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Comic Book / Absolute Carnage

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Everyone is a Target.

Absolute Carnage is a 2019 Venom and Carnage event written by Donny Cates and illustrated by Ryan Stegman. While primarily connected to Cates' Venom run, it is said to tie into every symbiote storyline from Amazing Spider-Man #252 onwards.

Carnage has been resurrected by a symbiote-worshipping cult and now seeks to unleash the dark god Knull from his prison inside of Klyntar. In order to do this, he's hunting anyone and everyone who is and has ever bonded to a symbiote... which is a lot of people.

Comics involved in the event include:

    open/close all folders 

  • Web of Venom: Carnage Born #1
  • Web of Venom: Venom Unleashed #1
  • Web of Venom: Cult of Carnage #1
  • Free Comic Book Day Vol 2019 (Spider-Man/Venom) #1
  • Web of Venom: Funeral Pyre #1

    Main Story 
  • Absolute Carnage #1-5
  • Absolute Carnage: Avengers #1
  • Absolute Carnage: Captain Marvel #1
  • Absolute Carnage: Ghost Rider — Symbiote of Vengeance #1
  • Absolute Carnage: Immortal Hulk #1
  • Absolute Carnage: Lethal Protectors #1-3
  • Absolute Carnage: Miles Morales #1-3
  • Absolute Carnage: Scream #1-3
  • Absolute Carnage: Separation Anxiety #1
  • Absolute Carnage: Symbiote Spider-Man #1
  • Absolute Carnage: Weapon Plus #1
  • Absolute Carnage vs. Deadpool #1-3
  • Amazing Spider-Man #30-31
  • Venom Vol. 4 #17-20

    "Everyone is a Target" Post-Credit Tie-Ins 

Spinning out of the event is two series: Scream: Curse of Carnage and Ruins of Ravencroft. The former is an ongoing series which follows Scream in the event's aftermath, the latter is a three-issue miniseries of one-shots starring Carnage, Sabertooth, and Dracula - which in turn spawned Ravencroft a five-issue miniseries where Misty Knight keeps an eye on the new Ravencroft facility after the events in Ruins. The aftermath of this event leads into the December 2020 event King In Black.


Absolute Carnage provides examples of:

  • Anti-Hero: The series reaffirms Venom as one; Despite his hard efforts to save the world, Eddie isn't above taking advantage of Spidey's sense of guilt to trick him into protecting Dylan, and during the climax of the story willingly kills Carnage and awakens Knull to save Dylan. It is worth noting that at that point Carnage had basically made it so that Knull would be awakened either way, so Eddie merely decided to take the option that saved his son's life — even if that means, be it on a technicality, that he himself released a Humanoid Abomination.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Carnage actually laughs when Freak eats his picture of Deadpool in Absolute Carnage vs. Deadpool #2, though he tells Freak that if he eats Deadpool, spit out the spine.
  • Apocalypse Cult: Web of Venom: Cult of Carnage finally puts a name to the symbiote-worshipping doomsday cult: the Church of the New Darkness. Shriek seems to take her role as spokesperson very seriously, managing to procure a cathedral in the shape of Knull's dragon emblem, as well as artwork and decorations depicting Knull's spiral emblem. No explanation is given as to how she obtained these in a matter of weeks, but given that the cult existed long before to Carnage's takeover it's possible they were pre-existing.
  • Arc Welding: In the Immortal Hulk tie-in, Bruce wonders if Knull is related to the Greater-Scope Villain of the title, the One-Below-All, in some way.
  • All Your Powers Combined: Eddie's new Venom symbiote is made up of all of the codices the Maker removed, including Captain America's, Wolverine's and the Thing's, granting him increased strength, rage and tactical knowhow.
  • Back for the Dead:
    • Cletus Kasady's portion of the Carnage symbiote — not seen since 2015's Carnage Vol. 2, was confirmed to have sacrificed itself saving him in Web of Venom: Carnage Born. Donny Cates' Venom indicates that it used its codices to reconsititute itself by assimilating the Grendel symbiote, like it did to the Negative Zone symbiote that Cletus bonded to in Webspinners: Tales of Spider-Man.
    • The first victim of the Absolute Carnage event was Scorn, who hasn't been seen since 2011's Carnage U.S.A. and was killed by Carnage in Web of Venom: Carnage Born.
    • The entire city of Doverton — not seen since Carnage USA — was sacrificed to Knull in Web of Venom: Cult of Carnage.
    • Lee Price — not seen since 2017's Venom Inc. — was unceremoniously killed off by Carnage in Free Comic Book Day Vol 2019 (Spider-Man/Venom).
    • Leonard Elkhart, the poor schmoe who had been taken over by the Venom symbiote after it escaped the Four Freedoms Plaza, comes back in Absolute Carnage: Symbiote Spider-Man and is killed by Carnage, though unlike most he dies gladly.
    • In Absolute Carnage: Symbiote of Vengeance Alejandra Jones is killed by Carnage — who temporarily gains Ghost Rider powers from eating her spine — and is sent to Hell, where she can pall around with the other Spirits of Vengeance.
    • Absolute Carnage: Scream ends with Patricia dying at the end of the series after having been brought back to become Scream for three issues.
  • Back from the Dead:
    • The Scream symbiote — slain by Eddie Brock alongside its host Donna Diego — is resurrected by Knull in Absolute Carnage: Scream #1.
    • Demogoblin, the demonic entity once bonded to Jason Macendale and killed in the lead up to The Clone Saga, makes his return after nearly 25 years, albeit in a new female body... that of Shriek (Frances Barrison), who Carnage kills in order to claim her Scorn codex.
  • Badass Boast: Carnage gets a bone-chilling one in Issue #3.
