March 2, 2024

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Comic Review: Absolute Carnage

Carnage is somehow close to godhood in this Venom-based crossover.

Carnage is one of those characters that is a sure sign of just how creativity worked in the 90s for a lot of comics companies.  He’s been overused, a one-note character who just likes killing as many people as possible.  If there’s anything that I can say in the character’s favor, it’s that at least Marvel didn’t make him some kind of antihero.  Quite frankly, I would have been fine if he’d stayed dead when either the Sentry ripped him in half or the AXIS crossover made him (and some other villains) a hero who actually died a heroic death.

But Marvel keeps bringing this guy back, one of the most overexposed reoccurring Spider-Man foes.  I wasn’t all that interested in reading Absolute Carnage from writer Donny Cates, but two series I have been following in trade form have crossover trades involved, so here we are.  At the least, I figured I could do something like a “Carnage Week” here with some comic reivews, so here we are.

Eddie Brock, back with the Venom symbiote whether he wants to be or not, is in New York City with Dylan, the boy Eddie didn’t know wasn’t his kid brother but actually his son, and Dylan still doesn’t know Eddie is his dad.  Eddie didn’t come to New York willingly.  He knows someone revived Cletus Kasady, the serial killer bonded to the Carnage symbiote, and even worse, he’s been combined with the dragon symbiote Venom faced off against in the first trade in Donny Cates’s current Venom series.  Working with a cult of followers, Carnage is looking to get everyone who had ever worn a symbiote and rip some stray DNA out of them.  If Carnage gets enough of these codexes to reconnect to the symbiote hive mind, he can free Knull, the God of Symbiotes, from his prison to do…whatever evil thing Knull is going to do to, well, everybody.

As it turns out, quite a number of people have a codex in them, including a number of Avengers, and Carnage isn’t above digging up a dead body to get one.  Plus, every time he gets a codex, he gets stronger.  Eddie barely got away with Dylan after a subway attack, and that means he needs help.  He starts with Spider-Man.

As threats go, as much as Cates has been building up the whole symbiote thing over time, I still don’t have much interest in them overall.  I do like Cates’s Venom series, hence the reason I read this in the first place, but Carnage is just such a one-note villain that making him more or less unstoppable for most of this storyline only does so much for me.  To make matters worse for me, this story only ends setting up the next big Venom-based storyline, the current King in Black.  Factor in as well that I couldn’t tell what was happening on some pages with the artwork and the overwhelming red coloring, and this book had problems.  That’s not to say there wasn’t anything I liked here.  Eddie’s relationship with Dylan and Peter Parker are both fun, and if you ever wanted to see Venom bond with one of Marvel’s strongest heroes, this is the place to go.  Plus, these crossover events are usually only so-so anyway.  I try not to judge them too harshly as a result.

But really, why must Carnage keep coming back?

8 out of 10 symbiote cats.