Carnage is back! And this time, the psychopathic symbiote is in the heartland of America and he’s got an agenda. The madman has decided that he wants to stake his claim of the American dream in his own twisted way by declaring the town of Doverton, Colorado his own sovereign nation within the US.

When the story opens, the scene in Dover is set to be a town right out of a Norman Rockwell painting. There are old people rocking on the porch, kids playing in their yards, the small-town police dealing with the town druck. Heck! Even the welcome sign into the town has a congratulations to the newest member of the community. With the scene set, the horror begins. At the local meat processing plant, one of the workers checks out an unusual noise only to discover Carnage who begins his takeover of the town.

With Carnage on yet another murderous rampage, the US government calls in the Avengers to deal with the problem. With the ever lovin’ blue-eyed Thing in tow, the Avengers head to Doverton to take down Carnage. What they don’t know is that the symbiote killer has some new tricks up his sleeve and things go really bad for the heroes very quickly. Now it looks like the government will be sending in a second team to deal with Carnage on his own terms… since they’re all symbiotes!

Zeb Wells (‘Avenging Spider-Man’) gives us a great start to a new story with this issue. I’ve never been a big fan of Carnage but I wanted to give him another shot (mainly because I loved the art on the cover… but more on that later). This issue has some great horror scenes, including the aforementioned slaughterhouse appearance and one involving a baby in the bath that sent a shiver up my spine. Once the Avengers arrive, the story takes a turn and becomes almost all action. But Wells’ grasp on the psychotic mentality of Carnage makes him much more interesting than what I’ve read about the character in the past.

And the art… Clayton Crain gives us a painted comic that works with the Normal Rockwell-esque overtones that Wells created for the town of Doverton. The style firmly plants this small town in America and gives us a truly American horror/action tale.

I can’t say I’m still 100% sold on the character of Carnage and I expect that next issue will make me less so since more symbiote arrive. Symbiote stories (other than the new take on Agent Venom) are usually  my least favorites in the Spider-Man universe. Of course, this first issue is good enough that I’ll probably either give the second issue a chance or at least wait until the trade paperback to see how it all plays out.

Verdict: Borrow

Written by ZEB WELLS