Marvel’s next event kicks off this week in Extreme Carnage Alpha, which will take place across multiple one-shot stories. Leading the project is Phillip Kennedy Johnson, who writes Extreme Carnage Alpha with Manuel Garcia on pencils in an eight-part story that features Carnage, Flash Thompson’s Anti-Venom, and a whole lot of gore. If you’re itching for more street-level Symbiote action, you’ve come to the right place. For a little more about this project, listen to our exclusive interview with Johnson on the AIPT Comics podcast.
Johnson blends two totally different, but equally disgusting things together to make a new kind of slasher alien Symbiote story here. As one can see in the preview (this is a spoiler-free review), this book opens with a United States senator attempting to leverage the Friends of Humanity to win the presidency. This group wants all aliens banned from Earth. The xenophobia is strong with them and one might argue the hate inside these folks rages as strongly as it does in Carnage to eat a puppy. Blending this political angle with untethered and truly disgusting gore makes this book the horror book to beat this month.
Speaking of gore, this book has multiple moments that’ll send your skin crawling. Carnage is literally held together with a chaotic viciousness, and Garcia doesn’t hold back when it comes to visuals on more than on occasion. Meanwhile, Anti-Venom’s costume has a fluid look to it that sets it apart from the usual Symbiotes. It also looks quite cool and stands apart from the usual Symbiote costume. There are some familiar faces that pop up too and their costuming is solid. In truth, most of this book features characters in street clothing or suits and Garcia does well to keep everything realistic looking and grounded. That helps make the Symbiotes that do pop up really stick out. The gore, too, is grossly realistic.
Garcia’s is backed up by Cam Smith, Marc Deering, and Roberto Poggi on inks and Guru-eFX on colors. The inks do a lot of the heavy lifting in regards to the darker tone and visual signals of who we can and can’t trust. One cool effect is how color is used to draw your focus to something in the foreground while something disturbing sits in the background. It works well in a gory scene, but also in a scene with the xenophobic public.
Smartly, this narrative is highly relatable given what America has endured with President Trump over the last five years. Feelings of hopelessness and how the political machine can shield truly evil people are all at work in this story. The only difference is the main bad guy in this story would rather eat your brains than pluck cash from your wallet. For some, that narrative might hit a little too close to home, but it sure will make the heroes saving the day all the more enjoyable. The book is also rather humorless, though given how hard it goes with gore that makes sense.
Extreme Carnage Alpha kicks off a story I wasn’t expecting, but am thankful for, as it blends the viciousness of political agendas with that of a predator like Carnage in a way that suits both. It’s a good blend of violence, horror, and cleverly constructed political intrigue. It’s the Manchurian Candidate meets The Thing with superheroes and supervillains thrown in too.
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