Venom vs. the U-Foes round 3, plus Flash makes a life-changing decision and a familiar face returns.
Writer: Cullen Bun
Pencils: Tony Silas & Roger Robinson
Inks: Decastro, Mendoza, Bit & Robinson
Color Art: Mossa & Fabela
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Art: Shane Davis & Morry Hollowell
Spoilers to follow after the break:
The Plot: Flash narrates this story in the past tense beginning by saying he wishes he could remember how he saved the day. This is because the symbiote is in control as we open. It begins by dodging the U-Foes attacks while using its tendrils to possess the U-Foes’ generic thugs, who then turn their laser guns on the U-Foes. Valkyrie wakes up and realizes the symbiote is in control and sets about freeing the hostages while Venom is keeping everyone busy. The U-Foes eventually manage to corner Venom but it’s a trick as he’s also mind-bonded with scientists the U-Foes were using to operate the sci-fi tech and Venom uses the Philadelphia Experiment technology to teleport the U-Foes away, leaving them to float in another dimension.
Hours later Venom reemerges with Flash back in control but no memory of the battle. That night he looks over the cityscape talking to Valkyrie, who convinces him to stay in Philly as there are people who need his help, more sci-fi bunkers to look for and possibly a place to belong and find a fresh start. However Flash learns neither Valkyrie nor the reporter Kiernan will be sticking around (seemingly writing them out as possible romantic interests). Then in a wonderfully creepy scene we see both girls have already left and Flash was talking to the symbiote and using it to mimic the girls’ faces. Also I should point out Flash mentions several times when trying to figure out what happened during his blackout that besides the symbiote, he apparently has a literal demon imprisoned inside him and he’s not sure which one took over, or even more forebodingly if they are possibly working together to overthrow him in his own body.
Finally in Brooklyn, Police break into some gang hideout only to find a stack of mutilated bodies. Things go from bad to worse when Eddie Brock drips down from the ceiling in the Toxin symbiote and while he starts talking about how he did the cops a favor in killing the gang-criminals, it doesn’t take long for him to morph into fangs and kill the cops too.
Critical Thoughts: I definitely like the set-up of Flash’s possible descent into madness here. I’m not sure I see the need for there to be a demon inside him since the symbiote has more than enough established history to do this on its own. (And there’s a reason I’ve never bothered to read Ghost Rider); but I at least like how Flash expresses his worries about this, admitting he’s in over head and doesn’t know much about demons or symbiotes let alone how they might interact.
I have no problem with writing Valkyrie out of the series. I think Flash’s supporting cast, and particularly his love interest, should be more civilian-oriented than super-powered. On the flip side, I would not mind seeing Kieran come back. It’s not that she did anything in this story to be inherently interesting on her own, but I’ve always liked the Bugle supporting cast and considering how Brock-Venom also has his roots in journalism, I think having a civilian journalist in the series would feel thematically right.
Finally we have the arrival of Eddie Brock. While I always love to see Brock, this introduction leaves me a little wary. First artistically he looks absolutely nothing like himself as a human: he’s bald, not muscled and seems to have boils. Brock was long ago cured of cancer, so why does he look so awful? The stack of bodies also looked much more like the handiwork of Carnage than anything Brock ever did as Venom, and for me Carnage wore out his welcome after his second story. I freely admit to preferring Brock in his classic form as a psychopathic villain over the Lethal Protector anti-hero, but even in his early years while Brock often killed Vault guards that got in his way of going after Spidey he never reveled in the body count and he often preferred suffocation to disembowelment in his kills, thus his webbed up lair on the ceiling hanging over the stack of viscously killed bodies in what the police call a “trophy room” feels completely wrong—again a lot more like Carnage than Venom. Still since it’s only two pages and is clearly meant to whet the reader’s appetite for a Flash vs. Brock fight, I’ll withhold judgment until we see how Brock is portrayed for a full issue.
Grade: 3.5 webheads out of 5