Published in 2019 by Marvel Comics, Absolute Carnage is a five-part comic book revolving around the Spider-Man & Venom villain, Carnage. Written by Donny Cates, and illustrated by Ryan Stegman, the story sees a resurrected Carnage attempt to awaken Knull – the god of the symbiotes, who is imprisoned and subdued.
To free Knull, Carnage is on a hunt for codices – small pieces of genetic material that exist within every human who has ever bonded with a symbiote. Carnage believes that once he has all of the codices, he will have the power to revive his fallen god.
What happens in Absolute Carnage?
Carnage is back from the dead. He has been revived by a cult that worships Knull and now exists as a symbiote controlling a reanimated corpse.
Carnage’s mission is to awaken Knull, and the only way to do this is to collect a codex from everyone who has ever bonded with a symbiote – including Spider-Man, Venom, Norman Osborn and countless more. He begins with the deceased, rounding up as many codices as possible from the bodies of former hosts, before setting his sights on Eddie Brock/Venom.
Eddie is a wanted man, who – with his son in tow – is trying to evade the law, when Carnage appears and attempts to kill him. Eddie manages to escape from Carnage and enlists the aid of Spider-Man to help stop their shared foe.
Eddie also asks for assistance from The Maker, who has invented a machine that can safely remove codices from hosts. Eddie wants to use the machine to remove codices and keep them safe from Carnage.
But The Maker’s machine needs a test subject – preferably someone already high on Carnage’s hit list. That test subject is Norman Osborn, who recently became a host to the Carnage symbiote.
Venom and Spider-Man head to Ravencroft Institute, to seek out Osborn. However, when they arrive, they discover that Carnage has already infiltrated the facility, and has created a horde of mindless symbiotes to do his bidding.
Outnumbered by the symbiotes, Venom and Spider-Man flee Ravencroft, then split up in search of former hosts. Spider-Man heads to the Avengers to track down Captain America, while Venom searches for the Scorpion.
Venom locates the Scorpion, but both Scorpion and Miles Morales are in the midst of a fight with a group of Carnage symbiotes. In the fight, Carnage attempts to extract Scorpion’s codex, but when his plan fails he takes comfort in plan B – infecting Miles Morales with a symbiote instead.
Venom takes the injured Scorpion back to The Maker, only to find The Maker has vanished, and Spider-Man, The Thing, Wolverine, Captain America, and Bruce Banner waiting in his place. Banner explains that The Maker’s technology will work and begins the process of extracting codices from his friends.
While the codex removal is taking place on each hero, Carnage arrives to disrupt the procedure. Realising that Carnage poses a significant threat, and one that Eddie Brock is not powerful enough to stop, the Venom symbiote breaks away from Eddie and bonds with Bruce Banner, transforming him into a Venomised Hulk.
While Carnage and the Venom Hulk enter into combat, Miles Morales and the horde of Carnage symbiotes descend. Eddie fights them off as best as possible, and in the process, manages to free Miles from the symbiote control.
But while Eddie has been kept busy, Carnage has defeated the Hulk and has absorbed the Venom symbiote, to become a Carnage-Venom hybrid. Eddie’s only chance of stopping him, is to bond with all of the extracted codices from The Maker’s machine, to become a mecha symbiote.
With the power of multiple symbiotes at his disposal, Eddie faces Carnage one final time, while various heroes, including Morbius, Deathlok, and Captain Marvel, join the fight to defeat the Carnage Horde.
Despite their best efforts, the battle is going in Carnage’s favour, and if Carnage collects one more codex, he will have the power to awaken Knull. The codex he needs is in Eddie’s son, Dylan.
Eddie rushes to save Dylan, only to realise this is all part of Carnage’s plan. Since bonding with all the codices, Eddie has almost the required amount to free Knull – so if he kills Carnage it will trigger Knull’s freedom.
Making an impossible choice, Eddie kills Carnage to save his son, instantly disabling the horde in the process. But by killing Carnage, Venom has freed Knull, who begins his journey to Earth.
Did Marvel release any tie-in books to expand Absolute Carnage?
To accompany Absolute Carnage, Marvel released a number of tie-in comics to expand the story. The tie-in comics were designed to enhance the story, by exploring events around the main five issues.
The tie-in comics included books for Scream, Miles Morales, and Deadpool, amongst others. The events of the tie-in comics took place between the five issues of Absolute Carnage, and filled in a few gaps, such as explaining what happened to Miles Morales when he was taken over by a symbiote.
Are the tie-in comics essential reads?
The tie-in comics were not essential reads, but some of the comics did provide a bit more clarification on what certain characters were up to at various points in the story. There were a couple of moments in Absolute Carnage where it would appear that something happened off panel, but with little explanation as to what. The tie-in comics filled in the blanks.
What is the publishing order of the entire Absolute Carnage saga?
Including the five-issues of Absolute Carnage, the additional tie-in books expanded the story across a total of 28 comics. If you wish to read the story in its entirety, the Absolute Carnage comics and tie-in issues were published in the following order:
- Absolute Carnage #1
- Absolute Carnage #2
- Absolute Carnage: Miles Morales #1
- Absolute Carnage: Scream #1
- Absolute Carnage: Lethal Protectors #1
- Absolute Carnage vs. Deadpool #1
- Absolute Carnage: Separation Anxiety #1
- Venom #17
- Absolute Carnage #3
- Absolute Carnage: Miles Morales #2
- Absolute Carnage: Scream #2
- Absolute Carnage: Lethal Protectors #2
- Absolute Carnage vs. Deadpool #2
- Absolute Carnage: Ghost Rider – Symbiote of Vengeance #1
- Absolute Carnage: Symbiote of Spider-Man #1
- Absolute Carnage: Avengers #1
- Venom #18
- Amazing Spider-Man #30
- Absolute Carnage #4
- Absolute Carnage: Miles Morales #3
- Absolute Carnage: Scream #3
- Absolute Carnage: Lethal Protectors #3
- Absolute Carnage vs. Deadpool #3
- Absolute Carnage: Immortal Hulk #1
- Venom #19
- Amazing Spider-Man #31
- Absolute Carnage #5
- Venom #20
Is Absolute Carnage worth a read?
Absolute Carnage is a great read from start to finish. The five-issue story gives Eddie Brock the opportunity to shine, but maintains his status as a character who operates in a grey area.
As for the additional material, not all of the tie-in books are entirely worth the expansion, but overall they do make Absolute Carnage more of an ‘event’. The Venom comics (issues #17 – #20) are certainly worth reading.
Has Absolute Carnage been adapted for film?
To date, Absolute Carnage has not been adapted into a movie. Hopefully one day.
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