Wait, if I wasn’t all that interested in Absolute Carnage except so I could read further in some series I’ve been following, why get this collection of one-shots?
Well, one was about the Immortal Hulk as written by that series Al Ewing, so I figured that alone was worth the price of admission, even if the “other stories” were less so.
So, if there are “other stories,” what exactly did I get here?
Simple: there were three stories, one involving the Immortal Hulk, one involving a random tourist, and one involving some Ghost Riders.
The Hulk story, the one advertised, takes place in the handful of seconds it took for the Venom symbiote to bond to Bruce Banner. The story essentially takes place in Banner’s mind, showing how he got involved in this mess from wherever he was and what role the Hulk played in getting him that far. That said, Ewing’s script showed the real purpose may have been to show just how Banner and the various Hulks inside his head all more or less work together as Banner, the Big Guy/Savage Hulk, Joe Fixit, and the Devil Hulk all essentially talk out whether or not to welcome the Venom symbiote into their lives. Each personality in there has a reason to vote the way he does, and I actually liked how Banner said two personas weren’t there to have their say, presumably Professor Hulk and the Worldbreaker.
Note to self: I am very curious where Professor Hulk has been all this time.
That said, the second story may have been the best since it barely touched on the Absolute Carnage story and instead followed the life of a tourist who briefly had been taken over by the Venom symbiote when it escaped a containment vessel but before it bonded with Eddie Brock. The tourist turned out to be a judge from Indiana, and writer Peter David opted to show how the judge’s life went when he went home, a tragic tale that involved the judge and his son having an unwanted confrontation with C-list (at best) supervillain the White Rabbit. It’s the sort of story where the judge would actually welcome death when Carnage shows up to claim the codex, something that somewhat baffles Cletus Kasady all the same.
The last story had Johnny Blaze, new king of Hell and unable to leave, ask Dan Ketch to please help another Ghost Rider that Carnage is stalking south of the border. That story was rather by-the-numbers and average. I’d never heard of the other Ghost Rider before, and I’m not that particularly curious to look her up either.
So, two good stories and one so-so one from different creators. Make of that what you will.
7.5 out of 10 giant rabbit mechs.
Better Call Saul “Coushatta”
Noteworthy Issues: Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #8 (October, 2022)
The X-Files “Duane Barry”