The Marvel Universe is full of evil villains and frightening monsters. There’s no name on the list quite like Carnage though. The first issue of the monstrous killer’s new series knows that, and gives an absolutely terrifying thesis on the future of Marvel’s most notorious monster.
Ram V, Francesco Manna, Dijjo Lima, and Joe Caramagna set Carnage on this new path in this issue. It’s a trophy cosmic horror that dives deep in the psyche of an unknowable alien.
Detective Jonathan Shayde is on the trail of a serial killer. The Artist is cutting a bloody trail through the world, but he’s shifted his focus. He has discovered an evil even greater than his own, a god of killers that has caused unimaginable pain and suffering in the world. Unfortunately for both Shayde and the Artist, Carnage is interested in much grander, much more terrible things.
There’s nothing on the stands quite like this book, and that’s probably the best thing about it. It’s incredibly dark, and Ram weaves a story here with layers that make it much more interesting to read. We can believe that Shayde has been chasing the Artist for some time, and the investigation has the weight of frustration and leads going cold. It’s believable in the same sense that you could sit down and watch an episode of Criminal Minds and get drawn in. This is where Caramagna’s always great letters shine the most, showing the give and take of the police’s dialogue as they try to piece together the clues, echoing a snappy and natural back-and-forth that we’d normally see in a police procedural.
Ram has transformed Carnage into something new here as well. While fundamentally, he’s the same monstrous killer (just without Cletus Kasady), the character is given mythic status, almost like a saint or god of killers. Meanwhile, his goals and motivations are expanded thanks to the events of the King in Black and Absolute Carnage. This isn’t the same character, he’s evolved and grown, which makes for a much more engaging read than it would have otherwise.
Manna and Lima create a visual landscape that’s equal parts gritty horror and cosmic psychedelia. Manna’s line work is just realistic enough to convey the mundane horror of a serial killer with sufficient gravitas, but his grasp of the horrifying is even better. His take on Carnage puts weight on the page, drawing everything to him, while showing him as a figure that’s full of awe and equally terrifying. Lima’s colors are largely muted except for his reds, which makes both the blood spilled and Carnage himself pop off the page. Color art like this is a big reason why Lima’s quickly becoming a colorist to watch.
To top it all off, there’s a fun retro back-up from Carnage and Venom legends David Michelinie & Ron Lim (with inks by Roberto Poggi, colors by Israel Silva and letters by Joe Sabino) to give readers a classic callback to the early days of the character. It’s a fun story that gives readers a little more bang for the buck.
Like I said before, there’s nothing like this on the stands. It’s a horror book that’s actually scary, and leaves me wanting more. I hope it gets to stay in its little corner of the Marvel Universe, so it can continue to weave its own bloody little web. It’s a must-read and I’m excited to check out next issue.
Carnage #1 is available now from Marvel Comics.
This is a unique artifact in the big two- a genuinely scary horror book. The story is tense, the art is spooky, and it looks like we’re about to get Marvel’s most frightening villain redefined in a big way.