Absolute Carnage: Scream #2 Review — Scattered But Fun

Written by Cullen Bunn
Pencils by Gerardo Sandoval and Alex Arizmendi
Inks by Gerardo Sandoval, Alex Arizmendi and Victor Nava
Colours by Erick Arciniega
Letters by VC’s Cory Petit
Published by Marvel Comics

Cover price: $3.99 USD

With the second month of Absolute Carnage tie-ins having begun, Scream has the distinction of being the first Absolute Carnage tie-in miniseries to get a second issue. The Scream tie-in has the benefit of featuring two somewhat popular characters who are actually tied to the Venom mythos and the first issue was pretty good for what it was. However, despite still being fun, this issue is less interesting, with a relatively generic plot and less interesting dialogue and narration.

The issue follows Patricia Robertson as she confronts Andi Benton. The two fight while Patricia and the Scream symbiote are under the control of Carnage before she manages to regain control of herself. The two strike up an uneasy alliance and discuss what their plan is to stop Andi from having her spine removed by Carnage, all while New York is under siege by his symbiote-powered forces.

The events of the comic themselves are fine, if a little generic. The idea of Patricia fighting off Carnage’s influence and her hatred of Andi Benton perfectly captures the spirit of Donna Diego’s incarnation of Scream. Of course, Patricia is more heroic, such as when she risks her life to protect civilians and tries to talk the various symbiote drones into fighting off Carnage’s control, and this helps to differentiate her from Donna while staying true to the tortured nature of the Scream identity. Andi has very little to do during the issue, but she works as a stabilising presence in contrast to Patricia. The way the events of the story line up with Donny Cates’ Venom work is a bit… strange in how it can colour past scenes, but other than that, the story itself is fine for the most part, if relatively unsurprising.

The dialogue and narration in Scream #2 is a big strength, but also one of its biggest failings. Cullen Bunn’s dialogue and narration for Patricia and Scream is good, really leaning into that whole evil personality aspect of the symbiotes and the mental instability associated with the Scream identity. However, the dialogue for Andi Benton, particularly in the middle of the comic where she is reduced to expositing at length, is incredibly flat. It carries none of the attitude that is core to the character and her aesthetic and comes off as stilted and boring.

The dialogue perfectly captures what a less villainous Scream should sound like.

Gerardo Sandoval’s pencils are fittingly manic and chaotic, well-suited for the eponymous Scream. Sandoval’s depiction of Scream’s hair as wild and jagged is visually stunning and gives the character her own aesthetic, one that fits the character’s loud, unsubtle and unstable personality. His exaggerated characters and expressions work well for the unsubtle and 90s throwback nature of the comic.. Sandoval’s action scenes read well for the most part and have a great panel-to-panel flow, with some noticeable exceptions, and have real impact thanks to his exaggerated characters. Despite the chaotic style, the comic is almost never unfocused — even on the two-page spreads and splash pages — thanks to some good inking. The two-page spreads in the comic feel a bit superfluous and self-indulgent, but they are an inoffensive inclusion and do not particularly detract from Sandoval’s great work in this issue.

For Scream #2, Sandoval is joined by Alex Arizmendi on pencilling duties, but Arizmendi cannot match Sandoval’s frenetic style. In contrast to Sandoval’s energetic and chaotic style, Arizmendi’s pencils feel stilted and dull. Characters look expressionless most of the time and their posing is awkward. However, the depiction of Scream works well with Bunn’s script, with Scream’s smoother, less jagged hair coming at a point where the character is calmer and more in control of herself. Like Sandoval, some of the flow is lacking, such as a moment that serves as an homage to Amazing Fantasy #15 that is not transitioned into very well.

Erick Arciniega’s colours are able to hold the comic together with a consistent palette for the most part. The colours are bright and bathed in orange, this saturated image working to present a hellish landscape that is fitting with the tone of the Absolute Carnage event. However, even Arciniega’s colours are a bit inconsistent. For instance, a minor issue is present where Andi’s hair swaps from purple to black with a purple tint between Sandoval and Arizmendi’s pages. A larger issue is the colouring on the pages drawn by Arizmendi, which are notably duller, likely due to lacklustre inking.

A good page where the art works perfectly.

Absolute Carnage: Scream continues to be a surprisingly enjoyable read. While the story and dialogue have their problems, they remain at the very least entertaining. The art, while still frantic and chaotic, sadly is a step down from the previous issue, but when it is good it still fits perfectly with Bunn’s script. With one issue left to go, let’s hope that Absolute Carnage: Scream is able to end on a high note before the character’s all-new ongoing in November.

3.5/5 – Good

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