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'Web of Carnage' #1 review: One more red nightmare

Comic Books

‘Web of Carnage’ #1 review: One more red nightmare

Carnage sets his sights on the Venomverse.

Web of Carnage is an odd animal, representing something of a crossroads in Marvel’s Spider-centric books. This issue had the unenviable task of following up on threads from End of the Spider-Verse and Carnage Reigns, as well as allowing Ram V an opportunity to bid a final “see you later” to Carnage and Jonathan Shayde after stepping away from the Symbiote’s main book earlier this year. On top of that, Web of Carnage also plants some compelling seeds for future stories, including this summer’s Death of the Venomverse and the newly announced Carnage relaunch from Torrun Grønbekk and Pere Pérez. Unsurprisingly, the talented creative team of Ram V, Christos Gage, Zé Carlos, Francesco Manna, and Erik Arciniega is fully up to the challenge.

Since this is less of an ending and more of a new beginning, the book gives readers a bit of a look back on the previous series, even as it drops our leads into an unfamiliar new world and gives each of them a new mission. In doing so, we’re reminded that Shayde has become almost as much of a force of nature as Carnage. Though the Symbiote has grown to nearly godlike power levels, Jonathan’s mind still persists, refusing to be broken and subsumed by the monster claiming his body. A chance encounter with Morlun the Inheritor — who seems to shift between black and white hair as his power likewise fluctuates — leads to some interesting realizations from Shayde and Carnage both. The pair are thrown into a free-for-all with the Spider-Hunter and Venom of another Earth, and each combatant holds up a twisted funhouse mirror to the rest.

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Web of Carnage #1

Credit: Marvel

The action here is a lot of fun, serving the double purpose of giving Carnage a worthy adversary and illustrating how far the Symbiote has come from being the wild animal seen in its early appearances. There’s a brilliant mind at work here that sees things on a grand scale but also misses the simpler days when it and Cletus Kasady were a team. By pairing the character up against a couple of multiversal variants, we in turn get to learn more about Carnage’s current frame of mind. The one downside here is that Jon Shayde gets a bit shortchanged in the process, with the final battle even seeming to forget about him for a while. One can’t help but feel like there was so much more planned for this character, both in terms of this issue and the larger story Ram V began building in 2022.

That minor gripe aside, this book accomplishes almost everything it sets out to do. Everyone comes out of the story with a new sense of resolve, but that’s not all: Carnage may be changing in ways readers never would have thought possible. I won’t spoil it here, but Ram V’s work on Venom and Carnage was revelatory in its approach to finding the humanity among the horror. That ethos extends to this issue as well.

The ending here is surprisingly effective on an emotional level, particularly for readers who have been following Carnage and Shayde’s journey. The script walks a fine line, never completely making us empathize with Carnage or Cletus Kasady. At the same time, this story allows the creature to make choices it may have never even considered in the past. In doing so, we can see that the villain really has evolved.

'Web of Carnage' #1 review: One more red nightmare
‘Web of Carnage’ #1 review: One more red nightmare
Web of Carnage #1
'Web of Carnage' brings one chapter to a close and tears another one wide open. It's a wild thrill to see one of Marvel's greatest monsters continue to evolve.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Ties up several loose ends while leaving some interesting dangling threads for the next story
Shows how far Carnage has come in terms of power and state of mind
Gives us some fun multiversal action that plays nicely into the overarching narrative
Jonathan Shayde feels a bit shortchanged here -- which is a bummer, since this was largely his series, too
8
Good
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