VENOM (2011-PRESENT) #15 REVIEW


Flash Thompson returns to New York, but is anything left for him there? Read the review and leave a comment!

VENOM #15
“Home Again”
SCRIPT: Rick Remender
ART: Lan Medina
INKS: Nelson Decastro w/ Terry Pallot
COLORS: Andres Mossa
LETTERS: VC’s Joe Caramagna
COVER ART: Tony Moore & John Rauch

PLOT:
Eddie Brock, armed with symbiote-hunting gear but lacking powers, ambushes and (apparently) murders the symbiote known as Hybrid. Later in the issue, Eddie also (seemingly) kills Scream.

Eddie Brock just iced Scream. We all scream for iced Scream.

 

Meanwhile, Flash Thompson has joined the Secret Avengers. Beast invented a serum that subdues the symbiote’s influence, and Hank Pym invented a means to shrink the symbiote and transport it from captivity in the Avengers base to Flash via telephone lines. Flash even gets new prosthetic legs! And romantic tension ensues between Flash and Valkyrie!

Flash then returns to New York to revisit his personal life. Flash and Peter share a heart-to-heart at the Coffee Bean, and Flash almost reveals his secret identity to Peter. A call from Flash’s sister interrupts him, though. Flash visits his family, and his mother tells him he has to quit lying to her if he wants to continues knowing her. Flash goes back to his apartment, where Betty sits waiting for him. She chastises him for pretending to be on a work trip when he was really drinking (and fighting demons, but she doesn’t know about that), and for ending their relationship by telephone. Betty tells Flash “the man you are isn’t enough for me” and warns him they have no chance at reconciliation. After she leaves, Flash calls Hank Pym to say he wants to get to work.

THOUGHTS:
Venom #15 stands as the most soap operatic issue yet, focusing almost exclusively on Flash’s relationships. The previous arc’s insanity has earned this book a breather, and Remender writes Flash Thompson like a natural. Thus, we have another good Venom issue.

Mostly, Venom #15 just shows Flash’s loved ones expressing disappointment in Flash for his erratic behavior. From their perspective, he has been a terrible boyfriend/son/brother. However, Flash has been to war, lost his legs, and watched his father die within roughly a year’s time. People have killed themselves over less. Is it really appropriate to be this hard on him for falling off the wagon and being mean on the phone? Betty especially treats Flash too callously. Who lets themselves into a suffering man’s apartment in order to verbally bash him as soon as he walks in the door?

I totally stole this scan from Bertone Hates Betty #6 to save myself time. Also, go read that article. It analyses this scene excellently.

 

Only Peter shows any compassion. The contrast between Flash’s talk with Betty and his talk with Peter demonstrates respective calibers as friends. The art never even shows Betty facing Flash, a vindictive gesture to rub it in his face that he broke up with her in absentia. Flash and Peter similarly avoid eye contact until Flash confesses his relapse. After that point, Peter invites Flash to a frank, but not judgmental, eye-to-eye conversation. Unlike Betty, Peter counters Flash’s attempts to push everyone away by accepting him and extending an open hand to repair their relationship. The art and dialogue harmoniously convey the contrast between the various relationships. This creative team writes Peter Parker as a good human being. They should write him more often.

Peter Parker is acting like something other than a total tool? Clearly, this is a mistake that the editor overlooked.

 

I wonder how the Secret Avengers will ultimately feature in this book. The last page indicates that Flash will use his position on the team to escape his troubled personal life. I consider that a fascinating angle to explore.

The only scenes resembling action here are Hybrid and Scream’s quick and dirty back alley deaths courtesy of Eddie Brock. While I have no strong feelings towards the second tier symbiotes, I wish Rick Remender would not treat them as being so disposable. These characters have fans and much nostalgia surrounds 1990s characters nowadays. Between this and the implied off-panel death of Toxin’s host, I suspect Remender holds no reverence for the franchise he writes. That said, removing the superfluous symbiotes helps to reestablish Venom’s uniqueness, so I understand the motive. And to be fair, the art leaves Hybrid and Scream’s fates relatively ambiguous, cracking open the door for their returns.

 

RATING:
3.5 mechanical legs out of 5 (good).

I STRONGLY URGE YOU TO LEAVE A COMMENT!

 

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(38) Comments

  1. Jack Brooks

    @Chris: I'm glad my memory still retains odd bits of data like that. The original Venom series had a story where Venom battled a group of symbiotified astronauts who were using allegedly neutered, harmless symbiotes. One of their number, a woman named Donna, had gone bonkers from her symbiote's malignant influence and she murdered all the others with a sonic knife (a la Ten Little Indians). So it must be the same character. Wow, someone reached way back into the Marvel memory vaults for her!

  2. CrazyChris - Post author

    I noticed the web thing, too, and it didn't make much sense to me. Is Eddie using webs, somehow? I really hope Anti-Venom isn't coming back. I want to see where they go with a depowered Eddie.

