Venom: Spaceknight #9: Trials
Writer: Robbie Thompson
Artists: Kim Jacinto & R.B. Silva
Colorist: Java Tartaglia
Letterer: Joe Carmagna
C.Artist: Ariel Olivetti
Consultant: Dan Nevins
Editors: Kathleen Wisneski & Jake Thomas
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso
It Was Like Something Was Missing: After being consumed by Venom last issue, Flash is forced to fight his way through his past mistakes. Facing conflicts like his father, his bullying, and his alcoholism, Flash fights Venom from within while his teammates fight him from outside. Flash finds the strength he needs from a memory of his mother, while 803 weakens Venom long enough for Flash to take control. After the fight, Flash decides to take Venom back to the Klyn’tar home world in search of something that will make Venom pure and whole again.
Back on Earth, the missing piece needed to make Venom whole again is revealed to be Mania.
I Forgive You: I find myself very torn while reviewing this issue. One of the things I try to keep in mind while reviewing is that I am reviewing what is on the page, not what I wish was on the page.
What we are given for the first two thirds of this story is a weak rehash of a familiar storyline and tired Flash Thompson cliches. Flash’s demons in the issue are as follows: his father, his past as a bully, his alcoholism, and his desire to be Spider-Man. Flash’s abusive father has been done to death, but it does allow Kim Jacinto to deliver some creepy images. His past as a bully makes sense; of course Venom would use Peter Parker in both identities against him. And while using Spider-Man against him leads to a cool interpretation of a classic Spider-Man moment there is nothing new here, nor is particularly well done. Even the stuff involving alcoholism was done better last issue. I wish we had seen something of Flash’s past as a soldier (since he’s been roped into being a soldier of the Cosmos now) or maybe the toll being away from home is taking on him. What we got here is not bad, but it has been done better by other writers like Rick Remender and Cullen Bunn in the past.
Thankfully, the final trial saves the day. Rose Thompson’s fear of Venom (going all the way back to 2012) is a long untouched plot point from Flash’s past. Flash’s mother was traumatized when Flash mutilated Human Fly in front of her (back in the Savage Six storyline) and Venom began to haunt her when he was possessed by a demon. Venom tormenting his mother is one of the reasons Flash left New York and is usable as a reason for Flash leaving Earth as well. In his trial, Flash is trapped in Venom’s most monstrous form and yet he still manages to reach out to his mother. Flash is shown to be incredible competent at handling Venom this issue and Rose Thompson is what allows Flash to overcome Venom this issue.
It also helps that 803 is incinerating Venom with a rocket engine at the same time, reminiscent of the way Venom hurt Tarna’s Klyn’tar two issues back. 803 is definitely the MVP of Flash’s teammates this issue, but they all prove themselves to be loyal to their captain this issue. RB Silva draws some great fight scenes against Venom. There is some nice mirroring of events from the artists working from within and outside Venom. It is good solid artwork all around, creepy and action paced. The decision to use Flash’s team to make the issue action heavy is a smart one by the creative team.
This issue does feel more like setup than finale. Flash’s battle with Venom is not over, with a trip to the Klyn’tar home planet in his immediate future. The issue’s final page revelation that Venom is unable to be made whole without Mania is a great one, hopefully bringing Flash’s Philadelphian sidekick back to the pages of his comic in coming issues. I would trade our entire supporting cast, sans 803, for Andi’s return. Hopefully she does not lose her symbiote.
Verdict: A strong third act, and entertaining action throughout save this issue from a cliche first couple thirds. It serves more as setup than finale, but it starts Flash on a path that leads him home. It has been awhile since Flash Thompson has been home and hopefully it leads to strong character work and cameos from Peter Parker, Betty Brant, and Rose Thompson.
- Flash Thompson’s final trial and actions
- Creepy interior artwork
- Entertaining exterior action
- Cliched demons