WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Amazing Spider-Man #800
Amazing Spider-Man #800 sees a classic Spider-Man character die in battle in order to defeat Norman Osborn's Red Goblin. Writer Dan Slott is determined to end his decade-long run on the Amazing Spider-Man comic in style, as Peter Parker's closest friends find themselves in the line of fire once again. For Flash Thompson, Peter's one-time bully, it's the very last time.
"Go Down Swinging," Dan Slott's final Spider-Man story, has seen Peter Parker faced once again with the terrible threat of Norman Osborn. The former Green Goblin has bonded with the Carnage symbiote, becoming the brutal and murderous Red Goblin. Armed once again with the knowledge of Spider-Man's secret identity, the Goblin has targeted Peter's closest friends and family. And Amazing Spider-Man #800 wastes no time in putting their lives in danger, opening with the Red Goblin heading out on a mission of murder, targeting Aunt May and Mary Jane Watson.
Fortunately for Spider-Man, he has friends to call upon in his hour of need. Step forward Flash Thompson, Peter's old school bully who has long since matured into a staple Spider-Man character. Thompson has once again bonded with a symbiote of his own, the Anti-Venom symbiote, and he's proven to be the one thing that can actually hurt the Red Goblin. Flash may have been a dumb jock in high school, but when he overhears another Marvel hero refer to Spider-Man as "Peter," he's able to effortlessly put the pieces together.
The reunion of Spider-Man with the Venom symbiote seems like the issue's biggest twist. But by the story's end, sacrifices himself in order to save Peter Parker's friends and family, earning the ire of the Red Goblin - and ultimately dying by Osborn's hands.
It truly is a heartbreaking end to Flash Thompson's story. Spider-Man's secondary cast is well known for being unusually rich and well-developed; of all superheroes, only Batman's world is quite so complex and character-rich. And over the years, Flash has transitioned from Peter's high school nemesis to becoming a hero beloved by readers. He gained military experience, and suffered terribly for it, losing his legs... but inspired by his hero Spider-Man, Thompson worked for the government as the heroic Agent Venom.
He's been a true hero for years now, whether bonded with a symbiote or not, and his story has been a powerful and emotional one. Now it's come to a tragic but satisfying close, giving his life for the hero who inspired him, and with the full knowledge that "Puny Parker" was actually Spider-Man all along. It's a measure of how much the relationship between Peter and Flash has changed over the years that seeing Flash injured in this way causes Spider-Man to truly turn into Venom. But a dying Flash reminds Spider-Man who he is, and who he must be.
The issue ends with a funeral scene, as it must, with Peter Parker himself testifying to the heroism and goodness of Flash Thompson. And so, in the true tradition of comics, Peter delivers an emotional eulogy that's sure to leave Flash fans all over the world heartbroken. Flash Thompson truly did "Go Down Swinging." And he saved Spider-Man as he did.
The Amazing Spider-Man #800 is available now from Marvel Comics.