With Marvel Comics’ Absolute Carnage #2 (on sale August 2), writer Donny Cates continues the series’ hot start while he plunges the Marvel Universe deeper into Carnage’s bloody and nightmarish schemes.
Absolute Carnage #2
Writer: Donny Cates
Penciler: Ryan Stegman
Inker: JP Mayer
Color Artist: Frank Martin
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
With Absolute Carnage #1, Cates, Stegman and the entire art team delivered a masterpiece. The second installment of Marvel’s newest blockbuster is similarly remarkable for similar reasons. Once again, Stegman’s art, especially with the character’s facial expressions, elevate the issue to the next level. Meanwhile, Cates’ script is still rich with memorable quotes, compelling moments and, surprisingly, a few comedic moments sprinkled in with the horror.
With this series, Stegman brings his “A” game and then some. For the second issue in a row, the penciler’s detailed facial expressions add pure emotion to the story. Stegman continues to show the reader exactly what these characters are feeling, whether it’s Norman Osborn’s symbiote-enhanced insanity or Eddie Brock’s despair when he realizes his son Dylan is one of Carnage’s targets. Stegman makes the characters feel like real people and this sense of realism makes Cates’ story even more impactful.
At times, that impact is gut-wrenching. Near the end of the issue, Cates gives fan-favorite webslinger Miles Morales a few delightful hero moments. These scenes feel like Morales’ coming-out party, particularly in Cates’ Venom-centric world. While Miles and Eddie have interacted before, this issue marks the first time Cates gives Miles the spotlight in such an important way. Miles and the Scorpion are fighting a horde of Carnage’s underlings. When the Scorpion questions Miles’ prowess as a hero, he valiantly yells, “Because I’m Spider-Man!” as he gains the upper hand on the infected symbiotes. To make the moment even more cinematic, Miles’ Venom blast looks like a bolt of brilliant lightning. This combination of Cates’ script and Stegman’s art demonstrates the quality of the duo’s collaboration; both men continue to click with each other.
Miles gets another moment to shine later when he bravely sacrifices himself to save Scorpion from Norman. Here, Miles’ courageous action feels like a punch to the stomach because it comes moments after his latest validation as a legitimate hero. At the end of the issue, the future looks bleak for Miles and, rather than skeptically thinking about how the hero will eventually be fine, the reader genuinely mourns this (temporary) loss.
With a series like Absolute Carnage, you’d be forgiven for assuming that the pages would be filled with an unrelentingly horrific tone. After all, thanks to Stegman, inker JP Mayer and color artist Frank Martin, each and every glimpse of Carnage, his goons and his headquarters look like portraits of the devil and hellscapes. Plus, the rapid progression of Carnage’s widespread infection is terrifying in its own right. But Cates adds a few bits of comedy to lighten the mood and the results are wonderful.
Primarily, this comedy comes early in the issue. Venom and Spider-Man (Peter Parker) are on the side of a building with no way down. (Peter’s out of webfluid, so they’re both in trouble.) Peter starts to stress out about how they’re going to get out of this predicament. With a silly, toothy smile on his face, Eddie practically says, “Don’t worry, be happy.” Eddie proceeds to grow dragon wings and fly away while he carries Spider-Man. Naturally, Peter freaks out and VC’s Clayton Cowles humorously runs Spidey’s words together so they read, “WhatisgoingonrightnowIhateallofit!” You wouldn’t expect to laugh out loud during a horror story but, once again, Cates and the art team continue to defy expectations in the best way possible.
Absolute Carnage #2 continues the series’ strong start and, thanks to the consistently addicting story and Stegman’s beautiful art, it’s clear that Marvel has another winner in its hands.
What’d you think of Absolute Carnage #2? Where do you hope to see the story go from here?