Absolute Carnage #4 Review

by Nick Devonald on October 16, 2019

Writer: Donny Cates
Penciler: Ryan Stegman
Inkers: JP Mayer, Jay Leisten & Ryan Stegman
Color Artist: Frank Martin
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Here we are. The penultimate issue of absolute carnage. What a ride it has been so far, and it shows no sign of letting up. This has been comics at their absolute best, Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman proving a top collaboration of writer and artist at the peak of their game.

The last issue ended with Carnage and his horde attacking, the avengers all out of action having their codices safely removed, and Venom jumping ship to Immortal Hulk. Things are not looking good for our heroes.

Early on in their run on venom a simple question is asked, “Who is Eddie Brock?” After all his deaths and rebirths, his transformation from villain to anti-hero, all the trials and tribulations he’s faced since his introduction in The Amazing Spider-man #300, who is Eddie Brock? This has been one of the underlying themes throughout, and Cates is beginning to give us the answer.

Absolute Carnage has seen Eddie battered, bested and brought to an all-time low. Every time he gets a glimmer of hope it is ripped from under him. Everything has been stripped from him, and at the conclusion of the last issue venom has left him. So, strip everything away, take the symbiote, his ‘other’, and what is left? This is Eddie Brock without his armour. This is the man. This is who he is.
Ryan Stegman is clearly having a blast here. His visuals are top notch, as they have been throughout this run. Cates knows when to let Stegman have his time to shine, and there are a couple of pages where the dialogue is kept to a minimum and the visuals shine. A picture is worth a thousand words after all, and Stegmans art is every bit as crucial to the story telling and character development as Cates’ dialogue.

We get our first chance to see venomised hulk, which is every bit as epic as expected. And Stegmans take on Carnage near the end of the issue is fantastic.
He captures every character’s expressions so well it helps convey exactly what they’re feeling at any point in time. The defeat, the despair, the fear. One look is all it takes to know what is going on, without reading the dialogue.

And it would of course be remis not to mention Frank Martin’s colours. They have really added to the horror vibe throughout the series. The contrasts between the reds and blacks have really helped give the comic Its own identity. On one level it’s a clever reference to the main conflict of the series, Venom vs Carnage, black vs red, but on another it really adds to the horror vibe throughout.
Towards the end of the comic the background is changed to black, with white writing between panels, which represents a turning point within the story. It really is striking and effective.
The pacing has been spot on throughout the event, and this issue is no exception. The sense of tension never lets up, yet there is still time to let the characters shine through. It’s the smaller moments, especially between Brock and Pete, which really stand out.

One of the things I’ve been most impressed with throughout the event is how easy it is for new readers to follow, whilst also being plenty of throwbacks to reward those readers who have been along for the whole ride. There is a moment between Miles and Brock which is a clever reversal of a confrontation they had before.

The issue concludes with the promise of an epic showdown. #5 can’t come soon enough.

Our Score:


A Look Inside