In the latest issue of Carnage by Ram V and Rogê Antônio, Carnage and Kenneth have finally arrived in Hel, seeking the power of Malekith the Accursed. Of course, it’s not going to be as simple as walking right up to the fallen Dark Elf and claiming his life — or will it?
This issue, more than any before it, shows how much Carnage has evolved over the years — not just in power set or motive, but in his place among the pantheon of Marvel villains. An encounter with a certain god should have broken the creature, but instead it takes readers on a tour of Carnage’s misdeeds and makes it very clear that the Symbiote has become a force of nature, transcending traditional labels like “supervillain” or “serial killer.”
Much like the current Venom series from Ram V and Al Ewing has allowed its title character to transcend, so too has Carnage become something scarier and more threatening than readers could have imagined.
As in the last issue, there’s a great deal of action as Carnage and Kenneth carve their way through the undead soldiers of Hel, but there’s not a lot of tension here. Instead, the two mow down one enemy after another, making their way to their goal as though its a foregone conclusion. Still, this particular bout offers more chances for introspection on Kenneth’s part. Antônio illustrates both the fights and these montages splendidly, acting as a bit of a clip package depicting a life cruelly lived.
The issue doesn’t get too bogged down in explicit gore, but it hints at enough of their horrifying acts to leave the reader uneasy. It’s still unclear just how far Kenneth is willing to go — or how much worse he could possibly become — but it seems almost certain that he’s irredeemable.
Not so with Detective Jonathan Shayde, who continues to come into his own as he dives further down the rabbit hole. In a telling moment, Kletus tries to be the voice of reason, encouraging Jon to end the conflict here and now by destroying Malekith. And much like Kenneth has to confront himself after coming face to face with Rosvelg, Jonathan has to push against the literal voice in his head telling him to take the easiest and bloodiest route. Meanwhile, Malekith has endured a torture that is much more psychological in nature than most others in Hel, and it remains to be seen how much this may have changed him.
Whatever the case, the latest arc of Carnage is off to a hell of a start (pun fully intended). This was a major improvement from the pacing and energy of the previous issue, which felt a bit like a filler chapter as readers awaited Carnage’s next big move. It’s packed with brutal action and interesting character dynamics, showing that the titular villain and his supporting cast are still growing.
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