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Absolute Carnage 5 Main

"Absolute Carnage #5" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by Marvel Comics


Written by Donny Cates
Illustrated by Ryan Stegman
Inked by JP Mayer & Jay Leisten
Colored by Frank Martin
Lettered by Clayton Cowles
2019, 32 Pages, $4.99
Comic released on November 20th, 2019


The ultimate Venom epic comes to a head in Absolute Carnage #5, the final issue of this insane event from Marvel Comics. Carnage has absorbed the Venom symbiote, turning him into a devil-like monster. Left with no choice, Eddie Brock bonds to the codices stripped from others to create an amalgamation of dozens of symbiotes. Also, he has wings now. The two fight in the skies above New York as heroes like Spider-Man, Captain America, and Wolverine fight through Carnage's unrelenting horde.

In case you couldn't figure it out, Absolute Carnage is friggin' bonkers. This book does not let up in the slightest. It opens with a tense flashback showing Eddie and Cletus meeting as cellmates at Ryker's Island years ago. You can tell that their story will end with one killing the other. Flash forward to the present where these two symbiote-infused demons are beating the crap out of each other.

Artist Ryan Stegman turns in another dynamite issue here. His work is second to none with the amount of detail and incredible composition that fills each and every page. The characters are very expressive, even those with faces covered by masks. A personality shines through with emotions ranging from anger and frustration to terror and concern.

Click images to enlarge

There's quite a lot going on in Absolute Carnage #5 as it tries to tie up the many loose ends that have spiraled out of his event. One big question that's left unanswered is what the heck is going on with Eddie's son, Dylan. There's an amazing splash page that gives us a glimpse of his raw power. Stegman fills this image with energy and colorist Frank Martin covers it in blood red gore.

As the battle heats up, Cletus pulls back his symbiote to reveal his maniacal decaying face. It's nothing short of terrifying. Inkers JP Mayer & Jay Leisten highlight the eerie details on this visage, making the character appear like literal skin and bones. The flesh is pulled tightly over the skinny frame, yet Carnage has never looked scarier.

Carnage's words look as deranged as his face. Letterer Clayton Cowles shows the villain's dialogue in shaky blood red word balloons. I imagine a lilting, unsettling voice coming from him, not unlike that of the Joker.

In the end, Eddie is presented with a no-win scenario, but one that sets him down a path that could have him realizing his true potential. He's tried to avoid the spotlight and stick to the shadows for so long. He's not the hero; he's the other guy. When things get grim and gritty, he'll be there, but he's not going to be saving cats from trees. What's coming is something big and directly tied to him and his actions in this issue. The violence and chaos that's in his future can be traced back to his feet and he has to come to terms with that. That's a lot to take in.

Click images to enlarge

While the battle between Venom and Carnage is as awesome as can be, it does feel a little rushed. The final blow left me wondering if that was it. The big bad couldn't be taken down that easily, could he? In hindsight, it wasn't easy at all because it required a tremendous amount of strength and sacrifice on Eddie's part to swing that sword.

The one aspect that didn't really gel is how the heroes from the Lethal Protectors tie-in just show up out of nowhere. I'm a big believer in self-contained event stories. Tie-ins are nice, but shouldn't be required reading for the main event book. In this case, these characters haven't appeared in this mini-series at all and suddenly pop in to start throwing punches. Granted, it's a big fight in the middle of New York City and 90% of the heroes in the Marvel Universe live there, so it's not much of a stretch, but it did have me furrowing my brow a bit.

Absolute Carnage is epic and incredible. Venom's stock was already on the rise in the Marvel Universe and now it's through the roof. You might wonder how this can possibly be topped. Fortunately, we're given a glimpse at the terror on its way and I can't wait to see how writer Donny Cates tackles this next obstacle, not to mention Eddie's continued growth as a character and as a father.


Story: fourstars Cover
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Art: fivestars
Overall: 4.5 Star Rating

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About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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