Carnage is here at Carol and John’s

Howdy Comic Fans!

The big boss is on vacation again (hasn’t he been everywhere there is to be yet?) So y’all get your favorite friendly neighborhood comic shop employee for this special edition, Carnage-ized, email!

Carnage to the Max

There are upwards of 200 comic titles that come out new every Wednesday, and this week bodes no difference. Except that the title we at Carol and Johns is most excited about is Absolute Carnage!

Cover By Ryan Stegman

Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman had been working on this crossover epic conceptually since before the 2018 Venom ongoing series launched. Most of us were first introduced to the hell that carnage was about to unleash on earth with this year’s Free Comic Book Day Spider-Man issue.

The first issue of the Absolute Carnage five-issue mini-series drops in the shop this Wednesday but the threads of this story have been bolstered and woven for almost ten years. Cates is a master of connecting stories of his and other great writers from across multiple series and story arcs.

There are 13 variant covers in total for issue #1. Some of them are already spoken for, but they are all cool. Many of them will be cover price but there are a few rare ratioed variants that will surely make the speculator market salivate. Here are a few of my faves.

Cover by Ron Lim

Cover by Mike Deodato

Waaaaay back in the day, in New Avengers #2 by Brian Bendis, Carnage died violently in space after wreaking havoc during a Raft prison riot. Courtesy of the Sentry.

But, thanks to Cates, we now know that Carnage only brushed edges with the void. He stared into it and found something staring back. Cates burst into the comic scene with several simultaneous, and amazing series. Most relevant is his ongoing run of Venom.

Early on in the series, the popular anti-hero Venom is faced with his biggest threat ever. Revealed in issue #3 is the god of the symbiotes, Knull. An ancient being who claims to draw on old power sourced from the big bang, he even had run-ins with a very young Thor and is seemingly responsible for the creation of the alien parasites of the Marvel Universe we know as symbiotes.

Knull plays such a large cosmic role as a bad-ass that he is even giving The Silver Surfer a real run for his money in the current Cates’ scribed mini-series Silver Surfer Black. Of which we just got #1’s back in stock at the shop 😉 You won’t regret checking out that trippy romp through the great unknown and seeing The Surfer unleash power even he didn’t know he had.

Bringing us back to the present: Knull has chosen Carnage as his blood-soaked acolyte and the main parasite in red is only happy to oblige. His goal is to gather up every bit of symbiote scattered across the earth, by cutting it out of anyone who has ever come into contact with it, and using it all to bring his god to ground, and together paint the sky red while maniacally laughing about it. It’s going to be So. Hardcore. Personally, I can’t wait.

Here are the release dates for every main story part and tie in. Carnage isn’t pulling any punches. He is really going scorched earth here. His murder spree will effect EVERY bit of the Marvel U. Don’t miss a second of it. Feel free to print out that list and turn in your choices at the shop so we can add them to your subscription.

Essential Carnage Reading

Get caught up! Cates is going to weave A LOT of past Carnage stories together for this event. Here are some that I would run with to get yourself primed.

This one-shot from 1996 is not for the faint of heart. I definitely read it when I was waaaaay too young to have been allowed. Cletus Kasidy, Carnage’s human host, is in prison, again, and they send a psychoanalyst in there to get a better picture of what’s rattling around in his blood-fueled brain. Long story short: Kasidy is driven by lustful thoughts of death, does not hide it, and the shrink ends up self-cannibalizing. It’s one of the best Carnage stories ever and Marvel just reprinted it for only a dollar!

This series is a fan favorite to collect in single issues. Released across several Spider-Man series, specials, and one-shots in the 90s, it was a point where many of us got our starts as comic collectors and readers. It’s the first story arc that our manager Jim ever collected completely as a young comic fan. It’s a great story where Carnage and his cronies cause a massive amount of mayhem and tests Spider-Man’s decision-making skills and strict moral code.

Recently referenced by Cates in a Web of Venom issue Carnage USA is one of the most unique symbiote stories out there. Five issues of Carnage infecting and infuriating a small town in the middle of the country, and becoming powerful enough to convert a few Avengers who show up to stop him. Honestly, this book is great because it shows what it’s like when Carnage scores a big win. It’s definitely scary and its lasting effects will be felt through the Absolute Carnage event too.

One of my personal faves is a three-issue mini from only a few years ago that is just a knock-down-drag-out fight the whole time. This one introduces Toxin. If Venom is the father and Carnage is the son, then Toxin is the grandkid. He’s got to figure out where his sensibilities lie. With the confused semi-heroism of Venom or the murder tendencies of Carnage? This is a good place to start to understand the legacy of the symbiotes on a ground level.

How could I call this email my own without mentioning my main Merc with a Mouth? This is an easily forgettable mini-series released amongst a million “Deadpool Vs…” situations. But don’t glance past it because both of these guys are essentially unkillable and it shows. They go at it, grow it all back, go at it again, tear each other apart, rinse and repeat. If you are into either character at all you won’t regret picking up this volume for a fun read.

Essential Donny Cates Reading

I’ve been burning through the Cates lexicon like nobody’s business since I heard about his Venom ideas at C2E2 last year. He writes symbiotes like no one else but there is much more material out there that he nails to the wall and that I can highly recommend.

Any single employee at the shop will tell you that this is probably the best money you can spend on a graphic novel in the store. It’s a Thanos story like no other and it pulls no punches. We could gush about it for ages. But I would give too much away. Trust me. You want to read it. Its beautiful and brutal in all the right ways.

Donny Cates has some fantastic small press material as well. He has an ongoing series from Image comics at the moment that is worth every second of catching up on. Redneck is the saga of a family of vampires ingrained in Texas history. They’ve seen it all happen down there and been responsible for much of it themselves. It’s a great story rewriting the underbelly of some bloody American history.

And a personal favorite of mine. Probably one of the most conceptually unique superhero stories you’ll ever hear of. The main character gains his superpowers from his ingestion of any variety of substances. Usually the more dangerous or addictive the substance the more power he gains. He’s saved the world more times than he can remember but one significant save during a black-out convinces him he needs help. Its told from the perspective of him in recovery and during those sorry meetings in church basements. You’ll see some familiar superheroic ideas turned on their head.

Marvel Legends and Wrap-Up

The shop (and myself) have been on a big action figure kick lately thanks to all of the fun we had with the NEOTACC guys during our swap meet last month. We’re totally stocked on all of the latest Marvel Legends sets and we have the X-Force / Wendigo build-a-figure wave hitting the table this week.

Personally, I want to build that snowy monster so I can recreate the cover of Hulk #180 and #181. So I’ll shamelessly ask that if you won’t be using your BAF piece offer it to me and I’ll probably be able to take it off your hands 😉

That’s it for me this week comic fans! Keep up to date on ALL of the new releases this week, not just the Carnage-centric ones, by checking out our new release posts on Facebook. Enjoy the beginning of the end of your summer and we will see you in the shop, slinging some brutally awesome reading material, soon!

-Ben J-M
Donny Cates Fan and (now) Carnage Expert