By Ben Morse
Cullen Bunn began chronicling the exploits of Flash Thompson on his own with VENOM #23 following an initial collaboration with series co-creator Rick Remender. Over the course of nearly 20 issues, the writer has guided the Symbiotic Soldier through demonic possession, trips to the Microverse, relocation to Philadelphia and more.
This October, with VENOM #42, the saga draws to a close as Bunn ends this chapter of Thompson’s journey and shuts the door on the series.
Flash has big things ahead of him beyond the close of his solo book in the pages of SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN and elsewhere, but before jumping too far ahead, we took time with Bunn to celebrate his run with Venom, looking back on the highlights of his tenure and previewing what’s still to come.
Marvel.com: What’s coming up for Venom in the final storyline of this series?
Cullen Bunn: The final six issues all feature [new character] Mania quite heavily. They are her origin story. Of course, she may not survive her own origin.
We get to see the creation of a new symbiote under some strange and surprising circumstances. We see Flash working to establish himself as a real hero in Philly. We see the final confrontation between Venom, Mania, and Lord Ogre. We learn how Hellstrom ended up in so many places—and with so many differing personalities—at once. And we get a battle between Venom, Mania, Crossbones, the DOA, and Mephisto.
Also, Flash and his symbiote have a heart to heart.
It’s an action-packed few issues, but I think there’s a lot of heart to the story you’ll be reading, especially when it comes to Flash and Andi [aka Mania].
The final issue is very personal to me for a number of reasons that we can discuss once it’s been published.
Marvel.com: How have events in the series and your run thus far led to this conclusion?
Cullen Bunn: With the final issue, I try to weave in elements that we’ve seen from the beginning: Flash’s struggle with alcoholism; his relationship with his dad; his injuries. All these things have made him who he is. He’s a screw up and a bully and a guy who is just one step away from really ruining his life and the lives of everyone around him. As we close the story out, though, we start to see Flash getting his act together. He tries to make some smart decisions. He tries to protect the people around him. He even starts to wonder if he’s been bullying the symbiote all this time. Andi becomes the missing puzzle piece that helps him get his life together.
Things change for Flash going forward, and he’s determined not to mess things up.
Marvel.com: What loose ends will be wrapped up in these last issues?
Cullen Bunn: As we move toward the final issue, I’d love to tell you that I would be wrapping up every loose end that’s out there, but that’s not the case. In a shared universe—a continuing universe—some of those threads will be ongoing. But we will be circling back around to the supernatural story that started in the “Circle of Four” arc. Venom and Mania are both tangled up in “the Descent” in one way or another. But for one of them, that connection will be—mostly—severed.
Marvel.com: Where do you leave Flash Thompson?
Cullen Bunn: Frequently, we see Flash run down a litany of who he has been in his life: A jock, a bully, Spider-Man’s number one fan, a soldier, a killer, a monster. At the end of VENOM #42, though, Flash will find himself in a position he would never have expected—or wanted.
Marvel.com: What were the highlights for you of working on VENOM?
Cullen Bunn: There are so many things I loved about working on this series. This book gave me the chance to write the Enigma Force, albeit briefly, in “Minimum Carnage.” That has been something I’ve dreamed of for a long time.
As for the issues and arcs I liked the most, I think I’m most proud of the “Savage Six”—co-written with Remender—the Point One issue I wrote—VENOM #27.1—and the “Toxin” arc. If I were to be remembered for a few issues only, those would be what I’d pick.
Also for the appearance of Hail Mary, the Mother Superior of Punishment, and the Venom-Mobile!
Marvel.com: How do you feel Flash has evolved under your watch?
Cullen Bunn: I think Flash went through pure Hell with me as a writer, but when he came through the other side he was an actual hero; the “dark hero” of Philadelphia, but, more importantly, he’ll be a hero to Andi.
Where he ends up with her will speak volumes to how his character grew and changed.
Marvel.com: As a fan, what do you hope to or look forward to for Flash in the future?
Cullen Bunn: In the final arc, I touch on Flash’s relationship with the symbiote. It’s an encounter that will change the way the two of them interact. I’d love to see that further developed. I think an interesting change would be for Flash and the symbiote to work together in a less adversarial way.
Read the past, present and future exploits of Flash Thompson in VENOM