This was probably one of the few instances in which Spidey was completely surprised after everything that he'd been through after returning from the dead following Doc Ock's reign as the Superior Spider-Man. In the rest of the main AXIS book, Carnage is mentioned by Spider-Man in issue #5, and he appears with the rest of the inverted villains at the end of issue #6 as Cletus reaches down into his inner hillbilly to deliver the line: “I’m a good’un now, son. Y’all can count on it.”
Finally, we see Carnage make a brief appearance in Nova #24. Nova had successfully driven off Kluh (don’t ask) and Cletus stops by to congratulate Nova and wants to know if he can be of any help. Sam asks Carnage: “Are you one of those other Spider-Men that’s running around?” I’m surprised Nova hasn’t heard of Carnage before, but the jab that Carnage or any other symbiote aren’t involved in Spider-Verse hurts even more. Cletus leaves just as soon as he arrives and vows to “help” Nova later on back at his run-down apartment while looking over his old kill list. Carnage is set to appear in Nova #26 and #27, so this interaction was meant to serve as setup, but so far from the solicitations we aren't able to figure out if Carnage will be free of his inversion or not.
Now that I’ve covered the minor appearances, let’s take a look at the main attraction, AXIS: Carnage #2. The last issue left off with Carnage “rescuing” a news anchor named Alice (who had her hair dyed on the issue cover from blonde) from the Sin-Eater so that she can help him become a hero. I have to applaud the opening pages as they give a rundown of Cletus’ origin as a young orphan boy and how it also manages to keep it somewhat vague as Cletus has a tendency to “remember things wrong sometimes.” This opening scene reminds me of one particular moment from Venom: Dark Origin where Eddie is deciding whether or not to accept the symbiote and the symbiote shows Eddie visions that meld the symbiote into past memories of his own.
This issue is just as crazy as the first in terms of how Cletus goes about protecting people while also trying to listen to Alice’s advice and avoiding getting her hair wet in the process. There’s even a moment where you can’t help but feel bad for Cletus as he knows he’s killed a lot of people but is honestly trying to make up for it, besides the fact that he’s only acting this way due to a magic spell. If I had to give one minor complaint about this issue, it would have to be Emil Gregg’s cameo. Gregg was the man that believed he was the Sin-Eater and revealed this information to Eddie Brock—which would later play into him becoming Venom—but Gregg was shown to be shot and “seemingly” killed in the mini-series Venom: Sinner Takes All. After his cameo appearance in this issue, it’s a pretty moot point and can easily be brushed off.
|Even Carnage knows how to catch falling women, c'mon, Spidey.|