Flash was first introduced in Amazing Fantasy #15. He was the school’s top football player, the girls loved him and he spent a lot of time tormenting Peter Parker. What made the Peter Parker thing interesting was while he seemingly hated “Puny Parker” he was the self-proclaimed biggest fan of Spider-Man, even began a Spider-Man fan club and would go on to put himself in danger and nearly being killed by villains while dressed as the web slinger.
As the years went on, Flash grew up and his relationship with Parker would change. He was the best man in Peter’s wedding to Mary Jane (sorry, forget I said that – that wedding never happened thanks to Mephisto!) and would eventually join the service and his heroic nature would cost him his legs. He became a semi-regular character again in Amazing Spider-Man after his return from combat.
Then Marvel let slip that a man with no legs would become the new host for the Venom symbiote and would be their top ‘black ops’ guy. I must admit, when I first heard this I scoffed. Then I picked up Amazing Spider-Man #654.1 (which should have actually been called Venom #0) and I began to see this in a different light. After reading that issue I started to rethink the possibilities of this new concept for the Venom Symbiote: It’s now being used by the military as a ‘black ops’ deal. The symbiote is allowed to be on its host for no longer than 48 hours or else the bonding becomes permanent. This is interesting and brings up the question ‘what happens if he’s trapped and can’t get the suit off?‘ Simple. The brains behind him have placed a ‘kill switch’ which will take care of the problem.
In Amazing #654.1 we learned the answer to the one big question I had: Flash lost his legs, how does that work? Well, the Symbiote creates new legs for him. Pretty cool. Flash gets his legs back for a short time and is able to continue to serve the country he loves so much. As long as the Symbiote doesn’t bond to him permanently, what could go wrong? Well, Flash has anger issues and is apparently an alcoholic. He has to keep his anger in check, if it gets out of control then the Symbiote begins to take over and we see the Venom of old complete with teeth, tongue and the eagerness to eat people, not just brains anymore.
Overall, I have to say I was surprised and pleased with this new take on Venom. It puts the concept of the character in a new light. Before, Venom was the Eddie Brock, whoever/Symbiote combintion but now, the suit IS Venom. It represents the concept of Venom. The best way I can explain what I mean is by saying the suit slowly poisons the host body, making them a less controlled version of themselves unless the host can maintain control and get the Symbiote off before the 48 hours are up.
So, what happens in this issue? Venom is trying to locate and capture an arms dealer who is also on the list of a mysterious man who has sent Jack O’ Lantern to get him as well. The story takes place in a war zone and shows some of the finer points of wearing a living costume: Venom can run through the area and while attacking and killing the enemies, the suit then picks up their guns and you have tendrils holding guns and shooting everywhere. Fantastic! The ‘mystery man’ was very interesting to me. Marvel used to do stuff like this a lot back in the 90’s and it got boring. When the mystery man in this issue first appeared, I found myself actually pausing the story and trying to figure out who he is. It’s actually an interesting part of the story!
Beyond that, this issue gives you everything you need to know about Venom’s new station in the Marvel Universe. It’s unique and entertaining. Even the skeptic in me was made a believer. The art of Tony Moore was NEVER in question. Even if I didn’t read it, I would have flipped through it to look at Moore’s art. It was just fantastic. It’s nice to have a comic book with art that isn’t afraid to look and feel like a comic book.
Overall, this was a fantastic issue and delivered on every level. Action, drama and actual character development, especially towards the end when Flash and Betty have an argument and Flash wanders the streets alone.
Venom #1 is top shelf and certainly recommended.