Flash Thompson may not be Spider-Man but, as Venom, he seems to have some of that trademark Parker luck. ‘Venom’ #9 ended with Flash finally hearing the dying words of his father through a letter that his dad left behind. This issue begins with Flash and his girlfriend, Betty, attending Mr. Thompson’s funeral. The bad luck kicks in when the villain Jack O’Lantern shows up. Jack, posing as an injured man that Flash saved, tells Betty that Flash is also his Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor and he need needs Flash’s help. Rather than reveal his government Agent Venom identity in the middle of a public funeral, Flash agrees to go with Jack.

[Warning: top secret spoilers below]

Jack takes Flash to meet with the Crime-Master who threatens to kill Flash’s friends and family unless Agent Venom does a job for him. Flash doesn’t see a way out of the predicament that doesn’t endanger his loved ones so he reluctantly agrees to Crime-Master’s strong-arm tactics. When he returns to Project Rebirth to retrieve the Venom symbiote, Flash meets one of his all-time heroes as Captain America pays the compound a surprise visit. But, as is becoming a trend with Flash, Cap’s visit brings only more bad news. Cap tells the Project Rebirth crew that their work with the alien costume is too dangerous and is being shut down. The Venom symbiote is to be taken into Avengers custody. Fearing the consequences of what might happen to his friends and family if Agent Venom isn’t able to complete Crime-Master’s mission, Flash steals the symbiote and goes on the run.

[Spoilers end here.]

Since the beginning of this series, I’ve been wondering how writer Rick Remender planned to get around the new Venom mythology that Flash can only use the symbiote suit a limited number of times (and even then only for short 48-hour bursts) lest it bond with him. This issue finally begins to reveal Remender’s plot as Venom goes on the run from the government. There’s no way he can go back to his Agent Venom job now. Plus, after his run in with Captain America, it’s likely the Venom will have the Avengers on his tail as well. No matter where Venom goes from here, it’s clear that Flash is surely moving out of the shadow of Spider-Man and becoming his own sort of hero.

If you’ve been reading ‘Venom’ for the past few issues, the art from Lan Medina will hit you like a brick. The past several issues have featured art from Tom Fowler and Stefano Caselli, both of who have a sort of gritty heavy-handed pencil style. Medina’s artwork is lighter and much more photo-realistic. It’s a welcome switch since this issue is less action oriented than this series has been. Medina’s beautiful images at Mr. Thompson’s funeral set the stage for this ominous turning-point in Flash’s journey as Venom. Not to mention, if Medina’s rendition of Jack O’Lantern’s scarred face doesn’t give you chills, you are a tougher man than I.

Verdict: Buy