It’s been a tough time for Flash Thompson playing hero in the symbiote suit. This arc sees him blackmailed by his new wannabe arch-nemesis and forced to go across the country to do something bad. He’s backed into a corner and hoping a solution will appear later on. It’s not a great plan.
This issue concentrates on the villain, showing us that for every messed up hero there must be an even more messed up opposite. The new Jack o’ Lantern is a very weird guy. He holds each scene like a manic comic actor. For every line nailed he offers plenty of dreck. He’s a guy who is on all the time and you have to figure a guy with his face has only his personality to offer. His sob story origin is depraved and interesting, but nothing too revelatory. Seeing him act the way he does now is far more interesting than hearing about his childhood and why he is this way.
Each scene change for these road trippers brings a plain scenario that doesn’t offer much on its own. The twist, and enjoyment, comes from seeing Jack interact with these people and settings. His world view is skewed, and his interaction is even more aslant. The outcome is something new. If you can handle low key narrative for bizarre payoff then you’ll enjoy this issue. Mostly.
Lan Medina’s art doesn’t always match the script. His facial expressions miss beats with the words and one explosive moment is lost in translation. Aside from inconsistencies, Medina draws a hell of a Jack o’ Lantern. The grotesque face essays vicious glee and strange inner turmoil. The art choices on the final panel are brilliant, as a gory moment is played down so as to hold more meaning than cheap gasps. It’s a spooky moment you won’t forget and a great finale to leave you really pondering the situation Flash finds himself within.
“Venom” is a strange little comic; it’s mostly concerned with exploring the emotional ramifications of these situations, yet also tries to play on a scale perhaps bigger than its title character can carry. Flash is on the road to a mini event, but we care more about his new nemesis than we do about him. Perhaps interacting with other characters and sharing the mess will help the overall narrative come to life in a way it hasn’t quite yet. Only time will tell if Remender can inject the care into this book it needs.