    Carnage: Did you know that my mother went through electroshock treatments when she was pregnant with me? This was before they would sedate you for that kind of thing. And then, you know... I died minutes after I was born... went to Hell... came back... That's a whole thing. I've had therapists try to tell me these "early traumas" led to me being the way I am. I've heard it all, you know... I'm this way because of abuse, because of video games, or sex and violence on TV, because of guns and knives and the wickedness of this mean old world. But what none of them get... is those things didn't make me what I am. I am made... of them. I am abuse. I am sex and violence. I am the guns and the knives and the wickedness of this whole sick @#$%#&% world... You know my name. Now SCREAM it.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Many assumed that Eddie Brock was being controlled by Cletus Kasady in Free Comic Book Day Vol 2019 (Spider-Man/Venom), but according to Donny Cates on Twitter it was actually Cletus Kasady impersonating Eddie Brock all along.
  • Bat Family Crossover: Every single person who has ever hosted a symbiote is supposed to be making an appearance, though not all of them will make it out alive. In the leadup alone, the entire town of Doverton was wiped out and Lee Price was murdered by Carnage. Downplayed meta-wise as only Amazing Spider-Man and Venom will host any tie-in issues, relegating the rest to one-shots and mini-series.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: Or rather, bickering in the center of the mind, with Bruce Banner, Joe Fixit, Savage Hulk, and Devil Hulk all discussing what to do when bonded to the Venom symbiote. After a vote, Bruce decides to side with it.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: In Absolute Carnage: Separation Anxiety, a young girl named Sadie tearfully tells a stray German Shepherd that she wishes her broken family could stay together and be happy. The German Shepherd happens to be the host of the Hybrid symbiote and promptly disgorges its constituent symbiotes. Agony, Riot, and Phage proceed to terrorize Sadie by taking over her family and enacting a grotesque parody of idyllic suburban life while pointing out that this is what she told them she wanted.
  • Big Damn Heroes: In Venom #17, Sleeper arrives just in time to save Dylan and Normie from being attacked by Phage.
  • Body Horror:
    • Carnage's new "Dark" look is outright disturbing to look at. His body has twisted into a thirteen-foot-tall skeleton wrapped in a symbiote — complete with an almost fully-exposed spinal cord. And while the Grendel symbiote's shapeshifting powers can make him look like his old self pre-atmospheric re-entry, he's not exactly a spring chicken without it, either. In the first issue alone, we see Carnage use his parasitic worms to infect a horde of prison inmates. The worms burrow their way through the victim's skin and transform them into four-armed doppelganger-esque symbiote slaves. And Kasady creates the worms by pulling maggots out of his chest cavity and infecting them with his symbiote.
    • In Absolute Carnage: Separation Anxiety, the Knull-infected Hybrid-dog looks like something out of John Carpenter's The Thing — a vaguely dog-shaped mess of tentacles, tongues, claws, and fangs.
    • After taking over Sadie's father in Absolute Carnage: Separation Anxiety, Riot's Knull-corrupted form has red tubes protruding from his torso that look like disembowelled intestines.
    • Venom #17 gives us a creepy reminder that the Maker uses his Rubber Man powers to enlarge his brain and enhance his already-impressive intellect. His long, backwards-leaning helmet is actually properly scaled to his skull. Dylan and Normie are appropriately horrified.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • The Scream symbiote is resurrected after having been killed by Eddie Brock in Venom Vol. 2 #15.
    • Patricia Robertson, a former host of the Mania symbiote, was last seen at the end of Venom Vol. 1's Aborted Arc and makes a comeback as the Scream symbiote's new host.
    • The Hybrid symbiote, last seen in Deadpool vs. Carnage, makes a return — its constituent symbiotes succumbing to Knull's control and getting new hosts.
    • In Web of Venom: Funeral Pyre, Carnage tries to kill Andi Benton and claim the codex the Mania symbiote left in her, but she manages to escape and heads to New York to warn Eddie Brock.
    • The unnamed tourist that the Venom symbiote took over in 1985's Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #99 — who hasn't been seen since — is the main character of Absolute Carnage: Symbiote Spider-Man, and is given the name Leonard Elkhart.
    • Alejandra Jones, a former Ghost Rider, returns as the main character of Absolute Carnage: Symbiote of Vengeance.
  • Came Back Strong: In Lethal Protectors #1, Shriek is sacrificed and is immediately resurrected into Demogoblin.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Played for Laughs in the second issue of Absolute Carnage vs. Deadpool: When Carnage claims Deadpool bonded to four different symbiotes, an editor quickly points out, in the captions, that it's actually five if one counts Deadpool: Back in Black (which by extension also refers to Secret Secret Wars). A second set of captions has another editor quickly adding in that no, they don't count it.
  • Cerebus Callback: Although the circumstances aren't too light, given that it was Venom escaping the Baxter Building to return to Spider-Man, the innocent bystander it possessed to get to him is given a story of what happened to him after. After coming across White Rabbit causing an incident in civilian guise and convicting her as her judge in court she attempts to prank him at home with an empty handgun, the shock of which sends his son into a fatal heart attack. Blamed by his grieving ex-wife he attempts revenge during her court hearing for that incident, but accidentally shoots and kills the judge for that case, causing her to ignore her remorse and mock him for being just like her. Accepting a nihilistic view that morality is just a lie people tell themselves, he became a broken man in prison accepting every beating he got until the others got bored of him, eventually gladly accepting death at Carnage's hands.
  • The Complainer Is Always Wrong: In Absolute Carnage: Immortal Hulk, Devil Hulk points out that they had no reason to get involved with the fight with Carnage and even threatens to rip out his own spine to stop Banner. Banner and the other Hulks override him and bond with the Venom symbiote. Indeed, Devil Hulk is proven right when Carnage overpowers Venom Hulk, shuts him down and steals the Venom symbiote.
  • Continuity Cavalcade:
    • Carnage Born provides a screen showing some of the various symbiotes and their hosts — current and former, dead and alive — that Carnage is after:
      • Scorpion (Carmilla Black): Bonded to a sample of the Venom symbiote in Spider-Man Family Vol. 2 #3.
      • Man-Wolf (John Jameson): Bonded to the Carnage symbiote in Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #410.
      • Hawkeye (Clint Barton): Bonded to a sample of the Carnage symbiote in Carnage, U.S.A. Vol. 1 #1.
      • Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers): Bonded to the Venom symbiote in Siege: Spider-Man Vol. 1 #1.
      • The Thing (Ben Grimm): Bonded to a sample of the Carnage symbiote in Carnage, U.S.A. Vol. 1 #1, and later to his own symbiote in Venomized Vol. 1 #1.
      • Captain America (Steve Rogers): Bonded to his own symbiote in Spectacular Spider-Man Super Special Vol. 1 #1, and a sample of the Carnage symbiote in Carnage, U.S.A. Vol. 1 #1.
      • Drax the Destroyer (Arthur Douglas): Bonded to the Venom symbiote in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 #22.
      • Riot (Trevor Cole): Bonded to the Riot symbiote in Venom: Lethal Protector Vol. 1 #4.
      • Phage (Carl Mach): Bonded to the Phage symbiote in Venom: Lethal Protector Vol. 1 #4.
      • Agony (Leslie Gesneria): Bonded to the Agony symbiote in Venom: Lethal Protector Vol. 1 #4.
      • Lasher (Ramon Hernandez): Bonded to the Lasher symbiote in Venom: Lethal Protector Vol. 1 #4.
      • Scream (Donna Diego): Bonded to the Scream symbiote in Venom: Lethal Protector Vol. 1 #4.
      • Hybrid (Scott Washington): Bonded to the Hybrid symbiote in Venom: Along Came a Spider Vol. 1 #1.
      • Toxin (Patrick Mulligan): Bonded to the Toxin symbiote in Venom Vs. Carnage Vol. 1 #1.
      • Groot: Bonded to the Venom symbiote in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 #21.
      • Scorpion (Mac Gargan): Bonded to the Venom symbiote in Marvel Knights: Spider-Man Vol. 1 #9, and a piece of the Mania symbiote in Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #792.
      • ZZZXX: Bonded to an unnamed Shi'ar in X-Men: Kingbreaker Vol. 1 #2, and to Raza Longknife in X-Men: Kingbreaker Vol. 1 #3.
      • Venom (Eddie Brock): Bonded to the Venom symbiote in Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #299, the Anti-Venom symbiote in Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #569, the Toxin symbiote in Venom Vol. 2 #17, and the Sleeper symbiote in Venom: First Host Vol. #3.
      • Maniac (Lee Price): Bonded to the Venom symbiote in Venom Vol. 3 #1 and the Mania symbiote in Amazing Spider-Man: Venom Inc. Alpha Vol. 1 #1.
      • Agent Anti-Venom (Flash Thompson): Bonded to the Venom symbiote in Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #654, and the Anti-Venom symbiote in Amazing Spider-Man: Venom Inc. Alpha Vol. 1 #1.
      • Wolverine (James Howlett): Bonded to the Tyrannosaurus symbiote in Web of Venom: Ve'Nam Vol. 1 #1, and the Mania symbiote in Venom Vol. 1 #9.
      • Norman Osborn: Bonded to the Carnage symbiote in Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #795.
      • Spider-Man (Peter Parker): Bonded to the Venom symbiote in Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars Vol. 1 #8, two other unnamed symbiotes in Spider-Man and the X-Men Vol. 1 #5 and Venomized Vol. 1 #1, and a piece of the Mania symbiote in Amazing Spider-Man #793.
      • She-Venom (Anne Weying): Bonded to the Venom symbiote in Venom: Sinner Takes All Vol. 1 #2.
      • Mania (Andi Benton): Bonded to the Mania symbiote in Venom Vol. 2 #38.
      • Venom (Angelo Fortunato): Bonded to the Venom symbiote in Marvel Knights: Spider-Man Vol. 1 #9.
      • Deadpool (Wade Wilson): Bonded to the Venom symbiote in Cable & Deadpool #50 and Deadpool's Secret Secret Wars Vol. 1 #3; and the Hybrid symbiote in Deadpool vs. Carnage Vol. 1 #3.
      • Silver Surfer (Norrin Radd): Bonded to the Carnage symbiote in Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #430.
      • Rocket Raccoon: Bonded to the Venom symbiote in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 #22.
      • Brothers Grimm (Percy & Barton Grimes): Bonded to pieces of the Mania symbiote in Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #792.
      • Hammerhead (Joseph): Bonded to a piece of the Mania symbiote in Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #792.
      • Black Cat (Felicia Hardy): Bonded to a piece of the Mania symbiote in Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #792.
      • Ben Reilly: Bonded to the Carnage symbiote in Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #410.
      • Killer Shrike (Simon Maddicks): Bonded to a piece of the Mania symbiote in Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #792.
      • Red Hulk (Thaddeus Ross): Bonded to the Venom symbiote in Venom Vol. 2 #13.4.note 
      • Boomerang (Francis Myers): Bonded to a piece of the Mania symbiote in Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #792.
      • The Wizard: Bonded to the Carnage symbiote in Superior Carnage Vol. 1 #4.
    • Web of Venom: Cult of Carnage is full of nods to Carnage, U.S.A.: Misty Knight — now apparently a member of the Anti-Symbiote Task Force — travelling to Doverton, Colorado and finding it in ruins, with a naked John Jameson buried under a pile of rubble and repeatedly muttering "God is coming..." The rest of the issue reveals that Carnage took over the Last Chance Church and converted it into the Church of the New Darkness as a setup to re-taking over Doverton and sacrificing its citizens to Knull.
    • The solicit for Absolute Carnage vs. Deadpool #2 notes that Wade Wilson has bonded to five symbiotes, a reference to him becoming Hybrid's host in Deadpool vs. Carnage and either the time he bonded to the Venom symbiote in Deadpool's Secret Secret Wars and Deadpool: Back in Black, or the time he briefly bonded to an offshoot of the Venom symbiote in Cable & Deadpool #50. The second issue itself features a short, humorous debate between the editors over whether Back in Black is considered canon, and repeatedly bolds the number "four" when talking about the number of symbiotes Deadpool has bonded to.
