Comics : Carnage: Mind Bomb

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This review was first published on: 2004.

Background...

Carnage is currently taking a break between mass murder sprees (they must be awfully taxing for the average serial killer on the street) and is relaxing in Ravencroft. Ashley Kafka, fearing that she has failed to properly treat Carnage, has called in a specialist, who happens to be her former mentor, from Washington. His goal: rehabilitation. And what happens there ain't for the faint of heart.

In Detail...

Carnage: Mind Bomb
Feb 1996 : SM Spin-Off
Editor:  Tom Brevoort
Writer:  Warren Ellis
Pencils:  Kyle Hotz
Inker:  Kyle Hotz
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Review

As Matthew Kurtz, a psychiatric specialist from Military Intelligence, arrives at Ravencroft, Carnage is basically doing what he does best: insanity. Kurtz does not exactly receive a warm reception, but eventually makes it to Carnage's lair. Driving the symbiote off Cletus Kasady with a sonopistol, he pumps Kasady full of drugs and begins to grill him. Kasady begins a soliloquy that sheds light into who he is and why he kills.

Several pages provide, in truly graphic details, a visual representation of the inside of Carnage's mind. Just as Kurtz believes he might be on the verge of a breakthrough, Kasady rejoins with his symbiote. Instead of killing Kurtz, he keeps him alive, screws a tendril into his brain (this would make a great Excedrin commercial) and begins to "squirt bits of my mind into yours, show you what I think of the world." Through this, Carnage drags Kurtz down into the darkness with him.

My first reaction upon reading this book was disgust. The pictures are incredibly graphic, and the subject matter gruesome. Later on, I took another look and was forced to change my opinion. "Mind Bomb" is not a mindless gore-fest. In fact, it is really, really good. Artist Kyle Hotz draws Ravencroft in such a gothic fashion that you KNOW something wicked this way comes.

Hotz draws Carnage's world view in a very effective manner, such as the little Carnage mouths writhing out of Kasady's brain and Cletus as a kid holding twin butcher knives with a maniacal grin. The thing that really impressed me, however, was the writing. I've never heard of Warren Ellis before, but he is definitely good. He creates such a dark tone, not just with his take on Carnage, but with the way every character is presented, that redemption seems impossible. The reader instinctively knows that Kurtz will fail.

Carnage's philosophy is presented so effectively that it scared the heck out of me. In Carnage's previous appearances, he comes off as a cardboard figure, not really three-dimensional. In "Mind Bomb", you get a glimpse into his inner workings.

In General...

A detailed look into the mind of a serial killer, with understandably disturbing content. If you're looking for something different in the Spiderverse, give "Mind Bomb" a try. A word of warning, though. Anyone offended by graphic displays of violence (and they exist aplenty) should spend their money elsewhere.

Overall Rating...

Extremely violent, but handled extremely well. What the heck, five webs.

Footnote...

Jonathan Couper says...

I must agree with everything Will says here, although I would add that while this is an disturbingly clear insight into the mind of a serial killer, he is (perhaps fortunately) the kind of extreme, over-the-top killer who is really only found in fiction. The single-tracked mentality is perhaps less frightening than the more complex motivations of real-world psycho-paths.

Regardless of that, this is a comic which any true Carnage fan should get a hold of. I'm not really a Carnage-ite, but I would have to say that this story defines Carnage more than Maximum Carnage, or Amazing #361-#363 ever attempted to do.