Writer Frank Tieri and artist Flaviano’s latest Absolute Carnage tie-in featuring the main event’s B-characters and more than a few tonal inconsistencies, doesn’t know what kind of comic it wants to be.
What’s it about? Marvel’s preview reads:
THE CULT OF CARNAGE COMES TO NEW YORK CITY! When he was last seen, John Jameson was being recovered from the scene of a massacre in Doverton, Colorado, by Misty Knight. Since then, they’ve both been MIA. So how, then, are they the only two people poised to prevent chaos as a mysterious foe of Spider-Man’s is RESURRECTED in the basements of RAVENCROFT INSTITUTE FOR THE CRIMINALLY INSANE?!
Now, even ignoring the confusing narrative and potentially editorial inconsistency that is this issue taking place after Absolute Carnage #1 and #2 and even potentially Absolute Carnage Vs. Deadpool but featuring John Jameson, a major character from the penultimate scenes in #1 which can be chalked up to “flashback” status, the script here is in itself also, unfortunately, completely inconsistent.
Great scenes such as the spine being ripped out of a surprising sacrifice, the return and remix of a great villain, and the general oppressiveness of everything about Carnage and his cult (done fantastically in this week’s Absolute Carnage #2) are completely underdone by cheesy and clunky dialogue, tonal mismatches and un-foreshadowed twists and turns. This doesn’t feel like a tie-in on par with Miles Morales, Separation Anxiety or even Cult of Carnage as it vacillates wildly between funny, deadly serious, and superhero-ridiculous with little care for the reader’s time or expectations.
Unfortunately, the art is much the same way. Flat and repetitive, it has some good moments such as closeups of villains and victims, and a one-page splash of a certain someone losing a limb in a really violent way shines, but ultimately it falls prey to the same problems as the narrative. There’s not much to grab onto here that we haven’t seen, even as recently as Deadpool, and the insistence that these characters are important or have a different view on the world than say, Venom and Spider-Man in the main event, is lost in a circuitous plot and pacing that is given no favors by a non-dimensional and very crowded artistic effort.
Finally, then, Lethal Protectors fails to make much of an impression at all in its first outing. Too similar to other, better, tie-ins (some from the some of the same creators!) and lacking any major plot developments or importance, it gets by with a few memorable and suitably gritty scenes but languishes in a half-baked and repetitive feel that doesn’t muster forward momentum for a first issue. A disappointment but one that might be righted by superb second and third issues.
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