Cletus Comes Home: Absolute Carnage #1 Reviewed

by Josh Davison

[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]

Carnage is back, and he’s bonded to the Grendal, the dragon symbiote of Knull, God of the Symbiotes. Eddie Brock knows things are about to get very bad, and he has a son to look after now too. Carnage recently framed Eddie Brock for multiple murders inside Ryker’s Island, and the law are now looking for Eddie. It isn’t long before they catch up to him, and then Carnage himself does the same. Thankfully, the Venom symbiote has been looking out for Eddie, and the two reunite. Eddie knows that Carnage is looking for former symbiote hosts because they have “the Codex” in their body, so Eddie knows that he needs an ally. What better ally is there than one of those former hosts, the Amazing Spider-Man himself?

Absolute Carnage #1 cover by Ryan Stegman, JP Mayer, and Frank Martin
Absolute Carnage #1 cover by Ryan Stegman, JP Mayer, and Frank Martin

Absolute Carnage #1 kicks-off the much-awaited crossover that’s been teased at by Donny CatesVenom since the first story arc of the series. Knull is coming, and Carnage is his scion. With enough of the symbiote Codices, Carnage may just be able to summon Knull to Earth.

Much of this comic is Eddie and Dylan on the run and then Venom teaming up with Spider-Man to form a plan that could stop Carnage and Knull.

There is some humor to it, but the most palpable feeling in Absolute Carnage is apocalyptic dread. Cletus Kasady has been able to do all of this in secret, and we don’t know how close he is to being able to summon Knull. Kasady was always a chaos-worshiping killer, but he now has the power of a god. There’s no reasoning with him and no hope for redemption. He is a pure engine of death who intends to summon his profane god to our world.

It’s very Lovecraftian, and that’s one of the things that makes Absolute Carnage so good.

A part of me was a little apprehensive of this story as it approached. We just finished War of the Realms, and Absolute Carnage, despite being a much longer issue than normal, is $7.99 US. Despite those trepidations, I found myself enthralled by the story. It doesn’t read like many of the big Marvel crossover events we’ve had in recent years. It’s personal and laser-focused. The impending threat isn’t some vast army; it’s someone we know who prefers intimate murder and mayhem. 

Absolute Carnage #1 art by Ryan Stegman, JP Mayer, Frank Martin, and letterer VC's Clayton Cowles
Absolute Carnage #1 art by Ryan Stegman, JP Mayer, Frank Martin, and letterer VC’s Clayton Cowles

Ryan Stegman returns with a vengeance in this comic. His artwork is phenomenal, and he knows how to make Carnage and his acolytes damn terrifying. I adore this new emaciated and wretched Carnage design, and Stegman might just be the perfect artist to render it. JP Mayer’s inking adds a nice degree of darkness and impact to the book, and Frank Martin’s color art drives home the atmosphere of dread that permeates the comic.

Absolute Carnage #1 is a hell of a mission statement for this particular crossover miniseries. It’s intimate, focused, and unnerving to its core. Cates, Stegman, Mayer, and Martin have crafted something truly special with this one, and, despite its high cover price, I can’t help but strongly recommend this one. Give it a read.

Absolute Carnage #1 comes to us from writer Donny Cates, artist Ryan Stegman, inker JP Mayer, color artist Frank Martin, letterer VC’s Clayton Cowles, cover artist Ryan Stegman with JP Mayer and Frank Martin, and variant cover artists John Tyler Christopher; Adi Granov; Gabriele Dell’otto; Mark Bagley with Randy Emberlin and Edgar Delgado; Kyle Hotz with Dan Brown; Mike Deodato Jr. with Rain Beredo; Aaron Kuder; Artgerm; Nick Bradshaw with Morry Hollowell; and Ron Lim with Israel Silva.

Final Score: 9/10

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