In the Microverse, no one can hear you scream. That doesn’t mean I won’t try.

UPDATE: Everyone, I made some edits on this review. All of the points are still there, and the negative reaction is retained, but I took out some insulting lines that really were just unnecessarily mean-spirited. This is entirely a matter of my own conscience and it was not even suggested by anyone else on this site. I just don’t want to let something I’m not proud of continue to reflect upon me on a public internet site.

“Minimum Carnage Part 5: Family Bondage”
WRITER: Cullen Bunn
ART: Declan Shalvey
COLORS: Lee Loughridge
LETTERS: VC’s Joe Caramagna
COVER ART: Patch Zircher & Marte Gracia

Marquis Radu plans to destroy the Microverse’s “spiritual power” using a clone army of Venom–Carnage hybrids, creating a god-vacancy for Radu to fill. Carnage can control the clones telepathically, but “scientific tampering” and “humanity” have polluted Flash’s symbiote such that he cannot accomplish that feat. Scarlet Spider joins Flash to fight the clones. Eventually, Flash remembers enough of his emotional pain to . . . like . . . tap into his inner . . . Venom . . . or something, and that gives him the requisite psychic force to apparently disintegrate some of the clones. Then Carnage melts (the hell?). Then Carnage reappears in the real world, only he’s still tiny, and he has his clones with him.

As I stated in the comments section of Kevin’s Scarlet Spider #11 review, that issue rectified most of my standing complaints regarding Minimum Carnage. Marquis Radu had personality, the high stakes became clear, and Chris Yost wrote Carnage rather well. But along came Venom #27. Calling this the worst issue of Minimum Carnage is too mild. Instead, I’m asking myself how many years it has been since I’ve read a worse issue of any comic period.

Venom and Scarlet Spider battling Carnage and his clone army could have generated fun, mindless chaos . . . if I enjoyed the art more. Declan Shalvey uses a grainy, distorted style to begin with, but the whole melee sinks deeper into unattractiveness thanks to a monochromatic, brownish-red color-pallet. Enemy mobs blend together into a squiggly, indecipherable blob, and the oft-absent backgrounds make the battleground appear featureless.

I do not care for the aesthetic, but the storytelling pleased me even less. I was frequently confused by what I was looking at. For instance, there’s a scene where Venom, using his (new?) power to turn his hand into a sword, decapitates what looks like Carnage. Then suddenly a fully-capitated symbiote appears behind Venom, talking in Carnage’s trademarked red speech bubbles. Then the head on the floor regrows its body and starts talking as Carnage. Did Carnage split in two like a worm? Or was one of them supposed to be a symbiote clone whose voice Carnage controlled telepathically? Carnage never demonstrates that ability elsewhere in the story.

This one image tells you what you need to know about the experience of reading Venom #27.

Enough about art, let’s talk story. In the focal character moment, Flash dredges up his negative memories in order to somehow allow himself to commune with and destroy the symbiote clones. I have three things to say about that. First, the idea of destroying the symbiotes with a shock wave made out of daddy issues does not impress me. Maximum Carnage was solved with a positive feelings ray and now Minimum Carnage gets a big child abuse fart. Carnage’s kryptonite is all the feels, I suppose.

Second, this plot point appears inconsistent with prior instances within the Minimum Carnage story. Throughout Venom #27, Carnage taunts Venom with the idea that the symbiote is basically a corpse because of how severely the Avengers lobotomized it. Flash agrees on this point and cites it as the prime reason the symbiote clones won’t respond to his commands, and the reason he must summon his emo-ness to rev the symbiote up. Yet, didn’t we just have an issue in this same storyline where the Venom symbiote took control of Flash and forced him to attack Scarlet Spider? And didn’t the symbiote come alive again, later in this same story, to force Flash to attack the good tiny people? How is that “corpse-like”? What about that is consistent with the concept that the symbiote is basically sleeping and needs a dose of Flash’s self pity to awaken?

And third, this relates to my fundamental thematic qualm with Bunn’s Venom run. This is the second story arc in a row in which Flash has had to channel his negative emotions in order to win a fight. Bunn apparently sees Flash as deeply angry and bitter, and the best Flash can do is use those feelings to more viscously lash out at evildoers. I prefer to think that Flash is a more hopeful character then that, and that his finest moments are when he relies on strength and courage to overcome the tragedies that haunt him. All this business about Flash trying to make himself feel bad so that he can fight harder bothers me whenever it appears.

