Flash Thompson’s had a rough year. He’s had both friends and family die, joined the Secret Avengers, lied to the same team about his addiction to the Venom symbiote, and completely ruined his relationship with Betty Brant. In the final pages of ‘Venom’ #21, Flash had decided to come clean with his Secret Avengers teammates about where he’s been over the past several months.
The way that Rick Remender chooses to tell about Flash’s deception is a pure piece of comic brilliance. This issue follows Flash as he cleans up the one loose end of the Savage Six storyline and tracks down Jack O’Lantern. After Jack killed Flash’s brother-in-law, our hero isn’t too keen on letting the mad man walk away from their next encounter. To make matters worse, in the time since Crime-Master’s gang being defeated, Jack has been killing people every day and taunting Venom, even going so far as to leave a trail. It’s obvious that Jack wants this showdown as much as Flash.
Flash’s tracking of Jack is set against an inner monologue wherein Flash recalls his turbulent past with his abusive and alcoholic father. This is told in a series of vignettes that show the elder Thompson abusing his family and the effects that it had on Flash’s life. Flash sees in himself the same “venom” that his father had. Beneath his all-American veneer of quarterback, soldier, and Avenger, Flash is still hurtful towards others and full of pent up rage.
That rage comes leaking out when Flash finally faces off with Jack and the Venom symbiote begins to show its teeth. But the question that Remender forces Flash to ask himself is this: Is Flash doomed to live with the same curse that his father did or can he turn the page and become a true hero?
In the fallout of the Venom/Jack O’Lantern showdown, we see that this entire story has been a recounting of events by Flash to the Secret Avengers. Flash says that he’d understand if the team booted him and that he takes responsibility for all of his actions thus far.
In the end, this is a beautiful closing chapter of Remender’s run on ‘Venom’ before Cullen Bunn takes over writing duties completely with ‘Venom’ #23 next month. Bunn has been co-writing the last several issues but left this final farewell issue to Remender and it definitely is a fitting way to go. Remender closes out his run on the title in such a lovely way that, if this were a final issue, it’d be perfect.
I’m just glad it’s not the last issue and can’t wait to see where the new creative team is going to take Flash in the future.
Story by Rick Remender
Art by Declan Shalvey
Cover by Tony Moore & Val Staples