In the following review you will find Symbiotic Gorilla Warfare, Loyal Fanboys, Implied Death, Angry White Captains, SMD (Symbiotic Mass Destruction), and Cripple Fights. You have been warned.

The Dawn’s Early Fight: Carnage USA Finale

Writer: Zeb Wells

Artist: Clayton Crain

Letters: Clayton Cowles

Editors: Tom Brennan and Stephen Wacker

Plot: Come sunrise, the town of Dovertown will be wiped off the map unless the Carnage symbiote is recaptured. To this effect, symbiotically enhanced special forces have been sent in with Scorn (Doctor Tanis Nieves), who with the aid of Spider-Man managed to separate Cletus Kassidy from the Carnage symbiote while fighting Agent Venom (Flash Thompson). In the fallout of this, the Carnage and Venom symbiotes took hold of animal hosts and began to fight one another. With the Avengers and Special Forces in tow, Spider-Man and Scorn attacked the symbiotic animals.

At the same time, Flash Thompson and Cletus Kassidy now symbiote-less and leg-less began to attack one another in a meat processing plant, with Flash impaling Cletus’s arm, and Cletus biting his neck, before using the hooks in the wall, used to support meat, to attack Flash from above and impaling him through the side with a hook and hoisting him in in the air painfully.

Back on the battlefield, dawn has arrived and the town is about to be nuked, when Captain America intervenes and buys them more time. The Venom Gorilla is attacked by a Carnage Lion on his way back to Flash and thanks to Spider-Man’s intervention manages to escape. Scorn manages to use the Sonic Disruptor Ben Grimm brought to isolate the Carnage symbiote and then Cap has them focus the impact blast on Carnage, defeating the symbiote but destroying the city in the process; Scorn recovers the Carnage symbiote, promising it much pain in the future.

Cletus is about to stab out Flash’s eyes when he is greeted by a plain Gorilla. When he turns back, Flash is once again Venom and kicks Cletus’ ass. Yet, he couldn’t kill Cletus because he didn’t want to let Spider-Man down. One of the villagers tries to kill Cletus, but Spider-Man stops him, telling him not to become a murderer and to look after his two children. The man breaks down in Spider-Man’s arms and says he had three children before Cletus came to town. Wolverine and Clint wonder if they did the right thing by stopping him from killing Cletus, while Cletus smiles to himself in a prison cell.

Thoughts: Damn, this thing got dark. While I never got the nameless soldier kills I had hoped for from this horror title, the revelations of what Cletus did to a little girl and how far he was going in his torture of Flash show that Wells didn’t hold back with Cletus. Wells makes sure to show us that Cletus is the horror behind Carnage, not the symbiote; in fact it’s implied the symbiote wants to be free of Cletus now. And on the flip side of the symbiotic coin, I think Venom is the hero of this story and damn he’s getting put through the ringer between this and Circle of Four. And yet it makes you admire the character more, because despite everything he goes through here and in his own book, Flash is still a strong soldier with a stout set of morals. And Wells and Crain nail it this issue with pacing and visuals, with the Flash vs. Cletus and Venom vs. Carnage battle inter-cutting perfectly and beautifully. And it might be because the Resident Evil 6 trailer came out yesterday and I’ve been obsessing on it, but I couldn’t help but compare the Cletus fight with the Resident Evil 4 fight with Bitores Mendez, where his body splits in half and he starts swinging around on hooks.

As for the others this issue, most got a great chance to shine. Captain America steps up to the plate and makes a dude cry this issue and it’s kind of awesome. Spider-Man gets to totally save Flash’s ass and while I think the scene would have more impact if Spider-Man knew Flash was under the Venom symbiote, it’s still a touching moment. As for our MVP this issue it’s pretty much a tie between Scorn and her solving the problem twice in two issues or the Venom Gorilla, who was just all kinds of awesome this issue and makes me want to see a Planet of the Apes book drawn by Clayton Crain.

My only real complaint is that Tom Brennan ruins something going on in Venom in the back pages, but he also makes up for it by making a Minimum Carnage joke too.

Verdict: Zeb Wells and Clayton Crain really kill it this issue and by the time you shut the book, you’ll left with a feeling that is convened perfectly in the final page of the book; the heroes lost just as much as they won and this is far from over. To avoid from rambling, I’m going to give this one another 5/5, this book made me feel uncomfortable at points and left me feeling down which doesn’t happen often and so long as Zeb Wells and Clayton Crain are playing with symbiotes I’ll be there for the ride.

Event Review: Last year, Scott Snyder/Jock/Francesco Francvilla took Detective Comics and made it very much a horror/crime noir book staring the Dick Grayson Batman and the Gordon family. They did truly creepy things with the Joker, the social elite, and when you get to the final story with the true villain of the run, it got dark. This year, Scott Snyder/Yannick Paquette and Jeff Lemire/Travis Foreman took Swamp Thing and Animal Man and united them in a cause against a force of death and decay, turning those superhero titles into a story where death and darkness lay around every corner. Over at Marvel, the only team who has done something like this is Zeb Wells and Clayton Crain. Rick Remender has dabbled at it, but he either gets too silly with it (Venom) or let’s the super heroics take over (Uncanny X-Force). Zeb Wells is able to largely ignore the heroics and knows how to interject humor into something without throwing off the dark pacing of the issue. And Clayton Crain is a perfect fit with his stylized art working well for symbiotes that can do things most can’t. This isn’t exactly an emotionally moving event or a truly revolutionary one either, it’s pretty much a horror story in the Marvel Universe and I feel like we don’t get enough of that. Wells definitely could of done more with this, gone darker, shown more and teased less, and raised the stakes more, but he’s getting better at writing this kind of stories if Carnage and Shed are any indication of where he started. He also needs to work on his character work, he deifintely placed story over character and while there were some great character moments, he had a lot of misfire with the town characters (especially Eric the Dad) and Scorn. Still, he delivers way more often than not and this event was a blast to read in it’s entirety.

