The murderous threat of Carnage is reimagined in Extreme Carnage: Alpha #1, an issue that fires on all cylinders and keeps the blood flowing.
From the supervillain starring in a blood-soaked anthology comic series to being the primary antagonist in the upcoming film Venom: Let There Be Carnage, now is the perfect time to be a Carnage fan. The supervillain enters the spotlight once more in Marvel Comics’ Extreme Carnage, a series of interconnected one-shots that reinvents Carnage and Venom’s family post-King in Black crossover. Extreme Carnage: Alpha #1 is filled with bloody thrills with the promise of more to come if the series continues to lean into its premise’s gory strengths.
Written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson, drawn by Manuel Garcia and with colors by Guru-eFX, Extreme Carnage: Alpha #1 picks up with the immediate fallout from King in Black. As one politician capitalizes on the fear and paranoia bred by the incidents’ collective trauma to launch a campaign built on xenophobia towards extraterrestrials, Carnage begins a new killing spree that puts the supervillain on a collision course with Flash Thompson. Just as Flash acclimates to life post-resurrection, he discovers that Carnage has grown even more lethal. Flash is soon caught in the serial killer’s crosshairs and amidst the symbiote warfare to come.
Johnson, who previously delivered creeping terror to great effect in Marvel’s Alien comic series, continues to excel at crafting bloody horror here. Johnson’s script quickly builds tension before punctuating it with a sinister staccato right as the violence inevitably kickstarts. While Johnson has a strong handle on Flash Thompson’s voice, his protagonist is largely reactionary at this point — separate from the political campaign subplot and left at the mercy of Carnage. This debut issue fires on all cylinders when Carnage is front and center and noticeably slows down whenever his presence is removed from the proceedings.
Garcia and Guru-eFX are joined on the issue by a trio of inkers — Cam Smith, Marc Deering and Roberto Poggi. Even with this many inkers present, the artwork is consistent and appropriately moody. This is a horror comic and the art team knows how to live up to that visceral expectation that comes with the territory. The initial confrontation between Flash and Carnage is visually disorienting — given the sense of confusion felt by Flash himself, this is almost certainly intentional. However, it does make for a slightly jarring portion of the book.
All in all, there is a lot of promise in Extreme Carnage‘s opening issue, even though the prospect of picking up eight one-shots to experience the full story may be a little daunting to those that aren’t particular fans of the sadistic supervillain. The requisite bloody mayhem is more than delivered on and with more tension and restraint than Carnage’s previous creative teams have employed in the past. Overall, this is a fine outing for the symbiote-powered enemy. As the scope for Extreme Carnage is poised to explode in the issues to come, hopefully, the creative team here will be able to maintain their sense of pacing and focus to deliver something truly special in its celebration of the murderously macabre.
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