The Savage Six make their debut! The Toxin symbiote finds a familiar new host! Venom reveals his secret identity to one of his closest friends! All in these two jam packed issues!
Venom #17 - Savage Six: Prologue
A desperate Flash Thompson decides that it's time for him to kill the Crime Master and put an end to his organization before he can destroy everyone Flash cares about. Flash calls Hank Pym and lies to get Pym to send the symbiote via special phone, promising himself that this is the last time he uses it for personal matters.
The Human Fly arrives at the Crime Master's headquarters, where the Crime Master, Jack 'O' Lantern, Megatak and Death Adder have already started their meeting. The Crime Master offers the Fly a place on their team, which he calls the Savage Six. Meanwhile, Venom watches all this from the rafters with a sniper rifle, and aims it squarely at the Crime Master's head. Before he can take the shot however, he is attacked by Eddie Brock, who followed him to the Crime Master's lair. Venom easily webs Brock to one of the beams before he is attacked by the five villains. Seriously outnumbered, Venom barely manages to escape, but forgets to take Brock with him.
Some time later, the Crime Master forcefully bonds the Toxin symbiote to Eddie Brock, creating the final member of the Savage Six!
Venom #18 - Savage Six, Part 1: Public Enemies
Venom arrives at Betty Brant's apartment only to find a note that says she's out with Peter Parker. Meanwhile at a coffee shop, Betty confides in Peter about Flash, to which Peter suggests giving Flash a chance to explain himself. After Peter leaves, Betty is confronted by Jack 'O' Lantern (out of costume) who attempts to trick Betty into leaving with him. Before he can do so, Venom crashes through the window and starts beating him to a pulp, but is interrupted when Betty nails him with sonic pepper spray (a gift from Peter).
Venom takes Betty's weapon and tells her to run. He is then ambushed by Megtak, but manages to get the upper hand by throwing him into Jack. Venom takes off and finds Betty, who still thinks Venom is trying to kill her. Venom asks Betty to trust him, but before he can fully explain himself, the two of them are attacked by Toxin. Venom and Toxin have a brawl throughout the streets of New York which ends with Venom taking Toxin out with the help of Betty's sonic pepper spray.
After the fight, Venom finds Betty in an alley and reveals to her that he is Flash Thompson!
This story arc feels like the culmination of everything Rick Remender has been building towards since his run began. Which is only fitting, as this is his last story arc on the title before Cullen Bunn takes over the writing duties full time. Remender and Bunn really excel with the character work on Flash Thompson; the scene at the beginning of issue #17 where he calls for the symbiote is akin to an alcoholic going into relapse.
Crime Master and Jack 'O' Lantern continue to be truly despicable, entertaining villains. The rest of the Savage Six? Not so much. It didn't feel like the Savage Six were really given a proper build up throughout Remender's run. The Human Fly isn't very interesting, it's way too soon to be putting Eddie Brock in another symbiote suit, and Megatak and Death Adder are devoid of any personality whatsoever.
The artwork in both these issues was really impressive, particularly Kev Walker on issue #17. He's a perfect fit for Venom, and hopefully he'll be back on the title soon (I believe he's currently drawing Dark Avengers, formerly Thunderbolts). While "Savage Six" has its problems, it's hard to imagine Remender disappointing us with his final stint on Venom. Looking forward to reading Betty's reaction to Venom's identity!