SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for The Amazing Spider-Man & Venom: Venom Inc. Alpha #1 by Dan Slott, Mike Costa, Ryan Stegman, Brian Reber and Joe Caramagna, on sale now
It’s a surprising fact, but “Venom Inc.” is actually the first crossover between The Amazing Spider-Man and Venom. Sure, the title characters been in each other’s books dozens (hundreds?) of times, but after nearly thirty years of one of the deadliest rivalries and uneasiest of alliances, there’s never been a story that jumped back and forth between the two titles.
However, there’s never been a story quite as big as “Venom Inc.,” one that needed all that room. The stage was set in this week’s Alpha issue for the biggest Spider-Man/Venom story of all time, as Peter Parker and Eddie Brock clash for the first time in years, a new symbiote villain is recruiting an army and a brand new Anti-Venom makes the scene.
The issue starts not with Spider-Man or with Venom, but with Andi Benton, the Philadelphia-based hero known as Mania. Andi was a neighbor of Flash Thompson when he lived in the city, as well as a student of his when he taught gym at a local high school. When a bounty was placed on Flash’s life, Jack O’Lantern attacked the Bentons to draw him out, killing Andi’s father. In order to save her, Flash gave her a portion of his own symbiote which bonded with the teenager who became Mania. Flash and Andi went through a lot together, travelling all the way to hell and back to confront Mephisto himself.
Unfortunately, things aren’t going too well for Andi right now. While Flash is in New York looking to track down and regain the Venom symbiote, she’s lured into a trap by a gang of criminals who attack her with sonic disruptors, separating her from the Mania symbiote which is vulnerable to high frequencies. The attack was so bad that it placed Andi in the hospital and has Flash Thompson worried that someone is planning something with the stolen suits. He reaches out to Peter Parker hoping that Spider-Man will help him track them down so he can become Venom again, but Peter tells his buddy that Spider-Man is more likely to destroy them once and for all.
Flash Thompson had a unique relationship with the symbiote, which was triggered by a visit to the Symbiote’s homeworld and a run-in with its native species, The Klyntar. It turns out that the Klyntar are inherently noble and heroic, but exposure to unsuitable hosts can cause the symbiotes to be driven mad, which is what happened with the Venom symbiote. However, the Klyntar purified Flash’s symbiote allowing him to unlock new abilities and become a Space Knight, protector of the universe.
Flash had his symbiote stolen from him shortly after returning to Earth with the Guardians of the Galaxy, and it found a home with Lee Price, a small-time criminal who was able to use the suit to move up in the world of organized crime. Meanwhile, Eddie Brock had been working for an anti-symbiote task force and tricked Spider-Man into helping him separate Price from the symbiote, so he could have it for himself. Since then, Venom has been reunited and busy with adventures involving underground dinosaur men and interdimensional parasites, but that doesn’t mean Flash or Lee have forgotten about him.