Writer Cullen Bunn seems to love crafting some crazy symbiote action in Flash's book (I most certainly love him for this) and luckily for him, he's collaborated with a slew of super talented artists who've brought these battles to life. The latest artist, Kim Jacinto, can draw the hell out of symbiotes and chaotic action scenes. Kim's impressed me a huge deal over the past several issues whenever Flash is rocking the organic costume and this issue is no exception. Except now there's two symbiotes, and boy oh boy was it a real treat for my eyes. They look every bit as fierce and intimidating as they should, with jagged tendrils rapidly flailing about, frighteningly sharp teeth, and a great sense of energy and motion in almost every panel. The art takes a bit of a hit whenever there aren't costumed characters around (facial features and details are a bit too rough and abstract for me), but everything else is beyond solid.
"Did you say two symbiotes?" Yes, I did and if you don't know why there's two, you should go read #38, like, right now. Seriously, go away because I'm about to dive into a month-old spoiler. First and foremost, I dig the idea of Andi becoming Venom's "sidekick." Pretty much the entire series has been dedicated to developing Flash, so to throw this into the mix is a huge game changer. It now forces him to be more directly responsible for an individual who is no longer totally helpless against the powerful obstacles that'll head their way. It's a fitting challenge seeing as Flash has tasked himself with being a teacher outside of the symbiote, too. Andi was a pretty cliche character in earlier issues, but with this newfound drive against evil and her odd ability to adapt quickly to the alien,
Andi Mania has a lot of promise when it comes to spicing things up in this title. Her ability to use the sybiote so well has me scratching my head, but due to the questions surrounding it, it surely seems like Bunn will elaborate down the road. Don't get me wrong, this has without question been one of my favorite Marvel books and I love seeing a core focus on who Flash is and how he changes in the wake of these events, but I'm totally welcoming this new dynamic with open arms.
When it comes to Eugen's morals, I find myself in the middle. It's certainly a conflict we've seen a gazillion characters face before, but it's nice having a reminder that it's by no means an easy stance to hold. The likes of Spider-Man, Batman and Superman are prime examples when it comes to their position against killing (I know they all have, but the point still stands that they'll exhaust any and all other options first, people). They put villains away fully aware of the fact that they may indeed break out and, in turn, take more lives. But they know they're tasked with being heroes and therefore need to be an example of the ultimate good. Flash, however, hasn't spent much time in his tights (so to speak) and, while I'm sure many of you won't like his flip-flopping, I think it's a more than understandable mentality. I imagine I'd be every bit as conflicted over the scenario as he is and I'm sure many of you out there would agree, too.
When it comes to Flash's morals, I understand he's still relatively new to this, but I'm somewhat surprised to see him already questioning the "no kill" code. Surely he knew there was a good chance Jack O'Lantern and others would potentially break out of prison, right? As a Spider-Man fanboy, this should be common knowledge to him based on Pete's history with repeat villains. God bless the humans in the 616 universe who are brave enough to keep these villains incarcerated, but, let's be honest, their track record has been sub-par at best.
While the handling of the action scenes continue to be topnotch, it stood out massively when there was a significant lack of motion and impact as Mania struck Lord Deathstrike across the face. The panel just seemed way too stiff. Additionally, Jack was "too strong" and "too fast" in the last issue, yet in this one it's revealed he's just a brainwashed ordinary dude?
Minor gripes: I noticed a small art inconsistency -- sometimes Mania has earrings, sometimes she doesn't. Not a big deal by any means, but it definitely caught my eye at least twice. Also, some of Jacinto's work on humans stands out to me. For example, Constrictor's jaw almost makes him seem like a nutcracker figure and Eugene is unintentionally frightening when he lacks pupils and an iris.
If there's one thing I can expect Venom to bring on a monthly basis, it's oh-so-fine looking art and some crazy, crazy action. Issue #39 absolutely has a more than ample amount of both, but the follow-up with Andi leaves me mixed. It walks an all-too familiar path yet despite that still does a somewhat refreshing job. Plus, Bunn's creative direction for Andi holds a helluva lot of promise. Let's just hope he has time to flesh it out and isn't forced to compact all of his goals due to a possible cancellation. Now we wait and see if VENOM's absence in the latest round of solicitations just means our Flash dose is being reserved for his appearance over in SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN... or if it means his solo series is coming to an end.