    • Norman Osborn is a priority target of Dark Carnage thanks to his stealing the original Carnage symbiote back in Go Down Swinging. Moreover, being bonded to the Carnage symbiote as it was incinerated left Osborn with psychological damage that twisted his personality into a carbon copy of Cletus Kasady. The real Kasady uses this to turn Norman into a symbiote-wearing imitation of his old self rather than killing him for his codex.
    • When Patricia Robertson has a flashback to when she was bonded to the Venom symbiote clone, Eddie Brock is shown with Venom's regular appearance, while Patricia is shown with the more-grotesque appearance that both she and Eddie sported in Venom Vol. 1.
    • When the Life Foundation symbiotes are freed by Dylan so he and Normie can escape, they unite together again and bond with the Maker. Dylan's narration on what's happening is similar to a Life Foundation worker's when they first fused together, even ending by saying they're coming together into a "Hybrid".
  • Continuity Snarl: In Absolute Carnage #4, Miles appears as one of Carnage's symbiote-controlled doppelgangers even though he takes control of the symbiote in Absolute Carnage: Miles Morales #3.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: Sleeper slobbers napalm all over Hybrid for Hawkeye to ignite. Both Dylan and Sleeper dramatically watch the symbiote burst into flames from a few feet away until there's nothing left but a hole in the ground. In truth, both of them should have been burnt to a crisp, as napalm burns at a temperature of 2,760 degrees Celcius or 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit, about half as hot as the surface of the sun.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: Carnage does a very cruel variation of this, aggressively possessing Miles Morales with a symbiote and turning him into a horrific Humanoid Abomination.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: Carnage is resurrected and bonded to the primordial Grendel symbiote by an apocalyptic cult called the Church of the New Darkness — an homage to the Church of Starry Wisdom and other Cthulhu Mythos cults posing as legit religions — for the purpose of reawakening the primordial god of darkness that created the symbiotes.
  • Covers Always Lie: Lethal Protectors #1 show Iron Fist, Cloak, Dagger and Morbius on the cover. None of them show up as the issue focuses on Misty Knight.
  • Creator Cameo: Absolute Carnage #1 features a Ravencroft psychiatric consultation with Cletus Kasady and Absolute Carnage #2 one with Norman Osborn, both transcribed in-universe by Clay McLeod Chapman, who wrote the Separation Anxiety one-shot and most of the Everyone Is a Target tie-ins.
  • Crisis Crossover: Although officially a Bat Family Crossover, the fact that this event will reportedly involve every character to have ever worn a symbiote means that basically the entire roster of Earthbound heroes will be involved regardless. When asked if this every character to have ever worn a symbiote would actually appear, Donny Cates offhandedly stated that the hosts who didn't show up were in the cult's mass grave.
  • Depending on the Artist: Ryan Stegman would later lament that he did not give the artists working on the tie-ins a reference sheet for certain characters, resulting in different designs in different books:
    • Dark Carnage's chest insignia was stated to be Knull's dragon by Donny Cates, but has been drawn as Venom/Mania's spider by all of the tie-in artists.
    • Miles Morales' symbiote form as drawn by Ryan Stegman is black with a red face, teeth, and lower arms; and having a black version of Knull's spiral in place of eyes. In Absolute Carnage: Miles Morales, Federico Vicentini draws it as being dark red with a yellow-white spiral, and having white teeth and chelicerae.
  • Darkest Hour: In Absolute Carnage #4, Dark Carnage defeats the Venomized Hulk and rips the Venom symbiote off him, assimilating it and transforming into a demonic form Ryan Stegman half-jokingly dubbed "Devil Carnage". As Eddie has a Heroic BSoD at the impossible odds, Devil Carnage mops the floor with Captain America, Wolverine, and the Thing before taking off to free Knull from Klyntar. Eddie is snapped out of his despair by Miles Morales, and implements a Hope Spot by amalgamating the S.C.I.T.H.E.-harvested codices into a gestalt symbiote before pursuing Devil Carnage.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Danny Ketch attempts to use the Penance Stare on Carnage and is promptly hit with a No-Sell, the power feeding back into Danny. When Carnage mocks him for trying it despite it having not worked on Venom in the past, Danny tells him he hoped it would work a second time.
  • Downer Ending:
    • What Absolute Carnage: Scream amounts to. After being traumatized from her prior experience with symbiotes and doing her best to save lives, Patricia Robertson is bonded to the Scream symbiote against her will and forged into a minion of Carnage, being sent after Andi Bention. She manages to fight off the influence on two separate occasions and tries to save Andi but winds up dead with her spine ripped out for her troubles. Andi ends up bonded to the Scream symbiote, but rather than help any further she decides to just call it quits and runs away.
    • Absolute Carnage #5 ends with Cletus Kasady being killed again, and Eddie both reclaiming the Venom symbiote and assimilating the Grendel symbiote into himself to become more powerful than ever. However, in doing so Knull is awakened, and he promptly destroys Klyntar, turns it into a massive fleet of symbiote-dragons, and sets out to destroy the cosmos once again. The Maker is still out there, and Norman Osborn managed to get away (sans symbiote, thankfully). Oh, and Dylan finds out that Eddie is actually his father.
  • Dumbass No More: While never portrayed as downright stupid, Cletus Kasady was always something of an impatient Book Dumb crazed killer, whereas this story shows him organizing an operation that is massive in its scope and goals in real The Chessmaster fashion. Lampshaded when he shares a scene with Norman Osborn-as-Cletus Kasady, and is clearly exasperated at his former self's short-sightedness.
  • Enemy Mine: In the midst of a battle against the Scorpion, Miles Morales had to join forces with his adversary in order to fend off an army of Carnage's symbiote doppelgangers. Then, after Miles has been transformed, he exploits the Hive Mind shared by the Grendel symbiote and its offshoots to make a connection with another victim, a serial killer named "Happy Dan" Andrews.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: In the first issue of Absolute Carnage vs. Deadpool, Carnage has one when confronting a symbiote-infected Man-Wolf over not knowing that Deadpool would interfere with his plans, with the mention of Deadpool's "unicorn" hoodie (actually a rhino hoodie that was a birthday present to Spider-Man from the Rhino) giving Carnage the idea that Deadpool is a unicorn, in a metaphorical sense at least; since Deadpool is the only human alive who Carnage knows has bonded to four symbiotes,note  giving him four codices, he is highly valuable to Carnage's plan of harvesting codices from symbiote hosts.
