Absolute Carnage got off to a strong start with its first issue. Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman went all in on how chilling of a character that Carnage is. That was absolutely the right move for Cates and Stegman to take. It made Carnage look like a bigger threat to the Marvel Universe. Especially with Carnage’s current goal of becoming a God-like character seeing him expand his symbiote forces made him even deadlier foe. So far only Spider-Man and Venom are dealing with Carnage’s threat. That is sure to change as the rest of the Marvel Universe gets placed in the middle of this conflict. How will everyone end up dealing with all of this? Let’s find out with Absolute Carnage #2.
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Ryan Stegman
Inker: JP Mayer
Colorist: Frank Martin
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Thinking to himself, Cletus Kasady completely believes he will achieve his goal of being a God and being the end of the world.
Carnage’s symbiote army surrounds Spider-Man and Venom, who is trying to break the wall of the prison in order to escape. As Spider-Man fights off Carnage’s army Venom is eventually successful in breaking the prison wall down. Venom helps Spider-Man get away from the Carnage army and they start climbing the prison.
Seeing that they have to escape Venom grows wings and flies him and Spider-Man away.
Red Goblin (Norman Osborn) wonders why they are not going after Venom and Spider-Man. Carnage says that there is nowhere for Venom and Spider-Man to run safely too. Carnage says there are other Spiders that they must go after.
Elsewhere Venom and Spider-Man lands on a roof. Venom is not sure what they can do. Spider-Man reminds Venom they have friends who can help them, including the Maker who is making a machine to combat Carnage, so they should not give up on hope. Spider-Man says he will go recruit the Avengers and X-Men while Venom goes to find his villain friends that could help them.
After Spider-Man swings away Eddie calls the Maker. Maker reveals that he hacked into the FBI database and found out that Anne Weying’s body was not among the mass grave Carnage created. Eddie is shocked by this since Anne was a symbiote wearer. Maker then reveals that he believes that Dylan has the symbiote codex Carnage is after, placing Eddie and Anne’s son in great danger. Eddie asks Maker to keep Dylan safe while he takes care of things.
Eddie gets back into Venom mode and sees Carnage’s army swarm the entire city.
Miles under New York City Carnage has created a secret base for his army. Red Goblin quickly gets on Carnage’s nerve for how he keeps talking back. Carnage shows Red Goblin who is in charge by showing his greater control of the Carnage symbiote. Red Goblin continues to goad Carnage for being lazy and how only one of them will be able to gain the codex while the other dies.
Carnage says that he has already been executing his plan by sending his army to capture heroes and villains. It is then shown that Spider-Man (Miles Morales), Scorpion, Deadpool and others are all being cornered by Carnage’s army in different parts of the city.
Somewhere in the city Spider-Man (Miles) and Scorpion somehow end up fighting Carnage’s army off together. They watch each other’s back as best they can but are eventually overwhelmed by Carnage’s army. As Spider-Man gets surrounded Scorpion decides to run away.
Venom suddenly shows up and throws Scorpion back into the fight so they can help Spider-Man.
Carnage senses Scorpion as a former symbiote uses. He immediately grabs him. Spider-Man is able to use his Venom Blast to save Carnage.
While Venom grabs Scorpion to get him to a safe place Spider-Man is once again overwhelmed by the Carnage army. Carnage pins Spider-Man down and starts to transform him into the new host of the Grendel symbiote as Venom and Scorpion watch on in horror. End of issue.
The Good: Absolute Carnage #2 goes deeper into the horror tone of this event. Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman have gone all in with this tone for the story and it is by far the best decision they could have made. Absolute Carnage reads like no other Marvel event that has come before. It is a refreshing change of pace to elevate how dangerous the threat Carnage is to the entire Marvel Universe.
At no moment in Absolute Carnage #2 do you not feel great fear for Spider-Man and Venom. Carnage is has gone from dangerous to absolutely terrifying villain. In every panel you see Carnage or one of his symbiote doppelgangers surround Spider-Man, Venom or another character there is great fear for them.
Having that sense of fear permeate through all of Absolute Carnage #2 elevates how big of an event this is. Specifically, this further elevates Carnage as a villain who is a threat to the entire Marvel Universe. He no longer can be simply taken out by being flown into the upper atmosphere. Carnage has created such a dangerous army that even when one of them is taken down a swarm of even more of his symbiote-doppelgangers will end up showing up.
Cates nails that fact when he shows Carnage’s large army running all over New York City. Venom standing on a rooftop to see all this happen just showed how overwhelming the threat of Carnage is. Seeing the vast number of members in his army that Carnage has quickly assembled creates the question of how the Avengers, Fantastic Four, X-Men and Venom will overcome this.
