Carnage #1 is written by Ram V, illustrated by Francesco Manna, colored by Dijjo Lima, and lettered by VC’s Joe Sabino. It’s published by Marvel Comics. After the events of King in Black and Extreme Carnage, the Carnage symbiote has separated itself from its longtime host Cletus Kasady and bonded to the “Extrembiote,” a combination of Iron Man’s Extremis armor and one of Knull’s symbiote dragons. Alone for the first time in a long time, Carnage sets out to find its purpose, crossing paths with a serial killer known as “The Artist” and homicide detective Jonathan Shayde along the way.
This is the second symbiote-focused title V has written after taking over the main Venom title, and it’s clear he has a flair for scripting symbiote stories. With Venom, V chose to focus on how Dylan Brock grew into his father’s legacy as Venom. Here, he chooses to focus on the purpose that people either dedicate their lives to or the purpose they seek in their lives. The Artist commits his gruesome murders because he seeks to become Carnage’s new host, while Shayde dedicates his waking hours to finding and capturing the Artist. And what of Carnage himself? Once bonded to the most notorious serial killer who ever lived, then becoming the prophet for an eldritch god, now the crimson creature seeks to find his own place in the world.
Manna, best known for his work on Marvel’s Ultraman saga and Supermassive, shifts from Tokusatsu-inspired heroics to macabre horror. The opening features a corpse strung up by chains and flayed open, and then its stomach bursts open, releasing a horde of butterflies. It makes for a horrific, yet arresting image that readers won’t be able to tear their eyes away from; Carnage himself towers over everyone, with a long and skeletal body and the glowing spiral of Knull etched into his forehead. Red also permeates the issue thanks to Djjo’s colors, whether blood is shed or Carnage’s dark red skin. Even Sabino’s word balloons for the sinister symbiote are blood red, jagged clouds.
The issue also features two backup stories. “A Lesson in Blood and Bone” is written by David Michelinie, penciled by Ron Lim, inked by Roberto Poggi, and colored by Israel Silva. Ty Templeton writes, illustrates, and colors two bonus strips: “He’s Nuts” and “The Watcher of If.” Having co-created Venom and Carnage, Michelinie slips back into writing the character like he never left and unveils a tale from Cletus Kasady’s past where a juvenile delinquent asks him to commit murder on his behalf. Lim and Silva illustrate yet another ’90s-era hero after Silver Surfer: Rebirth, with Poggi providing the inks this go-around. And Templeton is clearly indulging a macabre streak with his backups, as “He’s Nuts” puts a dark spin on Peanuts with Carnage filling the role of Snoopy.
Carnage #1 is a beautiful yet brutal celebration of the crimson symbiote’s 30th anniversary, launching a murder mystery tinged with cosmic horror. With V, Manna, and Lima on board, I know one of my favorite Marvel villains of all time is in good hands. And I’m interested to see if there’s a potential crossover with Venom – especially now that Carnage’s “father” has undergone a few changes of his own.
Carnage #1 will be available wherever comics are sold on March 16, 2022.
Carnage #1 is a beautiful yet brutal celebration of the crimson symbiote’s 30th anniversary, launching a murder mystery tinged with cosmic horror. With V, Manna, and Lima on board, I know one of my favorite Marvel villains of all time is in good hands.