Carnage Classic

carnage classic cover trade paperback tpb
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Art: 7/10

Carnage has his moments

Mixed bag of stories and art

Comic Info

Comic Name:  Amazing Spider-Man (Volume 1)/Venom:  Carnage Unleashed/Carnage:  Mind Bomb/Carnage:  It’s a Wonderful Life/Sensational Spider-Man (Volume 1)/Spider-Man (Volume 1)/Spectacular Spider-Man (Volume 1)/Peter Parker:  Spider-Man (Volume 1)/Webspinners:  Tales of Spider-Man

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Writer:  David Michelinie/Larry Hama/Warren Ellis/Dan Jurgens/Tom Defalco/Howard Mackie/Todd Dezago/David Quinn

Artist:  Mark Bagley/Steven Butler/Andrew Wildman/Kyle Hotz/Dan Jurgens/John Romita Jr./Sal Buscema/Joe Bennett/Lee Weeks/Graham Nolan/Art Nichols

# of Issues: 23

Release Date: 2016

amazing spider-man #361 cover 1st carnage

Amazing Spider-Man (1) #361

Reprints Amazing Spider-Man (1) #344-345, 359-363, 410, 430-431, Annual #28, Venom:  Carnage Unleashed #1-4, Carnage:  Mind Bomb #1, Carnage:  It’s a Wonderful Life #1, Sensational Spider-Man (1) #3, Spider-Man (1) #67, Spectacular Spider-Man (1) #233, Peter Parker:  Spider-Man (1) #13, and Webspinners:  Tales of Spider-Man #13-14 (February 1991-March 2000).  When Eddie Brock’s serial killer cellmate Cletus Kasady comes in contact with a symbiote spore of Venom, terror is unleashed on the world!  Carnage has no remorse and no restraint.  He kills to kill and both Spider-Man and Venom are in his targets.  As Spider-Man fights to contain Kasady, he deals with his own identity crisis in the return of his clone Ben Reilly…and Carnage’s horror is just added danger.

Written by David Michelinie, Larry Hama, Warren Ellis, Dan Jurgens, Tom Defalco, Howard Mackie, Todd Dezago, and David Quinn, Carnage Classic is a Marvel Comics superhero comic book collection.  The issues features art by Mark Bagley, Steven Butler, Andrew Wildman, Kyle Hotz, Dan Jurgens, John Romita Jr., Sal Buscema, Joe Bennett, Lee Weeks, Graham Nolan, and Art Nichols, and issues in this collection were also included in Spider-Man:  The Many Hosts of Carnage, Venom:  The Nativity, Spider-Man:  The Ben Reilly Omnibus—Volume 1, Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection—Volume 23:  The Hero Killers, and Spider-Man:  Webspinners—The Complete Collection among others.

Venom was everything in the early 1990s.  He was the creepy new villain, and like Wolverine and Ghost Rider, he seemed to star in every comic book…but Marvel tried to one-up Venom by making the more extreme Carnage.  First appearing in Amazing Spider-Man (1) #361 (April 1992), Carnage was everything that Venom was plus no morals…and it felt kind of like a one-trick pony in many ways..

This is a tough period of Spider-Man.  The beginning of the collection is a better time…it is kind of the transition period between old style comics and the new Image style of comic books.  Carnage feels like a blending of those two style and as the collection continues, the stories get less and less coherent.  While Venom was multifaceted, Carnage just felt like a killer with no personality.

carnage its a wonderful life #1 cover

Carnage: It’s a Wonderful Life #1

The second half of the collection also gets marred in the Ben Reilly-Peter Parker Clone Saga which doesn’t help this collection read very easy.  The story was so entrenched in the Spider-Man titles that there is a lot of extraneous events happening in the issues included in this volume that make little sense as stand-alone issues.  While Ben Reilly being possessed by Carnage is interesting, there is too much going on in the actual Spider-Man story to explore it.

The art also is all over the place.  Carnage’s basic design leads to the potential for cool and stylized art.  The collection has some really nice looking page layouts and designs, but then the next issue (from a different title) will be below standards.  It is hard to grab issues from multiple sources and have any consistency, but it feels really inconsistent here.

Carnage Classic is for fans of the character.  I particularly like Maximum Carnage (which isn’t included in this), but it does have a lot of Carnage’s background and early appearances which are getting harder and harder to come by in the competitive comic book market.  With “character centric” collection, you can probably find these issues in other collections, but Carnage Classic is a good stepping stone…just don’t go in with high expectations.

Related Links:

Spider-Man:  Maximum Carnage

Venom:  Let There Be Carnage (2021)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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