Carnage is back, baby. After a brief recess from his last debacle in the pages of Deadpool vs. Carnage, the psychopathic symbiote is back in action, creating chaos and killing anyone he can get his claws on for the sake of… righteousness?
As a result of the recent mystical hooblah going on in the “AXIS” story arc, the Marvel universe is seeing its various heroes and villains alignments turn complete 180s, with heroes becoming villains, and villains becoming heroes. And Carnage is not immune to the effect. Rick Spears and first time Marvel artist German Peralta have crafted one of the most interesting Carnage stories to date with AXIS: Carnage #1, turning the full-time killer into a part-time hero.
The first few pages in AXIS: Carnage #1 lead into the story with some internal dialogue from an unknown character, stating that “Lust, gluttony, and greed abound in this seething cesspool of lies and sin” and that his job is to cleanse the city of all its sin, all the while quoting scripture from the Bible. If this sounds all too familiar it’s because the murderous character is none other than Sin-Eater, a character that first appeared way back in Spectacular Spider-Man #107, but hasn’t really been heard from much since then.
Spears does an excellent job of leading into the main plot of the issue, leaving readers guessing as to why Sin-Eater is killing these reporters (aside from the obvious, you know, sinning) and what the three-part mini-series is going to focus on. When Carnage first appears a little further on in the comic, we get to see an excellent panel of the psycho-killer swinging through the New York high-rises in a way that looks very similar to a certain web-slinger. The classic web-in-hand-feet-sprawled swinging that fans of Spidey have grown accustomed to seeing actually looks really great when attempted by Carnage, and Peralta does a wonderful job of drawing the symbiote to look like the menacing killing machine fans of Carnage know him to be.
After trying his hand at stopping a mugger from attacking a woman by punching him so hard that his eyeball shoots out and cutting the arm off another knife-wielding mugger, Carnage realizes the woman he had been attempting to save was actually a prostitute who was being attacked not by muggers, but by her pimp’s minions. So Carnage does what he thinks any self-respecting do-gooder would do in this situation; he punches the girl so hard that he knocks her into la-la land.
The whole situation is hilariously written by Spears, who uses Kasady’s own demented humor to add some laughs to an otherwise grim scenario. Seeing Carnage jump into the action screaming “Here I come to save the day!” and then attempting to be a gentleman to his “damsel in distress” put a smile across my face. Even the way he handles the realization that his damsel is actually a law-breaking harlot is humorous; he says to himself “Okay, girls are super soft, so I gotta be ever so gentle…” before giving her a swift KRAK to the skull.
The serial-killer in Cletus Kasady has a hard time coping with the fact that he now feels sympathy and guilt for the people he murders, and Spears succeeds in showing that Carnage maybe, just maybe, has what it takes to be a hero. Peralta’s art is impressive, drawing Carnage’s tendrils like a veteran comic artist and illustrating the symbiote to a perfect combination of menace and brutality. He also does a great job of making Carnage appear fluid and stringy instead of static and bland. The actions in the panels are easy to follow throughout and I found my eyes gliding through the comic without having to go back over a certain illustration for clarity. Rain Beredo’s use of almost water-color like hues are solid throughout as well.
The cover by Alexander Lozano is also one of the most impressive Carnage covers I’ve ever seen. The use of Carnage’s stringy body to make the flag he’s holding is insanely awesome, although, the font that was chosen for the comic’s nameplate was a poor choice that really ruins the beauty of the art for me.
The first issue ends with Carnage seeking out Alice Gleason, a news reporter, after watching her on TV mourning the loss of another reporter that was killed by Sin-Eater. Carnage thinks that she is the key to him learning how to be a good person, but of course she isn’t a good person, and is attacked by Sin-Eater in her apartment. Luckily for Gleason though, Carnage is there to blow Sin-Eater’s head off with his own shotgun and escape with Gleason, who faints at the sight of Carnage. If the first issue is any indication, AXIS: Carnage is going to be a wild ride, and will put Carnage and Kasady into a position they’ve never had to deal with before: being a hero.