The Story: Flash attends his father’s funeral, and mourns his losses.
What’s Good: I’m a big fan of Tony Moore, so when I heard that he would be doing the art for Venom, I started picking up the book basically to see more of his work. Likewise, when Tom Fowler was first brought in as a substitute artist, I was pleasantly surprised by how close Fowler stayed to Moore’s aesthetic without compromising too much of his own sensibilities. But in this issue, Len Medina brings in fine, smooth pencil work and clean, open settings that present the biggest departure yet on the art front. It’s a risk for a book previously noteworthy for dense, rich textures, and it pays off beautifully.
“Austere” best sums up the atmosphere of this issue. From the opening in the cemetery, to Crime Lord’s den, to Project: Rebirth itself, everything feels cold and unwelcoming, and even eerily quiet. The fight on the snowy cliffs actually had me feeling chilly as I read it. For an issue with less nail-biting action and more verbal confrontations than we’ve seen in previous issues, the effect is great.
On the writing side, I’m similarly impressed. Matching a one-note villain like Venom with the complex character of Flash Thompson has turned out to be mutually beneficial, as I suppose befits a story about a symbiote. But given how stale most incarnations of Venom have been, this is a truly welcome change. Rick Remender uses this issue to deal with the fallout of three plot threads: the death of Flash’s father, Jack O’Lantern and Crime Master’s knowledge of Flash’s identity, and Captain America’s discovery of the true purpose of Project: Rebirth. Remender does a great job with each thread, and weaves them together deftly. Particularly well handled is the very cruel and very clever way Jack returns to the scene. In the face of the ensuing confrontations, Flash makes some decisions that really shatter the status quo for the series, and take our hero on the first steps toward the upcoming “Venom Event” in February. I can’t wait.