Eugene Thompson, who prefers to be called by the nickname “Flash,” is an adult male who presents as being in above average physical fitness. Due to wounds sustained while serving in Afghanistan, the client has had both legs amputated above the knees. He has, at this time, completed intensive physical therapy and recovered from other peripheral wounds he received concurrently during the incursion. Following the incident, he was invited to and volunteered for further service wearing the so-called “Venom” alien symbiote. The alien being enabled the client to walk while wearing it as it acted like a kind of organic prosthetic. It also amplified his strength, speed, resilience, and recovery time.
Given the addictive nature of the bond between Thompson and the suit and the client’s own history of alcoholism, he was initially extensively monitored by the government and given strict time limits for interactions with the suit, However, over time, Thompson’s relationship to the government was severed and the Avengers took over responsibility for monitoring Thompson’s connection to the alien life form. There is plentiful evidence to suggest that the client exceeded the parameters given to him by both the government and the Avengers and received little to no consequence from either organization for these acts.
Thompson is hesitant to admit or discuss the possibility of the violations, which is particularly distressing given his addiction and his stated commitment to a 12-step program that includes the need to be open and honest about slip-ups, relapses, and actions that might have been motivated by use, abuse, or substance seeking that harmed others.
Historically, the client has suffered a traumatic brain injury but appears to have fully recovered from it. He has also been evaluated by the United States military on different occasions for PTSD and trauma-related symptoms. It was determined by the VA that the client did not fulfill the diagnostic criteria for PTSD and exhibited minimal trauma-related symptoms.
As in the past, this writer has significant concerns regarding Thompson’s “use” of the symbiote and life as a vigilante and/or government agent. While he is clearly, fundamentally a good person, the client’s addiction history makes the suit a dangerous proposition in and of itself. Add in significant combat-related experiences including loss of limb and a family history of abuse that has largely been unexplored and it remains unclear to this writer exactly how resilient the client is. Additionally, I find it difficult to evaluate who solid he is in his recovery when he will not openly discuss his use—and possible misuse—of the alien life form with this writer or anyone else on staff.
Discussing him continuing to be Venom in the context of leaving the planet to serve with an intergalactic team of heroes, the Guardians of the Galaxy, seems, in this light, to be an ill-advised idea, to put it mildly. This writer might even be tempted to label it a colossally bad idea, to editorialize a bit more than usual. It is unclear how appropriate and healthy Thompson’s role as Venom is on Earth. To then take him and place him in space, on literal strange ground, untethered from an existing support system, would be disorienting if he had no history of trauma, no history of addiction, and was not depending on a parasite, essentially, to be able to do his job. This writer cannot and will not write a recommendation saying otherwise, for whatever that is worth.
Again, however, as in the past, this decision has been met with several requests for second opinions. To that end, Eugene Thompson is scheduled to see Doctors Brian Michael Bendis and Nick Bradshaw on July 23. This report will be available under the title GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #17.
Psy D. Candidate Tim Stevens, MA is a Dialectical Behavior Therapy Consultant and Psychology intern at a small(ish) university in New York City. In the past, he has worked with veterans who were living with substance abuse disorders.