  • Exit Villain, Stage Left: Norman Osborn goes missing in the aftermath of Carnage's rampage. When Peter brings this up to Eddie, the latter notes that that’s a Spider-Man problem, to which the former concedes.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Since he was last seen at the end of Go Down Swinging, Norman Osborn has grown his hair out to resemble Cletus Kasady's — reflecting that his psyche has been overwritten by the chaos-obsessed serial killer's.
  • The Family That Slays Together: In Absolute Carnage: Separation Anxiety a dysfunctional suburban family (Tess, her unnamed estranged husband, their young daughter Sadie, and their even younger son Billy) are turned into this by the Knull-corrupted Agony, Riot, Lasher, and Phage symbiotes when Sadie unwittingly invites the Hybrid symbiote into her house and wishes there was a way for her family to stay together.
  • Fastball Special: Absolutely bungled by the Thing, who tries to throw Spider-Man — who panics and tries to point out that Wolverine is right behind him and he should throw him instead — at Hybrid. Instead, Spidey is thrown screaming at Hybrid, who casually tosses Captain America at him.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: "Friends" is probably pushing it, but the last issue seems to suggest that Eddie and Peter have buried whatever remained of their previous animosity.
    Spider-Man: What are, uh, whatever-we-are-to-eachother for?
  • Fun with Acronyms: Attempted by Dylan for the Maker's codex extraction machine; taking his explanation of its "symbiote codex isolation and thermo-heated extraction process" and dubbing it "S.C.I.T.H.E.". The Maker shuts it down, deriding the practice as being "for children and comic books".
  • Genre Throwback: Absolute Carnage bases itself heavily on the modern trend of '90s nostalgia, and is especially influenced by the early-'90s era where Maximum Carnage took place. The gritty (yet modernized) artwork, the heavy prominence of symbiotes (much like in that era), the general Darker and Edgier tone, the mass tie-ins involving the many different heroes who team up, and of course, the fact that Carnage is the Big Bad of the event, all bring to mind the '90s before the comics of the present day over two-and-a-half decades later.
  • Good Costume Switch: In the third Miles Morales tie-in, Miles is able to take back control of his mind but keeps the symbiote for the time being. The result is a smaller creature with proportions more like Miles' own body, with two white Spider-Man eyes in place of the Knull sigil and no visible teeth.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: In the finale of Absolute Carnage vs. Deadpool, Wade puts dynamite in his body to take out Dark Carnage. It works, but it puts his lower torso out of reach for both Spidey and Wade to pull it down.
  • Happy Ending Override: The third Miles Morales tie-in ends on what may be the most optimistic note in the event: Miles' own Heroic Willpower wins out, and he voluntarily re-bonds to the Grendel symbiote to keep it from hurting anyone else and so he can listen in on the symbiote Hive Mind. However, when he reappears in Absolute Carnage #4, he's back to being a possessed monster who Eddie has to defeat and save.
  • Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: The fifth and final issue ends with Cletus making one of these boasts. Either he kills Dylan and takes his codex to awaken Knull, or Eddie kills him and retakes the rest of the codices, which would also awaken Knull and doom the world. Eddie and Venom go with the latter, ripping Cletus and the Grendel symbiote in half before reabsorbing what's left of it.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Dylan Brock instantly doesn't like Spider-Man, glaring at him and calling him a menace. Upon learning that Dylan is Eddie's son, Spider-Man remarks that the apple didn't fall far from the tree.
  • Hope Spot: In the Miles Morales tie-ins, Miles re-asserts himself just long enough to stop the symbiote from killing J. Jonah Jameson, and even makes a telepathic connection to another one of Carnage's minions to encourage him to do the same. Then he's thrown off by the arrival of Silver Sable, which allows the Grendel symbiote to take control of Miles again and bites into Jonah. The next issue begins with Miles finally venom-blasting the symbiote off of his body only for it to force itself onto Jonah instead, and for his sort-of ally to immediately turn on Miles.
  • How We Got Here: Absolute Carnage: Immortal Hulk explains how Bruce Banner got pulled away from the events of his title to the events of Absolute #3.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Whatever Dylan actually is, Sleeper's attempt to bond with him results in the symbiote's tendrils suddenly turning to dust. He later bends Sleeper to his will to fight the Maker, and later still eradicates Norman Osborn's Grendel symbiote with a wave of his hand.
  • Hypocrite: Sleeper isn't happy about Dylan mind-controlling it. Dylan lampshades their treatment of their previous host.
    Sleeper: Controlling a living creature against its will is unethical and-
    Dylan: Hey, how's Tel-Kar?
    (brief silence)
    Sleeper: The napalm was a good idea, though.
  • Imposter Forgot One Detail: Dark Carnage slips into the Maker's facility by shapeshifting into Eddie (again), but doesn't sport the swollen eye Brock's had through the story. Unfortunately, Spider-Man doesn't notice until he's blabbed about Dylan's parentage and the real Eddie bursts in shouting Peter's real name.
  • In Name Only: Absolute Carnage is officially a Bat Family Crossover and marketed as such, but it really hits all the beats of a Crisis Crossover. It's not just limited to Venom or the Spider-titles, but literally everyone who has been a host, which means that just about everyone will be involved in some way as opposed to a small section of the verse.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: Norman and Cletus sing an altered version of "The Redback on the Toilet Seat" in Ravencroft.
  • I Lied: Thanks to Miles having been hooked into Carnage's Hive Mind, he's able to tell Eddie that the Maker's codex extractor doesn't destroy codexes - it collects them, assumedly so the Maker could keep them to himself for further study. Fortunately, the Maker is indisposed thanks to Dylan, and Eddie takes full advantage of the collection to give himself an edge against Dark Carnage.
