Spider-Man’s already bad year is about to get much, much worse when his old enemy Carnage finally returns to the Marvel Universe, seeking to prove his namesake in the brand-new miniseries by writer Zeb Wells and artist Clayton Crain “Carnage,” which rips its ways into stores this October.
First appearing in “Amazing Spider-Man” issue #360 as an offspring of the Venom symbiote, the blood-red Carnage organism bonded with the psychopathic serial killer Cletus Kasady. Unlike Eddie Brock and the Venom costume, the Carnage symbiote bonded with Kasady through his blood, forming a much deeper connection with its host and providing him with abilities and strength far beyond that of both Venom and Spider-Man. The character played a major role in Spidey stories throughout the 90s and served as the lead and title villain of the massive 14-part Spider-title crossover Maximum Carnage. However, the character seemingly met his demise in pages of “New Avengers” in 2005 after the Sentry flew him into space and ripped him in half. The upcoming five-issue “Carnage” miniseries by Wells and Crain finally re-introduces the symbiote after a five-year absence.
Wells spoke with CBR News about what readers can expect to see in the new miniseries, giving the old Web-head some iron armored backup and teases readers about Carnage’s new host.
Zeb, you’re no stranger to the Spider-Man Universe, but how did you get involved in this project specifically?
Zeb Wells: [Marvel Editor] Steve [Wacker] called me up and he basically asked me if I wanted to do something in the Spider-Man universe with Clayton Craine, which is basically all I needed to hear. But then he said that they were trying to come up with a way to bring Carnage back. I had been bouncing around some Carnage ideas for my “Anti-Venom” miniseries that I did. We eventually decided we didn’t have any space to do anything with him in that miniseries, but Steve knew I was interested in that character.
You mentioned your “Anti-Venom” miniseries, which that brings up an interesting question: will this story be told from the perspective of Carnage or Spider-Man?
It’s going to be told through the perspective of Spider-Man to begin with. It started as a Spider-Man story with Carnage in it, and then it became a Carnage book. We’re still getting into it with Spider-Man, but Carnage will take over the book by the second issue.
Carnage has been missing from the Marvel U for some time, and the last time we saw him, Sentry ripped him in half. What makes now the right time to bring him back?
Yeah. I think it was just a matter of Clayton wanting to work on the character, and he’s the artist where I think, if anyone was going to bring back the character, Clayton should, just because his artwork lends itself to that. We hadn’t seen Carnage in a long time and the time was just right. He had a good cooling off period.
How will you be approaching the character of Carnage in this miniseries? Will this be the same character we’ve seen before, or is he going to experience a little bit of a re-imagining?
We were pretty big fans of how Sentry ripped him in half, so we didn’t want to diminish that. We wanted to deal more with the symbiote finding a new host, seeing how Cletus Kasady basically raised this alien creature, how that has affected the alien and how it would affect any new host that the alien would take on. It’s like the idea that the symbiote that took over Spider-Man – the black costume – was sort of an adult when it finally got to him and Eddie Brock. Where the symbiote that merged with Cletus was kind of a baby. It was more or less raised by Cletus, so we want to see how that messed it up.
So, this is the adult Carnage as raised by a psychopath.
Yes. Exactly. A little alien psychopath.
What do you like about the idea of Carnage as this crazy, evil alien symbiote that enjoys shredding people up?
Well, I think you summed it up right there. [Laughs] I like the fact that it’s an alien intelligence that’s only known violence. I think there’s something sad about that. I like writing stories that have a completely alien point of view, because I think it gives us another perspective on things.
You mentioned that this story starts off from Spider-Man’s perspective. Now, Spidey’s had a rough year, I guess is the best way to put it. How is he going to feel about seeing Carnage come back after all the stuff he’s gone through?
He is not going to like it. [Laughs] He has had quite a terrible year, but he’s going to have some back-up. We really wanted this to read like an event and wanted to bring in other parts of the Marvel Universe. So, we’re going to bring in Iron Man in really soon and we’re going to bring in some other fun characters. Part of it is selfishness on my part because I just wanted to see Clayton draw just about everything. On the other hand, we wanted to make sure that this feels like a huge event for the entire Marvel Universe.
What about Iron Man made you immediately want to bring in that character?
Well, I think that Iron Man would naturally be attracted to the symbiote just because he’s a scientist and from an engineering perspective, he’d want to get his hands on that. I think that Matt Fraction has been doing a lot of cool stuff with the character and I thought it’d be fun to see Iron Man and Spider-Man bounce off each other again with Iron Man’s new status quo.
I’m sure you don’t want to spoil too much, but is there any other characters you can hint or tease that you want to bring in?
I really would like to get a little bit of the Punisher in there, if I possibly can. And for me, anytime you can see Clayton draw Ghost Rider, the better. But I can’t guarantee anything. I don’t know if I’ll be able to fit him in there.
We talked about Clayton Crain and his style. But to you, what about Clayton’s abilities lends itself to Carnage and this story?
I do think his art has a lot of energy in it. I think he draws great faces. I think his faces have great acting, which is very important in comics. With a character like Carnage, that costume, when it flows around, it either looks really stupid or it looks awesome and kinetic, and I think Clayton’s art style lends itself to making it look awesome and kinetic.
You mentioned this earlier and I definitely wanted to hit on it as we close out. You said that you want to see Carnage gain a new host. Obviously you can’t give away too much there, but what can you say about this new host?
Yeah. I don’t want to get in trouble, but it’s going to be someone that you wouldn’t think would get their hands on this costume. It’s going to be really interesting.
So, it’s Mary Jane, is what you’re saying?
You son of a bitch. [Laughs] You got me!