Folks, I can’t top what I’ve already written. The issue’s remainder deals with the Microverse characters running around with Katy Kiernan, and you already know how little I care about that stuff (psst: I care little). All I have left are questions. Why does Carnage melt through the floor? Why was Scarlet Spider’s mask so torn at the end of the last chapter that most of his face was exposed, but is now completely mended? Did he pull a spare mask out of his rectum? Why does Bunn’s word choice for Carnage’s dialogue emphasize words containing sexual connotations, like “incestuous” and “impotent”? Is Carnage a sex fiend in addition to being a serial killer? Even this issue’s title includes the word “bondage.”

I have the tiniest glimmer of hope for the next chapter because it looks like an army of tiny Carnages will terrorize the real world. That’s the type of fun idea that this story should have focused on from the beginning. I never want to see the Microverse again.

1 out of 5.


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(22) Comments

  1. hot bikney girls

    You have made some decent points there. I checked on the web to find out more about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this web site.

  2. James Dyches

    You speak the truth. There is a lot I could say about how disappointed I am with this cross over series, but I think I will sum it up this way. I sincerely believe, or hope at least, that this miniseries was a joke. And will never ever be referenced to ever again. Wells and Crain did such an amazing job building up a fairly one-dimensional character, I hate to see it undone by this farce. Carnage is my favorite character. As an aspiring actor my dream is to play Cletus Kasady in film one day. This miniseries made me so mad! Especially since today I picked up Omega. Read it. And guess what. It does not get better. And spoiler alert! Kasady is shown at the end having BLONDE HAIR. HE'S GINGER, THAT'S WHO HE IS! How does one over look that!

  3. Enigma_2099

    @#18 Fair enough. But if you had reneged on your score, I would have thought you were caving to peer pressure.

  4. CrazyChris - Post author

    I've been a Transformers fan for 20 years and I HATE Bay's films. The second one is my pick for worst movie ever made. No joke. It's torturous on every level.

  5. sthenurus

    @15. Hey! I liked Bayformers! Granted its nowhere near as good as REAL transformers (G1, beast Wars or animated or prime) but at least it brough new fan into the fold. Heck it even brough OLD fan (like myself) into the fold.

  6. Enigma_2099

    @#14 Don't you just love it when they roll out the "mindless entertainment" excuse? It's like Bayformers in book form.

  7. CrazyChris - Post author

    6 Kevin - I'm looking forward to collaborating again, too. 7 Shaun - I definitely enjoyed the first Zeb Wells Carnage series more than this. I haven't read the second one yet, though. I'll get around to it. 8 Freddy - Thanks for all those comments. This is the only thing I've read from Bunn so I don't know how good he was on Deadpool or anything else. So far I think he's ranged from fairly decent to bad on Venom. I think he's capable of some good, crazy stories but he hasn't really pulled one off smoothly yet. 9 Scarlet - I do think this art team is good given the right story. I really liked them in Venom #22 and I said so in my review. Some of their scenes in that issue were genius, I would even say. Minimum Carnage is too chaotic for their style, in my opinion. All the symbiotes on the panel just sort of blur together into an ugly mess. 10 Enigma - Yeah, it's an ugly-looking issue that required some gross comparisons to adequately describe. 11 Zach - Tiny little Cindy? You have the strangest auto-correcter ever. 12 Eddie - I totally agree. As bad as this part was I can still see myself really enjoying the next part. They just need to get out of the Microverse as early in the issue as possible, have a good fight with the mini-Carnages, and call it a day. That'd be a perfectly fun issue. 13 sthenurus - Planet of the Symbiotes—hey, Bunn only gets his ideas from the best! And I've been thinking the exact same thing about art being essential to a "mindless entertainment." That's a big part of why for some logic-light issues I can roll with it, but for this one, I can't. So-called "mindless" stories are a craft unto themselves because the creators have to create an effortless, visceral experience for the reader. If I have to stop to figure out what I'm looking at then the creators have failed. Its like being on a roller coaster that suddenly gets stuck.

  8. sthenurus

    @crazychris: Venom using pathos to defeat an army of symbiots is a direct rip off of "the planet of symbiot" storyline ;) while this issue's writting wasnt great, it's the art that turned me off the most. I spend more time going "wtf am I looking at" than actually enjoying what little content there could be. I don't mind mindless entertainment once in a while, but i want it to be at least easy to look at...

  9. Eddie

    Yes. Miles of suckitude. You echoed my EXACT sentiments with the last lines of your review. "I have the tiniest glimmer of hope for the next chapter because it looks like an army of tiny Carnages will terrorize the real world. That’s the type of fun idea that this story should have focused on from the beginning. I never want to see the Microverse again." After all that suck, I was actually excited to see that they were now in Houston and there is a glimmer of hope that I might care an iota or two about this story.

