Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Ryan Ottley
Colors: Nathan Fairbairn
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Release date September 25 2019
Review by D. Brown (WolfCypher)
As of late, I’ve been finding myself having a hard time really feeling the Absolute Carnage tie-ins. Most of the Absolute Carnage tie-ins have been a little hard to enjoy, while a few were worth the cover price and left me with a positive impression. I read most of them and I’m all over the place. Some ups, some downs. That very well applies to my take on Nick Spencer’s Amazing Spider-Man. There’s been this up-and-down here, too, where some of his issues have not meshed well with me, while others I was very positive on. Its interesting that I’d feel this way about these two examples, now that Nick Spencer’s Amazing Spider-Man is being turned into a two-part Absolute Carnage tie-in.
Now, being a tie-in for Absolute Carnage, I expected this to put Donny Cates’ story before the happenings that have occurred in the actual ASM book prior. Where most of the writers adding their supplemental chapters to Cates’ event are (or at least try to) keeping their stories closely appendaged to the big event, Spencer instead writes a script that works more towards his own ongoing story. The issue actually begins initially weeks before the events of Absolute Carnage take place. In fact, this book starts out as an addendum to Amazing Spider-Man #24, where Kindred murders “Mysterio” during Mysterio’s therapy session. We just can’t seem to not keep going back to Ravencroft during all these Absolute Carnage episodes, can we? Well, at least having this partially take place in the past spares us the head-aching questions about whether the Ravencroft building was destroyed by fire, then somehow repaired, whether it was intact during one specific tie-in that may or may not have taken place before another…
Kindred wanders the halls of Ravencroft and spies Norman Osborn, who of course believes himself to be Cletus Kasady (Carnage). This triggers a monologue from Kindred which, while not revealing anything definitive about who this menace is, gives us some more insight on Spencer’s mystery villain; it seems the man (Norman) who has haunted Peter for years and has caused Peter so much lose and misery has also earned the ire of Kindred. But why? Why does Kindred take Norman’s past actions against Peter so personally?
And we’ve yet to even get into the actual Absolute Carnage content. Spencer brings things back to the present, where, following the events of Absolute Carnage 3 (as well as the yet unreleased Venom #19), Dark Carnage (the real Cletus Kasady) has stormed the headquarters where Venom, Spidey, and a few heroes are holding out, and Norman/Carnage is in hot pursuit of Spider-Man, who wants nothing more than to keep the boys Normie Osborn and Dylan Brock safe. As Spidey fights his futile battle against the indomitable Norman/Carnage, Spider-Man cannot help but distract himself with memories of a time when Flash Thompson and Gwen Stacey, both victims of Norman, were still alive, and a time where Harry Osborn, Norman’s son, was still happy and hadn’t been corrupted by his father’s insanity.
This issues works so well in spite of how little Absolute Carnage there is. Spencer doesn’t have to make this tie-in feel like a bombastic addition to Donny Cates’ bigger event. He gives us another tease of Kindred and walks us through mind and emotions boiling inside Peter as his long-time foe beats him into a pulp, and even then the focus is on the past, long before the terror that is Carnage, “Dark” or otherwise. While the other tie-ins have tried and sometimes failed to deliver towards the Absolute Carnage story, warranting a need to follow them at all, Nick Spencer goes about it in his own approach and maybe comes out better than them all.
Nick Spencer keeps his creepy, mysterious Kindred in our purview, and brings the events of Absolute Carnage down to just Peter and Norman, taking things back away from symbiote gods, Venom, Dark Carnage, etc. to remind fans of the long-lasting animosity between Spider-Man and the original Green Goblin himself, despite who Norman may think he is.