I’ve been trying to get back into reading monthly comics again, following a couple of years of being (like Steve) a strictly trades man. I’m pretty out of the loop on current storylines so it’s been rather nice to wander into a comic shop and just see what grabs me. Of course, getting back into Marvel or DC in these days of decompressed storylines and mega-crossovers can be a little daunting – I’ve already spent far too much pocket money on back issues of the various Avengers books and attempted to work out what the hell’s going on, with varying degrees of success (Iron Man feels like putting on a comfy old hoodie that I’d forgotten I owned while Shadowland may as well be written in Japanese). So I was rather surprised to see that on the very month that I was setting to work on building my collection again, a new mini series was starting up centring on a true guilty pleasure of mine.
Ok, let’s get this clear right from the off: I know Carnage is rubbish. He’s a shameless knock off, he has all the depth of an earwig’s paddling pool and his entire gimmick (that he, you know, creates carnage) is hopelessly neutered by the fact that he inhabits a teen rated book. But the fact is that I am a child of the 90s (or more specifically an early teen of the 90s) and as such am as hopelessly wed to Venom and Carnage as they are to…well I won’t make a dumb symbiont gag. As much as the cynical adult in me wants to run a mile from “The return of Carnage”, the kid in me won’t let it happen. If the book has symbionts in, it’s going on my pull list.
Which leads me to my second surprise, Carnage #1 is actually rather good. Clayton Crain’s art is really well suited to the tone and it turns out that goofy 90s villains actually look pretty scary when you’re not drawing them in goofy 90s colours. I’ve not encountered Zeb Wells before, but he seems to be from the school of super hero writing that I like, fun but high stakes. Maybe it’s the art style but it actually reminds me a little of Iron Man or Captain America, which can never be a bad thing. There is one minor issue with this Carnage story…Carnage is actually in it. Not yet anyway. This either means that the book is building its bases carefully ready to open up with a big payoff once the big gun arrives (like a good game of Starcraft) or this issue was a one off and as soon as everybody’s second favourite alien shows up it’ll descend into a mess of tentacles and brawling (like a good game of Starcraft). Time will tell, but for now I feel like I’m in safe hands and while it probably won’t be a classic, it’s nice to know that I’ve got something fun to follow while I work out what the hell is going on in X-Force these days.