The comic may be “Amazing Spider-Man” #654.1, but it’s more like “Venom” #0(.1). This is an issue devoted to Flash Thompson as he goes on a couple missions as part of Project Rebirth 2.0. Unlike the two previous ‘.1’ comics from Marvel, this one seems aimed at selling a different series than itself by giving very little of Peter Parker. While it’s the regular “Amazing Spider-Man” team of Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos, this isn’t your regular issue of “Amazing Spider-Man.” It’s hard to view this is a ‘jumping on point’ for anything except the new “Venom” series, which is an interesting approach, but also somewhat confusing given the supposed purpose of the ‘.1’ issues. It’s unlikely someone would pick up this issue and feel compelled to read “Amazing Spider-Man” #655.
We get our first glimpses of Flash Thompson, Super Spy, as he uses the Venom symbiote to help take down an international terrorist group. Slott does a good job of playing up the idea that Flash would have a lot of fun with his new gig and that his handlers wouldn’t be so enthused about sending in an amateur like him, especially when he’s got an alien symbiote attached to him that has a strong craving for human flesh much of the time. The idea that he can only wear the symbiote for 48 hours or less and only on a maximum of 20 missions could lead to some interesting plot points further down the road. The dynamic set up here is a good one, albeit with few surprises. It’s pretty ‘by the book’ when it comes to this sort of story.
Despite the lack of focus on Peter Parker, this story takes place firmly within the recent events of “Amazing Spider-Man,” as Flash learns quickly how his new gig as a superspy can affect his personal life, providing a mirror to the sort of problems that Peter often faces. Like the time limit for the symbiote, Flash balancing his new job and his relationship with Betty shows potential for the new “Venom” series.
Humberto Ramos brings the right energy and mess to any Venom story, even one where barely any of the Venom that readers are familiar with appears. Still, he draws the new Venom costume well and really shines any time that the symbiote is used, like it shifting from the covert ops costume to a tuxedo. One downside to Ramos on art is that he is a very stylized artist and so is “Venom” artist Tony Moore, making the introduction of not just Flash-as-Venom, but also his supporting cast, here a little strange. One has to wonder how the two visual representations will look side by side. Will characters bear more than a vague resemblance to one another?
As an introduction to the new Venom, “Amazing Spider-Man” #654.1 is a fine comic. The plot is generic and allows for Flash to be both suave and an action hero, playing upon his lost legs and his double-life especially well. While this may not be the fantastic new ‘jumping on point’ for “Amazing Spider-Man,” it is an effective way to sell the new “Venom” series to readers.