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Flash Thompson Venom

Marvel Select
by yo go re

At this point, Venom is like the STD of the Spider-Man supporting cast: it's getting passed around among everybody.

Football star Eugene "Flash" Thompson was a bully in school, always picking on his shy classmate Peter Parker; ironically, he was a huge fan of Peter's alter ego, the Amazing Spider-Man. After school, Flash did multiple tours of duty in the military, but a mission in Iraq ended in tragedy with Flash losing both of his legs. Recruited by the Department of Homeland Security, Flash was bonded with the captured Venom symbiote, which provides him with artificial legs and allows him to undertake new missions for the government. Each mission is a constant struggle, however, as Flash tries to maintain control over the aggressive symbiote.

Originally, the symbiote was just lonely and wanted a host - over the years it's been increasingly portrayed as a sinister being, and has even been shown to be able to speak on its own (something it could never do before). So basically, it's gone from a (relatively) harmless if clingy boyfriend to a full-on "I'll kill you if I see you talking to another guy" psycho. Yay progress?

"Agent Venom" was designed by Tony Moore, who turned something that usually mimicks superhero spandex into a thicker, stiffer suit of body armor, suitable for a soldier in the field of combat (even if a lot of his missions do seem to take place not on a battlefield). The torso is covered front and back by armored plate, held in place by (sculpted) buckles and straps. He has thick boots with "hourglass" patterns on the soles like a black widow spider. There are ridged armored sections on his upper arms and legs, with a matching area of ridges around the torso under the breastplate. The armor on his shins, forearms and shoulders is thicker than the rest, and also has small organic spikes growing out of it - a reminder that this is a living being, not metal and cloth. Those pieces, as well as the chestplate, have a rough, pitted texture. The figure was sculpted by Jean St.Jean, who even bothered to put the webbing ports on the back of the hands.

The paint is not as simple as it seems: rather than being plain black and white, Venom has been given varying shades of grey, so the details of his suit don't get lost. The white areas of the costume are not just detailed with paint: rather, the edges are all sculpted in, on the legs, torso, hand and even the face. They did miss the white apps on his shoulders, though.

As you know, my Marvel Select collection is based on picking ones that will blend with 6" figures, but at 7⅜" tall, that doesn't really apply to Venom. And when he was announced, I figured I'd pass on the Marvel Select version and wait for a Marvel Legends release - after all, Flash was a new character and seemed like a good candidate for ML. But as someone on our message board pointed out, the same thing could have been said about Anti-Venom, and he hasn't been a Legend yet either. Considering that the symbiote has a history of making its wearers ridiculously big, you can handwave his size. After all, he's got no legs now, so who's to say the suit isn't giving him a little height boost there?

Fortunately, the articulation is good enough that you don't just have to have him standing straight up and breaking the illusion of scale. He has hinged ankles and knees, swivel thighs, swivel/hinge hips, swivel waist, balljointed torso, swivel wrists, hinged elbows, swivel biceps, swivel/hinge elbows, hinged neck and swivel head. The waist really serves no purpose, thanks to the range of the torso joint, and the wrists are somewhat blocked by the forearm plates. There are odd little bands around his ankles: they've part of the character design, but why are they done like this instead of just being sculpted on? Additionally, Venom's head wouldn't turn at all when I opened the figure. I boiled it and pulled it off the peg, and found an extra little sprue of plastic that was holding it in place; one quick snip later, Venom was back to full mobility. His shoulderpads are mounted on balljoints, so they move very well with the arms.

Since Venom is working for the military, he uses a variety of firearms in the course of executing his duty. This figure only comes with two, but they're nice. He's got a large revolver, which fits in the cross draw holster on his belt, and a tactical pistol that goes in a holster on his right leg. Yes, both guns are designed to be held in the right hand. You can blame that on the design, since the sculpt is just following its lead. No less dumb, though. The trigger finger on both hands is extended, which is useful.

The figure comes with a display base, but it's a bit generic. He stands on a 3¾" x 4½" pile of rubble, with large chunks of concrete and various broken pieces of machinery surrounding him. The sculpt is good and it would suit pretty much anybody, but that's just it: it would suit pretty much anybody; there's nothing that makes it specific to this figure. Back in the day, comicbooks used to have "inventory stories," scripts that were written and drawn and kept in storage in case a book was late and they needed to run a filler; this feels like an "inventory" base. That said, if anybody thinks they have a better idea for what the base could have been, we'd love to hear it.

Flash is a Disney Store exclusive. He was originally available in a four-pack with re-releases of Marvel Select Spider-Man and Green Goblin, plus a new Lizard. The single-packed version has just begun to show up, though, so it's time to find a Disney Store. Or find a friend who can find a Disney Store, because they're kind of rare these days. Anyway, Flash has come a long way from being a high school bully to a member of the Avengers and the Thunderbolts, and though a 6" figure would have been preferable, this is an excellent release.

-- 12/31/12

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