Carnage was a great but over-used Spider-Man villain.
In New Avengers #2, five years ago, Carnage was grabbed by The Sentry, flown into space... and ripped in half!
Now... he's back!
An armoured truck is being pursued by a car, trying to run it off the road! In pursuit is everyone’s favourite webspinner… Doppelganger, the six-armed, demented duplicate of Spider-Man!
In a Medical Expo, Tony Stark’s attention is grabbed by Michael Hall who demonstrates mind reading technology way out of his league. Outside, Tony asks his secretary Pepper Potts to look into Hall. He spots Doppelganger swinging by and puts in a priority call to Peter Parker, to make sure he’s not in any bother. Donning his liquid armour, Stark explains what he’s just seen and Peter swings to the scene as Spider-Man!
The armoured car is trying to lose its tail but is forced to stop when Doppelganger crashes into the windscreen! The normal car smashes into the back of it! Iron Man arrives on the scene but is briefly incapacitated by Doppelganger’s inorganic webbing. Spidey arrives and explains that the last time Doppelganger was seen is was part of “The Massacre” which included Carnage, Shriek, Carrion and Demogoblin. Madness descended upon the people of New York then but luckily it wasn’t Doppelganger that caused this. One cue, a maddened mob of people start attacking Spidey and Iron Man!
Inside the crashed car, a woman tries to explain to Doppelganger that he has to stop the truck.
Spidey and Iron Man are dealing with the mob with minimal force when two armoured enforcers appear (Royal Blue and Firebrick) and, in order to allow the armoured truck to continue its crucial delivery, web up the entire scene with red, biomass tendrils! Royal Blue and Firebrick move to the truck and blast Doppelganger, who it turns out is after his mother! Spidey and Iron Man free themselves and try to come to Doppelganger’s aid but he dies. Iron Man demands to know what was in that truck!
The truck arrives and delivers Frances Louise Barrison aka Shriek! It was her fear-inducing powers that caused the mob to attack earlier! She is taken into a secret facility where her powers are needed – it is hoped that the fear and loathing she transmits will be enough to piece together… Carnage!
This feels nostalgic but fresh; an ideal start from both Zeb Wells and Clayton Crain.
Crain’s artwork is different from everything else. Whilst it is an acquired taste, this is an example of his work that doesn’t need as much persuasion with readers. The other Carnage work he’s done was the brave Venom Vs. Carnage mini-series where his work fit the symbiotic tendril nature of the characters but was a complete distraction when portraying normal characters. Here there is much more of a natural look for his regular people, combining in cleaner contrast with the bulbous, ET type characters such as Doppelganger, Shriek and Carnage. His storytelling is clear, his lighting is so much better (allowing for a range of moods) and there is a sense of subtle emotions amid the cinematic action.
The return of Doppelganger, Shriek and Carnage is handled extremely well by Crain and even better by Wells. He times the appearance of these throw-back characters perfectly, allowing there to be gems and moments of recognition throughout.
Speaking of pace, the quick nature of the scene is ideal to bring readers up to speed, familiar with some old characters and now firmly along for the ride. The mystery surrounding who is transporting Shriek, who the woman in the car is and what’s going to happen to Carnage is enough to get the conspiracy juices flowing.
With Iron Man in the mix (looking awesome through Crain), Wells nurtures the potential for these old characters to continue the carnage (pun intended) in a new era of comics.
A great issue that brings the 1990s to the 2010s without all the crap!