In Marvel Comics’ Absolute Carnage #4, on sale October 16, writer Donny Cates takes the series to a thrilling next level ahead of its looming conclusion. In an event filled with despair, the latest issue gives the reader some hope while it maintains the previously established stakes. After another gripping installment, we can’t wait to see how this epic story ends.
Absolute Carnage #4
Writer: Donny Cates
Penciler: Ryan Stegman
Inkers: JP Mayer, Jay Leisten and Ryan Stegman
Color Artist: Frank Martin
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
When we left off, the Hulk had just bonded with the Venom symbiote and Cates picks up in this same moment. The first page shows Hulk-Venom crushing Carnage.The image of the Gamma Green Giant fused with a symbiote is delightfully wacky because he’s inherently a beast, so pairing him with a powerful extraterrestrial suit feels like overkill. Hulk-Venom is another reason why Absolute Carnage feels like DC’ Comics’ Dark Nights: Metal; it embraces the ludicrous side of comic books. (In Cates’ Venom, There have also been symbiote dragons and, later this issue, Carnage looks like a winged demonic beast from Hell.) Cates strikes the balance between the goofy and the grim, which is why we can appreciate the cinematic first page.
This dynamic opening splash from penciler Ryan Stegman makes it feel like the Hulk is bursting out of the comic book. Inkers JP Mayer, Jay Leisten and Stegman add texture to the page; the crumbling wall feels three-dimensional, which adds to the animated style. Color artist Frank Martin makes the Hulk and Carnage look demonic in their own ways. He gives Hulk glowing green eyes and gruesome, gnarly teeth while he continues to make Carnage look like a fiery jack-o’-lantern with a jagged red smile. Finally, letterer VC’s Clayton Cowles conveys the duality of Hulk and Venom by juxtaposing a green outline for the former’s dialogue with a black background for Venom’s speech bubble. Once again, the art team is firing on all cylinders, which makes Absolute Carnage a pleasure to read.
Now that the Venom symbiote has bonded with the Hulk, Eddie Brock is practically powerless. But that doesn’t stop him from being the most heroic character in this issue. Cates continues to give the series’ various protagonists valiant moments and Eddie takes the cake here. Though he’s unarmed, he holds down the fort when the other heroes are incapacitated. Eddie picks up Captain America’s shield and charges into fight a horde of Carnage’s minions. This moment makes you want to stand up and clap. Eddie isn’t as virtuous as Steve Rogers but he keeps growing into his best self. At times, Cates foreshadows that this growth will lead to a heroic sacrifice.
Eddie, a classic loner, has something to live for now. He has to protect Dylan, his son, at all costs. When Carnage’s goons invade the heroes’ safe house, it’s up to Eddie to hold them back. Eddie’s sheer willingness to single-handedly wage war against the swarm is inspirational. Before he risks his life, Spider-Man tries to stop his nemesis. In a heart-warming moment, Eddie asks Spider-Man to protect Dylan. ““You’re all I have,” he says. “Please, for whatever i’ve been to you over the years, just please do this for me.” The complex relationship between Spidey and Eddie has been one of the most fascinating narratives in this series, and hopefully the finale will add even more depth to it.
Absolute Carnage gets better with each passing issue. In the most recent installment, the heroes rally, though Carnage gains momentum, too. The stage has been set for an incredible finale and we’ll have to wait to see how it holds.
What’d you think of Absolute Carnage #4? How do you want to see the series conclude?