Absolute Carnage: Symbiote of Vengeance #1 Review

Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Juan Frigeri
Colors: Dono Sanchez-Almara
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

Release date September 11 2019
Review by D. Brown (WolfCypher)

Alejandra Jones is a Ghost Rider who has been protecting a village in Nicaragua. Years ago, Alejandra joined forces with X-23, Red Hulk, and the Flash Thompson Agent Venom in Las Vegas. Red Hulk “borrowed” both Alejandra’s powers and the Venom symbiote for himself, at the same time, and when Alejandra’s powers where returned to her, her powers, having been exposed to the symbiote, grafted to her a codex. These codexes are what Cletus Kasady, the god-complex riddled Dark Carnage, is hunting down and killing for. Well, Dark Carnage has come to Alejandra’s village, and people are going to die.

Meanwhile, Johnny Blaze, another Ghost Rider who is residing and reigning over hell, has tasked his half-brother Danny Ketch, also a Ghost Rider, to hightail it to Alejandra and help her defeat Carnage.

And here we have yet another in the long list of Absolute Carnage tie-ins, but one that also acts as a stealth prelude into a new upcoming Ghost Rider(s) ongoing. Oh, sneaky Marvel. If I had to be honest, no, you don’t need to read this if you’re only interested in Absolute Carnage, yet maybe you should if you’re interested in the upcoming Ghost Riders title that this will spin off into. I just want to reiterate that this Absolute Carnage tie-in is itself a tie-in to another book.

But with that out of the way, lets talk about the book itself. Lets talk about how I enjoyed this one. These AC books outside of the actual AC book itself have been hit or miss for me. This one is definitely on the hit side. Ed Brisson gives the characters dialogue that fit with their characters. The pace of this issue felt long but nothing I read felt unnecessary. So far, in the entirety of the Absolute Carnage books (as in all of them…and remember, I said so far, as of this review the main event has only reached its 2nd issue) we haven’t had any major casualties. This is an event being instigated by Carnage, a guy who only knows murder. I won’t spoil what the nature of the casualty is, but it was (at the risk of sounding like a sociopath) nice to see someone of merit actually die.

Brisson also references a bit of Ghost Rider events in this book. For the most part, its all easy to follow, so if you haven’t been keeping up with any of the Ghost Riders, it won’t detract from your understanding of this book, and incidentally none of it feeds into what you need to know for Absolute Carnage. Robbie Reyes fans, you will be disappointed, as he is neither seen nor mentioned in this story. This book has plenty of Ghost Riders, but the most recent one is absent. One reference really took me by surprise; when one of the Ghost Riders uses their Penance Stare on Dark Carnage, Carnage himself refers to this similar situation being done to Eddie Brock/Venom alllllll the way back to 1992’s “Spirits of Venom” crossover. Damn! That one’s for the old Ghost Rider and/or Venom fanatic.

Juan Frigeri art is great; honestly nothing in this book looks bad. As if we haven’t already seen Carnage in a new look, Frigeri debuts an interesting, albeit temporary, transformation for Carnage. This particular scene also reminded me that when a symbiote absorbs a codex, they can alter their own appearance and take on the nature of that person from where the codex originated. That was something Cates confirmed back in his Venom run (issue 8).

Final Thoughts

Again, this is not too important for those keeping track of Absolute Carnage, but if you just want extra content, this issue was one of the better tie-ins. By the book’s conclusion this issue serves a little more as a lead-in for the upcoming Ghost Riders title, so if you are a fan of Johnny Blaze, Danny Ketch, etc., you can treat this as a teaser.


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