Carnage for President
By Marco Manalac
Norman Osborn will always be considered as Spider-Man’s greatest enemy of all time. But even the infamous Green Goblin cannot match the violence, mayhem, and pure insanity that Cletus Kasady, more commonly known as Carnage, brings to the table with every issue that he stars in. Carnage is the most brutal character in the Marvel Universe, a psychopathic serial killer merged with an alien symbiote, possessing superhuman abilities that can end lives with the blink of an eye.
But in the course of the recent events of Marvel’s ongoing Avengers/X-Men crossover, Axis, the ugly and fearsome Carnage is now one of New York’s greatest heroes. This change of heart did not happen overnight, of course. This whole identity crisis started when Red Skull stole the brain of the recently deceased Charles Xavier. Charles Xavier, as we all know, was the beloved leader of the X-Men, and the greatest psychic the world has ever seen. So his brain was undoubtedly a powerful and most desired weapon. In stealing the prized brain of Charles Xavier, Red Skull quickly became the Earth’s greatest threat, its deadliest enemy, hands down. Pure and simple science would not be able to defeat him, nor would the world’s greatest brains or brawn. Our world’s heroes, and in fact even our planet’s most despised villains, had to turn to magic in order to fight back against this threat. Thus, Doctor Strange was forced to team up with the unstable Scarlet Witch and the untrustworthy Doctor Doom to invert the very nature of the world’s greatest heroes and worst villains. And that is why we are now currently left with a superhero version of Carnage, something that nobody would have even imagined in the 90s.
While Carnage’s evil tendencies have changed in his solo limited series, he still greatly enjoys fighting for the sheer joy of shredding flesh. You really can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Only this time, the people that he is hurting and killing are the bad guys. And that is what the Axis spin-off, Carnage, tackles. Carnage is forced to balance his sadistic nature with his inclination towards helping those in need and protecting the weak, which is not that difficult if you think about it, since it’s really all just a matter of unleashing Carnage’s fury on the right people, the villains. What Carnage finds hard in this new lifestyle of his is following all the rules, and dealing with emotions like guilt, remorse, pity and compassion. I would also suspect that Carnage will develop a strong sense of nationalism throughout the course of the story, and a certain pride in being a protector of the United States of America. This is exemplified in the cover of Axis Carnage issue 1, where we see Cletus Kasady holding a distorted version of the American flag, proudly waving it as if leading a brave, last stand in a great war.
In the Axis Carnage spin-off series, the main villain is Sin Eater. Sin Eater is a supernatural being who is hunting down reporters who are filled with sin in their hearts… or in other words, broadcasters who are behaving badly. He even kills a lustful cop in the process, during the first issue of the series. While in his mind, Sin Eater is doing the right thing, bringing salvation to those whose souls are already corrupted by evil, everybody knows that with great power comes great responsibility, and that you cannot just simply kill all the bad guys in the world. In doing so, you become just as bad and as twisted as them.
Thus, our new favorite web-slinger is forced to hunt down the hunter, and put a stop to his murderous ways, something that Carnage himself is very familiar with.
I find it so amusing how Carnage is now throwing corny jokes around left and right like his mortal enemy, Spider-Man, calling himself the friendly neighborhood Carnage-Man, singing about how he can do all the things a Carnage can.
So yes, this is a superhero book, but it is still not for kids. Parental Advisory is still strongly suggested for young readers. Eyeballs fly out of their sockets, arms are cut in half, and people are being shot to death in point-blank range. Violence, this comic book certainly does not lack. And, if only for that, children should be cautious when they pick this series up.
Overall, Axis Carnage is off to a solid start. It is a fun, easy read with lots of action to delight readers who are just looking for some popcorn reading. You don’t have to put a lot of brain cells at work for this one. All you need to know is that the world turned upside down and Carnage is now one of the good guys, hunting down murderers like the terrifying, and very judgmental Sin Eater. Carnage is our protector now. Good luck to us, True Believers.
(When he’s not out on the streets saving the world from made-up villains, Marco Manalac is usually surfing the internet. Follow him on Twitter @marcomanalac. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)