A miniseries without a real point, something of which true Chaos Theory fan Cletus Kassady would be proud, “AXIS: Carnage” #3 wraps up Symbiote Jr.’s misguided attempts to delve in to the necessary requirements for becoming a hero. Under writer Rick Spears’ pen, Kassady becomes a watered down Deadpool with the timing of a watered down Spider-Man. He speaks like an everyman and not like the reformed raving maniac that he claims to be throughout this miniseries. Gone are any type of mannerisms or tics that would define him as a character, replaced with bland half-jokes and minimized insanity. The book’s best moment, where Kassady misinterprets Alice’s backstabbing for the final lesson of what it means to be a hero, feels like a network edit of what could have been. It’s a hard sell to convince people to cheer for a serial killer; to do means completely redefining the character in such a way that betrays everything that came before.
The opening dream sequence was fun and an odd departure, Cletus imagining himself as a child in a costume. The symbolism is funny and is promising for the remainder of the issue, but the story hits the skids once the action kicks in. It’s very bland and the dialogue suffers as much as the tale itself.
Allowing the supernatural Sin Eater to suck the sins out of Carnage absolves him of everything in a very deus ex machina manner. “Venom: Lethal Protector” covered this territory in a more entertaining manner over 20 years ago while not betraying the character itself.Â
German Peralta’s art is serviceable, but makes Carnage as bland as the script. One of the most visually striking characters in comics is illustrated with detail befitting the 1960s animated “Spider-Man” costume. His Sin Eater is haunting once the mask comes off, a horrifying spectre in green. When Cletus’ face is shown, he’s too handsome and collected, taking away an opportunity to show us a gross maniac who wants to do better.
I guess I just hoped for more from this concept. A mentally wrecked, serial killing hillbilly who has a new well-meaning outlook on life, skewing the world’s attempts to kill or bring him to justice as some sort of test of his heroism, is great. But this mini just didn’t feel like it took the concept far enough.Â With a bit more edge and a stronger voice, Kassady has an interesting status quo moving forward, but the journey there should be best forgotten.