The eight-part Extreme Carnage event kicked off two weeks ago with an excellent horror meets politics issue. Last week, Scream got the one-shot treatment for the series in part two, and now it’s Phage’s turn. The lesser-known Symbiote gets a story by Steve Orlando and Gerardo Sandoval, and it certainly ticks off a few “extreme” boxes.
Phage springs from Extreme Carnage: Scream, carrying that story forward while supplying a solid cliffhanger for the next chapter focused on Lasher. Orlando and Sandoval open the book with a flashback to what Phage was up to prior to Carnage coming back to haunt the Symbiotes on Earth. It’s revealed Phage is pretending to be a hunting dog for a single man who clearly enjoys simpler things in life. Unfortunately for him, Carnage speaks through Senator Krane on the television, which somehow mind controls Phage. Very early on we learn Phage goes with it, as opposed to Scream who fought against Carnage right down to her bones.
It’s yet to be revealed how Carnage is calling Earth’s Symbiotes to him and taking them over, but given they are technically his siblings, their familial bond must have something to do with it. Since Phage gets in line for Carnage, this issue has a different feel from the last one and shows some Symbiotes are okay with being bad.
From there, we continue from where we left Scream, fighting for her life. This issue opens up a bit to other players — characters like Flash Thompson have been popping up the last two issues, but they’re getting a more prominent role in the narrative here. The main focus of this issue involves multiple Symbiotes clashing. That keeps fans of action and the Symbiote drama well fed. The plotting is a little light, not a lot progresses, but that’s fairly common in event comics like this.
Art by Sandoval is big and boisterous with huge men built like brick walls and a style that’s completely his own. Sandoval’s style works great with hulking Symbiotes like Phage, who has a violent reveal with all kinds of pointy bits that look muscular in nature. Sandoval is very good at creating a 3D-looking space. The armor on Flash Thompson looks bulky and fills the space nicely.
He’s backed up by Victor Nava on inks and Chris Sotomayor on colors. Sotomayor leans into the brighter colors for Phage who is typically orange, but due to Carnage’s influence appears to be throwing some yellow and red hues too. Might this choice reveal Carnage is literally absorbing the other Symbiotes? The heavier ink work gives the book an edgier darker horror tone, too.
Extreme Carnage: Phage #1 is a fun third chapter in the Extreme Carnage event. Seeing classic Symbiotes like Phage get a central focus is great fun and the inclusion of Flash Thompson feels earned given his history. Extreme Carnage: Phage is good white-knuckle fight comics.
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