Extreme Carnage: Alpha #1 Review

by Nick Devonald on July 07, 2021

Writer: Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Pencils: Manuel Garcia
Inks: Cam Smith, Marc Deering & Roberto Poggi
Colours: GURU-eFX
Letters: VC’s Travis Lanham

Extreme Carnage: Alpha is the introduction to this summers symbiote event. Told over a course of 8 issues this promises to recall classic stories like Maximum Carnage. Each issue is going to have a different creative team on it, who will tell a, hopefully coherent, story over the course of the series. This first issue does a good job of setting the story up and introducing the main players. Following directly on from Phillip Kennedy Johnsons short story in Venom #200, Flash Thompson is back, the world has more symbiotes than ever before thanks to Knulls invasion, and to go along with all the extra symbiotes is increased hatred towards aliens.

There are three aspects to the story which are all slowly weaving together. First there’s Flash Thompson, adjusting to his recent resurrection. Then of course there’s the titular Carnage, last seen swimming away at the conclusion of Donny Cates’ Venom Island. And last but not least a Senator who is rallying people to join Friends of Humanity in protesting against the alien threat. Over the course of the issue these three threads slowly come together to set the story up going forward.

It would be easy to go into this latest symbiote event quite cynically. Maximum Carnage was a classic, and since that event there have been numerous events in the same vein that have aimed for those heights but haven't achieved the same level of success. Then along came Donny Cates’ time on Venom, elevating the character to new heights, along with the Absolute Carnage event, and suddenly symbiotes were a hot property again. So, is this just another cash grab for Marvel or is this an event readers should be taking notice of? Honestly, it’s too early to tell, all the pieces are in place to make this event work, but until it kicks off properly it’s difficult to say.

Johnson does a great job with capturing the horror vibe that belongs to Carnage, all too often he gets relegated to a simple villain rather than the terrifying alien that he is, and Johnson works the same magic he uses on Alien to capture that horror and bring it to life on the page. Watching him travel from the depths of the ocean where readers last left him, across the globe, is entertaining. There are a couple of scenes with Carnage in a car which are fantastic, reminding readers what a monster he really is, and steal the show. It’s only fitting though that the scenes with Carnage are the best, they really do stand out from the rest of the comic, but it does leave the rest of it feeling a little bland in contrast.

The art team do a fantastic job as well, but again it’s the scenes with Carnage that truly stand out. He looks truly monstrous in a way that isn’t always captured, and it helps to make Carnage feel like a true threat once more.

This issue does a great job of introducing the summers symbiote event, along with the new symbiote status quo, and most importantly making Carnage feel like a truly terrifying monster again. The concept of different creative teams taking the story through the event and telling stories focusing on different symbiotes is intriguing, but only time will tell how effective it is at telling a coherent story. Carnage really shines in this issue, but sometimes to the detriment of the other characters.

Our Score:


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