This summer, one of Marvel Comics' most vicious villains will step back into the spotlight with Extreme Carnage, a new event headlined by the legendary scarlet symbiote himself and co-starring several of his most prominent symbiote siblings. In the wake of the events of King in Black, the world is more aware than ever of the threat symbiotes might pose, and humanity is scared and angry. It's the perfect climate for the most dangerous of them all to return, and today SYFY WIRE has an exclusive first look at what that return looks like in the pages of Extreme Carnage Alpha #1.
This event kickoff issue, written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson (who recently relaunched Marvel's Alien comics) and drawn by Manuel Garcia (Lords of Empyre: Emperor Hulkling), will pick up in the wake of the symbiote-redefining King in Black event, and set in motion Carnage's new dark plan for the remaining symbiotes. If you read King in Black, you know that Carnage was seemingly down for the count by the end of it, but it's hard to keep a creature that vicious down for long, even if his favorite host Cletus Kasady doesn't technically have a physical form anymore.
"As we learned in the Venom series and the King In Black event, nobody who’s ever bonded with a symbiote completely dies; their consciousness is imprinted forever in the symbiote hive," Johnson explained to SYFY WIRE. "Plus, we’ve seen that a host who had an especially close bond with their symbiote can have a lasting effect on that symbiote, and there’s never been a closer symbiotic bond than the one between Cletus Kasady and Carnage. I don’t want to spoil Kasady’s role in Extreme Carnage, but I think readers will agree that it’s pretty hard to imagine Carnage without him."
But Cletus Kasady and his bond with the Carnage symbiote isn't the only major player in Marvel symbiote lore returning for this event. The end of King in Black also saw the surprise return of Anti-Venom himself, Flash Thompson. According to Johnson, the Extreme Carnage event arguably belongs as much to Flash as it does to the title character.
"I’ve got a lot of affection for Flash Thompson, especially with the massive personal growth we’ve seen him go through over the years," Johnson said. "Now he’s in a place where he has more history with the symbiotes than almost anyone alive, and he’s coming back to a world in which practically everyone in his life is either gone or has moved on. As we’ll see in Venom #200 [out June 16], he has to find his purpose and his place in the world again. But luckily, we’re going to learn what that purpose is in Extreme Carnage Alpha #1. I’m super excited for readers to see what the next chapter of his life will look like."
In the exclusive pages below, you'll see a little bit of that next chapter unfolding, as Anti-Venom and Carnage battle it out amid Extreme Carnage Alpha's opening action.
Carnage is, of course, not just making a big impact in the comics world this summer. He's also just months away from wreaking havoc on the big-screen in Venom: Let There Be Carnage, the Venom sequel that's likely to send plenty of new readers out in search of more Carnage stories, and spark a fresh interest in old Carnage fans who want some new material. Luckily for all of them, though it has its roots in King in Black, Johnson promises that Extreme Carnage is designed to be friendly to newcomers and old hands alike.
"Extreme Carnage doesn’t require anyone to have read anything. It does refer in passing to the events of the King in Black event and rewards readers who have read it, but it should still make sense to any latecomers with even a passing knowledge of symbiotes," Johnson said. "Extreme Carnage is the beginning of a whole new status quo for the symbiotes of the Marvel Universe, and is a great jumping-on point for readers who missed all the most recent stuff.
"Any long-time symbiote or Spider-Man fans know that Carnage has had his share of event books over the years, and we wanted this one to stand out from all the others. We’ve got a pretty wild take on Carnage, Flash, the Life Foundation crew, and others that I think gives them a whole new lease on life, Carnage and Flash especially. And as part of this story, we’re bringing back a classic Marvel organization that I think fans will be excited to see again."
Speaking of the Life Foundation crew, the five symbiotes created by that group — Phage, Scream, Lasher, Riot, and Agony — are also an integral part of the Extreme Carnage event. The story will unfold not through a miniseries or a series of crossovers, but rather a collection of one-shots arriving throughout July, August, and September, each offering a spotlight to a different symbiote. A week after Extreme Carnage Alpha, Extreme Carnage: Scream from writer Clay McLeod Chapman and artist Chris Mooneyham, and that issue will be followed by Extreme Carnage: Phage from writer Steve Orlando and artist Gerardo Sandoval later the same month.
One-shots following Lasher and Riot will arrive in August, followed by two still-unannounced mystery installments of the event, and the concluding issue Extreme Carnage Omega in September. That means Johnson and Garcia are working alongside a whole team of writers and artists to bring the event to life, something Johnson embraced as an invigorating part of the Extreme Carnage process.
"Working with this crew has been a complete joy. I’ve known Clay McLeod Chapman for years through his creator-owned work at BOOM! Studios and his prose work. Steve Orlando and I are longtime friends and have even co-created together before. Alyssa Wong [writer on Extreme Carnage: Riot] and I met for this project, but I was immediately impressed with her work that I read leading into this, and I’m already stoked to pick up anything else I see of hers on shelves," Johnson said. "Anytime one of us finishes one of the scripts, we share it with the others, and we use the others’ work to inform our own, coming together to give every character a clear voice and role across the series.
"In a nutshell, they’re all consummate pros and super easy to work with, likewise my art team Manuel Garcia, Guru-eFX, and VC’s Travis Lanham, and our terrific editors Devin Lewis and Danny Khazem. Comics are always supposed to be collaborative, and pros like these make it easy."
Extreme Carnage Alpha arrives July 7.