Carnage USA #4: Oh Say Can You Scream
Writer: Zeb Wells
Artist: Clayton Crain
Letter: Clayton Cowles
Editors: Stephen Wacker & Tom Brennan
Plot Summary: Spider-Man rallies the troops with the type of bumbling speech only he can give, while zoo animals run a muck to Spider-Man’s dismay. At the same time, Cletus Kassidy (Carnage) and his Avengers take the fight to the symbiote soldiers, who are no match for them. Attempts to reach Scorn (Doc. Tanis Nieves) are unsuccessful, as she begins to construct something out of ball bearings that can create a massive frequency discharge, using her suit’s unique ability to work with metals. Spider-Man and his survivors arrive on scene, where Spider-Man attempts to take down Carnage to buy the townsfolk enough time to free their loved ones. As Carnage prepares to deliver a killing blow on Spider-Man, something blasts him with a high powered sonic weapon. Venom (Flash Thompson) has arrived and proceeds to blast down Carnage, until Flash sticks a gun in his mouth. Spider-Man stops him from pulling the trigger, just long enough for Carnage to recover, but before either Flash or Carnage can do much, Scorn hits them with a bulldozer into a sonic field. As both symbiotes leave their hosts and the townfolks (heh rhyme), Cletus makes to kill a limbless Flash.
Well not quite living up to my hopes of another Issue #2, this is a strong entry into the miniseries with a lot going on, which helps pick up the pace of the mini after the slow issue last month. For what’s essentially a fight issue, they balance the board well between Spider-Man, Scorn, and Venom who are the big players here and each get a big moment in the fight against Carnage. At the same time we get a resolution to the wife/husband/kid storyline that had largely been the driving point of the series. Zeb Wells also uses the Slottism of no-one dies in this issue, but I’m not sure how I feel about that. Some death would of benefited this dark mini, they had lots of canon fodder and when Spider-Man decides to bust out the old “No One Dies!” card, it is at the worst time.
If I had a complaint, aside from no symbiotic animals, it would be the way they used Carnage this issue. He was back to his regular old Spider-Man villain routine, while he been doing a lot of cool stuff this mini like controlling towns, torturing people, and being a true monster. In the last mini that Nathaniel Collins reviewed, he made fun of the massive Carnage monster we got at the end (essentially a Voltron Carnage), but I felt like that could of been used here. Watching our mismatched heroes going up against something massive to protect the townsfolk seems to be a more exciting issue than what we appear to have coming to us now. Plus how awesome would it be to see Clayton Crain draw something along the lines of a Carnage-The Thing (John Carpenter, not Marvel), after he’s been killing it on art this mini?
As this mini comes into it’s final issue, I’m hoping we get to spend more time with Scorn, who was given very little character development by the man who created her. She’s been in the background most of the time and although she claimed she wanted nothing more than to kill Cletus Kassidy, she ends up simply taking his symbiote away from him. Considering we didn’t see her with the heroes at the end of the issue, we might see her go after Cletus herself before he can kill Flash, but if she doesn’t, I hope they gave her a chance to share her feelings on not killing Cletus after all.
Verdict: Despite some flaws here and there, this was an entertaining issue. I found myself fist pumping when Venom entered the fray and I do want to see how this cliffhanger turns out, because Marvel beat the ‘Hell’ out of Flash in Circle of Four (see what I did there?) so whose to say that Cletus won’t get the chance to.. get under Flash’s skin. Oh by the way, I’m theorizing that the animals are how the Carnage symbiote escapes.