Absolute Carnage #1 Review.

a Wednesday Comics post

From Marvel Comics, Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman, JP Mayer, Frank Martin, VC’s Clayton Cowles.

Life is crazy, so it is rare that I can pick up and read a comic on the Wednesday it’s released. This year I did it with the final Walking Dead, some of Free Comic Book Day, and before that…. 2018? 2017? This week though every single comic site I read and comic reader I’m friends with was talking about Absolute Carnage. Advance reviews were positive. I’m feeling exhausted today and decided to treat myself to a brand new comic.

Unfortunately, I now have to buy many brand new comics for the next three months because this first part of the story was insane. The controversy for years has been how the Marvel movies are changing the Marvel Universe. Is the tail wagging the dog. But a story like this shows a different result. Let’s take every toy available in comics and make something bigger than a movie on the page. There was action, horror, quiet moments, funny moments, appropriate exposition where needed, clear changes. If this story continues as well as the first part then Absolute Carnage might be the best movie I’ve seen all year.

It starts with a costume. I’m going to new reader simplify this. Well aware stuff might be missed along the way for experienced comic readers, but let me try to sell a few to the new crowd. There was a story where all the big Marvel heroes and villains fought on an alien planet. Spider-Man’s costume was destroyed in a battle, and he received a new “smart” costume which he brought back to Earth. Turns out the costume wasn’t fabric, but an alien symbiote that was also bonding to Peter Parker. He rejected the suit. Meanwhile, a reporter was embellishing stories in order to get hired at the Daily Bugle. Parker called him out on this, blacklisting him from journalism. This reporter, Eddie Brock, happened upon the rejected symbiote and the two of them bonded in hate as Venom.

Venom has been good or evil over the years. At best he believes he’s right in all of his actions and has a 50/50 rate of correctness. During one of his many stories, a portion of the symbiote came loose. It attached itself to serial killer Cletus Kassidy. No moral code, no belief what he was doing was right. Just insanity. This combination was known as Carnage.

Since that time there have been more “children” of the symbiote. The Venom one and the Carnage one have been removed from their original hosts and attached to other people. Most recently Norman Osborn took the Carnage one and became Red Goblin. Tons of crazy Venom stories over the years. All of it comes together here.

Turns out there is a planet full of these symbiotes. Problem is, it’s not actually a planet. It’s a prison comprised of millions of these things surrounding an evil god. Cletus and Carnage discover they can communicate with this god. All they have to do is combine all of the pieces of symbiote spread across Earth. See, every time anyone has worn one of these “costumes” there is still a remnant of it left in that person’s DNA. Long after the bond has been broken. It’s very easy to extract that remnant, as easy as death of the previous host.

And that’s where the story kicks off. Eddie Brock Venom is trying to protect his newly discovered son from Carnage before the fight kicks off. Spider-Man is looked to for help. Other characters who have been seen as both hero and villain before join the tale – the Maker, Man Wolf, Norman Osborn. The story starts off deceptively simple like Star Wars, Game of Thrones, DBZ. What originally looks to be a story of a few people will soon encompass the world.

I can’t get over how excited I was reading the issue. Multiple times I thought this must be the end. The rest of the comic is going to be some interviews, ads, something like that. There’s no way this big thing is just – to compare mediums – a commercial break. It must be the end. But then this happened! And this! And that! And even the quiet conversation part was full of stress and anxiety. Never has a comic spiked my blood pressure until Absolute Carnage.

Also, what an all star creative team. With multiple voices in one person’s head and similar characters with similar powers this could have looked like a cluster. It could have been too confusing to tell who was who and what was what. It could have been Michael Bay’s Transformers. But this is the kind of stellar color and lettering that should be taught for years. This! This is why it’s an entire creative team. Not just writer and artist. This issue would have lacked if not for JP Mayer on inks, Frank Martin on colors, and VC’s Clayton Cowles on letters.

In the “director’s cut” edition Donny Cates script is included as an extra. Mine now. As in, I will keep this out for years. I’m trying, trying so hard to write a comic. To join that world. This will be studied like finals are coming up and I need to graduate.

That edition also includes Ryan Stegman’s original pencils. Thankfully. Because there were a lot of these pages that I thought were painted. That’s a credit to everyone on the book but it starts with the graphite camera work he put in.

If you’re headed to your local comic shop this weekend, chances are they ordered a lot of copies of this book. Grab it. Get it now. Each issue costs far less than a movie but will provide the same level of thrills. And it’s only part one.

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