Review Carnage: Black, White & Blood #1
Art by: Ken Lashley, Sara Pichelli, John McCrea
Written by: Tini Howard, Benjamin Percy, Al Ewing
Release Date: March 2021
After the amazing success of Wolverine: Black, White and Blood in August 2020 Marvel has done what most big comic houses do when they get success out of something …they throw the kitchen sink at it until the fans turn against them.
Using the same three colour treatment as Wolverine (a character with almost 50 years worth of cannon and deep character traits) we get to see the first on a 4 issue anthology of self-contained Carnage stories.
The Colour palette is the only thing similar in these two issues, the three stories in Carnage BWB range from confusing, to weak with only one strong story limping to the finish line. With the one dimensional Carnage, the writers have a limited arc they can use for the character and it shows here.
Don’t get me wrong, with The King in Black story and tie-ins riding high, it makes sense to get as many key character comics out as soon as possible but this shows the limit you can take it to!
Story 1: Love Story
Love Story kicks off the issue mid-action Carnage and his girl Shriek has been subdued by a group of heroes including Cloak and Dagger, Cap and Spiderman. Seemingly beaten Carnage tells Cloak about a warrior called Lucius Marius. with only ten pages I’ll leave the story there.
For diehard Carnage and Venom fans this will be a great story showing a weak cornered Carnage on his knees talking his way out while his crew and strength return. For the average reader, this is a confusing, contrived mess. Turning Marvel villains into Greek myths should be a breeze instead this thankfully a quick kill and we can move on to…
Story 2: End of the Trail
The strongest and closest to the bullseye is End of the Trail . A marshal hunts a ruthless killer that has been tearing up banks, trains and whole towns while leaving all the money and gold behind with piles of corpses.
It feels very well balanced the lawmaker tracks the killer to an empty bear cave and the battle commences! This is where Carnage works well no dialogue from him and the balance of the hero pursuer builds tension.
This is how to write 10-page min-stories the pace, energy and narration build with each page and after the first story, I sat up and was excited about the final big story. I’d love to see this story expanded in a “What If” style series to show what happens next.
But let’s kick our spurs on to the final story…
Story 3: You are Carnage!
The bulk of the comic is given to a chose your own adventure style story. get your 1D6 ready to calculate Willpower, Defence and follow along with the numbered panels. The only problem is that it is so short that I ended up reading all the panels out of the order of my choices!
I was drawn to the blood, guts and actions while trying to work out if I or Carnage is in charge. Perhaps that shows more about my character than about the comic, but I can’t be the only one that always reads these three or four times to try and get different outcomes.. but always end up with the same ending.
It’s an OK gimmick but seems out of place in this adults focused comic, like a Happy Meal style giveaway instead of a powerhouse comic. I don’t think the story will be winning any awards!
The three main artists, as well as the variant cover artists, definitely love experimenting with Carnage. Just as Macfarlane made Spiderman and his webs the star in the 90s, each of the visuals pushes the evolution of Carnage forward. The twisted creature, with its alien tendrils and fangs exposed, has already been drawn to death for Venom so it takes an amazing artist to show other sides of Carnage. It’s raw, stark and as with the other BWB titles the limited palette allows the talents to shine through in crimson glory!
The variant covers are already starting to fetch a hefty price on auction sites and the Gleason cover sold out in minutes across most comic sites.
I do love this little nod to Captain America’s shield toss with the marshal throwing his badge down before confronting the monster.
With the 1st printing of this comic already selling out in many local and online outlets, many fans will need to wait for the 2nd or third to get this comic. But, with only one out of the three stories worth the wait, I would only pick it up if you are the type that either collects the latest Gleason or Momoko cover or who needs all things Carnage.
The problem with one dimensional villains like Carnage is their outdated view of mental health, a human who only focusses on violence needs other characters or background to act as a counter or mirror to the impact of the character. Venom has managed to shrug off this trope but his sociopathic first born is still stuck in the 20th century.
Let’s hope the delayed Venom movie has a better attempt at Venoms’ offspring!
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