A long time ago, during Secret Wars, Spider-Man found an alien symbiote and wore it as a costume. Later, that same creature would become the entity known as Venom, who has been both good and bad depending on its host. Now the current host, Flash Thompson, has been having some serious problems with the symbiote while out in space with the Guardians of the Galaxy. So decades after its first appearance, Bendis is going to take us on an adventure to the symbiote’s home planet!
After being crushingly underwhelmed with the last few issues, this one at least points in a more positive direction. For anyone who is a bit behind, there’s a nice recap that sets up some of the events going on here. The main focus is on Flash and his desperate search for a way back to Earth, as Bendis shows that he is no longer in control of the symbiote. It’s during those moments where the story is at its best. Whether Flash is attacking people in dark alleys or going up against Gamora, you’re sure to be entertained.
Now, when the story shifts over to the other members of the team, specifically the Star-Lord/Kitty Pryde romance, this issue almost grinds to a halt. There may be some long term plan for their very long distance relationship, but it just seems like an excuse to have each character pop up via hologram in each other’s titles. Plus it really seemed to go on for far too long, and sooner than halfway into their banter you’re hoping it ends so the story returns to what’s going on with Flash and the symbiote. It is also a bit odd that almost everyone in the galaxy seems to be familiar with the symbiote and how dangerous it is except the Guardians. From bartenders, arms sellers, to drunken pilots, the existence of the creature seems like common knowledge.
What is a huge bright spot with this issue is the artwork from Valerio Schiti and Jason Keith. This redesign of the symbiote is one of the best, and is far removed from anything that resembles Spider-Man’s costume. From the living robe-like form to the full blown beast that takes over Flash, it’s an eye-pleaser whenever on the page. There’s even another version that’s a nice mix at the end of the issue when the symbiote takes on a new host. The amount of detail during the Venom/Gamora fight makes that sequence the high point of the issue, and really helps to turn things around.
Overall, this is a fun issue that despite its low points delivers better quality when focusing on Flash and the symbiote. Hopefully Bendis will do just that in the coming issues of this arc and give fans a defining moment for everyone’s favorite symbiote!