  • Kill It with Fire: Thanks to Sleeper's ability to synthesize chemicals, Hybrid!Maker ends up being doused with napalm. One flaming arrow from Hawkeye and the Life Foundation symbiotes are burnt to a crisp.
  • Lean and Mean: While he's usually been depicted as slender, Cletus Kasady takes this to a new level as "Dark Carnage" — being literally skeletally thin, with elongated arms and legs, somewhat similar to how he looked in Spider-Man Unlimited.
  • Legacy Character:
    • The Scream symbiote bonds to Patricia Robertson, who becomes the second Scream.
    • The Hybrid symbiote separates into its constituent symbiotes and bonds to a family of four in Deadpool Vol. 7 #14.
    • The four symbiotes all bond to the Maker, making him the new Hybrid, albeit not one who is bonded to the Hybrid symbiote.
    • Rather than kill Norman Osborn to claim his codex, Dark Carnage bonds him to the Grendel symbiote to turn him into a copy of his original Carnage form.
    • At the conclusion of Absolute Carnage: Scream, the Scream symbiote bonds with Andi Benton, who is the third Scream.
  • Mark of the Beast: As a sign of Kasady's amplified connection to Knull, Carnage has a white version of Knull's spiral emblem in the middle of his forehead, and a white version of Knull's dragon Chest Insignia.
  • Meta Origin: If the Hulk's theory is correct then Knull is a manifestation of the One-Below All making him responsible for every Hulk and every symbiote.
  • The Mole: As of Miles Morales' third tie-in, his plan is to stay bonded with the symbiote so he can listen in on the symbiote hive mind and get critical information to the other heroes.
  • Morphic Resonance: The people made into Carnage's doppelgänger minions keep a handful of distinguishing features. Scorpion is able to recognize one creature as the serial killer "Happy Dan" Andrews by his tattoo, while Miles Morales retains his costume's black and red color scheme.
  • Mugging the Monster: An accidental example in the first issue. A gang of muggers attempts to stick up the Coffee Bean cafe, only to burst in the door to see Eddie Brock and Spider-Man inside. It doesn't end well for them.
  • My Death Is Just the Beginning: At the end of the final book, Carnage presents Eddie Brock with an ultimatum: kill him to save his son and take back his symbiote, or let Carnage eat his son and then kill him to claim their codices. Either way, the dark god Knull — creator of the symbiotes — will be unleashed. Eddie chooses to kill Cletus, but that not only unleashes Knull but puts Carnage in a position to make a series of comebacks and grow more powerful than ever in the Venom Island arc of Venom (Donny Cates) and Extreme Carnage.
  • Mythology Gag: A few in terms of the one-shots and mini-series:
    • Lethal Protectors, Separation Anxiety and Absolute Carnage vs. Deadpool are nods to two Venom mini-series, Lethal Protector and Separation Anxiety, while the last is a reverse of the Deadpool vs. Carnage mini-series — also doubling as a reference to a joke in the miniseries.
    • Lethal Protectors involves Iron Fist, Morbius, and Cloak and Dagger, all four being major players in the Maximum Carnage multi-parter.
    • Scream #2 has Scream carrying Andi Benton while swinging in a way that is an obvious reference to the cover of Amazing Fantasy #15.
    • Absolute Carnage #1 sees a disguised Dark Carnage shoving Eddie from behind into the path of an oncoming subway train. Venom himself did the same thing as to an unsuspecting Peter Parker way back in Web of Spider-Man #18, two years before the character was properly introduced.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: In issue #3, Carnage casually kills Bruce Banner while the Venom symbiote is trying to bond with him. He has absolutely no idea who he is and is a bit surprised when he now faces The Hulk with the Venom symbiote.
  • No-Sell: Dark Carnage is completely unaffected by Venom punching him in the face as hard as he can, and when Danny Ketch tries to use the Penance Stare on him in Absolute Carnage: Symbiote of Vengeance he laughs it off and reminds Ketch of how well that worked on Venom.
  • Obfuscating Disability: At the end of Absolute Carnage vs. Deadpool, Wade convinces Spidey to wait on him hand and foot until his legs regrew. That is, until Spidey catches the fact that Deadpool had long since regrown his legs and kicks the crap out of him over it.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • In Venom #18, the Maker panics as the Life Foundation symbiotes attack and bond to him.
    • In Absolute Carnage #3, when Venom Hulk lands a solid blow on Carnage, Kasady is completely shocked at the fact that he felt that blow. Even more is that you can see his eyes wide in shock.
    • In Absolute Carnage #4, Miles tells Eddie to get to the Venomized Hulk ASAP because Carnage could tear the Venom symbiote and its codex out of the Hulk if he defeats him, becoming powerful enough to free Knull. Cue the duo's look of horror when they arrive just in time to witness Carnage assimilate the symbiote and discard an unconscious Bruce Banner.
  • Orcus on His Throne: In Absolute Carnage #2, Dark Carnage is content to direct his conquest of the world from his throne of living abyss — frustrating Norman Osborn, who wants to partake in some glorious chaos and bloodshed. He lampshades this trope when he shows up to attack Scream and Andi in Absolute Carnage: Scream.
  • Other Me Annoys Me: Dark Carnage expresses annoyance and exasperation towards Norman Osborn, whose mind has been overwritten by a carbon-copy of Cletus's pre-Prophet of the Void persona. For his part, Osborn is confused and frustrated by Dark Carnage's cult leader schtick and refusal to just go berserk and slaughter everyone in a gleeful frenzy of violence and chaos.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: As confirmed in Web of Venom: Carnage Born and expanded upon in the War of the Realms tie-ins to Venom (Donny Cates), Cletus Kasady is little more than a Revenant Zombie reanimated by Knull. His multiple cases of Body Horror emphasize that he is no longer truly alive.
  • Plot Detour: The Immortal Hulk tie-in, which even gets pointed out by Immortal Hulk to Bruce Banner, as he grumbles about how the event is taking them away from what he wants to do over in the title proper. Bruce justifies getting involved by pointing out that Knull destroying the world would be bad, especially since that's what Bruce and Devil Hulk want to do.
