REVIEW: Minimum Carnage: Alpha #1

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Those of you old enough may remember the ‘90’s event, Maximum Carnage that took place across multiple Spider-Man titles. And you may also have chosen (or wished) to forget Maximum Carnage. Now Marvel is bringing us the mini-event (don’t you love puns?) Minimum Carnage, but is it anything like what came before it? Major Spoilers finds out!

MINIMUM CARNAGE: ALPHA #1
Writers: Cullen Bunn, Chris Yost
Artist: Lan Medina
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Colorist: Chris Sotomayor
Editor: Tom Brennan
Publisher: Marvel
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in Minimum Carnage: Nothing. This is a first issue. Though the recap states that Carnage recently conquered an entire town (in Carnage USA). Now he’s in jail and that’s really all we need to know.

AND THEN HE STARTED SPEAKING…

This issue is an introduction to the crossover event that is going to take place in both Scarlet Spider and Venom. We begin with Venom investigating the cell that Cletus Kasady (Carnage) escaped from. This section has a monologue similar to what is seen in Venom’s book and we get an introduction to Flash Thompson, the new Venom. For readers not familiar with the character, this is a great set up and shows us his thoughts and how he works. We learn Carnage has escaped with help from some mystery persons. Venom learns that Carnage’s cohorts are dangerous tiny killers, and this information leads his investigation to the Prometheus Pit in Houston. Cut to the Scarlet Spider finding the shocked husband and pieces of the mother of Dr. Ketola, the doctor who is working on the Prometheus Pit. Carnage shows up and the requisite fight takes place in which we are introduced to his tiny friends. With the promise of killing for them, in return Kasady will receive “a whole new universe to kill people in.” Venom shows up, guns pointed at the Scarlet Spider, at the same moment Carnage jumps into the Prometheus Pit.

I was surprisingly into this book from the beginning. Yes, its title bears resemblance to the ‘90’s fiasco, but this book was well put together. Venom stayed in character and felt just like he did in his own book. The introduction to the Scarlet Spider gave me everything I needed to know about a character completely new to me. The book did a great job of showing just how different he is to Spider-Man. There’s a sense of dread present that lets the reader know that Carnage is very dangerous. We see Carnage in all his monstrous glory at the end as the s@#% hits the fan and the fight begins. And then he opened his mouth. And awful words came out.

The dialogue written for Carnage was pretty bad, horrendous almost. It’s as if the writers blew their wad in the beginning of the book and forgot how to write good dialogue. The majority of what Carnage says is cringe worthy. Lines like “I guess I have to kill you now. Through your brains I think,” and “Spiders are supposed to have lots of eyes. I think I’ll give you some more eyeholes” come off as silly, taking away from the danger and threat that Carnage possess (especially if we’re to believe he conquered a small town). For people who dislike the character, this will do little to change their mind. The last sections of the book have things to like. The Scarlet Spider snapping Carnage’s neck was great, showing us that he’s a no bulls@$% character. I’m not sure who Carnage’s “friends” are (or if we’re supposed to know) but the weirdness appealed to me. All in all, this was a good book and worth picking up, especially if you’re a fan of the symbiote.

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION

Lan Medina has the art chores for this issue and anyone familiar with the Venom title knows his work well. I enjoy the way he handles characters and action, making everything very clear. Line work is crisp, though the art looks a little different near the end. This could be due to the fact that there were three different inkers. Carnage’s symbiote appears out of control (true to the character) and is drawn with a sense of fluidity and movement. Many of the panels have detailed backgrounds drawn in which helps immerse the reader in the world.

One thing I liked that I first noticed was how the credits were presented. Much like in a movie, we see them individually in the corners of the panels (as opposed to a bar at the bottom of a splash page). This gave the book a very cinematic feel and was a nice touch. It’s a minor thing, but something that I enjoyed.

BOTTOM LINE: WORTH A LOOK, ESPECIALLY FOR CARNAGE FANS

If you’re a Carnage fan you’ll probably be picking this up, but for regular readers I would still suggest checking it out. It’s a good introduction to a small event spanning two titles (three if you count the Omega book). The story is only hinted at here and leaves me wanting more. Minimum Carnage: Alpha was a good book that I enjoyed reading and I will continue to follow the story. Let’s just hope Carnage’s dialogue gets better…Minimum Carnage: Alpha gets 3 out of 5 stars.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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