In last year’s Minimum Carnage, Carnage received an impromptu lobotomy from Spider-Man’s clone, the Scarlet Spider. While Kaine thought this was the end of the crazed killer, all it accomplished was leaving the inhuman symbiote running the whole show. After learning of the government’s involvement with the... “changes”…to the Venom symbiote, the Wizard decided he’d try the same on Carnage and busts him out of containment. However, without a mind to control, his efforts are in vain. Thankfully he recruited Klaw first, which is the only reason the Wizard is still alive to see part 2!
|Executive Producer:||Alan Fine|
|Chief Creative Officer:||Joe Quesada|
|Editor In Chief:||Alex Alonso|
|Senior Editor:||Stephen Wacker|
|Associate Editor:||Tom Brennan|
|Cover Art:||Clayton Crain|
|Lettering:||VC's Joe Caramagna|
|Colorist:||Jay David Ramos|
We begin with a rant from the Wizard, as he details some of the previous events from last issue and his scheme. He also has several marked photographs of Venom, Flash, Carnage, and Cletus Kasady. Hey wait, that’s not Venom! That’s Black Tarantula! How could Marvel let a detail like that slip? How indeed…(seriously, keep reading).
The whole scene is taking place in the Wizard’s secret lair. Seems he’s moved Carnage…though not sure how he contained him that long. The Wizard has deduced that all he needs right now is to re-calibrate his helmet to “access” the symbiote’s mind. While Klaw is looking over the details he points out to the Wizard that it is in fact a photo of Black Tarantula and NOT Venom. Oh I see! Very clever, Shinick! The Wizard angrily brushes this off, saying this minor mistake is not indicative of anything troubling. He at this points introduces a Dr. Malus, a crippled surgeon who will help “rebuild” Carnage and be another member of the Frightful Four. It seems that Malus was involved with some shady characters, and they are responsible for him being in a wheel chair. And the doctor is only too willing to pay them back…
With the introductions finished, the Wizard orders that Carnage be let free, so that he may access the symbiote’s mind. This goes as expected and, yet again, the Wizard is almost killed. He begins to mumble about his son Bentley, at which point Dr. Malus begins to worry. Back in FF #7, Blackbolt did “something” to the Wizard’s mind, in an attempt to render him harmless. Malus questions Klaw as to whether the Wizard has shown any signs of dementia, but Klaw brushes it off.
Meanwhile, the Superior Spider-Man swings around town, annoyed by a call regarding the recent Carnage break-out. Seems Spider-Man is too busy chasing the Jackal (referencing a story that had no happened when this issue was published AND also incorrectly referencing the story as occurring in Scarlet Spider #19) to deal with “a lobotomized serial killer” and “brain damaged scientist”. To himself, Otto pities how the Wizard has fallen, obsessed with his Bentley 23 clone (what is it with 23 and Clones?) and how Blackbolt's tampering left him with only weeks to live. He wonders if this whole plan is just an elaborate suicide mission, but decides he should intervene either way.
Back in the Wizard’s lair, the former super-genius is recovering from his fourth attempt at controlling the symbiote. This time he begins to hallucinate that Klaw is his “son” Bentley. He quickly recovers from this and ponders why his attempts at control aren’t working. Malus informs him that the Venom symbiote wasn’t bonded to the host’s DNA, meaning they could tamper with it and then attach it to whoever they wanted. Carnage, however, is bonded to Kasady’s blood, meaning that the symbiote would need a host before it can be controlled. Huh? I don’t…why? Never mind, we’ll address that later.
The Wizard remains stumped, until he makes a connection- if the government can put the Venom symbiote on someone who’s been crippled, why not do the same for Carnage. He immediately selects Malus as the new host. The doctor objects, telling Klaw this confirms his earlier suspicion and that all the Wizard cares about is his family. Klaw calmly tells Malus that because the Wizard has revived, improved, and recruited him so many times over the years, HE is his family. He subdues Malus and the two villains begin their next operation. The issues ends as Dr. Malus becomes the new, superior Carnage!
For a mini-series about Carnage, I have to say, I like where this one is going. At first I was a bit hesitant to pick up this series. It’s Carnage, it sounds like a quick tie-in to the new Spider-Man (“Let’s just slap ‘Superior’ on the cover”), and Spider-Man didn’t seem to factor into anything at first. But maybe this will be different…
For one, I like this issue’s focus on the Wizard. Granted, I don’t know anything about him. I read maybe the first 6 issues of FF, and I might have read 7, but I honestly don’t recall (I found the series that boring). Whatever this deal is with Blackbolt, I don’t remember and I asked my fellow Spider-Fan reviewers for help. It seems the details were never fully discussed. Even so, I don’t know if the “few weeks” that Otto mentions really line-up time wise, but whatever. These are details I don’t know enough about to nitpick. What I know is I found the father-son dynamic interesting (making his conversations from last issue more relevant now) and the idea that he’s suffering from a form of dementia/desperation makes his actions a bit more interesting. Is this plan the result of a fully functional mind? What repercussions will this cause?
I will say I was quite entertained by the whole Black Tarantula/Venom photo mix-up. When I first read the issue I was a little irked by the apparent carelessness of the writer…and when it was revealed to be on purpose I was amused.
I find the idea of switching bodies for Carnage a bit interesting as well. Now, I don’t know how this would work, what with Carnage bonded to Cletus’ blood. I also don’t know if the symbiote would willingly give up a host where it had full control. Wasn’t that the whole terrifying point of Kasady being lobotomized? Creatively, I think this makes for a slightly more interesting aspect than where Carnage was left at the end of Minimum Carnage. But we’ll see. In most cases, Carnage stories tend to be pretty simple.
Now, as for the whole…blood/mind thing. Technically, as the symbiote is a separate mind, I don’t see why being part of his blood should prevent the Wizard from having control. If you lost half your brain right now, your blood/genetics wouldn’t be any different. Your DNA would still be the same. Unless the symbiote’s mind was also in Kasady’s brain, in the exact spot where Kaine stabbed him, its mind should still be separate. And even then, the blood should have nothing to do with it. Your brain and your blood are, in fact, separate things. I know they needed an excuse to put the symbiote on Malus, but still.
Still, overall, I liked this issue. The personal drama of the Wizard really sold me, and science explanations aside, I think this has gone in a much more interesting direction. It’s a Carnage mini-series, but the other villains are really the ones making the story here. And I think this is all the more interesting because I went into this series blind. Let’s see if it can hold!
I wasn’t actually expecting to like the second issue more than the first! Putting aside this whole...blood thing...maybe because this issue went in an unexpected route- the whole “Is the Wizard mentally stable”/”He only cares about Bentley” thing really made the story more interesting for me. Now that we have a new Carnage I wonder if we’ll see a new side to the character or if it’ll just be the same story we have with Flash Thompson as Venom (Malus struggling against the symbiote’s impulses).