Written by Zeb Wells
Art by Clayton Crain
Carnage breaks out some old friends and famous names for a return party, but will the fancy looks be enough to draw in an audience for a character absent for much of the decade?
The main plot reveals itself to be a random corporation having found the Carnage symbiote (after the Sentry making Carnage split in space in New Avengers in 2005) and want to use it to advance their own inventions and goals. It’s not the most original of ideas, nor does it ever turn out well for the corporation. Either people are dense or Marvel characters take their corporate non-disclosure agreements very seriously.
As much as this series is meant to reintroduce one of Marvel’s most psychotic pieces of apparel to the land of the living, this miniseries is started as a sequel of sorts to the 1993 storyline “Maximum Carnage.” Carnage “family” members Doppelganger (a six-armed animalistic version of Spider-Man) and Shriek pop back up after years of inactivity. No telling how far behind Carrion and Demogoblin can be.
This issue focuses on a car chase, with Doppelganger in hot pursuit of an armored truck (why revealed towards the end). Iron Man and Spider-Man soon join in before confronting a mind-controlled mob and some power-tripping guards. This will of course be a very Spidey-centric series, and Spidey is at his Spidey-est with the good balance of humor (and some cereal mixed in). It will be interesting to see if Iron Man sticks around or if any other heroes (or the other symbiotes for that matter: Venom, Toxin and Anti-Venom) appear for a massive team up in that same “Maximum Carnage” vein.
However, with this miniseries only being five issues, it’s doubtful if it will have the scope of the fourteen-issue, year-long epic of “Maximum Carnage.” Yet, with the series being released every other month as admitted to in notes in the back of the issue, it still might maintain that feeling of going on forever.
I don’t know who was actually clamoring for Carnage to return, let alone his all-but-forgotten compatriots from over fifteen years ago, but it’s happening and it’s not bad this far. This issue starts out strong hooking readers with familiar faces and a car chase, which is always a good source for action. Otherwise, not much substance (not unlike Carnage himself), but hopefully there will be more meat to the story in later issues.
Clayton Crain breaks out his copy of Photoshop for the computer generated artwork. The characters are nicely detailed, maybe a bit too much with a freaky close up of one character’s fingers. Still, it works fine for the characters, with a neat and articulated Spidey and a shiny, metallic Iron Man.
The Spider Doppelganger even gets a slight redesign, appearing more bug like. Before, it looked pretty much like Spider-Man with six arms, sharp teeth and compound eyes in the shape of the mask lenses. Now, the Doppelganger features a more spider-like visage with multiple compound eyes and spider fangs (possibly venomous but that is never addressed).
The two drawbacks to Crain’s CGI work are the backgrounds and the lighting. There aren’t too many setting designs, often a gray background or some simple setting with little detail. Not that you could see much in the back because the book is very dark, making it difficult to see even the nice character detailing. The backgrounds are passable given the effort on the characters, but the book really should be brightened up a bit.
Carnage and friends prepare for a return from obscurity. While Carnage does embody a ‘90s EXTREME attitude with his psychotic, mass-homicidal nature and trying to out-evil Venom who is supposed to be the evil Spider-Man in the first place, he can work to serve as a big bad that causes some interesting turmoil in the Spider-Man rogues gallery. It’s worth checking out for some ‘90s nostalgia. Plus, the book does leave you wondering, just who will really end up being Carnage’s new host? Got to keep reading to find out.
Overall (Not an Average) 7/10