Venom: Savage Secrets

Venom: Savage Secrets

By Jim Beard

Following the finale of the Circle of Four story in VENOM #14, series scribe Rick Remender ushers in several new wrinkles to the Symbiotic Soldier’s life, including former Venom host Eddie Brock, the Secret Avengers, a cabal of super criminals called the Savage Six and the addition of Cullen Bunn as co-writer. It all kicks off in VENOM #15, due out on April 18.

Venom #15 inked preview art by Lan Medina

Remender notes that Flash Thompson will walk away from Circle of Four with something very important, “the value of working with other people,” as he puts it.

“He’s been sort of a solo mission guy, and because he’s Army he knows the important chain of command stuff,” the writer says. “But I think he learns that there’s a lot to be had by listening to other people and working with other people in tense situations, especially given that lately, he’s sort of been taking it all on his own shoulders and dealing with everything.

“When you look at what we’ve done to Flash in VENOM, I don’t imagine that guy sleeping very many nights. He’s got a lot on his plate and a lot of things to be concerned with. And he hasn’t shared it with anybody or asked anyone for help and he’s just let it all kind of fester and turn into his own little nightmare. When the nightmare of Circle of Four happened, in order to save the world and to put things back how they should be, he and the other cast members all had to lean away from their normal ways of doing things. And that definitely speaks to Flash’s [upcoming] involvement in the Secret Avengers, seeing the value of working with a team and being part of a group that helps.

Venom’s membership in the Secret Avengers will be a plot point that Remender calls a “different deal entirely” from the happenstance team of Circle of Four.

“Captain America has sent the Red Hulk to bring Flash in,” he explains. “He’s a wanted man. And that’s just one of the 15 things that Flash is dealing with on his own and just one of the 15 things that are weighing on him and probably crushing him down a little bit. So to be not only relieved of that, but to be invited onto a secret Avengers squad, I think it’s a big thing for Flash. And I think that the team offers him an opportunity to continue to work with other people and to serve the entire globe as opposed to just serving his country.

Venom #15 inked preview art by Lan Medina

“Cap doesn’t trust the Venom symbiote. But he sees that inside the symbiote is a guy who is a true soldier with gravel in the belly and somebody who can obviously get things done. So when Flash ran off with the Venom symbiote, he sent Red Hulk to bring him in, and now Red Hulk has had the chance to observe what Flash is made of which speaks a lot to Flash’s character; he’s more than just a guy inside a really cool symbiote suit. And given the fact that Captain America has access to guys like Hank Pym and Hank McCoy, two of the greatest scientists in the Marvel Universe, those guys definitely can help turn off—or at least they think they can—the bestial nature of Venom’s rage mechanism. So, in theory they think they’ve got themselves one of hell of a soldier with one of the most powerful suits in the Marvel Universe.”

The writer also notes that he writes the character of Flash Thompson by digging deep within his own psyche for a truth that he hopes becomes evident on the published page.

“I have my own dysfunctions,” Remender points out. “I have my own imbalance. I write Flash in VENOM very much like myself in a lot of ways and I identify with somebody who’s had the background that he’s had and made the sort of choices that he’s made. So, for me it became very personal.

“The reality here is that this is a character who works very well with this particular power set and that he’s got addiction issues. He’s lost his legs and not only is he excited to have this powerful suit, but just to walk again. Just to have all of that mobility return. So that’s going to feed into his addiction issues and so then the symbiote reacts to negative emotions and feeds off of anxiety and adrenaline and things like that; it’s going to be pushing Flash to do things as well so it can feed while it slowly sinks its fingers [into] him and bonds to him. That relationship just became incredibly fascinating and its one that I really enjoyed exploring and it seems that readers have responded well.”

Venom #15 inked preview art by Lan Medina

Another relationship he looks forward to and hopes to build into something mutually beneficial comes in the form of incoming co-writer Cullen Bunn, scheduled to hop onboard with VENOM #17 this May.

“I remember where I was when I first saw AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #252,” reports Bunn of his early symbiote memories. “At the time, I wasn't collecting Spider-Man, but I certainly was after that! Those initial symbiote stories, with Spidey learning about the suit, starting to fear it, and trying to rid himself of it, will always stand out in my mind as some of the most mysterious, creepy, and fun for me.

“I guess I like the duality of Venom, especially when the host is trying to ‘live right’ like Flash. The urges of the symbiote, pushing the host to feed its more feral urges, provides a nice Jekyll and Hyde feel. With Flash, for example, there's this real sense of impending doom, that the world is going to fall apart and Flash is going to fall through the pit and never stop falling, all thanks to Venom. The fact that he teeters so close to the edge but keeps himself from toppling over only amps up his hero factor.”

And the creative, collaborative feeling of working with a co-writer definitely stands as one he shares with Remender.

“Working with Rick has been great,” Bunn says. “He definitely brings enthusiasm and excitement to everything he writes, and that's the best kind of collaborator. He's not content with the same old stories, and he ups the ante with every issue he writes. Not to mention: he humanized Flash Thompson with these stories. For a reader like me who always had trouble seeing Flash as more than the guy who bullied Peter Parker, that was no easy feat. 

“As we work on VENOM together, I think we're bringing a sense of ‘no holds barred’ energy to the Savage Six story. Those five issues will be fast and brutal and scary, I think. Flash is at a turning point in his life. Everything hinges on his actions in this arc, and he's dropping the ball from early on. I think Rick and I both like to punish our characters, so we're getting along just fine.”

“The end result is rock solid,” adds Remender. “I think that Cullen has definitely got crazy chops. So I’m excited to be working with somebody who I respect.”

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