All of this helps to compliment how dangerous Carnage is now. The scene with Norman Osborn put over how Cletus Kasady is the most powerful symbiote user around. Even when Norman was being his normal wicked self he was nothing in comparison to Cletus Kasady. Cletus has absolutely no remorse for all the horrible things he has done. He actually revels in what he is doing in a way that even Norman is terrified by.
That is quite a thing to do since Norman was shown was a powerful wearer of the Carnage symbiote as Red Goblin. And given Norman’s own history for him to show hints of fear with everything Carnage says when he tears off spoke for itself. This showed who is in complete control in what is going on in Absolute Carnage.
With Carnage being built up in this way Cates was able to explore how Spider-Man and Venom approach to being a hero. For Eddie Brock all he could think about was how he could survive all of this with his son. There was very much a flight-or-fight response to all of Eddie’s actions, especially early on.
That is where the scene after Spider-Man and Venom escape Ravencroft comes into play. Peter shows that he is able to keep his superhero mindset even when faced with an army of deadly Carnage symbiotes. He is able to keep himself calm enough to get Eddie to go with his plan to recruit all of their allies immediately. This was a veteran superhero move to do and showed how far Peter has come as Spider-Man with how ready he was to rally the troops to overcome the threat Carnage poses to the Marvel Universe.
What made this scene better was the fact that Peter and Eddie were not wearing their masks. They weren’t simply interacting as Spider-Man and Venom. They were speaking with each other as equals, as Peter recognized how freaked out Eddie was over the situation they are in. This created a greater sense of Peter and Eddie treating each other as equals in this situation.
This made the scene with Eddie speaking with the Maker even better. Through the Maker we learn that somehow Dylan was able to inherit the symbiote codex from his mom. This is a major development that provides Eddie with even greater motivation to stop Carnage from completing the symbiote codex. It is exactly what Eddie needed to get him back in the game because while he still shows some fear he now understands that he must set this aside to save his son, and the world in the process.
The relationship between Eddie and Maker will also be an interesting sub-plot to follow. Because we know that the Maker is always serving his own interests. His willingness to help Venom and Spider-Man in this crisis involving Carnage has to benefit him in some way. What Maker’s true intentions in Absolute Carnage are could prove to be a major wild card in the entire event.
Ending Absolute Carnage #2 with Miles Morales’ Spider-Man and Scorpion being completely overwhelmed by Carnage’s forces was a great tone setter. This further expanded on the danger that the Carnage poses as his vast army can quickly corner any hero or villain they come across. In doing so we see how Miles will fight until his absolute last breath as he just continued doing all he could to hold out against Carnage’s forces. Meanwhile we saw the opposite with Scorpion, who ran away from the fight as soon as he found an opening to do so.
This made the ending even more effective as you feel how much fear was on Miles’ face when he was being transformed into one of Carnage’s symbiotes. The transformation into the Grendel symbiote for Miles further showed how no hero or villain are safe in this event. Seeing this puts greater fear in all the fights we will see moving forward as anyone that fights one of Carnage’s symbiotes is in danger of being turned. How Spider-Man and Venom along with their allies end up overcoming this threat is a major question that will drive greater interest in how Absolute Carnage turns out.
Ryan Stegman knocks it out of the park with his artwork throughout Absolute Carnage #2. Stegman nails the horror tone this entire event is taking. The way he draws Carnage’s movements and fighting style puts over how frighteningly dangerous the villain is. Stegman further gets the impact of this event over with how he is able to draw various character expressions. From how Eddie reacts to not knowing what to do next to the terror in Miles face when he gets transformed into Grendel, it elevates the events going on in Absolute Carnage.
The Bad: The one part in Absolute Carnage #2 that did not fully go over as planned was the double page splash shot of how far Carnage’s reach went. All the different places that Carnage was currently attacking came across more as a promotion for the tie-in comics to Absolute Carnage rather than adding to how big this event was. What would’ve made these brief looks at what is going would have been if we saw the Avengers, Fantastic Four or X-Men dealing with Carnage’s forces. Having Scorpion and Miles Morales Spider-Man, who we see in the next page anyways, and Deadpool in these shots made this event look smaller than it actually is.
Overall: Absolute Carnage #2 does a fantastic job carrying the momentum created by the first issue to continue the forward momentum of this event. Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman have combined to create a version of Carnage that comes across as the deadliest villain in the Marvel Universe. Spider-Man, Venom and the Marvel Universe as a whole are now in a position where you are left wondering how they can overcome Carnage and his forces. For a big event that is exactly the note Absolute Carnage #2 makes full contact on hitting. There is genuine excitement to read what is going to happen next in Absolute Carnage.
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