REVIEW: ‘Extreme Carnage: Alpha,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Extreme Carnage Alpha #1 - But Why Tho

Extreme Carnage: Alpha #1 is published by Marvel Comics. Written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson. The penciller is Manuel Garcia, and there are three inkers: Cam Smith, Marc Deering, and Roberto Poggi. The colors are by Guru-eFX and the letterer is Travis Lanham. This comic coincides with the 30th anniversary of the character.

After the events of King in Black, symbiotes are known to the whole world. Senator Robert Krane is using this to fuel an anti-alien agenda and remove all non-humans from Earth. One more symbiote attack could lure public opinion. The worst possible time for Carnage to reappear. Cletus Kassady may be dead, but his imprint on the symbiote lingers within. Now it jumps from host to host, making its way home. Elsewhere, Flash Thompson is approached by Iron Man for help

As a first issue, the plot is set up brilliantly. There is an ever-increasing tempo as Carnage makes its way from the bottom of the ocean back to where it is a danger again. The method the symbiote uses poses a terrifying new horde of possibilities. There are two types of horror that come from a Carnage comic and Johnson taps into both. There is revulsion from the gruesome murders he does. And there is a queazy nervousness when you realize he isn’t finished yet. 

The writer also laces political commentary that is far from subtle. With where this story seems to be going, this was unavoidable. But when that satire is inside the dialogue, the horror subsides. There are surprises within Extreme Carnage: Alpha #1, coming primarily from the heroes: Iron Man and Anti-Venom. 

It is an interesting match-up, Tony Stark and Flash Thompson. In terms of their style and the genre of the comic, Stark is a peculiar addition. But somehow the writer makes him fit. He brings Thompson in to help with a new project, but that project is sinister and will certainly become a problem later in the series. As for Flash, there is a fascinating connection formed between him and the Carnage symbiote. Building the plot stands in the way of character development, but hopefully this balance shifts in subsequent issues.

Carnage is similar to classic horror villains such as Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees in that he is the main character of whatever book he is in. He is terrifying in this comic because there is a new feature to how he claims a host. It quickly racks up a body count and makes him more dangerous than ever. 

The artists create terrifying imagery that always leaves the reader unsettled. Faces shift to create haunting expressions. Whilst this works in ways that appear to be intentional, the unpleasant nature of some of the panels may not be. In makes some characters, such as Flash or some of Kasady’s victims, have heads that are blotchy and shapeless, lacking real definition. Thompson looks different in each panel, although some angles are better than others. Worse is Tony Stark, where his iconic good looks now look diabolical. It should be said that having three inkers has provided a brilliant variety of textures and line weights, which could explain why panels and figures aren’t consistent. When in the Anti-Venom costume, the comic looks far better. The shifting of lines works when there doesn’t have to be much detail on expressions or emotions. Likewise, the Iron Man suit is impressively designed by Garcia.

The colors are well done by Guru-eFX. Many of the locations are gloomy, with dark greens and browns showing the shadowy back alleys where Anti-Venom now lurks. But the colorist is capable of using bright shades too. The red and gold of Stark’s armor make it look out of place in its surroundings, though this is on purpose. The pristine white of the Anti-Venom symbiote always looks stunning, and the signature crimson of Carnage’s shifting tendrils will always lead to a feeling of fear inside the reader.

Carnage’s iconic red word balloons and the scratchy font may be hard to read, but the rest of the lettering is effective by Lanham. It should be mentioned that there does appear to be a typo within a caption box.

Extreme Carnage: Alpha #1 has the potential to be a brilliant horror comic. The plot has a promising trajectory that could have multiple possibilities. It is unclear how much of a role Iron Man will have in this series, but his inclusion and the actions he takes don’t bode well for Flash and his allies. What really let this comic down is the art. Clever ideas and attempts to horrify work well, but the unpleasant presentation of characters may turn readers away from continuing with the book.

Extreme Carnage: Alpha #1 is available where comics are sold.

Extreme Carnage #1
3

TL;DR

Extreme Carnage #1 has the potential to be a brilliant horror comic. The plot has a promising trajectory that could have multiple possibilities. It is unclear how much of a role Iron Man will have in this series, but his inclusion and the actions he takes don’t bode well for Flash and his allies. What really let this comic down is the art. Clever ideas and attempts to horrify work well, but the unpleasant presentation of characters may turn readers away from continuing with the book.