In 1984’s “Secret Wars,” Spider-Man was one of many Marvel heroes transported to an alien world where they were forced to battle an army of super villains. While on that world, he acquired a new costume which turned out to be a symbiotic alien life form. When the conflict was over, Spidey brought the alien life form with him back to Earth, unwittingly setting into motion a chain of horrific events.
Upon learning its true nature, Spidey rejected the symbiote, leading it to bond with Eddie Brock to become Spidey’s most fearsome foe, Venom. Several years later, the symbiote reproduced and an even more horrific and dangerous Spider-Man adversary was born when its offspring bonded with a serial killer known as Cletus Kasaday to form the villain known as Carnage. Kasaday’s most reign of terror was brought to an end by the Scarlet Spider, who lobotomized the super powered serial killer. However, the villainous Wizard is not about to let all that evil potential go to waste.
This July, in the five-issue “Superior Carnage,” writer Kevin Shinick and artist Stephen Segovia relate the Wizard’s quest to turn the titular mass murder into an even more effective and dangerous force for evil. We spoke with Shinick about his plans for the series.
CBR News: You continue to be a really busy guy with your careers in both stage and television, but you’re coming back to comics for an even longer story than your previous forays with “Superior Carnage.” What is it about writing comic books that makes you want to make time for them, and what was it about this particular assignment that really appealed to you?
Kevin Shinick: I can’t say no to them! It’s an addiction. It’s like the nine year old in me refuses to stop! I guess I’m lucky it’s comic books that keep calling, because If it was a chance to run a donut shop I’m sure the nine year old Kevin would say yes to that too.
All that aside, the true reason is it continues to be a labor of love. I only want to return to this medium if I have something new or exciting I think I can add to the mix. So when Carnage came along, I told Wacker that I wanted to be able to say, “It’s Carnage like you’ve never seen him before!” and truly mean it.
You’re working with Carnage at an interesting point in his history. After the events of “Minimum Carnage,” is there anything left of Cletus Kasaday? And how does the symbiote feel about its host’s lobotomy at the beginning of your story? Does it realize something is wrong with Kasaday?
Marvel says to me, “Hey, how would you like to do a Carnage miniseries?” I say, “Great!” And then they’re like, “Oh, by the way — he’s lobotomized!” I was like, “What?!” But then I realized this was actually the perfect situation, because Carnage has been around long enough now that we all know what to expect from him. This gives me the opportunity to almost start from scratch, to really build up the fear again based on the fact that we don’t know what the symbiote is thinking. When it comes to horror, I always think less is more. The less I know about Michael Myers, the scarier he’s gonna be. And I don’t know about you, but I think those alien movies would be less terrifying if the aliens kept running around telling you how much they were going to kill us. So yeah, I’m hoping to go less bluster and more bad-ass.
The other major character in “Superior Carnage” is the Wizard, who’s not normally associated with Carnage. How did you come up with this pairing? What sort of potential does the Wizard see in Carnage, and what is he ultimately hoping to use him for?
To be perfectly honest, knowing what I wanted to do with Carnage, I tried to think like a super villain and figure out what abilities I would need to pull it off, and the answer kept coming up Wizard. Plus, I’ve always been a fan of using the lesser known characters, such as Hypno-Hustler in my “Avenging Spider-Man” run, so this conveniently met all my criteria. Once the Wizard hatches his plan to harness Carnage for his own use, it made sense to me that he might try and put together a new and improved Frightful Four to show off his work.
What gets me excited about this story is the idea that, having discovered the government has turned the Venom symbiote into Agent Venom, the Wizard gets the idea that he can take things even further by turning Carnage into his own agent of evil; to elevate himself to that of an A-List villain by pulling off this incredibly genius but dangerously complex task. Of course, that’s going to prove more difficult than even he realizes, so we’ll need to find out if this monstrous experiment leaves them all worse for wear, or will this actually prove to be the Superior Carnage?
It’s a classic Frankenstein tale that can generate some great horror moments, but also leaves me room to bring some comedy in, because what’s funnier than biting off more than you can chew? This is not going to be as outrageous a book as “Avenging Spider-Man” was, but I think all moments in life have humor intertwined.
Of course, you’re known for your humor and so was the writer of the past two Carnage miniseries, Zeb Wells. Zeb’s Carnage stories had humor in them as well, but they were pretty dark, psychological horror stories. Will “Superior Carnage” have a comparable tone?
Zeb Wells? That’s actually someone’s name? I’m kidding, of course. Zeb is actually one of my dearest friends, so it’s been fun to share this character. But the message I think this sends is that it takes someone with a twisted “Robot Chicken” mind to take on someone as demented as Carnage. And to answer your question, yes, this story will have a mix of both horror and humor.
We’ve talked about your protagonists, plot, and tone, but we haven’t discussed your supporting players. What kinds of characters make the best foils for Carnage and the Wizard?
I don’t want to give away too much, but from the set up you can probably tell there’s going to be a lot of conflict within the group itself as the Frightful Four try to recreate themselves, not to mention the conflict they’ll run into outside of their circle. Again, I’ve decided to dig up some people who we haven’t seen in a while, some associated with the Wizard and others not so much, but you can rest assured that turning Carnage into Superior Carnage will undoubtedly attract the attention of a certain wall-crawler.
Is there a chance we’ll see people like the Wizard’s clone/son Bentley?
Bentley definitely plays a big part of this story, even though he may never appear. His mere existence and the relationship the Wizard hopes to have with him is a great motivator for what the Wizard does.
You’re working with Stephen Segovia on this, an artist with a great visceral style. I expect your scripts are providing him with a healthy amount of action and violence to illustrate.
Stephen is fantastic, and yes, there is definitely a lot of action. I always try and get to know my artists beforehand and write to their strengths, but Stephen has a lot of strengths, so he makes it easy. Every time I read something Stephen has worked on, I feel he’s showing us something we haven’t seen from him before and that was key in what I had planned for this story.
Finally, do you have plans for any other comic book projects after “Superior Carnage?” And are there any other non-comic projects that fans of your work might want to be on the lookout for?
I’ve had a blast doing this and of course would love to do more. There are a couple of cool ideas I’ve discussed with Marvel, but it’s all about scheduling.
At the moment, I’m working on our 100th episode of “MAD,” believe it or not. The “Robot Chicken” guys and I are launching on another big project next week and I have a couple of pilots in development. So long as no one sidetracks me with a chance to run a donut shop, the nine year old in me should be able to pull it all off.