This week the psychotic symbiote known as Carnage gets his own AXIS spin off, and we return to Craw County with Southern Bastards!
AXIS: Carnage #1 (of 3) (Marvel Comics)
AXIS is now in full swing, which means it’s time for Marvel to do what it does best with their events: spin-offs! This time around good old Cletus Kasaday is getting the spotlight, and surprisingly, AXIS: Carnage, by Kevin Spears and German Peralta, does a better job of explaining the whole “villains become heroes” switcharoo than AXIS did last week.
The entirety of this opening issue finds Carnage trying to make sense of the strange urges to do good that are plaguing his mind. As a witness to the inversion spell that Scarlet Witch and Dr. Doom performed to try and free Professor X from the Red Skull, Carnage knows the “why” behind his actions, but he doesn’t truly understand how to control it. At the same time, there’s a new version of the Sin Eater targeting news anchors, which quickly catches the attention of the psychotic symbiote.
I’ve never read anything by Rick Spears before, but I was pretty impressed with this work here. As I said before, he explains the inversion spell’s effects on the heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe much better than Rick Remender did in AXIS. Spears has a lot of fun of showing how badly Carnage is struggling with this outlook on life, and he (thankfully) doesn’t have Kasaday sound like a good ol’ boy like Remender does.
German Peralta is also a name I didn’t know before cracking open this issue, but like Spears, he impressed me as well. Peralta’s style is very loose, and fits in with the tone of the series perfectly. His panels of Carnage swinging through the city and fighting off muggers have a great sense of fluidity and motion in them, and his new take on the Sin Eater is pretty cool as well.
I was pretty pleasantly surprised with AXIS: Carnage. As a child of the 90’s I’m not ashamed to admit my love of Carnage, but at the same time, I won’t lie and say that his recent (or any) appearances have been good. Thankfully, this spin off changes that, and showcases some promising potential in Spears and Peralta. With any luck, they’ll be two names to look out for in the coming years at Marvel.
Southern Bastards #5 (Image Comics)
Southern Bastards’ fifth issue is a bit of a low key one after the shocking fourth issue, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not another stellar entry in Jason Aaron and Jason Latour’s Southern saga. This issue places the spotlight on Coach Boss, the high school football coach who also has an iron grip on the town’s criminal activities.
Jason Aaron’s script pulls back the curtains on Boss’ past, and reveals some pretty interesting and surprising things about Boss. For one, he wasn’t the star of the football team he eventually grew up to coach, and his other teammates pretty much hated him too. Seeing this juxtaposed with Boss driving around town in modern day exerting his power over the citizens of Craw County was very cool, and leaves you wondering exactly how Boss came to be such a feared member of the community.
On the art side, Jason Latour’s pencils are phenomenal, and are quickly becoming an integral part of what makes Southern Bastards work so well. He’s able to tap into the gritty, ugly, and depressed areas of the South perfectly. His work is so well done that you’ll swear you’re inside the book at times.
Southern Bastards #5 is definitely a slow issue, but it’s a necessary one. We’re starting to get some more back-story on Coach Boss, as well as being teased at some characters to come. Those jumping onto this issue after reading the first trade might be disappointed, but as a fan of Jason Aaron’s other creator work Scalped, I can tell you that these issues definitely pay off in the long run.