Venom #5 scales back the action to take a heart wrenching view into the life of Eugene “Flash” Thompson. The appropriately titled “Father’s Day” is one remarkable piece of storytelling right there, folks! Rick Remender’s Venom series has been a blast from the get-go, but this latest issue was the proverbial icing on the cake to this point. For the all-out action sort of people, this may issue may be a let down for you — outside of an opening sequence that features Venom thwarting a kidnapping ring by the Human Fly, this issue was basically a 101 on character building.
After receiving a call from his mother, Flash sets off with the companionship of his pal Peter Parker to find his father, who had up to this point been sober. In fact, his father’s sobriety was the main factor in Flash mending his relationship with the man. As the two search the bars of the city, we learn just how tough Flash had it as a child and how it affected him emotionally and resulted in his social actions. Even though Flash and Peter are extremely close now, it wasn’t always that way, as Flash bullied Peter for the longest time. Flash even turned to the bottle himself for a period of time, much like his father. The two pals eventually find Mr. Thompson and it turns out that his health has deteriorated which has led him to drinking once again.
The heart of this story deals with the tumultuous relationship Flash has with his father. He has always sought out approval from his father and has never received it. Furthermore, when your father is a drunk you are typically not apt to receive anything but a verbal barrage of negativity. That is exactly what Remender lays out for the reader as he takes his rendition of Flash to the dark recesses of his inner 10-year-old self. A fractured child desperately wanting nothing more that his father’s love only to have that rebutted at every turn by a raging drunk.
It’s a pretty poignant tale, and one bound to hit home to many readers in some fashion. We all have our demons and this was so easily relatable for any reader to get caught up in. You can sense the trepidation in Flash throughout the course of this issue, even as it pertains to his relationship with Betty Brant. This is a man who dwells on his disability of having lost his legs in service to his country. He comes to the realization that his decision to don the Venom symbiote was for his own gain. Yet above all you sympathize with the man that is Flash Thompson.
Rick Remender delivers a beautiful story of what it feels like to face these types of demons. Don’t we all seek our father’s approval? It just was so relevant and reading it definitely struck a nerve for me. It was a fantastic lesson in character building and humanizes Flash Thompson further. Tom Fowler, who handled the majority of the heavy lifting here, advances the emotional aspect further with an amazing grasp on facial animations. You can feel the various stages that Flash goes through just by the subtle shifts in the artwork. John Rauch’s moody coloring sets the perfect environment for such a powerful issue of comic storytelling.
Venom has been and continues to be a great read. When a writer and art team is as capable as Remender & Co., you really can’t go wrong. Between Venom #5 and Uncanny X-Force #12 (also reviewed by yours truly), you have two masterful Remender stories encompassing two of the most beloved Marvel franchises in Spider-Man and the X-Men. Rick Remender has brought the thunder and I am officially his bitch after such incredible work. This is how you do it, folks!
Robert Tacopina is just your typical average everyday comic book fan. Robert is equally fascinated by both the print and digital formats and loves a multitude of titles. He spends his time waiting for next Wednesday by video gaming, reading, watching movies, following his sports teams, and desperately trying to spread the comics word. Proud to let his geek flag fly.