Ram V has taken up the reigns of Carnage and made it into a detective story — complete with the greatest serial killer of all time. It’s a series that plays into the evil incarnate of the Symbiote now that Cletus Kasady is no longer in the picture. Carnage #2 revealed that Carnage has become split between two poles: an alien running amuck and a good-natured detective who can’t get it out of his mind. In the third issue, Carnage’s plan comes into focus, and that clarity comes at the cost of another villain’s life.
Marvel has already given away Carnage’s whole shtick via the press materials, but it’s nice to see in Carnage #3 the larger motivation behind the decisions. (Plus, we find out right after an action scene with the Spot, and that always makes things all the more tense and compelling.) Carnage has already killed and taken the powers of Hydro-Man, and it appears the Spot is next. Rogê Antônio captures the utter fear of Spot with an impactful level of precision and emotionality.
Ram V does a great job with captions throughout this issue. After we learn the very valid reasoning for Carnage becoming a god, the narrative switches to detective Jonathan Shayde, who now hears Carnage in his thoughts. These captions, lettered in an oh-so creepy way by Joe Sabino, make your skin crawl. To have a mass murderer in your thoughts, especially as a detective who has vowed to protect and serve, is a great dynamic.
By the end of the issue, Ram V makes you wonder if the means to the end, even with a killer in your thoughts, are worth it as Shayde gains a certain edge thanks to the “gift” of Carnage. There’s also some extra helpful explanations as to what or who the voice is, which plays up the sense of tension and mystery throughout the series. Longtime Carnage fans will delight in knowing the character hasn’t strayed too far from his original creation once we find out who is actually speaking.
Antônio draws a solid issue that’s darker in tone thanks to Dijjo Lima’s colors and the heavier inks. There’s an old-school vibe thanks to Ben-Day dots used to create shadows and depth. The use of light to create a dramatic effect is also quite nice. It seems as if the sunrise lingering in the background reminds us there is some good in the world. There are also some well-timed blur effects to help us see how Shayde is reeling from the voice in his head.
The only downside of this issue is it feels like it could use one more page to explain what may be happening with Carnage. As mentioned above, Marvel has already given it away, but the final panel lacks real stakes as we don’t know where Carnage is going. That said, Shayde appears to be leaning into the dark thoughts and maybe becoming a empowered super himself, which is an intriguing prospect. The art conveys that notion, and it’s actually rather easy to miss if you’re not paying attention.
A dichotomy is forming between Carnage the Symbiote and a Carnage that’s trapped in a detective’s mind. That’s exciting to watch unfold as Ram V and Antônio take Carnage to new and greater heights. Carnage #3 continues to make for a truly entertaining bit of Symbiote storytelling.
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