We may be in the golden age of anthology comics. DC Comics seems to have a new one every other week, and Marvel’s had success with the Black, White & Blood theme with Wolverine and now Carnage. Each issue of Carnage: Black, White & Blood has three stories, and with issue #2 all three were great in their own ways. Anything goes in this series, and issue #3 is a great example of that as stories tie into the Marvel canon, totally fly off the rails with pirate tales, and even get meta with comic book convention fun.
This issue opens with “No Survivors” by Dan Slott and Greg Smallwood, starting with a man who narrowly escapes Carnage’s rampage in a small club. Hiding underneath a pile of bodies, the young man soon learns Carnage never lets a kill get away. Enter a waking nightmare that nearly drives the man mad. Slott and Smallwood do an incredible job creating clever ways for Carnage to appear to the man via different senses. It gets so bad for the guy he’s going to the doctor and even the reader is questioning if he’s gone mad since Carnage’s reach shouldn’t be so powerful.
Slott doesn’t forget Marvel is all about the world outside your window and in this case, there are terrible murderers out there. One could imagine themselves going through a similar situation and Smallwood puts us right there into the horror. This makes the story relatable and for that matter, scarier. There are also some familiar faces that connect the story to the fantastical world of Marvel in a way that’s similar to what Alex Ross and Kurt Busiek did with Marvels that’s unmistakable. Carnage is scariest when he’s grounded in reality and you feel that here. The red is particularly well done when it splashes over everything in certain panels allowing white and black to become the extenuating element.
Next up is Karla Pacheco and Chris Mooneyham’s “Sea of Blood” which is a pirate story straight out of the classic films with some familiar names thrown in. Who knows if this tale is canon, given Carnage has lived throughout time, it seems, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Pacheko spares no expense, from digging up treasure to playing out pirate tunes over the captions. You’ll honestly finish this story and think, “Is it even possible to do a better Carnage pirate story?” The answer is no.
The story is also violent as hell and Mooneyham gets the gore to a point where it’s not disturbing so much as fun. The use of red sticks to blood and the sea, which works out well given the theme. Colors by Mattia Iacono There are some subtle touches with character design that work too and the costuming is great with all the pirate rags and tattoos.
“The Convention” is the final story by Alyssa Wong and Gerardo Sandoval with inks by Victor Nava and colors by Erick Arciniega. In part a joyous read because it has been too long since any of us have been to a convention, Wong captures a silly side to Carnage and his fans only to surprise with some vicious violence. Sandoval lets loose with some impressive pages and layout design capturing the chaotic and evil nature of Carnage quite well. The basic hook of this tale ties into the cult that follows Knull, which is a nice nod to a bygone era before he showed up to Earth.
The lightheartedness of “The Convention” plays well against the violence, giving it a lighter feel that’s somewhat comical even when the blood flies. And boy does it fly, with great blood splatter by Arciniega. Of the three stories, this one felt a bit one-note and simplistic, never delving into psyche or telling a adventure beyond a short scene, but it’s still entertaining.
This is yet another good issue of Carnage: Black, White & Blood. The quality of talent mixed with clever smaller story ideas makes for a delightful time with one of the most psychotic characters ever put to the page. It’s sad to know this is the second to last issue, but it’s good to see every story comes at this character with exciting and fresh approaches. This is about as exciting as comics can get, with every page turn offering new surprises, shocks, and stories to boot.
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