With the ‘Superior Carnage’ mini-series behind us and ‘Deadpool vs Carnage’ coming in the near future, it only makes sense that we revisit the world of Cletus Kasady as he’s behind bars once more and has been separated by Spider-Man from his symbiote. Also, the sybmiote has been left neutered in the hands of scientists while the main host is in prison by Spider-Man himself. This issue, after such an interesting run on the character from the last few story arcs, really fell short for me for a variety of reasons.
Let’s take a look shall we?
To start with, we see Cletus back in with the general population and considering his enjoyment of killing his fellow inmates this seems out of place to begin with, as does his tame response to everyone he comes in contact with. We follow him through his visits with the prison psychologist who seems to have his own plans for the serial killer (oddly reminiscent of so many stories we’ve read before including a recent one with Deadpool.)
Shortly after, this Cletus is attacked and mortally wounded by some of his fellow inmates. While that seems like something that could happen I would personally imagine that most of those serving time with him would be afraid to be near him and if they did attack, they would make sure he was dead and not just wounded. While with his doctor, he calls out and says he can feel his symbiote dying (and watch it die in Spidey’s lab) and that he can feel what’s left of it sound like a mewling kitten. What’s left? Well that’s the ‘neutered’ piece that Spidey had let out for other scientists to study which quickly attacks and takes over the scientist in question and goes on a mad killing spree on its way back to its only real host.
Think the movie ‘Fallen’ but with an alien bent on murder and mayhem instead of a demon.
As it gets close to the person, the doctor treating Cletus reveals his true intentions and ends up suffocating him so he can be the new host. Does this mean we’re getting a new Carnage?
Not quite. When the symbiote gets there it merges with Cletus and brings him back to life somehow. Never anything easy with this one. This quickly follows with a mass killing spree that brings the gore and body count that fans of Carnage have come to escape and reminds you exactly how evil of a villain this twisted serial killer can be.
At this point they gloss over what he was able to do in the ‘Carnage’ mini-series where he took over an entire town as that little plot doesn’t fit well with the build up towards a confrontation with the Merc with the Mouth! I also don’t recall that power being retconned at any point or removed in the more recent mini-series with Spidey’s most twisted symbiote wearing villain. One could guess that it’s because the symbiote was neutered or was still healing, but I don’t think they’ll ever really choose to explain it.
Overall? I felt that it didn’t do Cletus enough justice at the beginning or Carnage enough justice at the end. Sure he was able to leave with an apparently huge body count but it just didn’t feel right and almost too rushed to give us a reason why Carnage is back. The bulk of what mattered in this story could have been done in 4-5 pages at the beginning of the next crossover and not require a full comic to tell. It probably would have been more enjoyable that way as well. Even for fans of Carnage (like myself) this was not a must buy.
SUPERIOR CARNAGE ANNUAL #1
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Aaron Kim Jacinto