Superior Carnage 1

Posted by Jesse 30 July 2013




   It’s the month Marvel is touting as Superior Spider-Man month, and you know what that means; more comics starring the web slinger and his misfit friends or should I say fiends?

Superior is the word to define just about everything that’s happened since the Doctor of Octopus took over the web spinning business, and this recently announced, 5 part mini series is no exception.
Superior Carnage was promoted as “will send shivers down (your spine).", and, “Carnage as you’ve never seen him before.”  What could that possibly mean, and is that too much of an overstatement?
Well, let’s find out exactly that.

Synopsis: At an undisclosed super prison, its business as usual with frequents attempts by the inmates to escape, yet one man is only concerned for his survival. The poor chap Ted Connelly, winds up in this hell hole due to the standard prisons being overcrowded. Ted recollects the day in which Carnage aka serial killer Cletus Kassady was brought in. Kassady seemed rather harmless due to his injuries, (mainly head trauma, suffered by the Scarlet Spider (See: Minimum Carnage)), with the exception of a disturbing red glint in one eye staring back at Ted.

Present day and time, Ted finds him self being harassed and antagonized by one of the guards, regarding his cowardice and vulnerability, when all of a sudden, the guard becomes solemn. A strange neon glow permeates his eyes and his voice confirms his obedience to specific orders. He releases the lock to Kassady’s cell next door. Ted still thinks the guard is toying with him, but it appears the guard is possessed. Kassady sits with his head hanging, and what appears to be his symbiote dripping out of his eye slits and running down his cheeks, then stretching itself out over the rest of his body in dynamic fashion.

The next panel shows a red spiked tentacle bursting through the back and chest of the guard, splashing his blood onto poor Ted, who screams in panic. The cell block goes into Code Red as the alarm sounds and everyone goes running for their lives. Carnage can be seen in the background impaling several unfortunate folks. Ted cowers into a corner of his cell wishing the nightmare like reality would end, but it ends most horribly for him as the symbiote tears through his soft human flesh.

Ahh, but who was responsible for the symbiote’s release, who was behind the mind controlled guard?
The next page reveals it was none other than: the Wizard. No, not the guy from Oz the great and powerful, one of the most nefarious villains of the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man fans might remember him from 1990’s Acts of Vengeance crossover, specifically Web of Spider-Man 61.

Now maybe at this point you ask yourself what could the Wizard possibly want with Carnage? Well, if you know the Wizard’s M.O. , the answer is quite simple; he wants to use him to exact revenge on heroes, cause chaos, and spread fear, all in his name. According to his monologue, the Wizard has an ego that needs to be expanded, and what better way to do so then by putting a leash on one of the most heinous villains of the galaxy.

Inspired, but criticizing of what the US government did with the Venom symbiote, (See Amazing Spider-Man 654.1) the Wizard hopes to do the same with Carnage while also including him as the centerpiece to his newly formed “Frightful Four” group of terrorists.  Don’t laugh; although his scheme is redundant, it is at least ambitious. So save your laughing for the next page, when the Wizard discovers a very fatal flaw to his plan, as he confronts Carnage. He soon discovers to his shock and horror that Carnage is a mindless killing machine and therefore cannot be hypnotized. That’s where you think the comic is about to end, just before Carnage tears him a new one, but no, Carnage proceeds to thrash him, until…

 Klaw: master of sound, blasts Carnage, thus saving the Wizard.

Review: Superior Carnage starts off with a predictable setup. The plot tends to be very straight forward and standard in pace and development. The writer doesn't provide much to establish a tone or mood. The perspective however, is at least somewhat interesting; being told from a 1st person scenario. The early protagonist and guy we think is going to take us through the story and give us insight while surviving just by slightest margin, turns out to be the victim of the 1st act, in which a hapless soul is brutally murdered, thereby establishing the threat level of the story’s big bad (wolf). It’s a clich├ęd trope but also a time honored and well received one.

Perhaps if the writer had sprinkled more flavor or telling emotion into Ted Connelly’s words, we would get a better feel for his mentality, and thus sympathize with him more; however he just becomes a forgettable plot device.

Turning our attention towards the Wizard, as the real plot takes focus and shape, his motivation becomes clear to us during his boisterous speech that he delivers while smiling, and showing a maniacal sense of pride. I am grateful that the writer chose to make this an external monologue, wherein he is speaking directly to his captors, rather than just having the character divulge the plot out loud to his self for seemingly no reason. Never the less we get a sense that this guy really has a flare for being dramatic and a desperate need for attention. So now we have a cheesy villain with an out of control ego and an inferiority complex. I’m quit confident that this is intentional on the part of the writer, seeing as how he has a strong background in comedy. I hope this was what he was trying to convey, by underlining the Wizard’s ridiculousness and track record of epic failure. I believe this is a favorable route, often times the best way to take advantage of the lame reputation a character has, is by making fun of it. So cheers for doing that.

The pay off comes quick when seeing the Wizard get exactly what the reader was probably hoping would happen. It’s quite amusing to witness the Wizard standing still in full confidence, expecting to take over Carnage’s mind, while it comes dashing forward at him with the absolute worst of intentions, and then as he gets closer, closer, and closer, the Wizard has a HOLY $#;+ I’m  screwed moment.  

I love how Kevin Shinick anticipates the readers desire to see Carnage wreak havoc and truly shows him unleashed. He recognizes that the fans want to see Carnage get a hold of this foolish villain, in a horrible costume, who is no doubt underestimating Carnage and overestimating his own ability, and scare the living daylights out of him. I love the look on the Wizard’s face and the line “Heaven help me” while he is getting mauled by Carnage. It just comes off as so desperate and pathetic at the same time, perhaps revealing to him how stupid it was to try and capture absolute chaos, hatred, and violence in a bottle.
 That’s mostly why this issue works. It’s that attention to detail and delivering subconsciously what the readers want. It’s rare that a writer has that kind of insight, or plays to the fans that way. Having said that, they should have done an even better job of showing the Wizard’s embarrassing fear but alas, they basically got the point across.

The other reason I really enjoyed this issue was the tremendous art by Segovia. I was really sold on the look and design of the characters. Carnage looks wicked, and as fear inspiring as ever.  The splash page detailing how Venom became agent Venom is particularly gorgeous and 1 of my very favorite depictions of Venom in recent memory.

I recommend this book to anyone that follows Carnage or horror fans. I cannot wait to see the next issues, and render a decision on whether we truly get to see “Carnage like we’ve never seen him before.”

RIP Ted Connelly, you were absurdly unlucky, I couldn’t help feeling sorry for you and yet I hardly knew you. Sorry you got ripped apart by a psychotic alien symbiote, but that sort of thing is bound to happen when you debut in a horror comic.

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