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Laura 'ad astra' Sack writes...

Small ramble on the character of Flash Thompson (noticed over time, but prompted by his behavior in Gangland)...

I haven't read the comics so I don't know how much of this is original to you and how much of this is from Lee/Ditko/Romita, but he really is an amazing character, (and is backed up with some fine voice work). He could just have been a jock/bully/buffoon cipher, but he isn't.

The first glimpse we got was when Peter was acting as a jerk under the influence of the Symbiote. Flash is in the hospital, presumably visiting Aunt May, and gives Peter whatfor for mistreating his friends and family. We learn later that they had once been friends, but there doesn't seem to be any love towards Peter prompting him. One can assume that he gave the advice for the benefit of Aunt May, and maybe even Gwen and Harry. He has an innate sense of ~something~ that made him actually angry to see Peter mistreating others. A very strange thing to see in a bully. All this amusingly and believably followed with an insistence that no word of this kindness be known by others.

Later we see that he has the good grace to wear a cheerleader outfit with pride after a lost bet, and enough respect of his teammates that they joined in the costume. We find out that for all his bluster about being quarterback and BMOC he is justifiably proud of his accomplishment and for the right reasons - he feels a responsibility to his team, on and off the field. He hates Harry later, not for being a wimp, but for disappearing when the team needed him.

He displays bravery - From what we learn as the series progresses, messing up his knee is an acceptable trade for winning the Championship. Had it just been about him, and not his team and school, that would not be the case. As funny as it is to see his adulation of Spiderman, he ran out in spandex and crutches and stood up to armed bad guys. And, though my memory is faint with the months since the episode aired, I think he also tried to help Spidy against Venom.

Back to his interaction with Harry- another surprise; Flash's strong sense of honor. It's one thing to be honest enough not to juice and even be horrified that a teammate did, but to immediately realize that it taints his own accomplishment and have the moral strength to go to the authorities and lose that championship despite absolute certainty no one would ever have found out?. Add to that he may well have sacrificed his own athletic future to get that championship? Very impressive. It's no wonder Shashen (sp?) finally agreed to go out with him.

Speaking of Shashen- he originally went after her just because she wasn't interested, but the change in his voice (kudos to the actor) when she explained why she agreed to go on that date further impressed that he is at heart a very fine human being and probably will be a impressive adult.

So not so small a ramble...oh well.

A few questions-
1-Given all these positive characteristics, how did he become a bully? I get how he got the swelled head, but actually picking on Peter, Harry, Gwen and presumably others? (I think I remember you writing that he saw Peter as somewhat of a fake, but Harry who was such a... 'nebbech' to be pitied and Gwen?) {mmm…spellcheck suggests nebbish for nebbech- I have to ask a Yiddish expert what the nuance between the two words actually is.}

2-When did he and Peter stop being friends? I gather it was a long time ago or else Harry and Gwen would not have been surprised. Was there a particular reason or did they just drift apart as Flash grew into a big strong athlete and Peter became a brain?

3-When did he start picking on Peter? (If I remember what you wrote correctly; when did he start seeing Peter as a fake?) Was 'Puny Parker' a long standing animosity, or did they spend years just not being anything to each other after the friendship ended?

4-Extrapolating from his visit to the hospital I'm assuming that despite not liking Peter, Flash retained a fondness for Aunt May and Uncle Ben. Was he hit hard by Uncle Ben's death? Did he in anyway reach out to Peter or conversely become less sympathetic in some way as a result?

5-Or am I completely off base and the friendship was so long ago Peter's parents were still alive?


Greg responds...

1. We had a very specific reason in mind for why Flash disliked Peter... and I'm on the fence whether or not to reveal these things now that the show is over. His feeling about Gwen and Harry were less pointed (at least until Harry ditched the team, as you noted). He just had no use for them in his world. He also bought into the high school caste system that Sally's always going on about. He's still evolving in my mind.

2. Specific. I just need to make an overall decision about whether I'm going to reveal this stuff or not.

3. Ditto.

4. He was there for Peter, not May, which is not to say that he dislikes May. But specifically he was there to do what you saw him do on screen.

5. Not saying.

Response recorded on May 07, 2010