By: Zeb Wells (writer), Clayton Crain (art) & Clayton Cowles (letters)

The Story: Carnage is back!  Oh wait, no, that is in the next issue.

What’s Good: There are some fun parts to this story that basically amounts to a Spider-Man/Iron Man team-up.  Despite the title, these two classic heroes are not doing battle with Carnage, but with one of his cohorts straight out of the 1990’s: Doppleganger (Thanks Wikipedia!).

The best part of this issue is the fun quipping banter between Spidey and Shellhead such as when Tony Stark (who has just seen Doppleganger whiz by) calls Peter Parker (who is eating cereal) on the radio to ask, “How many arms do you have at the moment?”  And then when Spidey goes to help, bringing his cereal with him as he webs across town, Tony asks about a stain on Spidey’s costume, to which Spidey replies, “I took a gamble and it didn’t work out…I don’t want to talk about it–“.  You can just see that Wells has a very good handle on these two classic Marvel characters.  That would seem to be a prerequisite to working at Marvel as a writer, but we KNOW that not all writers can pull of this fun dialog.

Clayton Crain on art is going in both the good and the bad.  For the first part of this review we’ll discuss the “good”.  Crain has some wonderful artistic skills.  His Iron Man is really, really good.  No one has drawn a better modern Iron Man for the last few years at least…It just looks bioorganic, smooth and shiny.  Great stuff.  He also does some very strong panel layouts and positions characters so that not every panel looks like a movie storyboard.

What’s Not So Good: Well, if you bought this to see Carnage himself, you’ll be disappointed because he isn’t in this issue.  We do get a glimpse of a symbiote in a pool of broth in a lab that some bad scientists are running, but that is it.  There also isn’t a lot of explanation of who this six-armed crazy Spider-Man is, so if you “missed” comics in the extreme 1990’s you may be confused and poking around on Wikipedia like this reviewer.

There are also problems with Crain’s art.  They’re really frustrating problems because the dude can really draw, but he continually puts the viewer’s perspective and lighting sources in places where you just cannot quite tell what is going on.  This is almost a case where you have to blame the editors: Crain does all the art (including colors) and it seems like he needs someone there to give him just a touch of input on these minor issues because it isn’t quite working.  And that’s a shame because all the talent is RIGHT THERE.  It just isn’t being maximized.  But, keep an eye on this guy in a few years.  When he figures it out or gets an editor who says, “No.  Make this panel brighter.” Crain could be a real monster.

Conclusion: Nice Spidey-Shellhead team-up.  Disappointing if you expected to see Carnage though.

Grade: C+

– Dean Stell