Carnage is loose, traveling to Niffleheim to hunt down his next victim, Malekith. But Detective Jonathan Shayde, who is being aided by the voice of Cletus Kasady in his head following an encounter with the symbiote, reached the dark elf first. Sparing him, the trio made plans to escape—until they were thwarted by the unlikely bargain struck by Carnage and Hela. Now Carnage has the next piece of his puzzle: Malekith’s codex!
Carnage has won. That which had evaded his possession is now finally within his grasp, ripped from the unconscious form of Malekith the Dark Elf. It is a codex, a fragment of the Venom symbiote left behind from its bonding with the dark elf host during the events of War of the Realms. Within it are contained the memories of their short-lived symbiosis, as well as the mysterious means through which Carnage will achieve his long sought-after divinity.
I find it most appropriate to begin this review with my minor gripes, seeing as they are few and directed towards the comic’s opening act. Although it demonstrates an admirable amount of consideration for the other writers in Marvel’s stable, it is somewhat underwhelming how neatly writer Ram V places his toys back in the box. Malekith’s fate has formed the backbone of Carnage for the past months, and after a tumultuous journey and a short exploration of the dark elf’s arrogance, it’s almost disappointing to see him written off in a way that places him back where he started, left completely unchanged by these events. He does not meet his death at the hands of Carnage, despite what last month’s cliffhanger wanted us to believe.
Instead, he is simply rendered unconscious, with Hela returning him to his place of torment in the frozen wastelands of Hel, ready to be thawed out in time for a future Thor storyline no doubt. It was an interesting dynamic while it lasted; Detective Shayde being tasked with defending a villain undeserving of mercy. But this subplot has now been cut short as our characters are once again scattered throughout the universe.
Ironically enough, things become most interesting once the fantastical realm of Hel is left behind for normal old Earth. Carnage has kept me on my toes with its sudden shifts into different genres, and #8 continues that tradition by going full slasher horror. A social media influencer livestreams his exploration of a dilapidated orphanage and encounters none other than Cletus Kasady, thought to be long gone until now.
Like his former symbiotic partner, Cletus is infatuated with the concept of godhood, and he has some neat new abilities that could almost be classified as supernatural. The sequence that follows has the qualities of an A24 horror flick: its atmospheric, dimly lit, bloody, and filled with psychological exploration. Ram V manages to squeeze in some levity through online chat messages, which are charming and avoid the common pitfall of overdoing it with the hip, modern lingo of the internet generation.
As of now, its unclear how Cletus’ exploits will factor into the grander plot, but they make for an unexpectedly entertaining turn that allows artists Roge Antonio and Erick Arciniega to stretch their talents to new heights.
While previous issues have not shied away from gore and disturbing imagery, Carnage #8 fully embraces the conventions of the horror genre for the first time and to great effect.
Carnage #8: House of Horrors
- Writing - 8/108/10
- Storyline - 8/108/10
- Art - 10/1010/10
- Color - 9/109/10
- Cover Art - 10/1010/10
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