The next big arc of Superior Spidey begins, with what is, I was surprised to learn, the first meeting between Flash-Venom and a Spider-Man, of any variety. I could have sworn that he and Peter Parker had tangled before, but apparently not. I was a huge fan of Rick Remender’s run on Venom, so I’m very glad to see this version of the character returning, and for Dan Slott and Christos Gage (this issue is co-written, but it doesn’t miss a beat, Gage and Slott mesh really well) to pick up pretty much where Remender left off (I haven’t read much of Cullen Bunn’s tenure and I have read nothing of the new Thunderbolts).
Flash Thompson is called by his ex-girlfriend Betty Brant to investigate the return of the Crime Master. This calls back to Remender’s run, as the conflict between Venom and the Crime Master (who turned out to be Betty’s brother, Bennett) was the main storyline, and it seemed to be wrapped up pretty finally, with Bennett dying. So who is this new Crime Master? Is Bennett back from the dead? Of course not, as Slott cleverly ties this plot in with the ongoing ‘Original Hobgoblin franchises out old villain codenames’ plot, and this guy is just a scrub who bought the name. That’s what’s so good about this book, Slott is always looking at ways to link seemingly disparate plots together. Venom isn’t just showing up randomly, there’s a purpose.
Since Spider-Man is also monitoring organised crime in the City, he and Venom run into each-other at the Crime Master’s warehouse, and because SpOck doesn’t know that Venom is now a good guy, he proceeds to blast him with fire and sonics to take him down. It’s interesting that this kind of interaction probably would have happened if Peter was still Spider-Man, as he also has no idea what’s currently going on with the Symbiote. However, Slott throws another wrinkle to it, as Flash tries to reveal to Spider-Man that, hey, it’s me, Flash, your biggest fan! Peter would of course recognise Flash and probably stop the fight, but Ock… he didn’t go to high school and become friends with this guy, he doesn’t care! The issue ends with Spider-Man about to strike a finishing blow on Venom, and it’s a great way to set things up for this story. This is two of my favourite Spider-Man related things from recent years (Superior and Flash-Venom) coming together, and I love it.
As usual with Slott’s Spider-Man, there are plenty of other things going on in this issue, chief among them is the opening day for Parker Industries, with Otto giving a delightfully villainous speech. I can’t wait to see where this story goes, especially since it’s having a knock-on effect on a lot of other stuff, and just like with Crime Master being one of Hobgoblin’s franchises, connecting things. So we see that Cardiac is working as a consultant for Parker Industries, and that he and Peter are working on a cybernetic fix for Aunt May’s leg. Added to that, Peter’s relationship with Anna Maria is continuing to get closer and closer, and very soon she’s going to meet his family. The scene where May notices her in the lab was a little odd, is May going to disapprove of her nephew dating a dwarf? That would be odd, she’s normally so perfect.
Throw in some more frustration for J. Jonah Jameson and Captain Watanabe/Wraith noticing that Carlie is missing and blaming Spidey, and things are continuing to creep towards the big finale. Spidey may have Venom on the ropes, but there are worse things coming for him!
Humberto Ramos returns to pencil this issue, and he does his usual excellent job, I think he draws the best symbiots in the business too, so he’s perfect for this storyline.