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Venom: Savage Six

Rick Remender brings together the most ruthless team imaginable to bring Flash Thompson down!

By TJ Dietsch

It's been a tough year for Flash Thompson.

Venom #18 preview art by Lan Medina

Sure, he's starring in his own series co-written by Rick Remember and Cullen Bunn, but those men have put our hero through the ringer. He already has to deal with a symbiote that wants to take over his mind and villains who know his greatest secrets, but as begun in issue VENOM #17—on sale now--and continuing in VENOM #18 on May 16, Flash must now also contend with a cadre of ruthless killers on his tale in the Savage Six.

“Something [editor] Steven Wacker said to me early on was that the challenge here was to build relatable and realistic threats out of characters that were not being used in serious ways,” Remender recalls. “He used the Bullseye analogy: Frank Miller comes in, takes Bullseye and really makes something that counts. Every single creator since who has an opportunity has a Bullseye story. He's a great psychopath.”

During his VENOM tenure, Remender has created an unbalanced wild card of his own in Jack O’Lantern, the deeply disturbed adopted son of Crime-Master who has dogged Flash since his earliest adventures.

“I start from a visual place,” says Remender of Jack’s creation. “It's a super hero comic book and I have to be visually excited. Jack O'Lantern has always been visually appealing. Frankly, he's always been cooler looking than The Green Goblin. From there it was just a matter of building a character. It was just a matter of coming up with somebody who could feel like a classic foil.

“When you see Jack O'Lantern fighting Venom, it feels like Spider-Man fighting Green Goblin, it feels like a weird reflection in another world and I really find that appealing. I made sure that there was a personal clash between Venom and Jack O'Lantern early on. Their first encounter, Venom shoves a grenade into his helmet and blows his face half off. You've got a rivalry there.”

Venom’s dealings with Jack led him into conflict with Crime-Master, who then quickly learned Flash’s true identity and has since used that fact as blackmail material, sending him on illicit errands across the country.

Venom #18 preview art by Lan Medina

“When Crime-Master starts up his operation he's really expecting to go toe-to-toe with Spider-Man; he doesn't know Venom's out there,” Remender says. “Without giving away too much, going back to what Crime-Master's original motives were, this is all coming out of left field. You'll understand why he's been handling the situation the way he has in issue #20. He definitely hasn't handled it like The Kingpin would which would have been to kill everybody. He's been a little more cunning, there's a whole other layer there you'll discover.”

Part of Crime-Master's plan involved bringing together the aforementioned team of villains, each of which sports their own powers and skill sets, making them more menacing opponents for Venom than you might expect.

“The Human Fly is probably one of my favorite villains and I'm probably the only person who feels that way,” Remender claims of the character he re-introduced to the Marvel Universe while writing PUNISHER. “I wanted to show that this guy is awesome. We revised his character; he vomits acid before he eats his prey, he's a cannibal, his wings can deflect bullets and they're razor sharp, he's fast as lightning and he's nuts. He eats hobos because he's a scum bag and he's a human fly.

“At this point, the Human Fly is willing to work with Crime-Master, who's the number two crime boss in New York, for protection and because it might give him an opportunity to kill Hobgoblin and Kingpin, which means longevity for him.”

A wild card in Crime-Master’s designs came when former Venom host Eddie Brock entered the mix, hunting his predecessor as part of a self-motivated crusade to eradicate symbiotes. For his trouble, Eddie got bonded to one of the alien creators, becoming the new Toxin.

Venom #18 preview art by Lan Medina

“Crime-Master sent Venom to acquire the Toxin symbiote, but when he got there Venom went nuts,” Remender reminds. “Venom grew seven mouths, Venom turned into something we've never seen before and tried to kill the Toxin symbiote. He just went nuts on it.

“The Toxin symbiote doesn't like the Venom symbiote. Eddie obviously doesn't like the Venom symbiote. We never revealed why Eddie is out killing all the symbiotes other than he thinks something bad is going to happen with them. Nobody that I've talked to has pieced together that Eddie could be right. Once we saw the Venom symbiote come into contact with the Toxin symbiote, the Venom symbiote turned into something very new and different. That might have something to do with what Eddie knows, what's coming and why he's trying to wipe out all the symbiotes. Of course, now that there's a symbiotic relationship between Eddie and Toxin, it's almost entirely fueled by Toxin's desire to get revenge on Venom. It's a very confused and angry Eddie Brock who's stuck inside there.”

The writer also has big plans for Megatak, another villain he dusted off and put a polish on in his PUNISHER days.

“Megatak is just this immediately interesting character where he is a 1980’s [video game],” he explains. “He's Tron basically in some ways, but reverse. Instead of having you sucked into the computer, its' the computer sucked into the real world. We wanted to keep the design, we tweaked it a little, but he still looks like a big boss from a 1980’s video game and I love that. I love the idea that he was created in 1985 during the heyday of the arcade so his intellect is still very flat and he's not very advanced in terms of his thought process. He follows instructions, he's a tool basically, but his power level is that he can hop into a computer and pop out anywhere in the world.

Venom #18 preview art by Lan Medina

“This plays a huge role in the Savage Six story because he's the thing that stops Flash from being able to get help, being able to call people and warn them. Flash realizes that he's shut down technologically; he's basically going to have to physically make his way around town to warn people and protect them. He picks up a phone and Megatak pops out. I just love the idea that the villain who looks the [campiest] is also god-like powerful in the modern world whereas in 1985 he was just kind of powerful.”

Filling out the team will be Death Adder, a classic bad guy whose actions speak for the words he can’t form.

“He's an assassin,” Remender says. “He's a silent, deadly snake man with claws and is just the kind of guy you don't want gunning for your family. He's super cool looking. He's this character I've always liked since I was a kid because he creeps through the dark and doesn't have a mouth and doesn't make any noise.”

Remender wants readers to know that everything happening in the Savage Six storyline comes from those earliest talks with Steve Wacker about what VENOM should be about: 

“All of these things all go back to the first issue; all of it has been seeded throughout. We've gone to Spider-Island and the Circle of Four and a number of other fun little stories, but this has been the thing we've been building to with most of the plot threads. This one pretty much closes up all the threads that I started.”

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