admitted herself to the rehab center after the recent events of the Savage Six. Flash determines that she has come here to get away from him. Outside of the center, Flash talks to Peter about how he thought he would be admitted to rehab, not his mom. Peter divulges that someone from their high school, A.J. Patton, has returned to NYC and wanted to get in touch with him.
Soon at Flash’s apartment, he is thinking about how his mom had to recollect herself after watching him as Venom. Then, he thinks about A.J. Patton, a gay kid he had bullied in high school because he was angry. After some contemplating, Flash decides to call him.
In Brooklyn Heights, Flash is visiting A.J.’s apartment, which is untidy because he is still unpacking. He introduces him to his husband, Dan, who says he has heard much about him. “I can’t imagine you’ve heard anything I’m proud of,” Flash says. A.J. expresses that he forgives him for the bullying and says that he is doing well and is happy. Flash is explaining his stint in the army and his work with the V.A. when Dan calls A.J. into the kitchen.
Dan makes sure his husband’s all right with this and is skeptical as to why he let “that monster” into his house, since he still wakes up with nightmares of him. A.J. replies, saying he pities Flash because he’s a “broken-down wash-out.” Sadly, Flash can overhear the whole conversation.
Later, Flash is sleeping at his apartment when he is possessed by the demon which is within him and it calls the Secret Avengers, asking for the symbiote. The monster, disguised as a fat nurse, sneaks into the institute where one of the victims from the Harkspur Brood is being held. The demon is obviously still in control when Venom says he has come back to finish what he started. The demon throws the guy around a bit and tells him that it’ll be back later to “play.”
At the Rose Manor, Flash’s mom is frightened when she finds Venom (still under the demon’s control) scratching at her window and taunting her. The demon is really jacking up Flash’s life.
The next day, Flash is talking to Peter, who tells him he “looks like hell.” Flash feels like he didn’t sleep at all. Anyways, he tells Peter that he is proud to be his friend because he has some a long way from the wimp he was in high school. Flash apologizes for bullying him and Peter tells him that he was didn’t want to go to school some days because of him. But Peter moved on. These words trigger something in Flash and he says that he needs a change of scenery after all that has been happening.
“I’m leaving New York, Pete. And I’m not coming back,” Flash says.
I haven’t been much of a fan of Bunn’s solo run so far. I found his first arc to be run-of-the-mill and the crossover, Minimum Carnage, which he plotted with Chris Yost, was a let-down. (I agree with Michael Miller’s reviews of that story 100 %.) So, overall, his run has been a disappointment, but I still believe it has potential. Especially after reading this issue.
Marvel launched these Point One stories in hopes to bring new readers and introduce interesting new plot points. That is exactly what this issue does. The plot is interesting, portraying Flash’s internal conflict well by introducing A.J. The scene where Flash meets A.J. is really painful for readers to read, which is actually good because that is exactly how it should be. You really have to feel bad for Flash after reading it and it provides a stimulating dilemma for his character. I really hope Bunn uses Flash’s guilt over bullying geeks in high school more in his run. Maybe it can be his pull, like Remender’s pull was Flash’s daddy problems.
Now, in the Monsters of Evil arc, I was unenthusiastic with the whole demon-possession thing in Venom. I saw it as a gimmick to set up supernatural stories and I still think it is. But the situation is really thought-provoking in this issue, with the demon pursuing its own personal agenda and haunting Flash’s mom. Do I like the whole occurrence in general? No, but it doesn’t ruin this issue. The demon does seem to have more of an edge now, too.
Mainly, I appreciated how Bunn used Peter and A.J. to prove his point about how Flash should move. The contrast between Flash and Peter is great. The issue is obviously building up to the point that Flash’s life is crap and he must move. I hope Venom’s move will be like Kaine’s move to Houston in Scarlet Spider, which has been used well. Of course, this may simply turn out to be an editorial decision that spun out of Scarlet Spider…
Of course, one of the best things about this issue is Checchetto’s art. The drawings capture the darkness of Venom’s battle with the gangsters well and the characters have a certain weight that is depicted well in Flash’s visit with A.J. The part I liked the most is how the art makes the demon frightening and gives it an edge it was lacking. Plus, Venom looks pretty badass. (Am I the only one who was disturbed by the panel where the fat lady is revealed to be Venom/demon?)
This was a great story. It gives me hope for Bunn's run and provides an intriguing internal conflict for Flash. Also a great jumping-on point.