Sunday, April 22, 2012

Carnage: Family Feud (comics)

Writer: Zeb Wells
Artist: Clayton Crain
Collects: Carnage #1-5

If there's one thing I didn't quite expect, it was to see another story I liked actually centered around Carnage, much less one tied to "Maximum Carnage". I enjoyed Maximum Carnage for what it was, but it took a fairly limited character - Carnage being not a whole lot more than a serial killer symbiote - to its limit, essentially exhausting any potential he had in his second appearance. It didn't help that the damn thing was fourteen issues. Middling appearance after middling appearance made it so I wasn't exactly broken up when Sentry tore Carnage in half in Earths orbit.

Color me surprised then, because Zeb Wells - who is becoming "the symbiote guy" at Marvel - not only brings him back, but manages to make an entertaining story with him. Maybe I shouldn't be so surprised. Venom recently saw a resurgence as well.

While attending a Medical Supply Expo, Tony Stark senses foul play when a computer manufacturer has made some sudden, miraculous advances in prosthetic tech. The kind of thing that's obviously a bit out of his field of expertise. Before he can investigate, the Doppleganger - not seen since Maximum Carnage - shows up, trying to take down an armored car, before it's sliced in half by a couple of Iron Man knockoffs employed by the earlier mentioned computer manufacturer. Turns out the armored car - again employed by said manufacturer - is carrying Shriek, the once-girlfriend of Carnage.

You can probably guess what's right around the corner.

This book is as much a Spider-Man and Iron Man teamup as it is about Carnage. They're our protagonists for this particular ride and Wells scripts a fine rapport for the two. Both feel well within character. Meanwhile, Carnage is somewhat retooled a bit as a "hilbilly hick", as Spidey calls him, which is fairly humorous in its own way.

Look... there's just something cool about the symbiotes. They often come with striking designs filled with color which often reflect well off one another. Comics were carried on the back of it and the old spandex set just wouldn't be the same without all those stark colors flashing about. The shape shifting, tendrils, colors and power of the symbiotes tend to give artists a lot of cool things to draw as well.

While that's muted somewhat by Crains art - his work, while feeling fairly realistic, tends to deal in darker, muddier colors - his art is strong enough to make up for it. I tend to be on the fence about his style to some extent - it sometimes feels a little too realistic - he tends to produce strong work. Symbiotes in particular seem to agree with him.

It won't win any awards, but this miniseries is a fine read and a fine opening salvo for Wells and Crain. Hell, it's also a better return than Carnage could have possibly asked for. I guess even a bland, straightforward serial killer can have a pretty decent story spun around him. Who knew?

The Score: 7.5 out of 10

Like symbiotes? Want a Spider-Man/Iron Man teamup? If so, this will be up your alley. It's not going to re-invent the wheel or anything, but you could do far worse. Hopefully the sequel is even better.

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