  • Power Makeover: Dark Carnage's look gradually changes as he absorbs more and more codices and symbiotes and his connection to Knull strengthens, transitioning from the black-and-red look he possessed when first reanimated to his classic Carnage appearance to manifesting a white spiral on his forehead to adopting a skeletal frame with Knull's dragon sigil on his chest (courtesy of absorbing the Mania symbiote), culminating in a black, almost demonic appearance reminiscent of Knull himself after absorbing the Venom symbiote.
  • Power Tattoo: Lee Price has taken to manifesting the Mania symbiote as a prison tattoo in the shape of Venom's spider emblem.
  • Reforged into a Minion:
    • Carnage does this to John Jameson in Web of Venom: Cult of Carnage, infecting him with the Grendel symbiote so that he can act as a sleeper agent. This comes into play in Absolute Carnage when Cletus activates him to capture Misty Knight, slaughter the Ravencroft guards, and lure Spider-Man and Venom into a trap while freeing Norman Osborn from his cell.
    • In the Separation Anxiety tie-in, the Riot, Agony, Phage, and Lasher symbiotes succumb to Knull's control — which is touched on in Deadpool #14's tie-in scene. They're then sent to kill Dylan and Normie.
    • In Absolute Carnage, Cletus infects the inmates at Ravencroft with the Grendel symbiote - turning them into four-armed monsters resembling the Spider-Doppelganger.
    • At the end of Absolute Carnage #1, Dark Carnage bonds Norman Osborn — who believes himself to be Cletus Kasady — with an offshoot of the Grendel symbiote, turning him into Carnage again.
    • The Scream symbiote is resurrected by Knull and takes over Patricia Robertson, succumbing to his will and hunting down Andi Benton — who Patricia has a grudge against for "stealing" and then losing the Mania symbiote. She manages to break free of its control, however.
    • In Absolute Carnage #2 and Absolute Carnage: Miles Morales, Miles is infected by the Grendel symbiote and turned into a six-armed symbiote-doppelganger, then sent to assassinate J. Jonah Jameson. The young Spider-Man does everything he can to resist, and ultimately venom-blasts it off of his body, only for the symbiote to force itself onto Jonah instead. After defeating the transformed JJJ, Miles opts to re-bond with the symbiote for now so he can learn Carnage's plans and sabotage them from within the Church of New Darkness army. In Absolute Carnage #4, however, he turns up again under Carnage's control, attacking Eddie.
    • Carol Danvers' Flerken-cat, Chewie, was overtaken by Grendel in Captain Marvel #8. They weren't kidding when they said everyone is a target.
  • Remembered I Could Fly:
    • Whether because of the re-established link to the Grendel symbiote or its being returned to its former strength, the Venom symbiote can sprout wings and fly like it could earlier in the Donny Cates series.
    • The Agony symbiote is once again able to use its Hollywood Acid abilities, which were dropped and seemingly forgotten about after it was separated from Hybrid. In fact, all four Life Foundation symbiotes' traits are closer to the original ones they had before they were the norm for all symbiotes (Lasher's tendrils, Phage's blades, Riot being The Big Guy).
  • Sarcastic Confession: In Free Comic Book Day Vol 2019 (Spider-Man/Venom), Cletus Kasady — impersonating Eddie Brock — exposits his resurrection and plans to unleash Knull while being interrogated by police... in such a way as to make it sound like the ramblings of a deranged lunatic in order to discredit Eddie.
  • Savage Wolves: Dylan morphs Sleeper into the shape of one to take on the Maker, taking inspiration from Eddie turning Venom into an Angry Attack Dog in the past. He later confesses he's not a dog person, though, so Sleeper shifts into an alien-looking cat instead.
  • Secret-Keeper: Absolute Carnage #1 reveals that Eddie once again knows that Peter Parker is Spider-Man, knowledge that he hasn't had since One More Day. In a podcast with Ryan Stegman, Cates said that he'd assumed the symbiote found out again after bonding to Peter to fight the Red Goblin, and told Eddie when it returned to him.
  • Sequel Hook:
    • Absolute Carnage: Scream ends with one. Instead of going to confront Carnage, the Scream symbiote and its new host, Andi Benton, decide to call it quits when they fail to do anything to Dark Carnage, and bail.
    • The Absolute Carnage miniseries itself ends with a big one, as Knull has been released and is coming to Earth.
    • The entire crossover proper ends with Venom #20, which has one as well — Ultimate Reed Richards is revealed to be trying to restore the Ultimate Marvel universe, and use symbiotes to travel to it, as part of his initiation in joining the Council of Reeds.
  • Series Continuity Error:
    • In Absolute Carnage #1, Spider-Man casually outs himself as Peter Parker in front of Normie Osborn due to Donny Cates having assumed Normie already knew who he was.
    • In Absolute Carnage #3, the Venom symbiote calls the symbiote that Norman is bonded to "[its] spawn" despite Norman being bonded to the Grendel symbiote, not the Carnage symbiote.
    • In the Absolute Carnage vs. Deadpool tie-in, Carnage states that Deadpool is a metaphorical unicorn because he's the "only human alive" who's bonded to four different symbiotes. Unless the emphasis there is on "alive", that statement disregards Scott Washington, who bonded to the same four symbiotes at once as Hybrid years before. There's also Eddie, but it could be argued that Carnage is saving him for later. It's also worth noting that Deadpool was actually bonded to five Symbiotes if one counts Secret Secret Wars and Deadpool: Back In Black, but the second issue addresses this by revealing the editors don't count those.
    • Absolute Carnage #2 and Absolute Carnage: Miles Morales show the same events, but differ quite drastically in terms of Miles being taken over by a symbiote. In the latter, Carnage also says that Mac Gargan was bonded to a piece of his symbiote, while Gargan had once been bonded to Venom.