4/5

 

13 Responses to “Carnage USA #5 & Event Review”

  1. #1 Phantom Roxas says:

    Not going to read the review to avoid spoilers, but unfortunately I saw the ending panel. A 4/5 is a good score, so I’m looking forward to picking up the trade.

  2. #2 YES!!! says:

    great review, this issue was awesome, love the cletus n flash fight, next stop minimum carnage

  3. #3 sthenurus says:

    Only thing i didnt like in this issue is Peter acting like betty brant. I mean, the guy saw his familly being tortured, almost gutted by is own wife and kids and you bitch slap the guy? thats cold man.

  4. #4 Two-Bit Specialist says:

    So who’s writing short reviews now, Shawn? ;) Good stuff. I’ll be picking up my issue on Saturday.

  5. #5 Two-Bit Specialist says:

    It just occurred to me: the Venom symbiote was “sedated” by Hank Pym so it couldn’t corrupt Flash, but I guess it still can “instinctively” look for its host, huh?

  6. #6 Nightmare Freddy says:

    I only have two problems with the issue, one is the fact that spiderman accept so easily and even help the symbiote Venom, when in the last issue, he thought that Flash was the punisher wearing his black costume and second, I would have liked to know what happened to Doppelganger, but thankfully there only minor and still make the five issues really great 5/5. Nice review by the way.

  7. #7 Shaun Martineau says:

    @1: Really sorry about that (I actually thought about swapping out the photo, but the damage had been done already). I try to get the best pages/panels that sums up the issue for those who don’t read and hope it’s enough to get them to be interested in the rest of it.

    @3/6: Yeah, I think I was more influenced by reading the event as a whole and happy that it went as dark as it did for a mainstream Marvel comic, that I think it was closer to a 4… 4.5 than a 5. The doppelganger thing did not bother me, they left some ties loose for what I assume will be the big Symbiote event coming up.

    @4/5: I try to keep mine in the 800-1200 word range and this barely made it in that bracket. I think it was like 1100 something words. And I thought it was touching to show the symbiote was attached to Flash and his emotions, while Carnage wanted to get the hell away from Kassidy.

  8. #8 MelissaJ says:

    I loved this series, really really loved it. It’s exactly what I was wanting, a dark gory horror story set in 616. I love Carnage but unfortunately it’s come a cross as toothless to have a character that we’re told is this dark and this insane and not really be shown anything to make us believe that. I’ve always wished they’d let the writers go this far with Carnage and I hope it’s successful enough to let them go farther in the future, I totally agree with you, too many teases. Here’s hoping for another one shot like Mind Bomb or It’s A Beautiful Life in the future.

    I don’t know if I agree with the assumption that symbiote wants to be free of Cletus, I took it more that it was acting out of base instinct, getting away from what was casing it pain and it got side tracked by the Venom symbiote. Considering the Carnage symbiote has never really been giving it’s own character moments the way Venom has I kinda of always thought of it as, hmm less intelligent? Perhaps just more emotion based than Venom had grown to be. While it did try to bond with Tanis it didn’t seem to try to hard, kind of an off handed attempt on the way back to Cletus, again out of instinct perhaps. It’s an interesting idea but I think it ultimately fails when you think about Maximum Carnage, if the symbiote wasn’t freaked out by all the killing Cletus did there, all be it mostly off panel, I doubt it would be here. We’re told that he and Shriek killed or incideted the killings of hundreds, we actually see him toss a little boy, presumably dead in one panel.

    Could you elabrate your thoughts on the misfires with the town characters more? A word range is nice for a nice tight review but don’t short change yourself. :)

  9. #9 MelissaJ says:

    Oh so many typo’s, no writing before coffee for me. >.<

  10. #10 Sarcasmic says:

    ^ Comment made my night.

    I don’t see a Nazi Concentration One-Shot happening, but who knows… Zeb Wells could do a humor/dark blend like that movie, maybe with Magneto? Seriously though, I hope Wells sticks around with Spider-Man’s rogue gallery, especially now that it seems Slott is undoing Shed. Or maybe someone else’s rogues; terrorism with Iron-Man’s, or you could do other worldly terrors with the Fantastic Four rogues. Also, Wells will apparently he might be back with Minimum Carnage, which seems to cross over with Scarlet Spider and Venom: http://i.annihil.us/u/prod/marvel/i/mg/3/e0/4f887a291455a/detail.jpg

    Interesting theory, we’ve been able to get inside Venom’s head, would be interesting to get inside Carnage’s head, not just Cletus’.

    I’m disappointed with the townsfolk for a few reasons. The first two have to do with this issue; the sheriff coming out of nowhere and taking charge after being Spider-Man’s lackey for the last couple issues. There was no indication of this man stepping up and taking responsibility, it just happened. And he pretty much gets the most screen time, everybody else is generic fodder… Who doesn’t die in a horror comic. And then the little girl thing, it felt a little out of left field for me, I’m gonna go back and re-read before I commit to this, but it felt tacked on. And again, no one effing died on panel, just like with the soldiers.

  11. #11 Scarletspiderfan says:

    What happened to the Hybrid symbiotes?

  12. #12 Two-Bit Specialist says:

    @scarletspiderfan Government still has them? I think they are supposed to make an appearance in Venom next.

  13. #13 Matthew Marsden says:

    Hi there, beautiful site however there is a issue whereby sometimes I am sent back to the main page whenever I view different posts within your page.

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