Writers: Tini Howard, Benjamin Perrcy & Al Ewing
Artists: Ken Lashley, Sara Pichelli & John McCrea
Color Artists: Juan Fernandez & Mattia Iacono
Cover Artists: Sara Pichelli & Mattia Iacano
Carnage is back! Sort of. Kletus Casady has left his mark in Marvel comics as one of the bloodiest, darkest, and most gruesome super villains this superhero universe has ever seen. Now readers will be able to see their favorite red-blooded symbiote given the black and white treatment in Carnage: Black, White & Blood #1.
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This series is essentially an anthology series that tells different tales featuring the Carnage symbiote from three different creative teams. That’s important because not all of these tales feature Cletus Kasady and they all take liberties with the established history of the symbiote and the Carnage identity itself. So, you have been warned.
The first story by Tini Howard and Ken Lashley with colors by Juan Fernandez was pretty underwhelming, to be honest. Cletus is fighting with some heroes and literally starts talking about this weird love story he heard about, or knows about is more accurate. However, Howard clearly plays with the symbiote’s history here as the time period of Carnage’s tale feels so removed from established canon that anyone with a passing familiarity with the symbiote villain can notice. On top of that, the tale itself felt like it was reaching for a theme that doesn’t naturally align with the supervillain. Overall, the art and colors by Lashley and Fernandez were great but the story was not the most compelling.
The second story by Benjamin Percy and Sara Pichellli and Mattia Iacono on colors is far better than the first. Similar to the previous story, it’s far removed from established history regarding the Carnage symbiote, but Percy does a much better job crafting a story with the bloodthirsty symbiote. Setting in the backdrop of the gritty Old West that plays to the strengths of the symbiote’s nature and truly makes it feel like a terrifying monster. Which is greatly emphasized by the red coloring by Iacono.
Then there’s the third story by Al Ewing, with John McCrea on art, and Mattia Iacono again on colors. Now this story is definitely a puzzle but a creative one at that. Unlike the previous two, this story feels right at home to established Marvel history as it’s situated in the Agent Venom program and they’re having an Agent Carnage tryout. The thing isn’t what the story is about per se, but how Ewing crafts it. He really takes a very experimental route here, which I’ll definitely explain more in the Spoilers. This third story is a puzzle and certainly leaves me feeling like plenty of people will be confused rather than entertained by this story.
So, in the third story, Al Ewing essentially organizes it as a hybrid between an interactive visual novel and a DnD role-play game. Readers literally pick their route story and can actually play along and roll dice to figure out which narrative path for them to follow. Some kind of get tangled together, but there is an ending for each different path. The problem is whether this will be seen as charming and creative by readers or as an irritation since not everyone is familiar with either storytelling format. It certainly caught me off-guard, but I didn’t have the best time with it since it was initially confusing. So, I just followed the path that was the most appealing to me.
Carnage: Black, White & Blood #1 is the first entry into a new dark series. A couple of the stories are good, but some of their storytelling methods also hurt the book with one in particular. The artists and colorists do a great job with each story in this comic, but some of the stories feel odd and not because this book is about Carnage.