‘Carnage’. It is a series that should be near the top of comic sales charts right now due to its originality and creativity. It offers something entirely unique in a world of boring movie tie-ins and about a thousand different Spider-Man books. Strangely though, it appears that people don’t much care for originality anymore as Carnage’s sales figures continue in their downwards trajectory. So why exactly is that and did issue #8 offer some degree of course correction?
The short answer is that it did not. Issue #8 remained true to the feel of the earlier entries in this series as it retained the dark, quirky silliness that has come to define Gerry Conway and Mike Perkins’ work on this title. The problem with this is that, whilst is does make for some excellent reading for the initiated, it does not lend itself well to new readers who aren’t so knowledgeable when it comes to Marvel’s rich history. The best examples of this come in the form of The Darkhold, which has been present in the comic world since the 1970’s, and the newly introduced Demi-God Chthon, who has been around since 1975. Due to the inaccessibility of such an eclectic tale it makes it highly unlikely that sales figures will ever improve, but they will probably fall a fair way yet.
It is a crying shame that Carnage is destined to be cancelled like so many that have come before it because what Conway and Perkins have managed to achieve with this one note supervillain is quite remarkable. Never before has Carnage, who arguably reached the peak of his fame in the 1990’s, been so interesting in his presentation. Typically, he has been a one-dimensional killer with very little to offer unless surrounded by a dynamic supporting cast, such as the ever witty Spider-Man or the bullish Venom. What has been done here is a complete 180 from all of that as you will now find yourself looking forwards to the crimson catastrophe’s appearances on the page more than anyone else’s. That is especially true in this issue as he is the only one with anything interesting going on.
Perhaps that is a large part of the problem for some readers, the supporting cast are often left feeling quite irrelevant and rather underdeveloped. Case in point, just a few issues back Jubulile was introduced and looked set to become a massive part of this second arc as she took on some undefined part of Carnage’s powers and escaped his clutches. Now though, she has been reduced to a barely present entity that matters very little in the grand scheme of things. That will most probably change in the near future as she pulls some Deus Ex Machina nonsense to save the day but until then people will continue to be baffled by her lack of inclusion.
The wider supporting cast also have much the same problem in that none of them have anything interesting to say beyond telling Eddie Brock to shut up. That’s hardly sterling character development and has done a lot to downgrade this comic in the estimation of its remaining fans. They’d all still admit though that Carnage’s antics are very nearly enough to entirely make up for the weak spot in Conway’s writing.
In terms of the story set out in this instalment, there is a decent amount of goodness to sink your teeth into. The drama involving Carnage’s search for answers in relation to the Darkhold continues and it takes him into a rare situation, one that sees him put in harm’s way. The side characters being introduced from month to month are definitely getting more developed and they actually offered more to the overall story than Brock and his team have for a long while now. The stakes are being raised little by little and if everything continues as it is then this arc should conclude in epic fashion with ramifications that reach as far into the future as this comic lasts.
Perkins’ art is still as beautiful as ever but there is no reason to rewrite a description of it once more so here’s an example to do the talking instead.
So yes, Carnage could well be finding itself on the cancelled list soon enough but for now let’s just enjoy the uniqueness on offer and hope that Marvel allow the experiment to continue for a long while yet.
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