“Minimum Carnage: Alpha” #1 by Cullen Bunn and Chris Yost is the first part of a crossover between “Venom” and “Scarlet Spider.” The antagonist is Carnage, a worthy foe for each of both antiheroes. In this issue, every character in this triangle is given plenty of time to shine and do what they do best. If this installment is any indication, the crossover is going to be plenty of fun with loads of beats as the story progresses. The series kicks off in the same tone as the ’90s spectacular “Maximum Carnage” crossover. If you’re up for an update to that classic, yet recently maligned, comic then Marvel has exactly what you need.
Bunn and Yost split the writing duties depending on which character is on the page. This plan, and the fact Venom is a very different man from Kaine, means the tone of the book wildly varies from a soldier action piece to a lighter superheroic romp. Bunn’s Venom pages feel like they spend more time progressing the facts of the matter whereas Yost infuses some fun into the book. It’s a tonal match for the characters, considering Kaine is a clone of Peter Parker and is naturally much funnier than Flash Thompson. However, that doesn’t stop Bunn’s pages feeling dry in the face of the Scarlet Spider’s glee for superhero storytelling.
Carnage as a villain is an interesting onion to peel back because he’s a psychopath. He kills because he enjoys it, he always has, and the red symbiote suit only helped expedite this pastime. I loved the original Carnage tales back in the ’90s and so found it disappointing to find out his motivations here. Carnage should not be a team player, nor should he be even mildly helpful. I’m hoping for a late-in-the-game reversal where Carnage slaughters everyone in sight, but I feel like for now he’s been dulled. There are still plenty of great lines from him, and his actions are mostly homicidal, but a lot of events just seem wildly out of character.
Lan Medina is pretty damn awesome. You can talk about his ability as an illustrator or his storytelling but in the end it comes down to how much he wows the audience. This is an event based mostly on the nostalgia for a previous event. It needs to come out of the gate strong and Medina does this insanely well with clean lines and great composition, ably helped by a team of inkers. His characters, all spider-types getting their action on, look exactly as you want them. He might lose a foot here or there but there’s no doubting Medina brings his A-game to this story. The action is clean and the designs are detailed. It helps that colorist Chris Sotomayor brings vibrant life to every character and scene ensuring this book looks like fun.
“Minimum Carnage: Alpha” #1 delivers all the set up for a crossover to really run from here in “Venom” and “Scarlet Spider.” While Yost trumps Bunn in delivering a worthy successor to “Maximum Carnage,” Lan Medina stands aloft as the winner of the book with his amazing art. Don’t expect high literature, but if you need superhero fun in the mighty Marvel manner then “Minimum Carnage: Alpha” #1 has you covered.