Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Comic Review: Venom #9

Venom #9

Review by Kandou Erik

In the previous two issues the Venom series had a significant and meaningful tie-in to the Spider-Island mega event. This issue here follows directly after the fallout, where everyone in Manhattan has been cured - and Flash is left to try and re-connect with his girlfriend Betty Brant. This issue features the wonderful and always welcome art of Stefano Caselli. Caselli's manga-influenced styles shines beautifully here, deftly depicting large action scenes and small human dramas of the characters themselves.

In the midst of web swinging around Manhattan, trying to find Betty, Flash comes upon a large armored super-tank - which becomes an immediate threat to all civilians in it's path. Since Venom is a Government Secret Agent, having the character just stumble upon villains on patrol isn't a regular thing - but it feels nice to see Venom doing his more classic "Lethal Protector" shtick. Anyway - this tank operator is a low rent villain, but is quickly making A-Level villain kills - running over an innocent security guard, and ultimately a mother and child -- all of whom Flash isn't able to save as he attempts to stop the tank. This of course brings out the old style Venom - ready and willing to kill - as Flash looses control of the symbiote once again.

I really don't see how he can continue to be allowed to keep the suit after all these freak outs - except for the fact he's found a shared need for the creature, and visa-versa. I'm beginning to think Flash will eventually end up permanently bonded to the creature - forcing his continued use of the suit. I don't mind that possible plot point, as I very much enjoy seeing Flash Thompson as Venom, but it's certainly not going to be good for Thompson's continued well being.

The super tank is able to seemingly escape Venom, arriving at it's hideout where the villain comes out of it, only to find Venom having hitched a ride along with it. Venom begins to tear into this guy, slicing off his fingers, beating him senseless, and breaking bones. Flash has lost all control - and is even tellingly referring to himself in the plural, indicating the merging/take-over of the symbiote in his mind. In a shocking call-back to the way the original Venom handled things - Flash decides to not only kill his man, but does so by biting off his head and spitting it back out. This isn't an entirely un-expected development, as it's been clear Flash can't always control this creature - but this character defining moment, happening this soon, was pretty surprising to me. It's not that Flash hasn't been forced to kill before, as either a soldier in the army of on other missions as Venom - but this time it was the straight-up murder of a subdued suspect.

Later we find Flash later in his apartment, where Betty walks in and finally reunites with him. A few issues ago Flash's father had died, with a final goodbye letter he had been given to Flash, but that had been lost. Betty reveals that she had written up a cleaned up version, but still had the copy of the letter in her short-hand. She read it to him - giving Flash the bittersweet goodbye to his abusive father. This entire scene, while good in it's own right, seemed somewhat at odds with the previous "head-eating" scene we saw but a few pages before. The self-destruction of Flash is of course going to be dealt with - but it felt like Flash had simply come back from a hard day, instead of coming off of just murdering someone.

This was a good issue, and a defining point for the character - as Rick Remender takes us deeper and deeper into a morally ambiguous story. This issue simply would have felt more impactful if we had seen Flash dealing with what he had done - instead of just wrapping up the dying father sub-plot. That's a small complaint, though. Over all it was a good issue.

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