This book is only 3 issues long so I'm going to do one post per issue, in the next book it'll probably be 2-3 since it's 14 issues long. The cover for those interested◊
to rehash my opinion on TPB covers: I don't care, they're not the selling point to me, and anyone who drops $10-30 based on the cover alone is not doing it right.
So at this point in Spidey time Venom is still in prison and we get to see his cell mate. The suit and Brock have been seperated but he's expecting its return and his escape. This is the first shot we get of two of the three main characters.◊
It's not a bad shot for establishing character, you see that Brock is obsessed and dedicated, he's willing to do the work to keep himself in prime shape for when he escapes. We see that Kasady (carnage) is less work obsessed. I won't bother commenting on the porportions here though, Brock has Forearms the size of his biceps, his chest and back ballooned out, by 90s standards it's okay. I do hate that this: 1◊
is the first image of Carnage. In fact this page has just some bad art on faces.◊
I do like the they make Kasady look bat shit insane, and the touch of him having a shiv is a good one. So the two are bickering at eachother, Brock doesn't like Kasady because he's a remorseless killer, Kasady think's Brock is an idiot and jack ass. We then get a cut to later with Brock continuing the work out. In a moment to remind me of the agony of Yesterday, (deserves the capitalization dammit) Kasady bitches that Brock's workout is distracting him from his Motley Crue. I'm getting flashes to later in the comic and a head ache, but okay. It's still building the same difference between the two characters showing Brock as dedicated obsessive and more ordered. It's worth noting that in the introduction they say that Carnage was originally going to be called Chaos. Then Flash BOOM the Symbiote returns, rebonds with Brock who breaks his way out of the prison. A bit is left over and drops near Kasady.
The drop left over was the child of Venom, it bonds with Kasady and we get a new villain. I do like how he choses his first victim, it's based purely on the guy having a dumb name. Builds the character as just pointlessly murderous and insane. I actually think Chaos was a better name than Carnage, but that's just me. Our first image of Carnage in a full body shot◊
the original plan was for him to have more colors in the suit and they'd be constantly shifting. The colorists threatened mass murder so they went with red and black. The theme is simple but well built, Carnage is clearly meant to be a force of just pure chaos. He likes hurting people and doesn't care about anything else, he kills people purely because he can.
Dark? yeah, but it works for a villain, in the short term. I personally think any major antagonist is going to need to be more complex, but as a guy to be scary and fuck shit up for short intense bursts? so far this character works.
We transition from brutal murder to furnace repair. It's actually done better than I made it sound, mostly through a nice artistic◊ transition◊
. It's the sort of transition that would work better animated either as a cartoon or film. I think it's time to address a problem, in a good story you show with the minimum of telling. The problem here is they're both showing and telling. Carnage is killing people for no reason, explicitly stating so. That's good, that alone builds his character as an agent of chaos, but he's then spouting off blunt lines about how order is a delusion etc etc. If he'd just stuck to: "why am I killing you? Because I can" it would have been enough.
So it turns out the guy that Carnage just murdered was a friend of Peter's he webs over to investigate. We find out this wasn't the first murder, which makes the fact that the victim was a friend of Peters less coincidental feeling, but also means there was less need to kill someone Peter knew. You'd think that Spider-man would already be interested in the brutal serial killer scrawling his name in other people's blood around the city.
Spider-man suspects it's Venom, which makes sense, since it's someone with freakish super strength who's described as having a living skin. Due to investigating he's late to see MJ for a lunch date. She's miffed till she finds out that it was due to the death of a friend. We get the Venom backstory, and done reasonably well, even though we would expect MJ to like, know about this it's plausible she never got the full story before. We also get a part I left out earlier, Spider-man neutralized Venom by letting him think he'd managed to kill Spider-man. With that success Venom spent his time happy on a tropical island.
MJ tells him to leave it to the police which is blatantly dumb. She then says the Avengers or Fantastic Four, both of which make much more sense due to the fact that Venom the current suspect is a super-powered killer. Peter investigates and goes: huh maybe I should have noticed that Brock's former cell mate was a brutal mass murderer who displayed super powers in his escape "a-doy"
We find out that Kasady was an orphan, and that his orphanage was burned down when he was young. He goes out to question people. We get more Kasady back story most people who remember him are scared quiet, but we find out:
- he might have pushed a girl into a speeding bus as a youngin'
- He may have boinked a trashy obese woman
- he paid his rent on time
- may have caused a homecoming tragedy
- and one psychologist told Parker to avoid him like the plague.
If you're going to do exposition to establish a character this was a very good way to do it because it makes the expository dialog make sense and not seem forced.
Spidy goes to the burned down Orphanage which hasn't been worked on which makes no sense considering the time lapse and the pressures on New York Real Estate. A forgivable lapse in realism I guess, but still a lil dumb. We see Kasady plaing with a stuffed bear nude in front of a fire. He senses Spider-man and transforms.
Fighting happens Spider-man realizes that the Carnage suit is like Venom's but better. It can solidify unlike Venom's but has the same ability to transit information to the wearer. Through out this fight it's pretty clear that straight up, one on one, Spider-man doesn't stand a chance. Carnage is faster stronger and can launch solid projectiles. He sneak attacks Spider-Man as well.
Cops come in Carnage attacks them then ditches after writing his name on the wall in his own blood. The issue ends with Spider-man realizing he has to get help, and he needs it from Venom.
So as an opening issue it does some stuff well, it does establish the characters even if I think they were a bit too... ham handed? about Carnage having him spew his philosophy like he did instead of just making it obvious. How ever it was generally well done by 90s standards. I will admit nostalgia may be talking here. I'll probably have this whole book up by the end of the night.