If you’re a lover of comics art, you’re bound to love Marvel’s extra-sized Treasury Edition format. Out this week is Carnage: Black, White & Blood, which comes in at 8.7 x 13.25 inches large. It features art by Declan Shalvey, Sara Pichelli, Kyle Hotz, Marco Checchetto, Javier Fernandez, Greg Smallwood, Chris Mooneyham, Gerardo Sandoval, Stephen Mooney, Scott Hepburn, and more. It’s the fifth Treasury Edition out this year and follows in the footsteps of the first-ever Black, White & Blood series featuring Wolverine.
Carnage is the likely follow-up character to get this treatment since the main hook of the series revolves around using only red, black, and white in the art. Since Carnage is red himself you can imagine most stories feature him prominently, but there’s also the gallons of blood he spills too.
The opening issue features stories by Al Ewing, Tini Howard, Benjamin Percy, with art by Ken Lashley, John McCrea, Sara Pichelli. Each of the three stories leans heavily on violent action and it’s an eclectic bunch of tales. The first focuses on the love story between Carnage and Shriek, the second is a western and the third is a choose your own adventure. Reading these in the extra-sized format is glorious and puts even more focus on the art.
The second issue opens with “Carnage Shark” by Donny Cates, Kyle Hotz, Rachelle Rosenberg. It takes place after “Venom Island” where Venom defeated Carnage’s Symbiote, but apparently not enough. Carnage now swims the seas like a massive shark! This story reminds us the Symbiote is still around and that he’s not so easy to kill. The art is moody, dark, and plays up the light vs. dark theme Cates used in King in Black. Only this time, he’s added blood. Hotz is very good at creating a 3D effect with his art through inks and textures, which you can see in Carnage’s forms. There’s an excellent contrast of red on the blacks and whites thanks to Rosenberg’s colors, and she does enough to allow the blacks to fade into the reds.
Next up is a story by Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto called “My Red Hands” which uses red sparingly at first in a symbolic way. This is a story about a young boy who has an abusive stepfather. Carnage acts like an imaginary friend feeding the boys rage and anger. Things boil over, of course, and visually the use of Carnage is unique as he’s more black and white at first, until that rage becomes action. It all leads to a surprising twist and further shows how purely evil Carnage can be.
The last of the three stories is by Ram V and Javier Fernandez called “My Name is Carnage.” This story hits at the lonesomeness of being in the wild and how Carnage feeds on others like a wild animal. It hits at the carnal nature of Carnage, which is even more evident out in the wild. Fernandez draws Carnage like some kind of sinewy beast with his Symbiote tendrils acting like living worms, which is quite unnerving. The use of red is like a shock to the system, at least until Carnage shows up, which creates a sense of horror and unease at the start of the tale.
The third issue collected here is called “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 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.
Closing out the book is the fourth issue with tales written by Ryan Stegman, Declan Shalvey, and Ed Brisson with art by Joe Bennett, Stephen Mooney, and Scott Hepburn. Stegman explores the alternate reality where Dylan’s mom became Venom, Shalvey’s story explores the New York City streets, and the final story features a dystopian future where everything is a rumble, but how much worse can it be if Carnage is let loose? The answer? A lot worse.
Much like most anthologies, Carnage: Black, White & Blood has stories that will resonate with everyone, but not every one is a winner. That said, when read in the extra-sized Treasury Edition format you can’t go wrong as it elevates the art and makes it even better than any previous reading experience supplied. 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.
Join the AIPT Patreon
Want to take our relationship to the next level? Become a patron today to gain access to exclusive perks, such as:
- ❌ Remove all ads on the website
- 💬 Join our Discord community, where we chat about the latest news and releases from everything we cover on AIPT
- 📗 Access to our monthly book club
- 📦 Get a physical trade paperback shipped to you every month
- 💥 And more!