Absolute Carnage was a wild event, especially since it was horror focused. If you missed it, fear not, as the many tie-ins and the series itself are being collected in trade each week of January. This week sees a few collections including the tie-in Lethal Protectors by Frank Tieri and Flaviano which also houses Leah Williams and Zac Thompson’s Absolute Carnage: Avengers tie-in. Running 122 pages, this lean trade paperback features a ton of heroes banding together to save Misty Knight.
The main event is the Lethal Protectors story, which spanned three issues. The story is heavily about Iron Fist, Morbius, Cloak and Dagger, and Firestar kicking Symbiote drone butt. The clever reasoning for this story is thanks to it mirroring these heroes fighting against Carnage way back during Maximum Carnage. It’s a fun fight comic story with twists and turns–Misty Knight is really good at evading mindless Carnage killers–including an interesting Shriek meets Demogoblin combo. The core of the story holds up thanks to Misty and John Jameson bonding, and their trust prevailing even when Jameson is turned into a Carnage-werewolf. Tieri is clearly building towards Ravencroft here as they both are main characters in the Carnage issue which adds value to their relationship building here.
Flaviano does a great job with what he has to work with here. Highlights include Iron Fist’s powers dazzling (with colors by Federico Blee), an epic double-page splash of this ragtag team kicking Symbiote butt, and generally all scenes with multiple Carnage drones roaming about. You get the feeling these things are like insects crawling everywhere and being super creepy.
The story is a bit hollow in the sense that it doesn’t matter all that much. Granted, i’s fight-comic entertainment, so you can’t dock it too hard, and in the grand scheme of things it’s important to the main series.
Following this is the Avengers tie-in with art by Alberto Alburquerque and Guiu Vilanova. This issue uses Captain America, Thing, Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Hawkeye in an effective way, serving mostly as the glue that holds together some plot points to keep the main series understandable. The big plot point in this involves taking out two beacons Carnage has set up in San Francisco and New York. Hawkeye is going it alone in San Francisco and it’s an epic adventure that shows off how good he is at what he does and how important it is to him to not let Cap down. Over on the east coast, the heroes have a tricky time of accomplishing their goals without killing any Symbiotes since innocent citizens are inside each one. Thompson does a good job giving each hero a moment. I particularly liked how Thing was so huge and quiet and when he spoke it had the gravity that he’s seen this all before and tired of it all.
The two artists jive well with each other, especially since one is devoted to the west coast mission and the other the east coast mission. Hawkeye has an impressive swagger of trying very little yet pulling off amazing feats.
This is a good trade, although I wouldn’t say it’s necessary to read to understand the full picture. The Avengers issue certainly introduces subplots the heroes had to overcome, but nothing too important to the results of Carnage being defeated. If you’re looking for some fun fight comics with a variety of Marvel heroes, though, you can’t go wrong here.
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