Flash Thompson moves to Philly as part of Marvel Now!
Writer: Cullen Bun
Artist: Declan Shalvey
Color Art: Lee Loughridge
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Art: Paulo Siqueira & Andres Mossa
Spoliers after the break.
The Plot: Flash (in his wheelchair) moves into his new apartment in Philly. He meets two of his neighbors: a loud angry drunk who threatens Flash because he feels the movers are too loud, and a teen girl, who greets Flash with indifference. Then we get a flashback of Flash saying goodbye to Peter in NYC.
At night Flash goes on his first patrol as Venom. He stumbles upon a dude with a knife menacing his date, and Flash morphs into classic-Venom and threatens to eat his brains to scare the dude straight. This is followed by a flashback of Flash saying goodbye to his elderly mother.
Back in Philly, Flash comes across a gang beating on some teens and attacks them as a floating nun with Ghost Rider-esque chains that he dubs Hail Mary. In thought balloons Flash explains he wants to keep Venom’s presence in Philly low profile so his friends in NYC don’t guess his secret identity.
Back in his apartment Flash decides not to take the serum Beast gave him to sedate the symbiote as he believes he can control it on his own. He then goes to sleep and dreams of how Betty stood him up on what was supposed to be their goodbye. When he awakes his apartment is completely unpacked and police across the hall are investigating an attack that hospitalized the angry drunk neighbor causing Flash to suspect the symbiote was out for a stroll while he slept.
Finally in NYC, Eddie Brock (now with hair and generally looking a lot more like himself than last issue) knocks on the door of Flash’s old place and learns from a neighbor Flash has moved to Philly.
Critical Thoughts: This book does an okay job of setting the table tonally, but overall not much is going on. While taken together the moving scenes show us Flash’s isolation in his new city, that point was already made far more effectively last issue when he bemoaned the two girls leaving by talking to symbiote replicas of them. There’s nothing in the goodbye scenes from New York that makes me feel like I get any new insight into Flash’s relationships with the traditional Spidey supporting cast, and the new apartment characters are (probably by design) not worth knowing.
The super-heroics are also low-grade this issue with Venom just busting up some average street crimes. I did like the interior monologue while Flash is on patrol. While in many stories Spidey sees going on patrol as a relief from the stress of his personal life, Flash finds going on patrol depressing noting it is either boring if nothing happens or you see the worst of humanity when you do find a crime to stop. It’s an interesting perspective/counterpoint to the way patrolling has been portrayed in the past.
Ironically the best and worst moment in this book is one in the same: the scene where Flash goes to sleep and the symbiote presumably takes over. It’s the best moment in that it is effectively done. I like that we don’t see what happens directly, but rather how Flash sees it with a block in his memory and awakens confronted with the results. Plus I’m a sucker for any homage to the classic early Venom stories and the symbiote taking its sleeping host out for a spin is both symbiote 101 and something we haven’t seen in a long time. On the flipside Flash’s decision not to take the sedative makes no sense: both in the context of his narration this issue and especially with what we’ve seen last issue. The scene this issue opens with Flash thinking about how he’s earned the trust of the Avengers to live on his own and then immediately three panels later he makes the most irresponsible choice he can. If you look at the events of last issue, which ended with Flash worried that the demon and symbiote living inside him are conspiring together to take control of his body, it makes his decision inexplicable.
Finally we have Eddie Brock. As a new reader to the series I don’t know why Eddie knows Flash’s secret but I’m cool with it because nothing in Spider-man lore is more intense than stalker Eddie knows your secret and is relentlessly coming for you. Although since Flash does not know anyone in Philly, Eddie’s stalking will probably be much less nuanced this time around. Of course the ending another reason this issue feels like a placeholder, it ends on the exact same cliffhanger as last month: Eddie is coming for Flash.
Grade 2.5 web-heads out of 5.