Review by Win Wiacek
Deadpool, the wisecracking high-tech “Merc with a Mouth” is one of Marvel’s iconic, nigh-inescapable characters, perennially undergoing radical rethinks, identity changes, reboots and more before always, inevitably, reverting to irascible, irreverent, intoxicating type in the end.
Carnage? Back in the anything goes, desperate hurly-burly of the early 1990s, fad-fever and spin-off madness gripped the superhero genre as publishers hungrily exploited every trick to bolster flagging sales. In the melee Spider-Man’s intractable archenemy Venom spawned a junior version that merged with serial psycho-killer Cletus Kasady. Utterly amoral, murderously twisted and addicted to both pain and excitement, they became the terrifying metamorphic Carnage.
Written throughout by Cullen Bunn, this sublimely continuity-light and baggage-free, five chapter bloody kill spree opens with the recently recaptured Kasady – lobotomised in a clash with the Scarlet Spider – awaiting medical assessment. Psychologist Dr. Jenner interviews the unrepentant, but clearly cognitively recovered felon to see if he is mentally competent to be tried for his crimes. In New York, the symbiote is barely contained in an unbreakable tube, raging in destructive fury against imprisonment and terrifying the mercenaries guarding it.
Meanwhile at Morse Laboratories in New Mexico, researcher Carla Unger is working late, examining a few scrapings taken from the symbiote. Despite the risks, it’s way better than cooking dinner for her abusive husband Will, but when the seemingly-dormant scarlet shreds suddenly possess her, she heads home for a final family meal.
Having set-up Carnage’s return, the main event opens with the scarlet slayer enjoying an extended, if motiveless murder spree throughout the Midwest. In his apartment and own world, Wade Wilson is channel surfing TV stations and suddenly divines a personal message from the universe telling him to stop Carnage. After a few false starts and more nudging from everyday objects like billboards, video games and comics, the Manic Merc finally stumbles across Kasady in an abandoned housing development in Tulsa, Oklahoma and the two unkillable kooks start fighting.
This isn’t the kind of tale that depends on plot, but if you’re a fan of hyperkinetic Warner Brothers cartoons where two protagonists try increasingly outrageous and escalating methods of mass destruction to destroy each other then you’ll adore Deadpool vs. Carnage. The frantic, blackly hilarious duel only ends after Deadpool picks up a bunch of symbiotes of his own – and a cool shape-changing dog – from a secret military base where the government has been trying to weaponise the alien parasites for the army.
Kim Jacinto illustrates the appetiser and Salva Espin arrives for the sharp, fast-paced and excessively, addictively action-packed main course. This rollercoaster romp also includes a covers and variants gallery offering a complication free riot of gratuitous gory fun and thrills that will delight the appetites for graphic destruction fans everywhere.