    • Absolute Carnage: Scream #3 makes it apparent that the Carnage who Scream and Andi are fighting is supposed to be Cletus Kasady, despite him being depicted with Norman Osborn's classic Carnage appearance. Geraldo Sandalova confirmed on Twitter that he had originally drawn Cletus as Dark Carnage at the end of Issue #2, but the colorist changed it to Norman Osborn's Carnage form - which was used in the third issue.
    • In Absolute Carnage #4, Miles Morales in his symbiote-possessed form attacks Eddie Brock. However, the conclusion of the Miles Morales tie-in had Miles in complete control of the symbiote bonded to him, and he went back to Carnage undercover, but not under Carnage's control.
    • In Absolute Carnage: Captain Marvel, Dark Carnage is drawn with a spider emblem when he first appears, but that's subsequently corrected to Knull's dragon emblem.
    • In Venom #20, the Maker is tasked with restoring Earth-1610, which — as revealed in Spider-Men II and Miles Morales' ongoing — is already restored.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: In issue #4, the Venomized Hulk responds to Dark Carnage's offer of an alliance by punching him in the face.
    Venom Hulk: Carnage... talk too damn much.
  • Swallowed Whole: In Absolute Carnage: Captain Marvel, Carol is swallowed whole by the Carnageized Chewie and ends up inside her stomach dimension, where she and Dark Carnage duke it out.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Absolute Carnage #1 establishes that Dark Carnage (Cletus Kasady) and Carnage (Norman Osborn) do not get along, with the latter making it clear that he intends to backstab the former as soon as it's convenient.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Cletus Kasady stages one in the final issue of Absolute Carnage by manipulating Eddie into bonding to the codices extracted by the S.C.I.T.H.E. and putting him in a Heads I Win, Tails You Lose situation where he has to choose between letting Dark Carnage kill his son or killing Dark Carnage to save Dylan, with either choice resulting in Knull awakening.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • According to Donny Cates, Carnage — already one of the strongest street-level supervillains, and more than capable of fighting some of Marvel's stronger heroes — has clawed his way further up the ranks to become a viable threat to some of Marvel's heaviest hitters thanks to bonding to the Grendel symbiote. Issue #4 cements this by having him overpower even the Venomized Hulk, and the combined efforts of Captain America, Wolverine, and the Thing.
    • In Absolute Carnage: Captain Marvel, Carol notes she's taken one compared to when Venom took over her in Siege. When the portion of the Grendel symbiote bonded to Chewie tries to take over her, she retorts that she's stronger than she was before and immolates it with her Binary powers.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Mostly averted with Scream. After only the first issue had been released, Marvel announced the Scream: Curse of Carnage ongoing series that would spin out of Absolute Carnage. However, the solicitations are deliberately vague on what the series will actually entail and who would star in it besides the Scream symbiote itself, which means the only spoiler it provides for Absolute Carnage: Scream and Absolute Carnage is that the Scream symbiote survives it.
  • We Can Rule Together: Carnage tries getting Venom Hulk to join him in his crusade to free Knull, appealing to their mutual desire to destroy the world and expressing curiosity towards the idea of the symbiote god's power merging with that of the One-Below-All. Hulk dismisses him with a punch in the face.
  • What Would X Do?: Once it becomes clear that the Maker's codex extractor is far from painless and he intends to use it on them regardless of whether Eddie is there or not, Dylan asks himself what Eddie would to to get him and Normie out of there. The answer he comes up with is "something stupid".
  • The Worf Effect: Despite being the Venom symbiote combined with the raw power of the Hulk, Dark Carnage easily overpowers him, shuts down Banner and steals the Venom symbiote. He then proceeds to mop the floor with Captain America, the Thing, and Wolverine.
  • Would Hurt a Child:
    • After noting how much Eddie seems to care for Dylan, Dark Carnage gleefully declares his intent to slowly and painfully kill the nine-year-old boy in front of him.
    • In Absolute Carnage: Separation Anxiety a young girl named Sadie becomes the new host for the Knull-controlled Lasher symbiote, while her even younger brother becomes the Phage symbiote's new host. The Riot and Agony symbiotes - which take over her father and mother - go to great pains to point out she was the one who said she wanted her broken family to be made whole again.
    • In Venom #17, the Maker briefly separates Sadie from the Lasher symbiote and immediately tries to shoot her with a BFG while making it clear he couldn't care less that she's a child. Sleeper also makes his return by snapping Phage's neck.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left:
    • The Maker somehow slips away from the Hybrid symbiotes as they're being incinerated, taking his leave for parts unknown.
    • By the end of the story, Norman Osborn managed to escape after his clash with Spider-Man while the web-slinger was unconscious, though Dylan destroyed his part of the Grendel symbiote.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Despite sniping at each other, Venom and Spider-Man are far more amicable towards one another than they have in the past — even calling each other "Pete" and "Ed".
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Carnage plans to kill Mac Gargan and take his codex, but is stopped by Venom and Miles Morales. However, Carnage exploits the chaos once Miles falls behind, using an offshoot of the Grendel symbiote to overwhelm and transform Miles into a six-armed symbiote monster. This handily gives Carnage his revenge for not getting to kill Scorpion, shuts down Miles' bio-electric venom strike (one of the few things that's thus far been able to hurt the Grendel), and provides him with yet another way to emotionally torment Eddie Brock and Peter Parker.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • A massive horde of symbiote-infected people and animals was shown converging on Avengers Mountain in the "Everyone is a Target" page included in Invaders #7. This received no follow-up, and we're just left to assume that the swarm was dealt with off-panel by the Avengers.
    • While Doppelganger eventually resurfaced as an inmate of the rebuilt Ravencroft, Demagoblin's fate following Dark Carnage's defeat has so far been left unrevealed, with the character last being seen in the tunnels beneath Ravencroft.
  • You Have Failed Me: Invoked in Absolute Carnage vs. Deadpool #1 when Man-Wolf lets Misty Knight and Deadpool escape. Dark Carnage decides that John Jameson has outlived his usefulness and prepares to kill him, only to relent when he has a "Eureka!" Moment.