  3. sthenurus

    @CrazyChris: I think it took em down so effortlessly because he got some help. Look at the page where he is taking down scream. It seems like he uses [I]web[/i] to open the stove thingy door. That and the white eyes (that are only given to symbiotes in this issue) make me wonder if maybe eddie wouldn't already be bonded with a symbiote (toxin) or if his AV suit is recomposing.

  4. CrazyChris - Post author

    5 - Thanks for the correction! 6-11 - Thanks for that, too. The theory that, after losing to Eddie, Hybrid will be recovered by the government and split into components makes a lot of sense. 12 - So does the effortless way Eddie takes down the symbioses seem right to you, then? 13 - I agree. I really hope Marvel confronts the fact that both Peter and Flash are avengers, and that Flash is using a tool that Spider-Man knows is evil, rather than continuing to dodge the issue. 14 - I think the proper term is "symbioses of color." ;) 15 - I think it's just an artistic choice to make Eddie look more sinister in that scene. 16 - I'm trade waiting on the Carnage minis, too. I did enjoy Family Feud quite a bit. 17 - You gave away your secret identity! 18 - I haven't read the planet of the symbiotes. I haven't heard good things. The world-building thought is interesting. It'd be kinda cool to see a symbiote with an alien host become an enemy of Nova or something like that. 19 - The chocolate thing definitely seems like a throwback. The phone thing might be, too. 20 - Eddie Brock's characterization as a hero/anti-hero/villain has been all over the map with no logic guiding it whatsoever, in my opinion. I prefer Eddie to be written as a villain who rationalizes his murders as being a means to a greater good. That's how he's being written, here, so I think Remender is doing a decent job with him right now. 21 - I believe this was the same character. I'm not an expert on the more obscure symbiotes, but the name given for Scream in this issue is "Donna Diego."

  5. Jack Brooks

    I seem to remember reading a "colored" symbiote astronaut-character from the 1990s named Donna, who went bonkers and escaped from Venom and the government. Was this that same character?

  6. Nightmare Freddy

    I really found the issue great with the new develloppements it brought like the Venom suit transferable by phone since it's allow's Flash more use of it in his every day life. I found the romantic tension of Flash and Valkyrie hilarious and refreshing to the point that I kinda hope to see a relationship with the two since I would imagine it to be pretty funny and a unseen kind of romance in my book. But for the part I disliked was with Eddie Brock killing another good guy and backstabing someone to death... Since he had shown progress at becoming a good guy but has quickly degress back as a anti-hero but with clearly evil tendencies, but now at least I know that Venom isn't complety evil, but his two last host didn't helped. Anyway, nice review.

  7. Aaron Romero, Jr.

    I was about to comment on the ridiculousness of the symbiote being able to be transported via phone to Flash... and then I remembered that it's been done before. Namely, in the Venom: Along Came a Spider mini from the '90s by Larry Hama, where Eddie transported his symbiote to his ex-wife via phone lines. That, coupled with Flash nom-noming on chocolate bars to control his need for the symbiote in Secret Avengers #24 (which, again, seems like a call back to Venom: The Hunger by Len Kaminski and Ted Halsted, where Eddie needed chocolate bars to control his hunger for brains), would led me to believe that these are not coincidences but rather obscure Easter eggs by Remender.

  8. Will

    I'm probably among the few who actually liked planet of the symbiotes as a concept, especially when it comes to adding more alien races to the cosmic scene. It's just one of those cool world building expansions that wasn't executed all that well unfotunately, the Web of Shadows game kind of does something cool with the symbiotes though.

  9. Aaron Romero, Jr.

    @Roxas - I think it was different levels of classified information. That's why they didn't know right away that Brock lost his powers. BTW, Two-Bit = Aaron ;)

  10. Phantom Roxas

    @Two-Bit - Thought so. I'm waiting for the trade before I check the story out, since Family Feud is the first 616 story I got. @Aaron - So the plan was to use Anti-Venom, but they then learned of what happened? So that means that Spider-Island took place beforehand, but the events of that story didn't immediately reach the government? As for Hybrid splitting up, it sounds like this issue did a good job at filling in the gaps leading up to Carnage U.S.A.

  11. sthenurus

    BTW what's up with eddie's white eyes? Do you guys think its just the artist forgetting to draw the pupils or a sign that the Anti-Venom suit might still be there?

  12. Sarcasmic

    I remember one of the first comics I picked up was an issue with Scream and other colored symbiotes and a Venom less Eddie Brock on the run from them (I think, it's been awhile). I always wondered what happened to her... Guess I know now.

  13. spideytothemax

    I'm liking Flash's status as a Secret Avenger. Liked Pym's line about whether to tell Spider-Man about the symbiote or not. I just love when other heroes seem to give a damn about Spidey.

  14. sthenurus

    Great review, you nailed it! I just disagree on how easy eddie takes the symbiotes down; and i love how scream get killed the same way she killed the other 4 symbiotes in separation anxiety. Karma.