  10. Zachary Joiner

    I'm back. This thing was better than the last issue of VENOM or of SCARLET SPIDER. The problem is that there was little to no setup by either creative teams In the sense that We never see have seen the microbursts prior to this ongoing story. The micro verse wasn't even referenced in the Carnage miniseries that preceded Carnage's previous appearances. It seems like that this story was meant maybe for Spider-Man instead of Scarlet Spider, but due to the things going on the amazing title it wasn't going to work. As for the ending, I am legitimately excited to see little tiny Cindy it's running around in the year in the real universe. Naturally, I wasn't expecting the Alpha and Omega issues to be better than the actual individual titles. It is sad state affairs that this story should've been no more than four issues but was expanded to six issues to make a trade.

  11. Scarlet Spider

    You know I felt the issue was bad but I honestly didnt mind the art. I have a soft spot for that grainy,sketch like style. Im a fan of rick leonardi after all.

  12. Nightmare Freddy

    Your review is soooo true. I was kind of happy seeing Flash finally killing Kassidy like he should have did in Carnage USA, but I won’t complain that Kassidy seems to be still alive... Seeing Venom having the carnage blade seemed weird thought, since Venom unique power is his venomous bite and his dark vision… I started hating Radu at the start of the issue with the dialogue with Kiernan since it showed that she was a stupid chaotic villain made to be forgotten. I would have preferred that Flash let Venom take control since he already did like twice in the story than having an Emo Peter scene. I would have also loved seeing a classic clash between Venom and Carnage or at least having Venom assimilate all the baby symbiote or at the very least oriented them to help him kill off Carnage. The restored mask of Scarlet and the almost none presence of him was a big letdown since Flash could have discovered that Spider is a clone of Peter Parker… Finally the microverse team started to seem interesting but not enough to be justified in this comic. I loved Bunn Deadpool kills the Marvel Universe, but I’m really starting to consider that he isn’t meant for this comic…

  13. Shaun Martineau

    Been following these reviews for awhile and it has me sad that after two great Carnage events, this one is total crap. They should of left Carnage in Zeb Well's hands... Oh well, thanks for the heads up to avoid this.

  14. Kevin Cushing

    I'm looking forward to our second tandem review for next week's Omega. Because one way or another, this mess is over, baby!

  15. CrazyChris - Post author

    I'm glad our views on Minimum Carnage complement each other and provide a full spectrum of opinions. When I think an issue completely sucks, you just think it mostly sucks, and vice versa. This way, everyone who has a different idea about the specific degree to which this story sucks and why has a critic to look to for vindication.

  16. Kevin Cushing

    Yeah, it's true. When you've got a villain throwing out lines like, "Fools!" I stop caring about him immediately.

  17. CrazyChris - Post author

    @1 - my choice of metaphors probably didn't help your feeling sick! @2 - I had a feeling that the one time I absolutely hated a Venom issue would be the one time you'd have a milder reaction. But honestly I thought that the tiny heroes and villains, while maybe less prominent, did everything they could to make the scenes they were in suck as much as possible. Even Marquis Radu, who I liked before sucked this time (My stupid plan gives all the control to Carnage and is blowing up in my face? No matter, I'm an avatar of chaos! I love it when pointless bullshit happens. MWAHAHAHAA *teleports out of the story*). I didn't really write much about it in the review because these characters sucking is a dead horse at this point.

  18. Kevin Cushing

    This is funny. Last week I gave Scarlet Spider #11 a 1 out of 5 and you commented that you didn't dislike it as much as I did, and this week here you are giving Venom #27 a 1 out of 5, and here I am to say: I didn't dislike it as much as you did! Don't get me wrong - it was bad. I am not going to sit here and say this is a good comic book, because it's not. No, what made me not totally hate this one as much as the last two is simply that we got less of the damn tiny people (good and bad). Venom and Scarlet Spider fighting Carnage and a bunch of symbiote clones was neither written nor drawn as well as it could have been and is in no way comics that's gonna set the world on fire. But this kind of issue is the kind of stupid I was expecting when going into a "Venom/Scarlet Spider vs. Carnage in a story with a 90s take-off name" crossover. I still wouldn't have given it higher than a 2 out of 5 myself, though. You're so right about the complete lack of sense being made here. When they started talking about the Venom symbiote being "a corpse" that Flash couldn't use at all, I was honestly trying to remember what had happened to it since the last two times it took control of Flash in the last two issues. Thing is - nothing happened. Same symbiote, same condition...w-t-hell? And I honestly laughed out loud when Carnage melts through the floor and even the Redeemer's pretty much saying, "Yeah, he just left the Microverse - I don't know how, either." So all in all a bad comic, but less tiny heroes and villains meant less wholesale annoyance for me.

  19. Donovan Grant

    Holy Canonballs that sounds bad. Well done on the review Chris. It made me sick thinking of reading it.

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