WEB OF VENOM: CULT OF CARNAGE #1 is incredibly engrossing, plot-wise. Unfortunately, Frank Tieri’s script clashes with the tone of his plot, because of his inclusion of various jokes during tense moments. Artists Danilo S. Beyruth and Andres Mossa perfectly capture the eerie tone with their art. I’d still recommend the book, though, because of the plot and the art and because it’s an integral chapter in the Venom saga.
89 %
Tonally Inconsistent

In the final installment of the WEB OF VENOM one-shot series, Misty Knight and John Jameson investigate the strange goings-on in a small town. It turns out that this small town has some history with a certain crimson-hued symbiote. Now they need to find out if what happened in this town relates in any way to Carnage’s relationship with the town. WEB OF VENOM: CULT OF CARNAGE #1 is connected to Donny Cates’ VENOM series, but Frank Tieri takes over the writing duties. Tieri nails the plot this issue, and crafts a very engrossing mystery. Unfortunately, the constant quips and one-liners belies the serious nature of the story. It, therefore, lessens the impact of the story, to me. Danilo S. Beyruth’s art and Andres Mossa’s colors add a very eerie atmosphere to the story.

Trapped in the Wreckage in WEB OF VENOM: CULT OF CARNAGE #1

In prior installments of WEB OF VENOM, we learned that a mysterious Knull-worshipping cult resurrected Carnage once again. The Venom symbiote also learned that they were operating in San Francisco. Meanwhile, in the 2011 miniseries CARNAGE, U.S.A., Cletus Kassidy took over a small town — Doverton, CO — by spreading his symbiote to nearly every resident. WEB OF VENOM: CULT OF CARNAGE #1 opens with Misty Knight driving to Doverton because a mysterious, unnamed organization she works for informed her that another agent, John Jameson, lost all contact after investigating the town. When Misty arrives, she sees that the entire town is in ruins, with every building leveled. She notices someone still alive in the wreckage. She lifts the rubble trapping him, and realizes it’s Jameson.

WEB OF VENOM: CULT OF CARNAGE #1 page 6. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Jameson lies in the fetal position, repeating the phrase “God is coming” over and over. Misty questions him, but Jameson has some sort of amnesia. After reminding him of who he was and the history of Doverton, he starts to remember. He recalls meeting with the former sheriff of the town, Eric Morrell. He was sheriff during the Carnage incident, and lost his daughter in the chaos. On the anniversary of the takeover, while he was on a fishing trip, someone — or possibly a group of people — excavated all of the graves of the victims of Carnage’s attack and removed their spines. The living residents all congregate in a mysterious church with a symbol that looks eerily similar to Knull’s.

Who removed the spines? Why would that happen, and what reduced Jameson to a temporary amnesiac who could only utter one phrase? Read WEB OF VENOM: CULT OF CARNGE #1 to find out!

Great Plot, Questionable Execution in WEB OF VENOM: CULT OF CARNAGE #1

Much like the prior WEB OF VENOM one-shots, written by Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman, the issue has a seriously engaging and interesting plot. However, what separates WEB OF VENOM: CULT OF CARNAGE #1 from the others is the execution of said plot. Frank Tieri, for whatever reason, decides to add in a bunch of quips and jokes made by characters in many of the scenes in the book. Granted, the most solemn scene, where Jameson and Morrell look at the excavated corpses, has no jokes, but much of the rest of the issue does. While I understand the need for some levity in a dark book, I feel like Tieri goes overboard with it this issue.

At one point, when Jameson should be angry and shaken up by the corpses, he describes what happened as someone “playing spine Pokémon” with them. To me, that seems a bit tasteless, especially considering that’s Jameson’s disturbed reaction to the corpses.

However, I still greatly enjoyed the plot of this issue. Tieri really nailed that part of the writing. The issue felt like a legitimate mystery book. Tieri clearly knows how to put together a solid, suspenseful plot. I was intrigued to find out where the mystery would lead. Suffice it to say, the secret surely didn’t disappoint. I’m excited to see how this issue ties into the greater Venom story, and the ABSOLUTE CARNAGE tie-in which starts later this year. I only wish that the script was a bit tighter and paid more respect to the horror of the plot.

Eerie Artwork

Artist Danilo S. Beyruth and color artist Andres Mossa perfectly complement the creepy nature of the plot with their art. Mossa colors each page with drab, muted colors, which underscores the ever present feeling of uneasiness that comes from the wrecked, nearly-deserted town. Beyruth draws each character looking vaguely agitated and suspicious. It’s a fantastic way of conveying the tense nature of the plot. One great page is when Misty Knight first notices the wreckage. She stands in the foreground as, in the background, black smoke rises from various parts of the town. Piles of rubble lie next to buildings with huge holes in them. The sky is a murky greyish-blue mixture thanks to all the smoke coming from the destruction. That alone sets the tone for what’s about to happen later in the issue.

WEB OF VENOM: CULT OF CARNAGE #1 page 3. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.


WEB OF VENOM: CULT OF CARNAGE #1 is an engrossing issue, plot-wise. Unfortunately, the script takes away some of my enjoyment of the issue because of the tonal disparity coming from all the jokes and quips. Overall, I’d still recommend the issue, since it’s an integral chapter in the Venom saga.

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