Carnage events aren’t for everyone, because Carnage isn’t a character for everyone. There are those that love “Red Venom” and those that consider him nothing more than a remnant of 90′s comic trends. In a world where it seems like every villain has a motivation, or justification that can have them be viewed in a somewhat sympathetic light, sometimes you just need a straight up sociopath to challenge the good guys. Strip away tragic backstories, never establish any real sort of pathos, just a despicable human being who has been granted super powers because of an alien symbiote. That’s what Carnage is. Now, some might try to point to Marvel’s intentions to bring in a villain (Kasady) to rival the Joker of DC, but 1992 was a long time ago and Carnage will come up short in that argument every time.
After the events of the last Carnage mini-series, Minimum Carnage, the Scarlet Spider attempts to kill Kasady via a blade through the eye. He doesn’t succeed, and Kasady is left comatose, having been lobotomized by Kaine’s attack. Does this stop the murderous Carnage from ever being a threat? Of course not. In fact, it just sets up the premise of Carnage being more powerful than ever because Kasady has been taken out of the picture. This is where the set up for Superior Carnage started to fall a little flat. Sure, the idea of the symbiote having absolute control over the host, and thus being completely unrestrained and more violent makes for an interesting set up. The problem? This isn’t Venom. It’s not Eddie Brock, or Flash Thompson, or anyone like that. It’s Cletus Kasady. If you want to explore the possibilities and powers of an unrestrained symbiote, unhindered by its host’s inhibitions, then using arguably the biggest sociopath in the Marvel universe doesn’t deliver the full impact.
The plot of this mini-series is a little weak. Wizard has some new scheme and he has decided to try and harness the power of Carnage to aid him in his quest. Last issue started off pretty strong given the rather hard to care about story arc. Seeing Carnage hiss (Kasady’s lobotomized state leaving him unable to speak) as he tears through the prison was a new presentation of the character, and one that helped hammer the point home of raw symbiote power. In this issue Carnage has taken a backseat, and the focus is mainly on The Wizard and Klaw, and their plans for what to do with something they can’t control. That’s right, Carnage is a minor character in his own min-series. Ock-Spidey shows up for a bit, and his dialogue is well written enough to be convincing that Octavius is taking his new role seriously, but finds a lot of the more tedious bits not worth his time.
Where this mini-series shines the most is without question the art. Steven Segovia’s renditions of Carnage are some of the best that have been done. Even his Cletus Kasady is scarier than the character has been in years. Combine Segovia’s work with the coloring of Jay David Ramos, and you get a very visceral and brooding book. This is what keeps the momentum of the first issue going. Kevin Shinick’s writing for the first two thirds of this issue seems to have taken a step back, and not up to par with what one might expect. In the end though, without giving anything away, he makes a bold decision about where to take the character of Carnage that could potentially lead to the first instance of character development and growth since the character’s introduction in The Amazing Spider-Man #361.
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