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

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Extreme Carnage: Phage #1

Extreme Carnage: Phage #1 is published by Marvel Comics. Written by Steve Orlando. The penciller is Gerardo Sandoval and the inker is Victor Nava. Colours by Chris Sotomayer and the letterer is Travis Lanham. This is part of the Extreme Carnage event.

Carnage has returned, infiltrating the American Government by inhabiting the alien-hating senator Peter Krane. He also has claimed some of the power from Knull, the God of Symbiotes. His presence now lingers in the Symbiote Code and Hive, allowing him to influence others of his kind. He reached out to his sibling Scream, who started to ignore its host. To stop Scream, Andi Benton burned the symbiote off her body. 

In this issue, Carnage reaches out to another family member: Phage. This time, there is no host to resist, leaving Phage open to control. Hiding away from civilization, the Life Foundation Symbiote is sent to New York. Andi is brought in by Alchemax after attacking them with Scream in their own tie-in. There may be a chance to salvage her symbiotic partner, but Phage is there to make sure Andi can’t be saved. But she is not alone, as Flash Thompson and Anti-Venom are also in the city.

This issue connects the two previous issues in the crossover, bringing all of the main characters so far into the same book. This does mean that the plot jumps between locations, but it is easy to follow as they seem to be heading for the same place. There is an intensity within the pace of the issue as the hero of the last issue is being hunted by the main character of the current one. This leads to an action-packed second half, which concludes in a brutal ending that was definitely unexpected.

The strangest aspect of Extreme Carnage: Phage #1 is the title character feels like a secondary character within most of the issue. Much of the comic is focused on Andi, which is certainly not a complaint. She has been a powerful, endearing figure in the early stages of the event. What sets her apart from other symbiote hosts is that she has her Hell mark, granting her powers without the aid of Scream. But she isn’t invincible. As for Phage, his actions in the comic means he is absolutely no passenger within the story, but it doesn’t feel like he is the driving force within the narrative. Anti-Venom has an impactful presence as Andi’s backup.

The art inhabits the chaos that has thrived within the crossover so far. Every human character that Sandoval draws has an entirely different shape. Flash without the symbiote is strong and tall, a typical soldier. Andi is smaller. The Alchemax scientist Dr. Steven is round and overweight whilst the host that Phage chooses is a hulking beast of a man. This diversity in body shape adds cartoonish proportions that leave an element of fun within the comic’s visuals.

It may be argued that Andi looks cooler in this comic than she did in the issue focused on her. With Scream gone, she relies on the Hell-Mark, and she varies from looking fierce to downright demonic. Black marks are appearing on her face.  But there are also very meaningful moments where she looks deflated and small, lost without her partner.

But like with the other issues in this series, the reader is here to see Symbiotes, and the comic delivers spectacularly. The contorting of the costumes is incredible, and the fight scenes are gloriously choreographed. Phage looks very different, Carnage’s influence over him altering the symbiote to resemble him. The Anti-Venom’s sharp corners and segmented parts leave it looking like a suit of armor. Having separate pencilers and inkers allows for more devotion to be given to the inks in particular. They are spectacular in Extreme Carnage: Phage #1. There is such a variety in the shadows and line weights provided by Nava that each page looks completely different. Every symbiote has a texture that the reader can almost feel.

The colours are bright and vibrant for much of the issue. Carnage’s manipulations add blends the colours of his and Phage’s symbiotes together. This red and orange look is gorgeous. The cartoon element to the art appears again with very unnatural colours used for the backgrounds, such as light greens and blues. The pristine white on Anti-Venom’s skin is stunning. 

Lanham does a great job with the lettering. For most of the comic, standard font and word balloon are used, which is very easy to read and follow. But Carnage and Phage have their own word balloons. The colour of these alternate between red, orange, and yellow. This has a dynamic purpose, as the reader is always unsure which voice is coming from Phage.

Extreme Carnage: Phage #1 is another impressive chapter of Extreme Carnage. The energy, the violence, and the brilliant characters crossover no matter who the writer and artists are. But it feels like the title is wrong, as it creates the assumption that Phage will be the central figure. Especially considering how Scream’s tie-in almost entirely revolved around her. This does not detract from the overall impact the comic has on the reader, and fans of the Symbiotes will enjoy the showdown.

Extreme Carnage: Phage #1 is available now wherever comics are sold.

 


Extreme Carnage: Phage #1
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TL;DR

Extreme Carnage: Phage #1 is another impressive chapter of Extreme Carnage. The energy, the violence, and the brilliant characters crossover no matter who the writer and artists are. But it feels like the title is wrong, as it creates the assumption that Phage will be the central figure. Especially considering how Scream’s tie-in almost entirely revolved around her. This does not detract from the overall impact the comic has on the reader, and fans of the Symbiotes will enjoy the showdown.