Chapter By Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
And so a new book begins. For those of you unaware, Carnage is a symbiote, a piece of Venom left behind when serial killer Cletus Kasady was in a cell with Eddie Brock as his “other” came to rescue him. The symbiote piece bonded with Cletus and made him a crazed murderer, a man who kills just for the thrill of killing. Enhanced by the Carnage symbiote, and a bond so strong that Carnage uses “I” instead of “we” when talking in the first person, Cletus may be Spider-Man’s deadliest foe, and given the likes of Green Goblin, Kraven the Hunter, and even Venom depending on the current host’s mindset that’s saying a lot.
I’m expecting this first chapter to be like the first few chapters in The Death And Life Of Superman, where the writers are going to established the state of Spider-Man’s life for non comic readers who may only know Peter Parker from TV shows, as there hadn’t even been a movie in theaters at this point (although James Cameron tried the effects weren’t there yet). The book came out in 1995 but I’m not expecting the Clone Saga to have any effect on this story as the novel only readers would be even more confused than the fans were, which is also saying a lot. Let’s find out if I’m right as we begin the first chapter.
Yes I will be using the chapter page image instead of a title because that’s what we have. I won’t end with it like I did in the reveal article but I will start off with it each week.
The first scene features a Doctor Eric Catrall, who I assume is going to be important to the story since we get his history of a bad childhood with no specifics. Or course he could just end up dead because someone wants what’s in his briefcase. We don’t know what that is just yet but he’s scared to hear it in there. If he can’t hear it the city isn’t going to wake up dead. The atmosphere of what I assume is New York and the back alleys is described quite well. It’s not an overexplanation, just enough to set the mood. The same for the guys who box Catrall in, their faces hidden in the shadows. Of course considering the world this takes place in they could just not have faces. It happens.
Then we see the whole scene again from Spider-Man’s perspective. At first I wasn’t sure about having the second scene twice but I think it actually does work. I don’t think the mood would have set nearly as well if we went back and forth between Catrall and Spidey’s perspectives. It’s a pretty good fight scene as well, though the prose version by nature doesn’t really give it the same life it would if we could actually see it. It takes more time to describe something than it does to actually see it in comic or animated form.
But it turns out they were FBI agents and the fight gave the doctor time to slip out. It’s then we learn what’s in the case as Catrall double-checks the contents. It’s a vial of red liquid, which could be the Carnage symbiote, though I would wonder how. I’m not as versed in Carnage as I am Venom but from what I know the Carnage and Venom symbiotes are a bit different given how they bonded. I mentioned that Venom refers to himself as “we”, meaning Eddie Brock and the “other” (the name for the symbiote), while Cletus and the Carnage symbiote are in such agreement that they refer to themselves as “I”. However it doesn’t stop there. Carnage I think can hide out inside Cletus’ own body on the rare occasion he’s in a calm state of mind, so if my theory is right I don’t know how this could be the full symbiote since they never disconnect the way Venom has with its various hosts. Maybe it’s a piece or maybe what I know about Carnage is wrong?
Overall this was a good chapter. While it doesn’t set up Peter’s life outside of living with Mary Jane (back when they were still married before the devil divorce) it does set up an interesting mystery. We’ll see where this leads next time in chapter two.