Due to an inexplicable lapse in priorities, I have allowed the Venom reviews to fall behind. Because new things are objectively more interesting than old things, I will catch up in reverse order, beginning with issue 22 and proceeding to issues 21 and 20. We’ll call it “The Curious Case of Venjamin Button.”

Let’s begin with the end. The end of Rick Remender’s run, that is. Does this epic stick its landing with its final issue? Read my review for the only opinion that counts.

Leave a comment about the issue or the review, and since this is the final issue let us know how you liked Remender’s run overall!

“Father’s Day”
WRITER: Rick Remender
ARTIST: Declan Shalvey
COLORIST: Lee Loughridge
LETTERS: VC’s Joe Caramagna
COVER ART: Tony Moore & Val Staples

Jack O’ Lantern has gone killin’, leaving clues at each crime scene to lead Venom to his lair. While Venom follows the trail, he reminisces about his abusive father.

When Venom reaches Jack’s hideout, he finds his father’s corpse sitting in a chair with a bomb attached. The bomb explodes and Jack attacks. Venom retrieves the gun attached to his dead father’s police uniform (was Mr. Thompson buried packing heat or did Jack just dress him up?) and shoots Jack with it. Venom explains that although he and Jack both had lousy fathers (the Crime-Master, in Jack’s case), they can break the cycle through better choices. Venom lets Jack live and Jack goes to super villain prison.

Flash confesses his recent rogue behavior to the Secret Avengers, Betty throws out her Flash photos, Mama Thompson sits sadly, and Ralph Waldo Emerson quotations exist. The End.

Remender’s final story arc hit readers with several insane developments that needed better payoff. Sadly, he squanders his final issue on already-well-traversed territory; Flash thinks about his dad and fights Jack O’ Lantern. It feels like I could pull any random Venom issue out of the pile and that description would fit.

The issue doesn’t even deliver that extraordinary a fight. When a twenty-two issue run ends with a battle between bitter, super powered nemeses, one expects a climactic spectacle, a grand finale. Here, Jack falls after a few bullets and a punch to the gut. It pales in comparison to every other Venom/Jack fight so far, especially their first encounter and the utter rampage from issue #12.

All too many pages merely depict Venom swinging around a generic cityscape. Remender should have dedicated that space to amplifying the battle or to better closing some half-heartedly settled plot threads from the “Savage Six” story, e.g., Betty learning Flashes identity and the Crime-Master’s backstory.

I hope you like looking at Venom swinging around, because this issue has pages and pages of this.


This issue’s saving graces come from the flashbacks depicting heartbreaking vignettes from Flash’s childhood. While some scenes show the brutal, direct violence perpetrated by Flash’s father, the more compelling ones convey the subtler degradation that Flash endured. Two stand out: one where Flash’s dad humiliates Flash in front of the whole neighborhood over some football cards, and a second showing Flash’s water-spined mother expressing her denial by blaming Flash for a beating he received from his father. The art team shines in these scenes, particularly Lee Loughridge, whose monochromatic color schemes inventively heighten the emotional content.

This page is brought to you by the color red.


I wish these ingenious artists had more interesting material to work with in the present day story, which is all bland swinging around and a short fight. Even the flashbacks barely overcome the worn welcome of stories regarding Flash’s father. This issue left me wanting more, and I mean that in a bad way. Rick Remender has apparently run out of ideas for Venom.

2.5 daddy issues out of 5 (neutral). The flashbacks just barely justify purchasing this issue. It is too bad the final few Remender Venom issues have been so disappointing because his run as a whole is easily the best run on a Spider-Man related title I have read since before One More Day.


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(8) Comments

  1. CrazyChris - Post author

    I don't think I got this one wrong. However, I wish I had gone into a bit more depth about the themes of the issue. The primary thesis of this issue is spelled out clearly in opening pages and Venom's final statements to Jack O' Lantern. Basically, Flash's insight is that the abuse he suffered has put some of that same anger into Flash, and Flash has been hurting others (the imagery the comic uses to illustrate this is Flash drinking and yelling at Betty). This contagious lashing out is what the issue refers to as "venom." The issue hints that Flash's father got the venom from his own father, Flash got it from his father, and now Flash is on the precipice of spreading it further. When Flash lets Jack O' Lantern live, he's taking the stand that he needs to make better choices in order to break the cycle. If Flash "turns a corner," as Hobo-Goblin puts it, then that's where it happens. I get it, and its deeper than what's in your average super hero comic, but for some reason I just wasn't moved this time like I was with other issues dealing with Flash's father, especially #5. The main reason is that dedicating yet another comic to Flash's daddy issues feels like going to the well at this point. We've had the "he's dying" issue, the "he's dead" issue, the letter issue, the funeral issue, and now this. Also, more Jack O' Lantern? He had a perfectly fine send-off last issue where he fell into chemicals but it was pretty much spelled out that he'd return some day to plague Flash. This confrontation was unnecessary. When it comes to Jack O' Lantern, Remender did everything right in making him a great villain except one thing; he overexposed him. This issue was just the perfect storm of "this again?" No matter how profound its insights were, the issue just couldn't overcome how sick I am of Flash's daddy issues and Jack O' Lantern. Another fundamental problem is that the plot spends too much time twiddling its thumbs. I'd estimate that at least a third of the page space in this issue is just Venom swinging around. That's pure clumsiness on Remender's part. I don't understand why Remender didn't have Venom reach Jack O' Lantern sooner so that something more interesting could have been going on in the present day while Flash had his flashbacks. Wouldn't the theme of violence begetting violence be better served by putting Flash's abuse side-by-side with the beating he dishes out to Jack O' Lantern? So, I get why some of you guys thought that this was a great, emotional issue. It had some great IDEAS in it. For the most part, though, it did not come together well in my opinion.

  2. Bertone

    Brother in law got a funeral!!! But still no name.... Surprised Remender didn't pull the "Flash beaten by father" "Sha Shan beated by Flash" connection. They almost went there at one point but didn't.

  3. Iron Patriot

    I'm with Mike. While the issue was pretty light in content, I thought it was packed with emotion. Plus, I think it's a good ending to the hell that was Remender's run, with it being a quiet issue, like the night after a long day at work or whatever.

  4. Mike 13

    I disagree... I thought the issue had lots of depth and was a wonderful read... in spite of how horrific the content was...

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