Minimum Carnage Alpha

Background

Waaaaay back in New Avengers #2 Vol. 1, the Sentry flew Carnage out into space and ripped him in half (that was my most favorite sentence that I have ever written). And surprisingly, Marvel kept him dead for about 6 years. That’s…a surprising amount of time, really. But now that he’s back, Marvel can’t just get enough of him…so long as it’s in mini-series and outside of the regular “Amazing Spider-Man” title. Since coming back, his host (Cletus Kasady) has been given prosthetic legs and just wrapped up a little bit of terror in America’s county side. But what now? How about the most ‘90s comic ever written- a mini-series starring Carnage, Kaine, and Venom!

Story 'Minimum Carnage: Alpha'

  Minimum Carnage Alpha
Summary: Carnage vs. Venom and Scarlet Spider
Arc: Part 1 of 'Minimum Carnage' (1-2-3-4-5-6)
Executive Producer: Alan Fine
Publisher: Dan Buckley
Chief Creative Officer: Joe Quesada
Editor In Chief: Axel Alonso
Senior Editor: Stephen Wacker
Editor: Tom Brennan
Writer: Christopher Yost, Cullen Bunn
Pencils: Lan Medina
Inker: Cam Smith, Karl Kesel, Walden Wong
Cover Art: Clayton Crain
Colorist: Chris Sotomayor

The story begins at the Thunderbolts Mountain Maximum Security Prison, where Cletus Kasady (I assume) utters a single word: “Yes”. We then cut to three hours later, when Agent Venom arrives on the scene. The prison is in disarray, with corpses and destruction spread all over. However, the bodies have odd burn marks, it appears. Even with his symbiotic suit, Flash is still scared by all the death around him, and assume that the only person who could be responsible is Kasady. Upon inspecting his old cell, Venom and the soldiers note that the glass appears to have fallen OUT, indicating whatever blasted it came from inside the cell. The soldiers find a locked control room where a small crew from the prison has held up. They were unable to determine who broke in or how, but all Venom cares about is warning everyone that Carnage has escaped.

Two hours after THAt, the highways are blocked off by police as they attempt to catch Kasady before he can get too far. Unfortunately, one officer does manage to stop the car he’s in and attempts to take him in. Kasady attempts to warn him off, saying his new friends went to a lot of trouble to get him out and have big plans. The officer continues to attempt to get Kasady out of the truck, but a mysterious cut across his throat and…well…giant explosion…put an end to any more resistance.

Back at the prison, Venom is reviewing the footage, but cannot see any attackers. When he questions why the Carnage symbiote was not destroyed, the warden tells him that they DID attempt it, but that it had bonded with Kasady at a cellular level. Obviously, Flash is a bit taken back by this, but quickly moves on when he notices something in the video: An extremely tiny bug with a staff on one of the bodies. Flash makes a call to Hawkeye to have him ready to assist when Carnage is found and then makes a call to Katy Kiernan, his media contact. He asks if she has anything that might relate to the tiny bug and she sends him an article about a “Prometheus Pit” being built in Houston. And who’s that a cue for?

Why, it’s the Scarlet Spider! It’s two days later and our less than enthusiastic hero is on his way to a fire. While he’s less than excited about the prospect, he is at least trying to be a hero. However, when he arrives, everyone but a single man has been killed. And much like in the prison, “whoever” did it clearly enjoyed it. When Scarlet attempts to save the sole survivor, the man begins to panic, upset by his appearance (oh I wonder why…).

At the Houston Medical Center, Kaine gets some info from Officer Wally Layton and Dr. Donald Meland, who tell him that the man S.S. saved is Ryan Ketola and that whoever did the attack was a monster who looked like Scarlet Spider and was looking for Ketola’s wife. Kaine decides it’s time to find her.

