Michael Hall has been a little risky. He's captured the Carnage symbiote from space and begun experimenting on it, including using it to enhance his prosthetic products and his security teams' armour.
Unfortunately things have gone wrong and an attack by Doppelganger during transportation of Shriek resulted in Doctor Tanis Nieves (Shreik's psychiatrist) losing her arm. Hall replaced it with one of their prosthetics but when Nieves visited Shreik at Hall Industries, the symbiote part of her new arm decided to attack the staff and free the Carnage symbiote imprisoned there! Bonding with Nieves, a new Carnage was born!
Spider-Man and Iron Man's investigation into Hall and his technology led them to Hall Industries when Carnage escaped but their pursuit didn;t stop the symbiote from achieving its real goal - find Cletus Kasady in a secret Hall Industries holding cell and create true Carnage once again!
Then: Cletus Kasady remembers The Sentry launching him into space and tearing him in half! Then the symbiote took over and induced a coma, keeping Kasady alive. After being picked up by the Hall Industries satellite, Casady vaguely remembers the symbiote being removed from him. He swears to show them Carnage!
Now: Carnage is back, properly this time! Michael Hall’s armoured security force fly to the scene and try to bring him down but Spider-Man and Iron Man learn from Hall that the armour has been developed with traces of symbiote in it! Carnage immediately senses this and overrides their armour, twisting and contorting their bodies, killing them. Only Royal Blue remains but Spidey and Iron Man cannot save him either! Carnage absorbs their symbiotic armour and their dead bodies, growing in size and changing from red to metallic black!
Inside Hall Industries, Shriek and Doppelganger discover Doctor Tanis Nieves, who is now free from the Carnage symbiote… or so she thinks! Shriek points out that Nieves’ prosthetic arm has been impregnated by Carnage!
Spider-Man and Iron Man are pounded by Carnage! Carnage succeeds in webbing Iron Man and smashing him to the ground! Spider-Man takes charge, beating Carnage with everything he’s got! He is forced to leap clear when Carnage directs the symbiote to spike out in all directions!
Meanwhile, Nieves can’t let herself be taken over by a symbiote again! She breaks free from Shriek and cuts her own prosthetic arm off with a shard of glass! Shriek picks it up…
Spider-Man has to combat violence with more violence! He wails on Carnage until Iron Man asks him to move, slamming a four-wheel drive into Carnage’s face! Carnage felt that one but the heroes cannot capitalise. They are sent flying by a sonic scream – Shriek returns with the symbiote arm for her own!
There are panels of Clayton Crain’s work that will literally smack you in the face! I empathise with those who think his work is sometimes hard to follow and the definition of his colours need strengthening, but there is no denying that he can produce some outstanding pieces of art! If you’ve got this issue go and just dwell on the sense of magnitude, power and oozing movement he captures on the double-page spread of Carnage vs. Spidey and Iron Man. The spread when Carnage is revealed having absorbed the armoured guys is phenomenal in scope, style and layout. A personal favourite of mine is the page where Carnage webs Iron Man. From the Iron Man pose to the force somehow created when the webbing hits him to the dominating Carnage at the bottom, I can’t get enough of it. Completely stunning and how a symbiote fight sequence should be done!
The plot itself is pretty good as well! I remember Venom: Dark Origins #3 or #4, where Zeb Wells just let the artist get on with capturing the symbiote’s movement, power and fluidity. His decision to keep the talking to a minimum again here is a brilliant move, allowing the boys to just get on with the fighting!
Oh, and how Cletus survives had to be ingenious and it was and used just the right amount of science babble!
Building to the inevitable conclusion, I think Wells has done a great job of implying that all of these characters have an important part to play. I like what he’s done with Nieves, Carnage’s development (whether it stays or not) has been awesome to behold and actually, you don’t even realise that Spider-Man and Iron Man are secondary characters really. Involving stuff for a character left dead for five years!
Zeb Wells is a symbiote genius!
Clayton Crain was born to draw I've-just-absorbed-5-dead-guys-and-their-armour-Carnage!
To be concluded....!