After kicking off Carnage’s second arc last month with a intimate character-centric story that introduced Jabulile Van Scotter to the crazy, mixed-up world of Cletus Kasady, Gerry Conway and Mike Perkins use Carnage #7 to offer a more traditional follow-up to the chaos and destruction that transpired in the book’s first five issues.
The net result is a more exposition-heavy issue that’s lighter on action than some would probably like at this stage in the series. And yet at the same time, Carnage #7 mostly succeeds in demonstrating what an absolutely insane story Conway and Perkins have managed to string together to this point.
Conway’s script deploys that old standby flashback technique to take the reader back to the immediate moments following Carnage #5 (as well as the 13 days before the events of Carnage #6). It’s at that point we learn that Kasady is still trying to figure out how to harness the power of the Darkhold, the mystical macguffin that has regrettably fallen into his possession.
Meanwhile Claire Dixon is under heavy fire from the feds after her attempt to capture Carnage in the coal mine goes awry, leaving all but her ragtag team of crazies and superhumans alive to tell the tale of their survival to a very cynical government.
There’s definitely a sense of everyone catching their breath and recalibrating to be found throughout the issue, which seems a bit odd considering that such narrative beats are typically found in the opening salvos of a new story. That doesn’t mean that any of the plot developments found in Carnage #7 are unnecessary or superfluous, but some of the drama, save for one scene involving Carnage in a record store, lacks the bite and dread of the title’s previous issues since there’s an explicit understanding that the comic is mostly set-up for what’s about to come over the next few installments.
Fortunately, what may otherwise be viewed as a letdown issue is buoyed by Conway’s masterful grasp of the weird and unexpected, coupled with Perkins’s consistently stellar artwork. It speaks volumes to Conway’s accomplishments as a writer than in a series that has already featured symbiotes, werewolves, cults, mysterious strangers and an ancient book of evil could continually find ways to top itself in the creepy department, but as Carnage’s new plans for world domination take him to Jakarta, Indonesia, the legendary comic book creator does just that. Carnage is currently set up where it’s absolutely impossible to predict where things will go next, which should hopefully help propel this series for the foreseeable future despite the fact that sales are probably not as robust as Marvel would like them to be.
In the same vein, the book’s last few pages serves readers one of the wackiest “getting the band back together” sequences I’ve ever seen in a comic book. Where else but in the world of Conway and Perkins’s Carnage does a incessantly-chatty sociopath bonded to a murderous alien find himself on the receiving end of a rescue mission involving a morally gray government agent, and a disgraced American hero who uncontrollably changes into a werewolf? To paraphrase something once uttered in the cinematic universe of the distinguished competition, Dixon, Jameson and Brock (shut up Brock!) are truly the heroes we readers deserve at the moment, despite the fact that they’re probably not the heroes we need.