by J.D. Cook
Venom Issues: 10, 11 and 12
Story Arc: Road Trip
Written By: Rick Remender
Art By: Lan Medina
If you’re reading with no prior knowledge; Venom is a symbiotic alien suit currently paired with former Peter Parker bully turned War Hero Flash Thompson. It’s a great comic series and it’s ending soon thus my reason for this countdown of it’s top 7 Story Arcs . Beware Spoilers if you’d like to read these or haven’t read them yet! So without further delay Number 2 on the countdown.
Road Trip is possibly the three best issues of Venom Volume 2. It is certainly the most intimate moment of the series as Remender spends the issues getting cozy with Flash Thompson and all of his darkest personal issues as well as the even darker issues of his nemesis Jack O’ Lantern. It’s also the three issues that caused me to write an article proclaiming him as Marvel’s Shining American Star. This is due to the fact that while Captain America embodies the best of what America can be, Flash seems to embody a more grounded reality of what most Americans are. Marvel actually made this metaphor of Flash as a new Captain America pretty literal because the U.S. Military uses the same code name for his creation as Captain America’s; Operation Rebirth. The two representations of American reality literally clash in issue 10 when Captain America comes to shut down the new Operation Rebirth. He sees the Venom Symbiote as a liability that poses far more risk of harm to the world then potential for good. Unfortunately Flash has just been blackmailed into heading to Las Vegas by the Crime Master, with his friends and families lives on the line he does the only thing he can and goes A.W.O.L. after defeating Captain America in battle. I’m not sure if that says something about reality overcoming ideals but I like the idea of It even if it’s sort of a bummer.
Anyway issue 11 deals with Flash joined on his road trip to Las Vegas by none other than his nemesis Jack O’Lantern. This is probably my favorite standalone issue of the entire series simply because of how dark it is and how much emotion it manages to conjure up inside of me for a twisted evil monster. I don’t think I want to spoil his back story for those who haven’t read it but let me say it’s possibly the darkest super villain origin I’ve ever read. It’s part kidnapping, part serial killer and part brainwashing shaken up in a martini of death. This is also the issue in which his modus operandi is revealed and it’s pretty damn equally dark. Jack O’ Lantern’s name doesn’t come from the fact that he wears a flaming pumpkin for a helmet. Instead it comes from the fact that he turns his victims into jack O’ lanterns when he scoops out their brains and plants candles in their eyes. Like I said…it’s pretty damn dark. Jack’s origin aside the issue is fantastic because he must get along with Flash. Each character has a true grudge against the other and they never become anything close to friends but because of that it allows them to be truly honest with each other. Flash calls him a psycho and Jack calls Flash pious; but at the same time it does almost seems like Jack wants Flash to be his friend in some sort of extremely twisted way during the course of their time together. Of course the alliance only lasts for one issue before everything culminates in Vegas.
It’s there that Flash really loses everything he had worked for in the previous issues. His efforts to be a hero fail as he really loses control of the Symbiote. He also fails his girlfriend Betty Brant when he breaks up with her in an effort to distance himself from her for her own protection. The cherry on top is that he falls off the wagon and gives into his alcoholism. Medina does a great job on this entire run. His best work is the confrontation between Captain America and Venom in the snow which looks beautiful because of how vibrant the colors are against the snowy background and the last few pages of issue 12 when he perfectly portrays Flash’s drinking as sloppy and repulsive. I also love the moment when Flash refers to himself as we while a shadow of Venom is penciled on the wall above him and his eyes after Jack gives him the details of his origin. It’s a hilarious and perfect facial expression. Besides all of that it sets up the events of Circle of Four very well as Venom is at rock bottom and being pursued by Red Hulk.
Okay readers! Only one more story arc left and those of you who followed Venom should easily be able to figure out which one is our number one selection. Don’t forget to check back tomorrow on 10-4 for the final part of the Top 7 Story Arcs of Venom Countdown!
Other Articles in this Countdown
3rd Best Venom Story Arc: Circle of Four
4th Best Venom Story Arc: Minimum Carnage
5th Best Venom Story Arc: Toxic Lifestyle
6th Best Venom Story Arc: Monsters of Evil
7th Best Venom Story Arc: Spider Island