Y’all ready for the boss battle round of Spider-Island? After getting the lowest grade yet last issue, Flash and his creative team will make one last Hail Mary pass to save the Spider-Island, domain and series alike. Are they successful?
Spider-Island #5: The Grand Finale
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Paco Diaz
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer: Travis Lanham
C.Artists: Humberto Ramos & Edgar Delgado
Editors: Nick Lowe & Devin Lewis
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso
Mayday: Spider-Woman in The Long Row
Storytellers: Tom Defalco & Ron Frenz
Finished Art: Sal Buscema
Colorist: Andrew Crossley
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Editor: Nick Lowe
He was not just a host: Agent Venom and his team face the giant mutated spider Queen, but seem unable to do any real damage to her. As his final Hail Mary, Flash has the symbiote engulf the Queen, sacrificing himself in the process. The symbiote is able to force the Queen to injury herself drastically, allowing Stegron’s dinosaur army to consume her while being unable to fight back, thanks to the symbiote. Flash gets to say goodbye to his hero and the love of his life, before passing away.
A few days later, one of Doom’s Thors arrives to inspect the realm. Peter Parker is appointed as Baron and explains that people are still spidery, but with free will. They’re being given the opportunity to choose from becoming lizard, vampire, werewolf, dinosaur or bird people as well. Peter and Betty reflect on everything that happened and how Flash would be proud.
He was my friend: This issue is fairly polarizing, which makes sense since every issue since the first has been. There’s some good material, but not a lot of it. Or even material period. This is a very rushed finale, with the final fight composing the first ten pages and then a seven page epilogue, both of which can be summarized in nine sentences. And the epilogue is pretty much just exposition for a world we will never see again, with some (unearned) sentiment sprinkled on top.
That being said, I like Flash’s final play. I’ve written my own version of the Agent Venom story and I’ve always thought that it should end with the death of Flash. He’s a soldier, who has been shown time and time again as someone willing to sacrifice it all, to do the right thing. His survivor’s guilt is a key characteristic of Flash, especially in this mini, as it shows his honor with depth as opposed to everyone telling us. Flash, the symbiotic soldier, is the man who was always going to be the one to make the sacrificial play. So I’m happy I got to see it done here, even if it was incredibly rushed.
Another aspect of the Agent Venom story that I thought should play a part, is Flash’s relationship with Venom. We get to see that here and it would have been an effective touching moment, Venom sacrificing himself to save humanity alongside Flash, if it hadn’t come so far out of left field I wasn’t even aware it was part of the game. Aside from mentioning in passing that the symbiote hasn’t been corrupting his mind, we see no relationship between Flash and Venom in this miniseries.
Artistically, it’s more of the same. Lots of cool creature designs, a lot of full page splashes, but nothing in the boss fight is particularly new or exciting. Even when the symbiote takes over the Queen, it’s drawn in away that really only delivers a giant symbiotic spider for a single panel, as the symbiote struggles to contain the Queen. And we don’t really get to see the money shot of the dinosaur army going at the Queen, it pulls away. I do think the facial expressions are a lot stronger than usual in this issue, which is good for Flash’s farewell scene. Flash dying with a smile on his face as his hero praises him is a nice scene, as is the sun rising on a new day in the next panel.
Frank D’Armata colors the first ten pages in a bleak, darker style while the final seven are more colorful which is a nice, if common way to differentiate the tones of the two scenes in this comic. One thing I do like is that he colors parts of the Queen with yellow glowing spots, a classic design for video game boss battles, indicating where you should attack the creature.
Verdict: It is killing me that this is exactly the ending that would have made this an A+ issue if only the story had built to it. The ending Agent Venom deserves is right here, on the page in front of me, and I can’t love it. In fact, it’s making me angry. Instead of focusing on Venom and Flash, this story was so interested in teasing plot twists, whipping out Spider-Man history, and creating monstrous creatures out of everyone that they ruined it. Still, this issue isn’t at fault for what came before, so I’m going to give a decent grade. The story started and ended strong, but losing itself in the middle really hurt this series.
- Flash and Venom’s sacrifice
- More cool creature designs
Miniseries Review: Spider-Island was a celebration of Flash Thompson as Agent Venom. I’ve never been able to picture a happy ending to this era of Flash’s life. His transition to the Guardians of the Galaxy in the 616 universe always felt off to me, a shift done out of Bendis’ want, rather than being story driven. The Agent Venom days are a dark period for Flash and this story reflects that. Flash is humanity’s last hope when this series starts and he successfully brings back Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and saves the day. This series was Agent Venom at his best, but they oversold this by having him never slip up and having numerous characters praise him endlessly. They gave him a heroic noble death, but the series didn’t earn this ending and so it rang hollow. Instead of focusing on Flash and Venom, Christos Gage introduced a huge cast of characters to help Flash on his quest. And to be fair, there are some highlights in this decision, such as Paco Diaz’s monstrous designs or Tony Stark/Jack Russel stealing scenes. But the biggest mistake made was bringing Peter Parker into the equation. He constantly derailed the story, the discovery of Flash’s secret and vice versa was handled poorly, and he took up time that could have been used to flesh out the Flash/Venom relationship. He ultimately added nothing to the story, except to have Flash sent off by his own hero. But the Agent Venom era was all about Flash moving past his idolization of Spider-Man and becoming his own hero, so this wasn’t needed.
And while I never expected the Agent Venom era to have a happy ending, I do hope that the Space Knight Era of Flash Thompson is all about him discovering joy again. He’s out in space, his relationship with Venom is strong, and the character is a superhero in his own right after everything he went through. Robbie Thompson has been killing it on Silk and I hope he brings some happy days to Flash and Venom.
- Agent Venom at his best…
- Flash and Venom’s sacrifice…
- Character Designs for the Supporting Cast…
- … but too much of a good thing
- … that rings hollow
- … who stole the spotlight from Agent Venom
I am the only Spider to have been raised by a happy and loving Peter Parker: Mayday saves Scott Lang from his daughter’s attack, hiding him somewhere safe, before returning to help her team. She tries to talk Cassie out of Enthralla’s control, but is unable to. Kaine and half of her team is quickly mind controlled by Enthralla, so Mayday takes Cassie out and creates a plan around Darkdevil. She has Enthralla try to entrance him, but the demon inside of Darkdevil overpowers Enthralla and knocks her out. Hope Pym tries to escape, but Uncle Ben Spider-Man stops her. Mayday thanks all of her allies for helping her and they all return home. The series ends with Mayday suiting up in her father’s old suit, realizing she no longer has to dwell on his death but how Peter wanted the world to be.
And that makes me unique: The antithesis of the main story, I would say too much happens here on so few pages. But it doesn’t feel too overwhelming and it all ties together pretty well. Scott Lang’s words to Hope about lingering over her father’s death ring true with Mayday and she finally manages to pull herself together after her father’s death. Her use of Darkdevil against Enthralla is clever and Uncle Ben’s costume is pretty cool.
This short tale took me by surprise, making me far more interested in the Mayday character than I was before. It started a little slow, but really picked up in pace and quality towards the end. I doubt this is the last we’ve seen of Mayday, but if it was, it would be a nice capper to her adventures. We got to touch base with the heroes of her world, her supporting cast, and see Mayday go through a personal evolution.
(both for this issue and the Mayday backup series)