With all the excitement about the first live action appearance of Carnage – in the Andy Serkis-directed, Tom Hardy and Woody Harrelson-starring Venom sequel, Venom: Let There Be Carnage – I thought it’d be timely to check out one of the most recent crossovers to feature the psychotic red symbiote, 2019’s Absolute Carnage.

Written by Donny Cates, Absolute Carnage sees a resurrected Carnage (following a typically convoluted, comic style history which has seen the demise of Carnage more than once) attempting to call forth the symbiote God, Knull – and bring destruction to not just Earth, but the entire Marvel Universe.

Though Absolute Carnage was a massive crossover with lots of tie-in issues, all I’m covering here is the main series. It’s a relatively straightforward and fast-paced tale with some jaw-droppingly good art – there’s some genuinely impressive compositions, with a keen sense of style and plenty of emphasis on the deep, blood red colouring of Carnage himself, as well as the first appearance of some stunningly realised, symbiote-infected characters – but it does feel like there’s pieces of the puzzle missing if all you manage to read is this main series. Characters suddenly appear out of the blue, presumably because their appearance in the narrative is delt with in the crossover issues; along with this, the ending is incredibly abrupt, building up to a huge situation and then just…finishing, very quickly indeed.

To get the most from Absolute Carnage, then, it’s probably not enough to just read this collection. Though it’s an entertaining enough ride – and a stunning one too, visually – there’s definitely the sense that the tie-in issues need to be read to really see the symbiote-focused story reach it’s full potential.

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