WRITER: Gerry Conway
ARTIST: Mike Perkins
COLOR ARTIST: Andy Troy
LETTERER: VC’s Joe Sabino
COVER by Michael Walsh
EDITOR: Darren Shan
EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Nick Lowe
STORY (with commentary): Raze narrates the issue as she and Carnage head deeper into the heart of the island in search of the altar to Chthon. As Raze starts to have an existential crisis, wondering where her will ends and Carnage’s begins, Carnage starts to have flashes of Jubulile’s memories (complimenting Jubulile’s horrifying romp through Cletus’ memories last issue):
He experiences a blissful afternoon at sea with Jubulile’s parents, in which her father Mattias shares his love of sailing, before curling over with a bloody cough. (Mattias teaches Jubulile a mantra, “Yemaya Asesu. . .Yemaya Olodo,” a celebration of the place where the river meets the sea, which is, according to the Yoruba people, the “mother of us all”)
He recalls the construction of the Cinga (Jubulile’s ship that was destroyed in #6) as well as Jubulile’s promise to her father to sail around the world with him, before he yet again falls over in a coughing fit.
And he witnesses Jubulile and her mother Amahle’s final moments with the man, including Jubulile’s promise to finish the Cinga and circumnavigate the globe in his memory. (Amahle calls Mattias “umfana,” which means “young man”)
Carnage, infuriated by these experiences, massacres the Broodlings of Chthon who have been pursuing/herding them towards the altar, while Claire watches in horror, wondering who exactly is pulling Carnage’s strings. The issue ends with their arrival at the temple.
To be continued…
ANALYSIS: This worked for me. It’s an issue of Carnage that focuses on Carnage. Seeing Cletus absolutely enraged by Jubulile’s memories was great. It displays this interesting sense of entitlement he seems to have regarding his worldview. Cletus believes that the world is cruel and indifferent. He believes in Chaos (before Heath Ledger did!). So it was delightful to see his reaction to Jubulile’s memories:
“What gave her the right to have a good life? Her old man was sick. He was sick and dying half the time she was growing up. But it didn’t matter. He loved her. He loved her and the little *%$#^ was happy.”
This is how you portray Carnage in a moment of vulnerability. He doesn’t understand mourning, or comfort, or love in reaction to something as cold and inevitable as death. Only rage. He’s disgusted in the face of such things. Last issue failed at this very thing from the opposite standpoint. When Jubulile experienced Cletus’ memories, she saw him begging and blithering his way through multiple situations of abuse. Cletus wouldn’t behave that way. He’s too much of a sociopath and a masochist (although, I suppose you could interpret those flashes as how Jubulile would have reacted in those circumstances). This was also a pretty solid reflection on the existence of goodness in the world. Evil is readily apparent, and seems almost like the natural state of things at times. So why do things like mourning, comfort, love, and goodness exist? Confusion, and even rage at times, in the face of such things in a seemingly cold and indifferent world is understandable. (Waitaminute. Did I just emote with Cletus Kasady? I’m getting therapy. . .)
And then we have Raze. More so than any of her prior appearances, this issue shows why her story really should begin and end in this title. Here, she provides an interesting bit of commentary on Carnage, but my interest in her character ends with her relation to Kasady. The Marvel Universe really doesn’t need another symbiote character.
Mike Perkins was on point this issue too. His layouts and character work were expressive, ranged, and detailed. I appreciate that Che-K’n Carnage is being dialed down in favor of his classic look too. And that final page depicting Raze and Carnage’s descent into the temple was chilling.
CONWAY’S OCCULT CORNER: Jubulile’s family are evidently practitioners of “Yoruba,” a Nigerian pantheistic religion. This religion lends itself to syncretism (think of Piscine from Life of Pi – he tries to be a practitioner of Hinduism, Islam, and Catholicism all at once), specifically with Christianity and Islam. Yoruba and Voodoo developed from similar roots. It’s commonplace for missionaries in this area of the world to enter houses and see images of Our Lord and the saints in public rooms, but then find images of Yoruba or Voodoo deities on the exact spot on the other side of the wall in private spaces. The VanScotters evidently take this syncretistic approach to Yoruba too, as Jubulile exclaimed, back in #6, “Goddess Mamlambo! Sweet Mother Mary!” associating a local river deity (who eats brains lol!) with the Virgin Mother of God. This is a sinister association, as the goddess “Yemaya” (mother of the gods and humans, as well as the goddess of the ocean), mentioned in this issue, would be a better fit. This being said, Yoruba is to Voodoo like Greco-Roman religion was to that of Carthage: nature-worship versus devil-worship. It is a fairly tame, if vulnerable, system in comparison.
As always, my gratitude on behalf of Carnage fans goes out to Gerry Conway, Mike Perkins, and crew for put this book out for us! See you all in November for the fourth part of “What Dwells Beneath.”
Pretty good (a refreshingly layered bit of character work displayed with gritting and chilly detail)