Wednesday, February 2, 2011

We Are Not Venom, Flash Thompson Is!

By Corey Schroeder

Marvel Studios has spoken, the next person to wear the black symbiote suit will be longtime Spider-Man fan, but erstwhile Peter Parker victimizer-to-friend, Flash Thompson! For those unfamiliar: Thompson began as a bully who used to terrorize Peter Parker, but ironically was one of the first people to majorly support Spider-Man, in spite of his public perception as a menace. After character development became chic, it was revealed that Flash came from a broken, alcoholic household and he used his bullying as a way to express his inner-turmoil. He then joined the army and straightened out his life, reconciling with Parker and becoming friends with him. On his second tour of duty, he was wounded while saving an officer and lost both his legs, though regained the ability to walk through prosthetics.

To editorialize a bit, as well as fill in Venom’s backstory for those unfamiliar: Venom’s never been the deepest character. He began as Eddie Brock, a rival reporter to Peter Parker who, through an extremely convoluted plotline, was fired only to find the black symbiote suit that Parker had rid himself of and joined with it. He dubbed himself Venom because, I kid you not, he was forced to write “venomous lies” for tabloid newspapers. Seriously. But since it was the 90s and up was down and black was white, people ate it up and he got his own comic as a “lethal protector” after numerous attempts to kill Spider-Man. Learning the stinging lesson early that fanboys will demand a title that they never plan on buying, Venom went off the radar for awhile, emerging periodically to menace Spider-Man and muse on how much he hates injuring the innocent until Mark Millar’s “Marvel Knights: Spider-Man” series.
Brock was diagnosed with inoperable cancer and wanted to do some good before he died, so he was auctioning the symbiote off to the highest bidder while donating all the money to charity. The questionable logic of unleashing such a terror on the populace while donating a large amount of money to charity aside, it wound up on a mobster’s weak-willed son. The symbiote hated Angelo’s weakness and killed him, then bonding to Mac Gargan, the Spider-Man villain Scorpion. Gargan joined up with the Thunderbolts where, under the watchful eye of the brilliant Warren Ellis, he vacillated between being a scrawny, brooding sociopath and a hulking, cannibalistic berserker. He was a part of the brief team of Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers, but wound up in government custody and separated from the symbiote in prison. Apparently the government plans to attach it to war veteran Flash Thompson and run covert ops in foreign nations. Sounds f’ing AWESOME.

One of the symbiote’s coolest abilities is the ability to slowly corrupt its host, but this has rarely been used to effective ends as the creature almost always wound up bonded to someone who was already a psycho, so there wasn’t really a “fall from grace.” Marvel’s plan to use a good-guy with the symbiote, though a good-guy with some demons in his past as well as a temper, could make for a much more interesting dynamic with Spider-Man but also a much more interesting character to get his own solo-book as he wrestles with his conscience and tries to retain control of the literal darkness within. Particularly since Flash has wanted to be Spider-Man for years, even dressing up as him and being abducted by Dr. Doom at one point, and now he has the chance to have that power, but will also potentially learn that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. I’m interested in seeing where they take this new character and if they plan on molding him into a friend, an enemy or even possibly one then the other.

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