BY MATT TUCK
Sony’s Let There Be Carnage hype train is rolling along, and Carnage takes center stage, but will it be enough to boost his key issues to record heights?
THE NEW TRAILER
Ahead of next month’s release date, Sony has dropped another trailer for Venom: Let There Be Carnage, and the spawn of Venom takes center stage in this one. The new footage focuses on actor Woody Harrelson’s turn as Cletus Kasady, giving us a peek into how the live-action Cletus transforms into Carnage. In the movie, Eddie Brock is interviewing Cletus in a Hannibal Lecter-esque sequence. Cletus bites Eddie’s hand and ingests blood contaminated with the symbiote. Thus, Carnage is born.
While Carnage may not appear to have quite the same powers as he does from Amazing Spider-Man, overall he looks true to the comics. Yes, he seems more akin to Venom in terms of aesthetic, size, and abilities, but the core of the character is very much Carnage. The Cletus aspect of the character is in safe hands with Harrelson, who always turns in winning performances.
Then there is the Venom symbiote. My biggest complaint about the original movie was Venom’s comedic side (not to mention the cliches ad nauseum), and Let There Be Carnage appears to be doubling down on the silliness. The previous trailer saw Venom singing and cooking breakfast in an Odd Couple sight gag. This time around, he is dealing with his anger management issues, which are played for more laughs.
Hear that sound? No, your air conditioning didn’t take its last gasp. That was the sound of the wind being pulled from the sails of longtime Venom fans everywhere. When Venom confronts Carnage seemingly for the first time, he is terrified. In a moment that is half Infinity War’s Hulk/Banner relationship issue and half Scooby-Doo, Venom refuses to come out when Carnage is about to kill Eddie. That is, he refused until Eddie offered him Scooby-Snacks, er, people to eat to convince the symbiote to charge into action. As “Maximum Carnage” fans remember, it’s Carnage who is afraid of Venom.
It would seem that instead of an adult, horror-themed Venom versus Carnage movie, Andy Serkis went full Thor: Ragnarok absurdity. Alas, what could have been. Hopefully Carnage can keep the movie from diving too deep into the Walter Matthau/Jack Lemmon routine.
THE KEY ISSUES
Despite my reservations about how Venom is portrayed in the new movie, this second trailer should have an impact on those Carnage keys. Let’s break down four of the most popular issues and gauge the fair market values.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #361
When Sony first announced the Venom movie in 2017, the rumors began swirling that Carnage would be making his live-action debut. Once Woody Harrelson was tapped to play everyone’s favorite psychopath, suddenly Carnage’s first full appearance was getting more time in the spotlight than even Venom’s.
Naturally, it would be safe to assume that Carnage’s full starring role in the sequel would net gargantuan profits for ASM #361. However, that has not been the case so far this year. After the first trailer dropped, those fair market values for #361 stayed in a holding pattern. It’s not to say the higher grades suddenly became cheap, but they didn’t balloon to new records, either.
Now that we are getting our second look at the live-action Carnage in action, it could give ASM #361 the boost that was lacking after the first trailer.
May proved to be the strongest month so far for ASM #361. At that time, the 9.8 consistently sold anywhere from $1,200 to $1,600. From June to July, values gradually declined, dipping all the way to $850. Things could be on the rebound after an August 1 sale netted $1,020. The real test will be if the FMVs keep climbing or return to the $800-$900 bracket.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #361 SECOND PRINT
It pays to get your hands on the subsequent printings. Back in 1992, the second prints were there simply for buyers who didn’t get the first edition and wanted to read the story. With the rise of digital comics, that is no longer necessary, and that makes those subsequent printings mostly for collecting purposes, which is fine. That has also increased the values for second prints from before they were cool to own.
Following in the first print’s footsteps, FMVs for the second print graded at a 9.8 peaked in May and have slowly declined since then. After setting a record high $900 on May 10, prices fell to as low as $289 on July 8. This past week has seen values on the way up as the two most recent sales netted $525 and $510.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #344
Hardcore Carnage fans will want the full set of his key issues, and there is no leaving off the first appearance of Cletus Kasady. While this does not compare with ASM #361 on the collecting scale, there has been a growing interest in ASM #344 in recent years. To be fair, everything related to Carnage jumped to record numbers three years ago when Harrelson was first cast as Cletus. Now that he is making his full live-action debut, this issue should get a modest boost. If the movie proves to be a massive hit, all the Carnage keys will go to the next level.
Since March, the 9.8 ASM #344s moved into the $300 range and didn’t look back. By May, those FMVs shifted into high gear and pushed past $400. Whereas the first and second prints of ASM #361 took a downward turn after May, June was good to #344. On June 19, it scored a record $515. While most of the sales since then have dropped below $400, July 8 saw another $500 sale.
SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED #1
Shriek may be the breakout star of the Venom sequel. While we don’t see her in costume in the Let There Be Carnage trailer, she gets an appearance with a nice shriek. Once fans see her on the big screen, then this issue could get the rub. While she is basically known as Carnage’s girlfriend in the comics, Shriek will likely step out of that role in the new movie. Who knows? With all the other Spider-verse spinoffs in the works, Sony could take her to new heights with a solo movie of her own.
Like all the other Carnage keys, Spider-Man Unlimited #1 saw its FMVs dip over the past month. Following a record-high $450 on May 10, the 9.8 spent most of July in the $180 range. However, the last sale on August 1 brought a respectable $200, so values could be on the way up.
If Shriek’s popularity gets a boost, then Spider-Man #35 will climb the wish lists, especially among cover collectors. This is Shriek’s first cover appearance, which will become a hot commodity very quickly. Even better, the prices should stay relatively low unless she suddenly becomes Sony’s next big star.
Over the past 90 days, the 9.8 Spider-Man #35 has been an $81 comic. However, that is a stark contrast to the $210 record one set on May 1. If Sony decides to give Shriek her own solo project, that could be small change compared to future values. Of course, that is a big “if.”
A CLOUDY CRYSTAL BALL
Since the first trailer did not spark a landslide of record sales for those Carnage keys, the jury is very much still out for this round. My money is on Woody Harrelson’s Cletus/Carnage carrying the film as villains often do. That should bring values back to their May levels by the time the September premiere rolls around.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is a professional writer, avid comic collector, former teacher, and an international man of mystery. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog.