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
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
3.5 mechanical legs out of 5 (good).
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