By: Rick Remender & Cullen Bunn (writers), Kev Walker (pencils), Terry Pallot (inks), Chris Sotomayor (colors), and Joe Caramagna (letters)

The Story: Flash attempts to kill Crime-Master to extricate himself from his situation once and for all.

The Review:  The first thing to address with this issue are the two big additions to the creative team.  Honestly, co-writer Cullen  Bunn’s impact doesn’t at all change the issue and were it not for the credits page, this issue might as well have been written by Remender alone.  That’s a very good thing, as it means this issue follows the winning formula that’s fueled it for 16 issues or so and Bunn’s input only keeps that going, rather than changing anything up.  The desperate, gritty, and tragic narration by Flash, for instance, is still very much in play and as solid as ever.

The other big addition is Kev Walker on art.  Walker is a natural pick for a series like this, but he actually seems to tone down some of his idiosyncrasies.  For instance, his trademark blocky anatomy only shows up, slightly, in his take on Megatak (which ends up looking really cool).  Otherwise, Walker holds pretty true to the aesthetic and look established for the series by Tony Moore.  Much like Bunn, he doesn’t upset the formula.  As such, what we get is a comic that looks like one of those badass cartoons that played in the wee hours of the night on Cartoon Network (or Teletoon, for my fellow Canadians).  The highest praise I can give Walker’s art,  however, is that he is the only artist to draw an issue of Remender’s Venom that I truly felt did not fall short of Tony Moore’s work on the book.

What carries this issue story-wise is that Remender and Bunn really establish the sense that all the threads have reached their climax, that Remender has set up all of these dominoes and now he and Bunn have tipped over the first one; the story to come will be watching all those dominoes fall down.  There’s a sense that everything leading up to this issue has been Flash reaching his boiling point and now, with this issue, he finally takes action and, of course, it all goes horribly wrong.  There’s a really cool sense in which Flash, in forcibly trying to bring order to his life, has only caused his world to explode into chaos.  The remainder of this arc will be seeing just how chaotic things really do get.

Nonetheless, there is a sense in which it feels that we may have gotten to this climactic moment for the series a bit too soon.  For instance, Crime-Master forms a group of Venom’s baddies, but I don’t think Remender had yet established enough of a rogue’s gallery for Venom for this to truly work optimally.  Crime-Master, Jack O’Lantern (who, as always, is written wonderfully this month), and Human Fly are established, sure, but Megatak and Death Adder are clear tagalongs added in just to reach the number six.  Megatak and his powers look great thanks to Walker, but Death Adder is really just…there.  The result is that the group feels more ragtag than significant.  I wish we’d have had a couple of issues on Megatak and Death Adder before this happened.

The same goes for Eddie Brock and his forced membership into this group.  Brock has been lurking in the background for a while now in this series, but it was a slowburn subplot that I don’t think had had the time to fully simmer and develop yet.  As such, what happens to Brock this month feels a bit premature.

All that being said, the art is great, the action is great, and Thompson is written sympathetically.

Conclusion:  Another satisfying, rock solid issue of Venom with fun art from Kev Walker.

Grade: B

– Alex Evans