Written by Cullen Bunn
Pencils by Gerardo Sandoval
Inks by Victor Nava
Colours by Erick Arciniega
Letters by VC’s Cory Petit
Published by Marvel Comics
Cover price: $3.99 USD
The Absolute Carnage event is upon us and with it comes a bevy of tie-in miniseries. The first of those, and one of the ones I was most excited for, is Scream, featuring the eponymous symbiote and former She-Venom Patricia Robertson. While my expectations were relatively low, the issue doesn’t aspire to any lofty heights — it just wants to be a fun comic, and it succeeds in being just that.
Cullen Bunn’s script is earnest in its goal of just being a fun symbiote story. The story follows Patricia Robertson during the Absolute Carnage event in her life as a symbiote hunter. However, in contrast to Eddie Brock (who fulfilled the same role for a while), Patricia isn’t a professional — she’s just paranoid because of her past experiences with the symbiotes. That’s just enough to justify some of the over-the-top weaponry she uses and to give her character a sense of identity, especially with the occasional indication that she misses the symbiote — it’s just enough to make her sympathetic and not one-dimensional. Bunn’s narration also makes it clear — she’s just a regular person who’s done some prep work and has been itching for a fight, she’s not a hard-boiled type like the Punisher. Of course, the comic isn’t called Patricia Robertson, so the Scream symbiote comes into her life, and that’s where the fun begins.
There’s no subtlety with the writing here, and that makes Scream #1 refreshing to read. Bunn knows we’re reading for the Scream symbiote and violence and delivers just that — the resurrection of the Scream symbiote and the Scream identity overall with its bonding to Patricia Robertson, and some violence and action to go along with it. Of course, Cullen Bunn, already a writer who uses a lot of narration — and often in a way that I don’t like — fits this issue like a glove, with the Scream symbiote’s narration, in contrast to Patricia’s, revelling in a cheesy 90s overtone. Bunn’s writing on this issue feels a delightful throwback to the better symbiote stories of the 90s. Although certain moments could’ve used more time to breathe, Scream #1 reads at a nice brisk pace despite the amount of narration.
Gerardo Sandoval’s art style fits perfectly with this type of writing. Characters have exaggerated facial expressions and proportions, but not in a way that is distracting or demeaning. Unlike with his previous work on Venom, without the pretense of a more serious and character-driven narrative, Scream is able to play to Sandoval’s strengths as an artist whose character work isn’t that great, but who delivers on bombastic, messy, cartoony visuals. Scream in particular looks great, with huge and long tendrils of hair that are key to the character’s aesthetic, which would have seemed out of place with a less cartoony art style, plus Patricia’s Robinson’s ridiculous ammo belt feels distinctly 90s. The few action scenes are bombastic and well-rendered and Sandoval is clearly having fun with the concept where he can, even if the panel-to-panel flow is lacking. Erick Arciniega’s colours do a fantastic job creating a dark, moody comic but with a sense of fun, helped by Sandoval’s style.
Scream #1 is a welcome treat of a comic. Like the event it ties in to, it embraces the best parts of the 90s to deliver an utterly fun comic. While it doesn’t have the stellar character work of Absolute Carnage, although it does a fine job, it doesn’t need to — Bunn and Sandoval seem content to deliver a fun premise with nice visuals. If Absolute Carnage #1 was a good craft burger, Scream #1 is the fast food equivalent — disposable and not particularly special, but lacking any pretentiousness and knowing what it is — and sometimes that’s just what you want.
3.5/5 – Good