Flash meets a new zombie-cyborg villain.
Writer: Cullen Bun
Artist: Declan Shalvey
Color Art: Lee Loughridge
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Art: Shane Davis & Morry Hollowell
The Plot: A flashback shows how Eddie was bonded to the Toxin symbiote against his will. Then we see Eddie arrive in Philly.
Over in his new apartment Flash is lonely. He’s also still not taking his symbiote repressor drug. Flash starts a new job as a high school gym teacher, and interacts with the blasé teenager he met last issue outside his apartment then meets a young jock who reminds Flash of how he used to be in high school.
That night Flash goes on patrol and comes upon an emaciated dude with green glowing chemicals pods welded to his back about to eat some hostages. They fight with chemical dude transforming into some kind of expanding cyborg. In flashback we see chemical dude was also the unwilling victim of some forced bonding experiment. He’s about to eat Venom when the symbiote throws him across the room and he disappears, allowing Flash to free the hostages.
Chemical dude then comes across what at first appears to be a homeless man in an alley, but who turns out to be Eddie Brock, who then morphs into Toxin.
Critical Thoughts: This story is moving at a glacial pace. For three issues in a row now the cliffhanger has been a variation of Eddie is coming for Flash. Really most of what I said about last issue still applies. Flash continues to be grossly irresponsible in not taking his symbiote repressor, especially after he blacked out last issue. Flash continues to be ineffective as a hero, as now the symbiote is taking over in the midst of battles with characters that don’t even seem all that threatening like glow in the dark skinny cyborg dude.
We also get a page of Flash being lonely again in his new city, even thought he mentions later this is his only second day in town. Who gets lonely that fast? Especially in the midst of the hustle and bustle of a new move and new job. I think normal people would find those two things time-consuming enough for a two-day period and Flash also has his Venom activities going on as well. I don’t see how Flash has time to sleep let alone be lonely if he’s both working as a teacher and doing super-heroics at night.
I actually liked the idea a few years back of Peter and Flash going back to Midtown as teachers so I think the idea here of putting Flash back in a school setting in theory has merit. However, thus far the civilians and students we’ve met at the school are not interesting in any way. Also the excuse for Flash going to work at the school is less than ideal. Flash says his military salary doesn’t cover the cost of an apartment so he needs a job. That seems to reflect poorly on serving in the military and/or the Avengers. Why can’t Flash just decide to go back to teaching because it’s a career he’s held before, he likes working with kids and he finds it grounds him compared to his alien shenanigans. If Flash is going to be a passive observer in most of his super hero fights can’t he at least have active motivations in his personal life instead of reactive financial ones?
I also want to say I’m not sure I buy much of the logic in the Eddie Brock scenes. Whoever it is that bonded Eddie to Toxin says he wants to weaponize the symbiotes for profit. And bonding it to Eddie does that how? Shouldn’t he bond it to some loyal henchman or soldier if his motive is profit and weaponization rather than to a known unstable psychopath that he seems to have no lasting connection with or control over? And why does the Toxin symbiote immediately take over Eddie’s mind within seconds of bonding? I’ve read some of the original Toxin stories where that symbiote was bonded with some cop dude who had no experience in the world of super powers and yet he was able to keep the symbiote under control most of the time. But Eddie Brock, who has years of history as a true symbiote, is instantly subsumed by this younger symbiote? Heck for that matter why do they bond in seconds? As we know from the original symbiote story with Peter it takes months for the symbiote to fully bond with a host if the host is not a willing participant. Putting all that aside, why is Eddie hanging around an alley like a homeless person at the end of the issue? I mean he’s spent three issues telling us he’s coming for Flash and now that he is finally in Philly his big plan is to huddle up in an alley of a major American city and hope Flash comes across him by chance?
Grade: 1/2 of a Web head out of 5. The only good thing about this comic is the cover.