King In Black has taken over the Marvel Universe as Knull has made his presence known as an unstoppable God-like figure. One of the characters that has been dealing with Knull’s Symbiote take over has been Gwen Stacy’s Ghost-Spider. Drawing her powers from the Earth-65 version of the Symbiote, Ghost-Spider has found herself fighting the Mary Jane Watson of her universe, who has been turned into Carnage by Knull. This has not been an easy fight for Ghost-Spider as things have gotten extremely personal. How will things wrap up? Let’s find out with Gwenom vs Carnage #3.
Writer: Seanan McGuire
Colorist: Rico Renzi
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Ghost-Spider (Earth-65 Gwen Stacy) tries to catch up to Carnage (Earth-65 Mary Jane Watson). She finally does and they both stop on a rooftop. Carnage uses MJ’s memories to call out Gwen about how she killed Earth-65 Peter Parker (who turned himself into the Earth-65 version of the Lizard) because she wanted to be the only special one in their circle. Gwen tries to talk to MJ to remind her how Peter almost killed Earth-65 Harry Osborn. Carnage laughs at Gwen’s “lie” and webs up to a Symbiote Dragon to speed away.
Ghost-Spider thinks about how Knull’s control over the Symbiote is similar to the villain Swarm. Realizing that the Carnage Symbiote is also amplifying MJ’s own feelings Ghost-Spider figures out a way to save her friend.
Ghost-Spider eventually catches up to MJ-Carnage and once again tries to talk to MJ directly about not letting Knull control her. MJ-Carnage knocks Ghost-Spider down while saying they are the Symbiote.
Ghost-Spider once again chases MJ-Carnage but ends up in a trap inside a building. Ghost-Spider fights through the trap and finds MJ-Carnage in a theater.
MJ-Carnage detects someone else in the theater and immediately turn him into part of Knull’s Symbiote soldiers. MJ-Carnage declares that she will begin a new band that won’t run away like Gwen did. MJ-Carnage then creates cover with her Symbiote powers long enough to escape from Ghost-Spider.
Ghost-Spider once again goes after MJ-Carnage.
Elsewhere MJ-Carnage is shown rounding up people still on Earth and “gives” them Symbiotes to be part of her new band.
Eventually Ghost-Spider tracks MJ-Carnage to a stadium where she is with her new Symbiote band. Seeing no other way to fight against MJ-Carnage, Ghost-Spider fights her way to the drum set. There she tries to use the Symbiotes weakness to sound to get the Carnage Symbiote off MJ. Just as this starts to work Carnage destroys all the instruments.
Seeing that the Carnage Symbiote was in fact damaged by the sound attack Ghost-Spider once again talks directly to MJ. Gwen pleads with MJ to fight back as she does not have her resistance to radiation so the Symbiote is actually killing MJ. Hearing what her friend said MJ is able to fight the Carnage Symbiote off her.
Ghost-Spider catches her friend. Ghost-Spider then tries to activate a portal back to Earth-65 but her dimensional teleporter is damaged so it can’t create one.
Seeing no other way Ghost-Spider decides to put MJ somewhere safe as the other heroes need her help to fight Knull. MJ suddenly regains consciousness, and it is shown that she still has some of the Carnage Symbiote inside of her. End of issue.
The Good: As a tie-in to King In Black, Seanan McGuire delivers on getting over the chaotic nature of the event with the conclusion of Gwenom vs Carnage. As with previous issues, Gwenom vs Carnage #3 is able to take concepts established in King In Black and Donny Cates overall Venom run to maximize the emotional impact of the dialogue between Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane Watson of Earth-65. The one thing that hurts the story was the ending.
Before getting into that, McGuire once again did show how well she understands the Earth-65 version of Gwen Stacy and her supporting cast throughout Gwenom vs Carnage #3. Even as Ghost-Spider has become part of the main Marvel Universe, Earth-65 is her home. The way Gwen tries to constantly talk directly to her MJ to fight against the Carnage Symbiote’s control showed that.
There is a deeply personal way in how Gwen was talking to MJ that is very different to how she interacts with Peter Parker and Miles Morales of the main Marvel Universe. Which speaks to how personal this entire conflict with the new Carnage that Knull turned Earth-65 MJ into. We’ve seen in the past how Gwen has done her best to keep her superhero life away from her personal life. She has rarely succeeded, as we know from her current status quo, but its her drive to not give up that continues to shine. Even when she could’ve gone the typical route of fighting MJ-Carnage we see her try to re-connect with her friend even in the situation they have both been placed in.
Through this personal battle McGuire does a very good job using the concept of the Symbiotes amplifying the negative emotions of its host to drive the story forward. As a fan who has followed Earth-65 Gwen Stacy’s journey since she first appeared as Spider-Gwen I know that her friendship with MJ has been rocky. Gwen’s superhero life has certainly impacted how well they get along. Tapping into MJ’s side of the friendship was a good way to put over this version of Carnage. Everything that MJ-Carnage had enough hints of feelings that MJ held but never sat down to fully talk to Gwen about all this.
At the same time, we’ve seen McGuire and others always show that MJ was one of Gwen’s best friends. Gwen constantly trying to reach to MJ shows that she has faith in her friend being strong enough to fight Carnage’s control. Which is furthered by the fact we don’t see a big action sequence that is a straight up fight but rather a battle of the bands. This was a good way to keep things within their shared love for music and their band on Earth-65 that has connected Gwen and MJ. Which made how Gwen was able to save MJ by the end have a satisfying conclusion.
Flaviano’s art style will not be for everyone but worked well for he style of story that was being told in Gwenom vs Carnage #3. Flaviano’s artwork reminded me a lot of the style seen on Earth-65 during the Spider-Gwen series. The art also made good use of the chaotic setting that Earth has become as Knull has covered the planet with Symbiotes. It added a horror vibe that worked well with how the Carnage Symbiote is normally portrayed.
The Bad: Though I enjoyed the majority of Gwenom vs Carnage #3 the one part that did bring the story down was the cliffhanger ending we got. Seeing Gwen and MJ isolated from the rest of what is going on in King In Black was a reminder how the events in this mini-series didn’t fully connect with Marvel’s big event. Even Gwen talking about how she needs to figure out how she can fight a God felt hollow. It’s one of those lines that would’ve worked better if we did see Ghost-Spider appear in the main King In Black series. But since that has not happened it just makes the ending just not hit the way McGuire intended it to hit.
Overall: Seanan McGuire and Flaviano concluded Gwenom vs Carnage with a issue that appropriately captured the spirit of King In Black as it was both chaotic and emotional. The story told used the history between Earth-65’s Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane Watson that made this conflict with Carnage to feel personal. While the final page of Gwenom vs Carnage #3 doesn’t hit the way that was intended there is no doubt that this was very good tie-in to the King In Black event.
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