CLETUS KASADY’S SOUL CURRENTLY INHABITS AN OTHERWORLDLY SYMBIOTE DRAGON, ITSELF INFUSED WITH THE HIGHLY ADVANCED EXTREMIS VIRUS. CLETUS HAS ALSO FOUND A NEW COMPANION IN A SERIAL KILLER NAMED KENNETH NEELY, WHO HAS LONG IDOLIZED CLETUS. BUT NEELY MIGHT BE LEARNING THAT THERE’S TRUTH IN THE OLD ADAGE: “NEVER MEET YOUR HEROES.” NOW CLETUS IS BACK IN NEW YORK, AND WITH HIS NEW FORM THAT IS PART SYMBIOTE, PART STARK TECH, HE’S MORE POWERFUL--AND MORE DANGEROUS-- THAN EVER BEFORE.
Suffice it to say, Alex Paknadel knocks it out of the park with this issue of Carnage. Not for some time now have the two subplots felt this perfectly balanced and intertwined. Misadventures through the Norse realms served as sufficient entertainment, but #12 returns to form with the grittier street-level antics that captivated the initial issues. The glamor of large, fantastical set pieces is traded in for psychological horror-inspired thrills.
For poor, unfortunate Jonathan Shayde, this means a Scrooge-esque trip down memory lane, with Carnage serving as a demented pastiche of the ghost of Christmas past. Shayde has always strived to be a “good” man, but his black-and-white view of justice may have caused more pain and suffering in the long run. The following flashback provides context for his actions in previous issues and exposes why his most significant strength is his worst flaw.
The comic transitions to Kenneth Nealy and Cletus Kasady inside a small Brooklyn diner. Every speech bubble from Kasady reads unstable, growing the uneasy tension as he seems to be on the verge of snapping at any moment. And snap, he does, massacring every helpless civilian in the diner. An omniscient third-person narration weaves the lives of the diner’s patrons together, providing bite-sized insights into their personalities and relationships that will have readers mourning their deaths on a more personal level.
Artist Francesco Manna and colorist Erick Arciniega provide the first unobscured look at Cletus’ new symbiote form. It’s an impressively-penciled mass of black metal and organic membrane with a silhouette and texture that brings to mind DC’s Swamp Thing. What is yet to be seen is how easily distinguishable Cletus will be from Carnage when their inevitable tussle begins. The art team works wonders within the comic’s precise location, keeping the diner interesting with varying angles and dynamic lighting. It’s not easy to draw a convincing expression of terror, but Manna successfully plasters one on the face of every diner patron.
Carnage #12 wraps up with a surprise appearance by Miles Morales, whose mere two-page presence provides a much-needed dose of levity. An actual good soul has now entered this battle of monsters, and while the odds seem stacked against the young Spider-Man, it will be an excellent refresher to see some genuine heroics in the next issue.
Carnage #12 doubles-down on the dark nature of its characters with an issue that is bound to leave readers on their edge of their seat to see who will come out on top of this conflict, even if they're unsure who to root for at this point.
Carnage #12: Dine and Dash
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 8/108/10
- Art - 8/108/10
- Color - 8/108/10
- Cover Art - 7/107/10
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