Amazing Spider-Man, shashmazing shmider-shan. Just as exciting is this, yet another tandem review by Scarlet Spider reviewer Kevin and Venom reviewer Chris. This time, we tackle Minimum Carnage Omega, the final chapter of the seismic, universe-spanning epic known as Minimum Carnage!
“Minimum Carnage Omega”
Writers: Chris Yost & Cullen Bunn
Art: Lan Medina
Inkers: Kesel, Wong, Mendoza & Bit
Epilogue Art: Shalvey & Pham
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Clayton Crain
Variant Cover Art: Lim & Soto
Full-sized Carnage and his army of miniaturized Venom–Carnage hybrid clones terrorize Houston. In the Microverse, the good tiny people arm Venom and Scarlet Spider with sonic weapons and help Venom use the symbiote’s innate power to exit the Microverse at will. Venom, Scarlet Spider, and Katy fly through the dimensional barrier, following Carnage’s trail using Venom’s ability to “sense” Carnage due to a connection they developed in the Microverse.
Upon reentering Earth, the size-differential has not yet fully worn off, so our heroes remain tiny. They fight Carnage and his mini-minions until the good guys revert to normal size. Carnage’s ability to reabsorb his clones and spew them back out makes the battle more difficult. Carnage asks Venom to become one with him so they can infect the real world in the same way their presence corrupted the Microverse. Venom shoves a sonic bomb in Carnage’s mouth, weakening him and thinning out the symbiote. Scarlet pops his stingers and the art leaves it unclear (to Chris, at least) whether he stabs Cletus in the head or just threatens him. Cletus’s eye gets bloody and he passes out, somehow. Scarlet Spider and Venom have the “we should kill him/if we kill him we’re no better than he is” debate. Venom gets his way and Carnage goes to prison where a doctor explains that Cletus has been lobotomized and his symbiote is fully in control now. The symbiote is sedated in the mean time.
While still not perfect, this is SUCH a huge improvement over the rest of this crossover! I would credit that mainly to two things: 1) We get rid of the tiny people right quick (Marquis Radu and his forces aren’t even seen in this issue), and 2) Scarlet Spider and Venom are actually together for the whole issue.
Is the plot of tiny Venom and Scarlet Spider fighting full-size Carnage and a bunch of tiny clones incredibly silly? Oh hell yes. But it’s the kind of fun silliness you expect when going into Minimum Carnage. And for the most part it’s played quite well. We get plenty of Kaine’s snark towards Venom and we also get moments of them working together well against incredible odds. The all-too-little we’ve seen these two working together in this crossover really makes me wish Scarlet Spider was going to be on the new Thunderbolts with Venom (come on Marvel – he’s already got the right color scheme and everything!), because this pair plays really well off each other.
Then, of course, we do get the nonsensical moments of the issue where you can’t help but scratch your head. The symbiote can transport three people (two of whom it’s not even touching) out of the Microverse at will? My, that’s…convenient. Venom is “fighting to keep his corruptive nature in check,” when last issue the symbiote was “a corpse?” Ok, that wasn’t making any sense anyway, so let’s just forget it…
I do have to say, Lan Medina’s art in this issue is much improved over Minimum Carnage: Alpha. His rendering of Carnage looks nothing short of awesome, and 99% of the time I can tell exactly what’s going on. The image Chris pointed out in his plot summary confused the heck out of me, too, but on closer reexamination I was able to make out that Scarlet Spider did, indeed, stab Cletus in the eye with his stinger. It is a really confusing piece of storytelling, though. In one panel we see the stinger popping out of Kaine’s wrist, and in the next panel he has grabbed Cletus and looks like he’s about to strike, though Cletus already has a bloody eye. But when I looked very closely, I can see a little blood trail going from the eye to the end of Kaine’s stinger, so it must have just jumped to after Kaine had already stabbed him in the eye. And I suppose I can go with that “lobotomizing” him instead of killing him if we use the symbiote healing logic. Although I must say I find it a bit strange that so soon after a mini-series went to the trouble of bringing Cletus back from space when he should be dead and giving him prosthetic legs we’re negating him completely and basically giving the Carnage symbiote a blank host. But, we’ll see where they go from here.
RATING: 3 Mini-Kaine’s out of 5. If I was grading this issue against just the rest of this crossover I’d probably give it a 4 or even 4.5, but it really still isn’t any higher than a 3. Chris, can you convince me otherwise?
Probably not, Kevin. I honestly think I AM grading on a curve against the rest of the story, at least partially. It’s hard to do otherwise when I am so thrilled we’re out of the Microverse and into the kind of story I wanted when this crossover began.
Most associate Carnage with the 1990s, the decade of my childhood, so despite his brutality he actually evokes in me an innocent nostalgia. People who grew up in the 90s remember what it was like to think things were cool if they were WICKED. Or maybe that was just me. Anyway, I usually love Carnage stories because he is such a visceral villain. Sometimes you want a cerebral antagonist, but sometime you want to see your heroes face someone so excessively, ridiculously evil and violent that the scenario tickles the edge of ironic comedy. Give Carnage an army of tiny versions of himself and . . . well, Kevin pegged it best with the phrase “fun silliness.”
My primary dislike this time is the narration by Katy Kiernan. In fact, we’re meant to believe that the narration captions are actually the news story she wrote about the battle. Some of this stuff is so pretentious, overwrought, and cliched that it made reading the issue more laborious than necessary. “How do you fight monsters . . . without becoming one?” Oh wow THAT’S original. NOT! “This story bleeds.” People pay you to write, Katy?
Venom #27 irritated me with its stupidity, yet Minimum Carnage Omega pleases me in part BECAUSE of its stupidity. Why? It’s a challenging line to peg, but one distinguishing factor was the art. I’ve been too vitriolic against Venom’s art team of Declan Shalvey and Lee Loughridge; I would even call my Venom #27 review inappropriately mean-spirited. But one advantage Omega’s art team, led by Medina, has on them for this particular story is that team Medina uses a more traditional comic book art style and brighter, more vivid colors. That made it easier for this comic fan to process what his eyes were seeing, so the experience took as little work for my eyes as it did for my brain. The one exception is clear. Although I can now kind of see what Kevin means about Kaine stabbing Cletus in the eye, I really had a rough time following that part.
As a parting thought, why would the writers give Marquis Radu and the Redeemer so much build up only to do nothing with them? I’m not complaining—the less Microverse antics the better. I just feel worried that they plan on revisiting these characters in the future. I just hope that happens in Scarlet Spider and not Venom so I don’t have to review it. Sorry, Kevin. You’re my friend but I would still wish that on you before I would wish it on myself.
RATING: 3.5 symbiote interdimensional travel powers out of 5.
Well friends, I hope you enjoyed reading this combined effort at reviewing Minimum Carnage as much as we enjoyed writing it. All of the Minimum Carnage reviews are conveniently posted in both the Venom and Scarlet Spider review categories for easy access. Please leave a comment!