Venom gorilla and Carnage giraffe. Boom. End of review. One hundred stars.
Still here? Good.
The finale of Carnage U.S.A. is one that has all the best moments of the series, both in the writing and the art. Zeb Wells is especially at his best here, combining his witty dialogue and brutal violence with sentimentality that keeps it all from being senseless.
Doverton has been freed from Carnage’s control, but the tension is far from over. Flash Thompson and Cletus Kasady are left alone to fight each other without powers, while their symbiotes have attached to the animals that were freed from the zoo in the previous issue. What results is an issue that switches from a small-scale hand-to-hand battle to a large scale fight between the Avengers and close to a hundred symbiote animals seamlessly.
After the showdown between Venom and Carnage in issue four, it seemed like Wells had used his biggest moment before the final issue. Here, though, Venom and Carnage fight without their symbiotes, as Flash Thompson and Cletus Kasady, respectively. It’s a moment that highlights the differences between Flash and Cletus by showing the similarities. They both use symbiotes, and they have both lost their legs. Mentally, though, they are completely different, and during their fight Wells shows he has a good grip on both.
Clayton Crain’s art has become consistently good as the series moved forward and this issue is no different. His rendering of characters has been the strongest point of his art, and Wells’ writing in this issue plays to that advantage. A lot of the issue involves Flash and Cletus in a fairly blank room, and Crain gets to draw more detailed characters than almost any other book on the shelves, down to the way Cletus’ skin ripples when Flash grabs his throat.
The layouts are equally consistent. They flow well, and compliment the art itself. The wide shots are on large panels, and the close ups are usually on smaller panels. It’s simple, but it’s effective. Rarely does Crain use a standard layout, though. The panels all have curved edges, and usually overlap each other. He also uses borderless panels that spill over onto other panels, which creates a sense of flow for action scenes.
It’s hard to say more about the story without spoiling it. Most of the best moments are ones that are best found out on your own, and if you got this far in the series, chances are you’ll pick this one up. The series as a whole has gotten better with each passing issue, and has an appropriately satisfying ending. Wells takes no easy outs, and his story ends decisively, but with an opening for the future. After this mini-series and his work on Avenging Spider-Man, one can only hope we keep getting more from Wells.