Despite kicking off with a page of exposition to bring readers up to speed on Carnage’s current, extremely convoluted-sounding status quo (he’s now an ‘Extrembiote’, which is apparently a melding of a ‘symbiote dragon’ and Iron Man tech – insert ‘rolls eyes’ emoji here), this 30th Anniversary celebration of the serial killer symbiote is actually pretty newbie friendly. As long as you have a basic grasp of who Carnage is, you’ll be fine.

The first story here is the most effective – a little girl draws in chalk on the pavement in front of a burned down orphanage; a kindly stranger offers to help her, but the danger she’s in by being in such a rough neighbourhood is still preferable to the situation she finds herself in at home. After an upsetting encounter with a trio of rich drunks, she decides to brave the sanctity of the orphanage – with horrifying results. It’s a great story with some truly creepy, pretty graphic imagery – and a nice twist in the tail.

Next up is a more standard Carnage story featuring Hydro-Man that serves as little more than a prelude to a new Carnage series. My reaction to this one, despite some nice artwork, was just…meh.

Lastly, there’s a page of funnies by Ty Templeton, recasting Carnage as the star of comedic strips – complete with an amusing anagram/word puzzle. It’s kinda cute, but not exactly laugh out loud stuff.

Presumably, Marvel have a lot more in the pipeline for the 30th Anniversary of Carnage’s first appearance, because – despite the strength of the first story – this is a bit underwhelming overall. You’d expect a much larger page count and number of stories, but what we get here is just about passable. Still, with the mention of that ridiculous ‘Extrembiote’ situation for the red menace, I can’t say I’m in a rush to catch up with any new stories featuring the character.

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