A Hail Mary pass refers to any very long forward pass made in desperation with only a small chance of success, especially at or near the end of a half. It’s also the only pass Flash Thompson can apparently talk about.
Secret Avengers #32
“To Hold Back a Black Hole”
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Matteo Scalera
Color Art: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Art: Arthur Adams & Peter Steigerwald
The Secret Avengers: Hawkeye (Clint Barton), Black Widow (Natasha Romanoff), Beast (Dr. Hank McCoy, not in the story), Valkyrie (Brunnhilde), Ant-Man (Eric O’Grady), Captain Britain (Brian Braddock), Venom (Corporal Flash Thompson), Giant-Man (Dr. Henry Pym, unlisted)
***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD***
PLOT: Black Widow succumbs to the influence of the Abyss, and she and Hawkeye continue to guide their jet, which is now being targeted by air fighters. Venom briefly fights Valkyrie but ends their confrontation by webbing her away. Ant-Man, meanwhile, fights the other Masters of Evil; he’s aided by Max Fury, who asks him to help him get back on Father’s good side.
Flash and Eric are soundly beat up by the U-Foes and the Wrecking Crew. Before Taskmaster (the Abyss) himself can finish Flash off, he uses his symbiote to envelope him, shutting off the Abyss’s connection to the world. The crown splits apart into three again, and everyone’s back to normal. The jet lands, and Egyptian air pilots board the plane, but Clint and Natasha have escaped. Venom, Ant-Man, and Fury find themselves surrounded by ticked off villains but are safely teleported away by Lighthouse in the nick of time.
Hawkeye congratulates Flash and Eric on a job well done, but Natasha interrupts, accusing Eric of being a Life Model Decoy sent by Father as a spy. The rest of the team brushes her off, and she quits the team.
Captain Britain tries to warn everyone that the Descendants are up to something, but Hawkeye tells him they’ll take care of it tomorrow. Flash and Valkyrie decide to take their relationship further. Ant-Man, now calling himself the Black Ant, confirms to Father that they are ready to make their next move.
THOUGHTS: What a great conclusion to a very exciting arc. We’ve gone from a rescue mission at a circus, to bar fighting between villains, to a motorcycle chase, to the end of the world, to explosions, to fights aboard planes. Not once did I ever feel like Remender was padding the issue and stretching it to fill the page count. We had great dialogue, good pace, plot progression, and twists everywhere. The art team did a fascinating job. This is how comics should always be.
We start off with a situation going from bad to worse, as Black Widow becomes infected by the Abyss, basically leaving the fate of the world in the hands of Venom and Ant-Man (a double agent). The cliffhanger last issue implied that Flash would have a tough time fighting Valkyrie, his teammate and love interest. He kinda does, but he removes her from the fight so easily (despite her being Asgardian) that it felt like a fake-out. Honestly, I’m glad the issue didn’t dwell too much on this altercation.
Max Fury gets an interesting moment, as he’s seen first silently mulling over whether to get involved in the fight and then decides to help O’Grady out, in exchange for “making things right with Father”, of course.
Once again, Remender throws another Easter egg at us Venom fans, as Flash thinks to himself, “No Hail Mary play. Can’t cover the whole world in symbiotes.” That’s a reference (I think, anyway) to Planet of the Symbiotes, a ’90s story arc in Amazing Spider-Man, back when Ben Reilly was the Scarlet Spider and Eddie Brock was Venom. Even better, it was a clever solution to defeat the Abyss that I definitely did not anticipate.
Natasha confirms to the Secret Avengers that Ant-Man is a LMD and a Descendant spy. I don’t quite get why the team would not believe her. I realize that in the Avengers’ eyes Eric helped save the world, but no one stopped to think why Natasha would make an accusation like that. Even sillier is how they have another immediate threat to deal with, but they decide to go to sleep instead. I can understand that one, though: you really can’t go on without sleep (as I find out every time I have to write a review).
Flash and Valkyrie decide to stop playing around. I really don’t have anything else to add to that other than he sure got over Betty quick.
I’m glad that O’Grady was confirmed as an LMD. The implication here is that the original Eric O’Grady DID die back in issue #23. He died like a hero then, and I know I was annoyed when he was alive and well immediately in the following issue. However, now his sacrifice remains intact, as it does not get diminished thanks to the presence of his imposter.
VERDICT: Secret Avengers #32 is a strong finish to the story arc. Fans of Venom and Ant-Man will definitely appreciate their parts in the story. If you’ve been reading the previous issues, expect to see the same quality work by the creative team. Again, comics should always be like this. 4.5 Symbiotes out of 5.
STORY ARC RATING: 4 Symbiotes out of 5
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~My Two Cents