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Amazing Spider-Man #654.1

A comic review article by: John Giltinan
Not being a regular reader of Spider-Man comics, I picked up this issue not for the titular hero, but for his notorious villain prominently displayed on the cover. The idea of a new Venom piqued my interest. Whether villain or anti-hero, the character usually makes quite an impact. Paired with Flash Thompson, the original symbiote is poised to start an exciting new chapter in its life as a government agent.

This issue details Venom’s first and second, official assignments. One goes smoothly, the other not so much. What this comic does best is establish the tenuous relationships between its characters. Flash has not been the best boyfriend by his own admission, and his promise to improve is not convincing. He is not better off with his superiors in the army who question his competency as an agent, and are willing to leave him vulnerable in the field at the first sign of classic Venom. Worst of all is his relationship with the alien parasite. It is hinted that Flash is getting too comfortable with the idea of being Venom, he has already lost control to the symbiote once. Everything in Flash’s life is close to crumbling, how long this delicate balancing act will last will be intriguing to follow in the character’s solo series.

I had no idea who Flash Thompson was before this issue, but Slott does a great job of introducing him to unfamiliar readers like me. After just a few pages I felt like I had a good understanding of who he is and what he was about, a feeling only deepened by the conclusion. If all you know is Venom, this issue will give you a good idea about the man behind the suit.

There is a vibrancy to the characters; the colors are bright and their forms are alluring. There is a cool blue tinge to the Venom suit that helps set it apart from past incarnations when the symbiote bulks up. Whether sleek like armor or a bulging mass, Venom always looks a formidable threat. Most striking is the final scene of foreshadowing, while Flash may be physically separated from Venom there is still a lingering presence of menace in his life.

The final pages are devoted to previewing what regular readers of Amazing Spider-Man can look forward to. As mentioned above, I’m not a regular reader of this title, but even I was interested at the possible developments. It all looks to be quite entertaining.

If this comic does not get you excited for the new Venom series, then nothing will. The characters face a palpable threat in the form of a man who wants to do right, but may not be able to control the darker urges. I say, buy it.

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