  15. Aaron Romero, Jr.

    BTW, sorry to spam you like this. I had to split my original comment because it kept getting tagged as spam. I had to narrow it down and figure out what keyword was doing it.

  16. Aaron Romero, Jr.

    ...it’ll give the feds the chance to come in and get the symbiotes for themselves.

  17. Aaron Romero, Jr.

    it’ll give the government the opportunity to swoop in and appropriate the symbiotes for themselves.

  18. Aaron Romero, Jr.

    Whatever Mr. Brock did here, it’ll give the government the opportunity to swoop in and appropriate the symbiotes for themselves.

  19. Aaron Romero, Jr.

    They are lobotomized and used as bio-weapons against Carnage. Whatever Eddie Brock did here, it’ll give the government the opportunity to swoop in and appropriate the symbiotes for themselves.

  20. Aaron Romero, Jr.

    Hybrid is split apart into its four original symbiote components in the Carnage USA mini.

  21. Aaron Romero, Jr.

    Hybrid is split apart into its four original symbiote components in the Carnage USA mini. They are lobotomized and used as bio-weapons against Carnage. Whatever Eddie Brock did here, it’ll give the government the opportunity to swoop in and appropriate the symbiotes for themselves.

  22. Aaron Romero, Jr.

    Finally, in the Carnage USA mini, Hybrid is split apart into its four original symbiote components. They are lobotomized and used as bio-weapons against Carnage. Whatever Eddie Brock did here, it’ll give the government the opportunity to swoop in and appropriate the symbiotes for themselves.

  23. Aaron Romero, Jr.

    The four symbiotes that make up Hybrid are split apart, lobotomized, and used as bio-weapons against Carnage. Whatever Brock did here, it’ll give the government the opportunity to swoop in and appropriate the symbiotes for themselves.

  24. Aaron Romero, Jr.

    And also in the Carnage USA mini, the four symbiotes that make up Hybrid are split apart, lobotomized, and used as bio-weapons against Carnage. Whatever Eddie Brock did here, it’ll give the government the opportunity to swoop in and appropriate the symbiotes for themselves.

  25. Aaron Romero, Jr.

    Also, it was the government’s plan to use Anti-Venom (as well as Toxin and Venom) as a back-up plan against Carnage, but Anti-Venom losing his powers put a damper on that. This is revealed in Carnage U.S.A. #2.

  26. Two-Bit Specialist

    In that same mini, the four symbiotes that make up Hybrid are split apart, lobotomized, and used as bio-weapons against Carnage. Whatever Eddie Brock did here, it'll give the government the opportunity to swoop in and appropriate the symbiotes for themselves.

  27. Two-Bit Specialist

    @Roxas and Chris - There's an editor's note in Carnage USA #3 that indicates the story takes place AFTER Secret Avengers #23 (where Venom joins them). It was Cap who calls on Flash's help after he's briefly freed from Carnage control.

  28. crazychris

    1 - I think the plot would be more interesting if Peter knew Flash's ID and vice versa. They'd have a lot to talk about. 2 - I really like Scream's visual design but other than that I think she's one too many symbiotes. The concept of symbiotes has been dilluted so I really do understand why Marvel is clearing the ranks a little bit. 3 - I haven't read Carnage USA yet, but I think I heard that Carnage USA takes place before Circle of Four because Venom is still working for the Army in Carnage USA. Eddie's symbiote hunt has no connection to the rest of the storyline in the issue. It's just a subplot that's been in the background for a few issues. I asume that it will eventually impact Flash because he'll be on Eddie's hit list.

  29. Phantom Roxas

    So this issue takes place before Carnage U.S.A., but doesn't the first issue of that at least show Hybrid still alive? Granted, I think it also mentions Anti-Venom, but oh well. Just another example of continuity being all over the place. What place does Eddie's (potential) murders of the symbiotes have to do with the issue? It sounds like setup for the summer's "Secret Symbiote" event, and considering that Flash just joined the Secret Avengers, I think I know what that means. I doubt it will be a full-on event on Spider-Island's scale, and will instead just be a storyline that will tie this book with Secret Avengers further. I doubt Amazing will tie in to this because that will be focusing on No Going Back, although Avenging might tie in, which would make sense considering Wells is writing that.

  30. Thrawn

    I always felt Scream had potential. Beyond Venom, Carnage, and Scream, I have no use for other symbiote characters since I felt they sort of detracted from Venom and Carnage. I always thought Hybrid was a joke though.

  31. Bertone

    Thanks for the recommendation Chris! This was my favorite issue in a while. Back to the compelling Flash Thompson stuff after CIRCLE OF FOUR. I loved the Peter/Flash scene! I wanted Flash to tell Peter but the plot wouldn't allow it...but I was emotionally invested! The "teleport the symbiote to you via phone call" thing was odd.

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