Carnage can sometimes be thrown the short end of the stick when it comes to building his character. This version of the Symbiote can be treated as second fiddle to Venom, when it should be used as one of the deadliest, deepest characters in Spider-Man’s villain catalogue. With the connection it has to Cletus Kasady – that literally runs through his veins – tormenting it, the question has always been what is the greater of the two evils: Kasady or the Symbiote?
In this, the first in a brand new run from writer Gerry Conway (who is no stranger to the world of Spider-Man) and artist Mike Perkins, we pick things up with Cletus on the run, but certainly not lying low. His conversation with the waitress in a diner is sinister enough, but when his rage – and the Symbiote – is released at the sight of “the one that got away” he sets off to track down Manny, the only survivor of his first mass murder.
On the flip side of this story, because we need some light to this darkness, we meet Manny, who is helping the military lay a trap to capture Carnage in an abandoned mine. The military seem to have it all planned out to every detail, despite the arrogant mine owner (my money’s on him not seeing the end of this story) and the wildcard that is Eddie Brock; he’s here as the worst case scenario back up, controlling Toxin, the Symbiote offspring of Carnage (and thus “making Toxin Venom’s grandkid”, says Eddie, “ and making me kinda my own grandad.” Conway certainly brings a sharp humour to things.)
Killing off a selection of troops using his stealth in a pretty horrifying manner, Carnage corners Manny, who insists to her team that she can take him down; she clearly has a point to prove and wants to be done with this maniac… once and for all.
But what kind of a first issue would this be if the military’s plan to capture him went swimmingly? Escaping into the mines below, it’s up to Manny, Eddie and a handful of troops to go down after him. No sign of Toxin yet, but we can’t throw everything at it up front; let’s tease out the big fight for a little bit yet.
It’s a tense read at times, from that opening scene in the diner when that feeling of dread begins to build; you know that Cletus is capable of terrible things, you just don’t know which terrible things he has already committed and which ones we still have ahead of us. The horror elements of the character are also brought to the front – Carnage is a true nightmare creature after all – and the descent into the darkened, claustrophobic mines is only going to add to this.
A very solid start, to what could be a very creepy, very fun series indeed.
4 out of 5 Nerds