By Ben Morse
In 2011, terror overtakes the Marvel Universe as Fear Itself envelops its heroes and villains.
To delve deeper into what lies at the root of this climactic event, each week in Fear Files we will speak with Marvel’s biggest creators about exactly what frightens the premiere heroes and villains whose lives they guide.
This week, VENOM writer Rick Remender dissects Flash Thompson and examines the longtime Spider-Man fan and ally’s weakness for temptation. However, Flash aside, what does the Venom symbiote fear? We asked, he answered…
Marvel.com: What is Flash Thompson most afraid of?
Rick Remender: Once we get into [VENOM] a little bit, Flash begins to rationalize his need of the suit to mask that he’s fearful of losing it. The more he has it and the more it’s a temporary reprieve from his disability, it [becomes more difficult] to discern whether he’s using it to serve others or to serve himself. His greatest fear comes from potentially needing the suit more than wanting it; that he’s going to be bonding with this thing and keeping secrets from people, ultimately losing himself to it.
Marvel.com: What is Venom most afraid of?
Rick Remender: A vacuum. The symbiotes feed on emotion and their hosts serve as nutrients—these things are ticks, they’re parasitic, and they’re not whole until they’re bonded. Beyond fire and sonics, the suit is most fearful of a vacuum and not having emotions to feed off.
Marvel.com: Given how their survival instincts are pretty much at odds, how aware are Flash and the suit of one another’s fears?
Rick Remender: Flash is pretty well aware that the suit is attempting to manipulate him or at least plant seeds in his consciousness. The suit doesn’t lollygag around. For me, one of the most important things [in VENOM] is to make sure that the suit and Flash are both established as characters with motives. In the second issue, the suit makes the decision to stay with Flash when it could have left. It’s found in Flash the perfect host: Somebody who needs it more than just about anyone and has got dependency issues. For the suit, Flash is a banquet, and that their motives are at odd purpose plays a big role in building the drama up throughout the series as Flash realizes he’s becoming dependent on this thing and it’s not making a secret [of what it wants]. It’s very up front about its goals: “We are together, we are stronger together, you’re better with me.”
Marvel.com: Does the fact that Flash has at least some wariness in his role as Venom help him or not really make a difference?
Rick Remender: I think the thing I want to play off more than anything is people’s ability to rationalize any behavior in order to get the thing they’re addicted to. I think it’s just a matter of watching Flash delude himself as to how much he needs [the suit] and whether or not he fools himself into believing he has any control.
Marvel.com: What we’ve discussed aside, would you classify Flash Thompson as a fairly fearless individual?
Rick Remender: I mean, he’s courageous, but there is also a cowardly air to the brutish jock picking on the little nerd, and the entire fifth issue is dedicated to unearthing a lot of the duality of his character. That’s not something Flash carried into his adult life, but he’s had bouts with temperament and alcoholism and all sorts of things. He’s an imperfect person, but that’s why I gravitate toward him as a character. He’s classic Marvel. But beyond his failings and his flaws, he’s a war hero and he’s a courageous, strong-willed guy with a moral compass and a sense of duty to his country. But at what point do you just tell yourself that what you’re doing is for your country and it might just be to keep the suit?
Marvel.com: Does not only his own history of addiction but that of his family play into Flash’s fear of dependency on the suit?
Rick Remender: His dad plays a really big role in the Spider-Island stuff coming up. His dad is the emotional core of the second arc with Betty as his support system, kind of propping him up. The reality of having a father like he had makes Flash more than anything wonder what kind of a person he is and question whether or not he is his father; he has his father’s temperament, he ended up falling into a bottle as his dad did, and all the different comparisons. I think that part of his patriotism, part of his desire to be Spider-Man and to be a hero, is his desire to counter the fear that he would become his father, so it definitely plays a big role in the character.
Marvel.com: What is Flash Thompson’s worst nightmare?
Rick Remender: I think failing the people around him because he failed to keep himself in check. I think more than anything he’s afraid that he will be found lacking; a lot of the overcompensating he does is to mask fear of ineffectuality. If his competency is tested and he fails, if he falls back into the bottle, if he lies or falls into any of the old bad habits and it causes a negative outcome, I think that’s the thing he fears most.
Will Flash Thompson resist the pull of Venom and remain his own hero without falling to failure? Keep reading VENOM, issue #2 on sale now!
For more information on Fear Itself, visit the official event page.