Yes, Carnage, the psychotic, symbiotted, serial-killer offspring of Venom, born in the excess of the 90’s, is back for Marvel’s Axis storyline. You don’t really need to know what’s going on in Axis to enjoy this series, all you need to know is that Cletus Kasady’s morality has been flipped, and now he possesses a desire to do good and save people. The problem is, his warped mind doesn’t really know how to do that. But, he tries anyway, and hilarity ensues. Dark hilarity, but hilarity nonetheless.
Last issue, Carnage decided he needed some help figuring out this whole hero thing, (and, boy, did he…) so he decided to kidnap a TV news reporter to give him some pointers. In the process, he also managed to save her from the new and disturbingly improved Sin-Eater.
Writer Rick Spears is performing a masterful wire-act with this script. He’s been able to take a deeply disturbed villain and write a funny and entertaining comic without sacrificing Carnage’s deeply psychotic character. Especially in issue #2, you’ll laugh out loud at his hijinx, and you’ll gasp at what’s going on inside his mind. Spears is managing to craft an excellent character study out of what I might have expected to be just a novelty comic.
In the story, Carnage manages to convince his new “friend,” reporter Alice Gleason, to guide him in the ways of heroics. Carnage foils a bank robbery, though I’m not sure the bank in question will be thoroughly pleased with his efforts. But Alice is basically using him to get a good story to advance her career. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to cross even a morality-flipped Carnage. There’s some real tension in what might happen to her once Carnage finds out he’s being played.
German Peralta shows off some range with his art for this book. His illustration is able to lend weight to the serious bits and levity to the silly bits. I really like the way Cletus imagines himself as a boy. He looks like a kid in a cheap Carnage Halloween costume, and I think it’s an inspired choice.
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Rain Beredo’s colors may be the highlight of this book. The washed-out palette he uses for the flashback scenes really stand out, and the brighter, more basic colors for the heroic scenes help sell the absurdity.
We don’t get to see as much of the Sin-Eater in this comic, but he’s poised to have a large role in the next issue. I’m really curious as to the nature of his new status-quo. The last thing I remember reading with him in was Venom: Sinner Takes All. (Yeah, remember that one? Hello?)
While the comedy is this comic is dark and sometimes gruesome (as the cover warns, this is no kid’s comic!) it never feels too heavy or forced. It’s almost like a really good Deadpool comic in some ways, and in other ways it reminds me a little of The Superior Spider-Man. I’d say definitely give this a read, especially if you’re a fan of Carnage. So far it’s been a pretty thoughtful and humorous examination of one of Marvel’s crazier villains.
CBH Score: 4.0 of 5.0
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