At the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Dr. Ketola is in the middle of an interview with a certain Ms. Kiernan. It seems Katy believes they want to renew the research of a Dr. Philip Prometheus, and explore a sub-atomic universe to take its natural resources. Dr. Ketola becomes offended by the suggestion and is about to have her escorted out by security…but is unable to do so, as Carnage has got to them first! He taunts Dr. Ketola with the fact that he…”visited” her family and leaps to attack when Scarlet Spider arrives. Scarlet intends to not waste any time and breaks Carnage’s neck. Carnage, of course, shrugs it off, excited by the fact that the opponent he thought was Spider-Man is decidedly different. He stabs Scarlet Spider in the shoulder, which then proceeds to electrocute him. When S.S. looks up he sees a collective of tiny and very weird looking people.

They attempt to get Carnage moving, but he’s more interested in killing Kaine. At that moment though, Katy distracts him by shooting him, but that does little more than distract him. He takes her and Dr. Ketola and heads for the Prometheus Pit. The tiny people (named Raidus, Centivros, Xerxes, Kreevius, Null-Tron, and Veras) spread out and one of them uses their powers to force Dr. Ketola to open the gate. Apparently, they made a deal that if Kasady helped them get to the Pit, they would bring him to a whole new universe of people he could kill.

Scarlet Spider re-appears and attempts to stop Carnage from escaping, but the villain throws a few spears (hitting Dr. Ketola and her equipment) and jumps into the portal, taking Katy with him. Scarlet Spider slips into one of his rages and vows to kill Carnage, just as Venom arrives on the scene, brandishing a gun and ordering S.S. to stand down. Scarlet seems to forget Carnage and turns his attention on Venom…

General Comments

Wow. That’s a pretty intense first issue! There’s a lot going on and hopefully, a bit more explanation on the way. Who exactly are these “tiny people”? Where have they come from? How did they find Carnage and why rely on him? He will almost undoubtedly betray them…I mean, he IS crazy.

I like the idea of pairing Venom and Scarlet Spider. It should be an interesting dynamic- They’re both sort of the “Anti Spider-Man” persona, with their similar powers/appearance, but lack of moral standards. However, while Venom seems to be a good guy driven to violence by an outside force (that is, the symbiote), Scarlet Spider is a…less than nice guy TRYING to be better, who is often drive to violence because it’s who he is. I hope this dynamic comes into play in the next few parts of this series. While in my Scarlet Spider Vol. 2 reviews I have been saying a cross-over between Spider-Man and S.S. is inevitable, I think this could prove to be just as, if not more, interesting. Not much else to say about this issue, story wise. Some good set-up, so let’s see what happens next. It’s a story featuring Carnage, so clearly there’s plenty of…well…carnage. Maybe that’s why they left Spidey out of this…bring in a violent, disturbed villain, so use some heroes who are pretty close to that themselves. The question is…will Carnage survive this, or will one of the two “good” guys let their impulses get the best of them. Either way, I am legitimately excited for this story!

The art was decent enough, but I felt a little inconsistent. Cletus Kasady on page 1 looks completely different than he does on every other page, and some pages seem a bit more detailed while others the characters and such seem much more simplified. However, the three main characters all look pretty amazing in all their action sequences. Carnage in particular looks great, though I wish they added the black that used to be present in his design.

And of course, let’s all get a small laugh at the title play here. “Minimum” Carnage? Eh? Get it? Like “Maximum”….yeah. Sorry.

Overall Rating

Again, I am excited. Do I think this needs to be 6 parts? My guess is probably not. I am a bit annoyed that it’s taking up time in the Scarlet Spider main series, but at least it’s not taking up half a year in any one book. And who knows…maybe this will actually lead to some good stories/cross-overs with Venom, or maybe future Carnage stories. We all want that…right?

Footnote

Is the Carnage symbiote really bonded to his blood still? I was looking around a few days ago and could have sworn that was an idea they had abandoned, especially after that whole “Venom ate the Carnage symbiote and then Cletus found an exact replica in the Negative Zone”…thing.