Last issue, the mood shifted from horrific to funny, often at the sake of the story. My biggest wish for the second issue was for them to pick a tone and run with it, and they do. So is this story as dark as those that came before or played for laughs?
Superior Carnage #2: Project Rebirth 3.0
Writer: Kevin Shinick
Artist: Stephen Segovia
Colorist: Jay Ramos
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Cover: Clayton Crain
Editors: Stephen Wacker & Tom Brennan & Sana Amanat
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso
I Am His Family: When we had left off, Klaw and The Wizard had freed Carnage from imprisonment so The Wizard could take control of his mind and recruit him into the Frightful Four. This issue, we meet our fourth member, a paraplegic doctor named Karl Malus. Malus explains that Cletus Kassidy’s lobotomy is what is stopping The Wizard from controlling Carnage, since their is no human mind to control. The Wizard, clearly deranged, decides to try and control the symbiote’s mind, but nearly dies everytime they let Carnage loose for attempts to control. During these experiments, The Wizard start’s ranting to himself and seeing his teammates as versions of his son, Bentley 23. The Wizard has become obsessed with his legacy and Malus keeps trying to convince Klaw to realize he’s insane.
We detour into the Superior Spider-Man’s life, where Otto talks about how Bentley Whitman (The Wizard) has fallen from grace and that Black Bolt revealed to him that he had mere weeks left to live. He seems rather unconcerned that a lobotomized Carnage and an insane tumor ridden Wizard are free, saying that he should intervene but that Whitman is more likely to get himself killed trying to control Carnage, so he’ll wait to see how that plays out.
The Wizard finally realizes he needs a human host to control and since Kassidy is out of the loop, he looks to Venom’s limbless host as inspiration and decides to use Malus as the host. Malus tries desperately one last time to convince Klaw that The Wizard is insane, but Klaw reveals that The Wizard has always be there for him, even to the point of bringing him back from the dead, because they’re like family. The issue ends with Carnage being ripped out of Cletus’ blood stream and put into Karl Malus.
Thoughts: This issue was much better than the premiere, as it decided to go dark and not try to be a funny book as well. That’s not to say there isn’t a few jokes, because they are and they work well, but they’re often related to The Wizard going more and more insane as the issue goes on. A particular favorite of mine is the clever way the summary page is a file The Wizard is looking at in the context of the story, with pages of Venom and Carnage, but when Klaw looks at it, it’s just pictures of normal people and scribbles. Bentley Whitman has clearly gone off the deep end and with the revelation that these are his final days, it gives this story a tragic twist of a brilliant mind going insane just before he dies. I wouldn’t quite say they manage to make The Wizard sympathetic, but it’s some great characterization. SpOck also manages to get some good characterization in the few pages we spend with him and I’m almost glad it’s him and not Peter that’s going to get drug into this mess. Klaw as well, but it’s a bait and switch as we think he might wise up and help Malus only to reveal he’s just as insane as The Wizard. Even Malus gets some decent character work, but it’s weak in comparison to the other three and it was quite obvious he was going to be their “Flash Thompson” when they introduced him.
The art is once again really strong. Segovia can make average people like scary, from the blank haunting expression of Cletus Kassidy and nearly mechanical expressions of Klaw to the way Bentley looks insane as he calls his teammates the name of his son. And don’t even get me started on his Carnage, who expands and fills the panels he is in with his massive frame and tendrils. One of my biggest complaints over in Thunderbolts is that Venom’s tendrils don’t look menacing at all; that’s not a problem under Segovia’s care. He also does a couple neat tricks throughout the issue, like the way he illustrates part of the back story by flashing characters through the eye pieces of SpOck’s mask and changing the Wizard’s demeanor from insane to smug and confident every time he puts the helmet on.
Verdict: I like my Carnage stories dark, not necessarily filled with death, but dealing with the insanity that the symbiotes cause. This is definitely turning out to be a better mini-series than the first issue would have lead you to believe and I’m looking forward to an outing with this iteration of the Frightful Four (I guess they need a new fourth member) and their encounters with SpOck and Venom in the future. I’m even more interested to see what happens to Cletus Kassidy and Bentley Whitman by the end of the story; I’d be surprised if both emerged out of this mini-series alive.
- A fitting dark tone for the series
- Great characterization
- Disturbing Art
- Great sense of continuity
- Nice detour with SpOck
- Malus is rather unoriginal; looks like Otto, similar to Flash
- Cletus Kassidy is Carnage, stop taking the symbiote away from him
- Just had to fit that Superior in there, didn’t you?