Venom and Scarlet Spider’s journey has come to a dramatic conclusion! Marquis Radu managed to clone hybrid Venom/Carnage symbiotes, creating an army which Carnage has total control over! Venom, Scarlet Spider, and the Enigma Force attempt to fight back, but with little luck. Eventually, Flash is able to destroy the clones by using his own pain and rage to get by whatever tampering keeps the Venom symbiote tamed (such as it is). However, with the army gone, Carnage escapes back into the regular world and has brought his army with him!
|Executive Producer:||Alan Fine|
|Chief Creative Officer:||Joe Queseda|
|Editor In Chief:||Axel Alonso|
|Senior Editor:||Stephen Wacker|
|Writer:||Chris Yost, Cullen Bunn|
|Artist:||Declan Shalvey, Khoi Pham, Lan Medina|
|Inker:||Kesel, Wong, Mendoza, and Bit|
|Cover Art:||Clayton Crain|
The final part begins and it’s immediately noticeable that the style of story-telling is different. The whole issue is told as though it’s Katy’s summary after the events. The audience is told that happy endings are not something people are generally interested in, that we’re all too busy. Stories that “bleed” sell…and of course, this one bleeds. A peaceful scene in Houston quickly turns to horror as the mini-Carnage army begins killing people. The smaller bits quickly come together to form a full-sized Carnage, ready for more slaughter.
Back in the Microverse, the Enigma Force (the team) bring Venom, Scarlet Spider, and Katy to the “Spacewall”, where they can be brought back to their world. Marionette gives the heroes a sonic gun and disruptor grenade. Before they leave, the Redeemer tells Flash that he and the symbiote are one and the same, and it wants what he wants. Suppose that says a lot about both Flash and the symbiote…
Because of what happened in the Body Banks, Venom is now “connected” to Carnage and uses that to sense him and bring them back home, through the Spacewall. However, when they arrive, they’re still tiny…and Carnage is normal sized! As the heroes attempt to take him down, small hybrids from the Body Banks spawn from Carnage’s skin, creating another challenge for the height-challenged duo. As they continue to fight, the hybrids continue to spawn and be re-absorbed back into Carnage, creating a never ending supply. Just as Carnage is about to crush the “heroes”, the size differential kicks in and both return to their regular size (also creating quite a bit of agony, apparently).
Despite this, Carnage apparently has grown too, as the heroes are still dwarfed by him. He continues to spawn his own, self-made army and Katy notes that he’s come back different- whatever he saw in the Microverse has caused him to abandon what little humanity he had and become something even worse than before. Carnage ensnares Venom and attempts to convince him to join him, like they were joined in the Microverse. Venom presents his own logical counter-point…a disruptor grenade in the mouth. The blast completely knocks out Kasady’s symbiote and leaves Venom weakened.
Scarlet Spider asks what the next step is and Venom tells him they wait for the Avengers to pick Carnage up and put him in a facility that can hold him. Scarlet doesn’t take this idea too well and uses his stinger, seemingly stabbing Kasady in his eye, seemingly killing him. Vemom slams him against a wall and Scarlet calmly explains that it’s the heroes’ fault Carnage has killed so many people. He reasons that if they keep locking him up, he’ll just escape again, and whatever he does is on them. Venom argues back that there has to be a better way. Kaine swings away, cold to what he has done.
In the epilogue, the Avengers dismantle the Prometheus Pit, while Dr. Ketola (the woman who had rebuilt it originally) quits to be with her husband. The Enigma Force are left to continue their fight and Kaine apparently quietly suffers for what he has done. Venom watches over Carnage in an undisclosed holding facility, but his story is not over. When he stabbed him, Kaine apparently lobotomized Carnage, but the symbiote still remains in his blood. And without Kasady, the symbiote has full control, leaving him more dangerous than ever…
So here are, at the end of another Carnage-centric mini-series. Let’s take a look at this issue before moving on to the series as a whole. The story here had a Bendis-like quality to me, in that for the last part of the arc, scribes Yost and Bunn switch to a “after the matter” story set up. In a way it works, but in the first 5 parts of this story, the characters were able to express their thoughts and direct the action without an outsider view on things. Given that Kaine and Flash had been doing a fine job of that, I am unsure as to why Katy filled in for this issue, especially since she was off panel most of the time.
Of course, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t find small details that sort of create inconsistencies. How small are our heroes supposed to be upon re-entry to “our” world? Before they were microscopic, now here they are visible. I guess beings from the Microverse “grow” to a few inches in our world? Also, couldn’t Venom “sense” Carnage in the past? I thought that was in Carnage’s first appearance even. And finally, didn’t Carnage develop an immunity to sonics?
Ok, on to the rest of this issue…the art was decent enough. Nothing mind-blowing, but nothing too poor either. It was a bit difficult to tell how big Carnage was supposed to be at times, but in the end, that doesn’t really seem to matter.
As a stand-alone issue, this one wasn’t too bad. I liked the conclusion, but I thought it was odd that they made a point of saying Kasady had changed due to his time in the Microverse and yet at the end, they say he’s more dangerous because he has no humanity at all now. Regardless, I liked this conclusion. It seems like a move that will later be retconned or forgotten, but it shows how our heroes react differently to the same threat. It also shows that Kaine does a better job of creating problems when he tries to help than when he just does the minimum. I sort of hope to see if this trend continues in his book, or if his actions here will have any lasting repercussions.
As for the story overall…well, I feel like this was a bit mishandled or should have been done differently. They spent so much time on the Microverse and the struggles within, to have one of the big bads just vanish and then go unmentioned basically. Yost and Bunn shrug this off as a “there’s still so much to do” point, but it just makes the previous parts of the story seem a bit…pointless. It seems like there’s something they could have written which didn’t involve a sub-plot that doesn’t get resolved or try to create history without actually bothering to explain any of it. They attempt to give some back story to the symbiotes and a connection with the Microverse, but instead they just SAY there’s history and expect us to take their word for it.
I know they say there’s more to do, and if the conflict in the Microverse has been going on for so long it may seem a bit…convenient to have Scarlet Spider and Venom solve it in a day. However, they introduced these characters and attempted to establish some mystery surrounding them (who is the Redeemer? Can he heal the Marquis? What is their back story? Basically everything about the Redeemer….) and then just drop them to wrap things up. Maybe this story needed a different focus. There must have been a way to involve Carnage, his past, and some other outside player that could have accomplished the same goal, but without the sci-fi, microscopic alien side-story that has no resolution. There’s a lot I feel they did right with the character interactions, but the overall story just didn’t deliver.
I liked this issue’s conclusion, mostly. It’s a different approach for the hero to take such drastic action, and in true Scarlet Spider style, it ends up being the wrong move. There’s also some decent action here and the battle with Carnage seemed appropriately brutal and desperate. Based mainly on the twist at the end, I’ll give this issue some credit.
As for the series as a whole, I’d probably rate it a 2 or 2.5. There was a lot of build-up and establishment of an entire world, as well as mystery surrounding the Redeemer and his quest, only to have it all brushed aside at the last moment. Heck, Marquis Radu just up and teleports, preventing conclusion there. Maybe it’s me, or maybe Carnage just doesn’t do well for prolonged stories. Either way, only time to tell what will happen with these latest developments.