Eddie Brock is awakened from a nightmare recounting his being forcibly bonded to the Toxin symbiote. He'd been hitching a ride via a friendly trucker to Philadelphia, and he's just arrived. Meanwhile, Flash Thompson reflects on his loneliness once again as he leaves for his new job as assistant coach at West Philadelphia High.
Coach Yates introduces Flash to the students, some of whom waste no time insulting him under their breath. As the kids do ten laps around the gym, Flash recognises one of them as a kid he saved from a beating last night. He also recognises his teenage neighbour, Andi, who he invites to join in, but Andi refuses, saying she just doesn't see the point. At this point, the school's resident jock, Darius Fowler, boasts to Flash about how he's about to beat his top time, reminding Flash of the way he used to behave at school.
Later at night, Venom goes out on patrol again, this time to track down what's left of the strange tech the U-Foes uncovered. As he swings across the city, a seemingly hunchbacked individual arrives home with a shopping bag that contains nothing but dog food. He casts off his coat, revealing himself to be hideously malnourished, with grey skin and three creatures in liquid containers fused into his back. In flashbacks, we see that the U-Foes implanted the creature in him against his will, as a sadistic experiment.
The man attempts to eat the dog food, but he can't keep it down. He then says he has no other choice and turns to a group of bound and gagged hostages, who he apologies to as he prepares to devour them! In the nick of time, Venom arrives. He fights the deformed experiment, who begins to gain the upper hand, telling Venom the creatures need flesh. The symbiote wraps a tentacle around it's neck, throwing it away and saving Flash. Venom makes for his gun, but by the time he has it, the creature is gone. Venom frees the hostages and states to himself that, while this one is going down as a win, he needs to find the creature before he kills someone.
As the U-Foes' experiment flees from Venom, he spots a man in an alleyway, who he prepares to feed on. However, the man turns out to be Eddie Brock, who was tracking Flash. Eddie morphs into Toxin, telling the experiment that they both picked the wrong guy...
This issue has the misfortune of being the middle chapter in the story arc. Not a lot happens here. Flash continues to adjust to life in Philly & Eddie Brock continues to lurk dangerously in the background. That's not to say this issue is boring. Flash is still a compelling protagonist to read even when he's acting as assistant gym coach. it's also nice to see a status quo beginning to take shape. That is, if Eddie Brock doesn't have anything to do with it.
Unfortunately we aren't given any sort of clue as to Eddie's intentions are. This wasn't a problem last issue, but by now we should have somewhat of an idea what Eddie plans to do when he confronts Flash. Hopefully in the next issue Cullen Bunn will give us a clear picture of Toxin's motivations.
Declan Shalvey's art is consistent in quality with the previous issue, and that's a good thing. I'm really enjoying his gritty style, particularly the way he draws Flash as Venom. The action sequence involving Venom & the U-Foes experiment is expertly framed by Shalvey, and the final reveal of Toxin looks brilliant.
While you won't miss out on any crucial plot details if you skip this issue, watching Flash continuing to struggle through life and the brilliant artwork is enough to make you pick it up in my opinion. The next issue looks to be an absolute cracker. We've all been looking to forward to this one Cullen, now you just have to deliver, and I have an inkling that you will...