In a rare occurance today, Marvel accidentally let the identity of the new Venom slip during a conference call with series writer Rick Remender and editor Steve Wacker. The new Venom series is an ongoing series set to launch in March, with story by Remender and art by Tony Moore (Fear Agent, Walking Dead, Punisher). The new identity of Venom has been kept a secret, promised to be revealed in the upcoming Spider-Man Point One issue in Amazing Spider-Man #654.1, with only the new costume design revealed and the high concept that Venom is now being utilized as a government operative.
BE WARNED – SPOILERS AHEAD
If you don't want to know who the new Venom is, stop reading!
Editor Steve Wacker when discussing the upcoming series let the identity slip by revealing that the new Venom is non-other than former Peter Parker bully and friend and ex-soldier, Flash Thompson.
Many people speculated that the new Venom would be John Jameson, a long time Spider-Man supporting cast member with ties to the government, which would have made sense, but that same logic makes sense with Flash Thompson as the new Venom. Flash Thompson was recently highlighted when he returned home from war a patriotic hero, after losing his legs. WIth his long time history with Spider-Man and desire to do well in the world, Flash Thompson does seem to make sense as Venom.
Now we all know that Venom is an alien symbiote that has a penchant for eating brains. When asked how the government is controlling the symbiote, Remender revealed that the government has solved that problem by placing rules around the use of the symbiote, where a host can only wear the symbiote for a few days and a total of 20 times, "He's a ticking time bomb in so many aspects," Remender said. In addition to the symbiote, the government is equipping Thompson with an arsenal of weapons and access to vehicles like the Helicarrier.
When asked about the focus of the book either on Venom as the symbiote or Flash Thompson himself, Remender said, "Everyone knows Flash Thompson, but its my job to make you care about him as a character. Focus on him and his relationship with Betty Brant, and who he is, a hero. But as long as Flash is the guy wearing the suit, it's 50/50." Editor Steve Wacker added that the book will be about Flash's ability to balance his private/personal iife with his new espionage role with the government.
It's clear that Remender is excited for the opportunity and concept behind this new book, "In Flash, you have a patriot, a true patriot. I love writing someone who is here to serve innocent people and his country and to be a good guy. But at the same time, he's got dependency issues, a temper and character flaws. And we'll see some consequences of that right in the first issue."
The first story arc of Venom was revealed to be focused on an unknown, new villain who's owrking behind the scenes as an international arms dealer. After discovering a vein of Antartic Vibranium (which can melt any metal) in the Savage Land, it becomes Venom's job to keep the Vibranium from falling into this new villains hands, during which Venom runs directly into Kraven. "The Kraven thing will be a big character developing story for Flash Thompson," said Remender. Issue #2 will feature 20 pages of action in the Savage Land in a direct fight with Kraven. In addition to Kraven, Remender and Moore have developed an update to Jack O'Lantern, that Remender believes fans will really get a kick out of.
When questioned about the sustainability of an ongoing series featuring Venom, a character that represents much of the excess of the 1990s comics, Wacker clarified that. "This book has such legs as a concept, and tying it into the Spider-Man books is definitely going to help. There's a strength to that line." He further explained that even though Venom of the 1990s was a punchline in retrospect, that those books sold many copies, adding, "There is a market for the character, he's got one of the best character designs, he ties into Spider-Man, all that combined with what Rick and what Tony are doing," makes him think the book will sustain as an ongoing.
Remender added some further explains why he thinks the book will work with, "whe Iconicness of the character, born as a villain and then have someone like Tony Moore…you haven't even seen the final design – it morphs into something more organic than what's been shown." And fans of the 1990s Venom won't be disappointed either as Remender explains, "He hulks out, the tongue gets longer, and the teeth come out when he wears the symbiote too long. It appeals to the long term fans of the character. But we never lose site of the number one aspect, the character. You truly need to care about Flash and the missions – we just have a super iconic character that people have been waiting for a good take on"
With the government espionage angle, Remender is allowed to think big with this series by not having any set location for the book, rather possibly having Venom go to Latveria, or Utopia or New York City. Wacker explains, "Rick remembers that he doesn't have a budget with his stories, there's no wasted space in his comic book…He's treating this book as if he can go anywhere in the world." And by having that unlimited budget, they explain the book can literally go anywhere. Remender added, "I don't think people will be prepared for how crazy this will get"
Venom #1 ships on on March 2, 2010 with a $3.99 cover price.
Below you can see some penciled pages from Venom #1 by Tony Moore, featuring the new Jack O'Lantern character designs. The cover featured above is Tony Moore's cover to issue #2