Absolute Carnage: Lethal Protectors #1 Review

Writer: Frank Tieri
Artist: Flaviano Armentaro
Colors: Federico Blee
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

Release date August 28 2019
Review by D. Brown (WolfCypher)

When John Jameson went missing investigating strange occurrences in Doverton, CO., his partner Misty Knight went to retrieve him. Since then, Misty hasn’t been seen…

Since Absolute Carnage began, Ravencoft Asylum has become a major recurring setting in these books. Carnage and his crew have completely taken it over, turned all the “patients” into symbiotic minions, and are using it as a base of operations.

Misty Knight is imprisoned within these cells, and her once trustworthy friend John Jameson (who has a nasty habit of transforming into a werewolf…god bless 1970s Amazing Spider-Man) is ready to deliver her to the main area of the asylum, where Carnage awaits. Misty tries to plead with John, but its no use…

Misty finds herself face-to-face with both Dark Carnage and an innumerable crowd of Ravencroft inmates chanting to their dark lord. John offers unto Carnage Misty’s prosthetic arm and Carnage begins his ceremony…to resurrect Demogoblin.

Now, for the uninitiated, Demogoblin was the demonic side of the second Hobgoblin (well, technically he was the alleged third…but lets not get into all THAT) which split off from the Hobgoblin and became its own living entity. He was a member of Carnage’s crew during the events of Maximum Carnage, and Carnage wants to get as much of his old crew back together.

Misty sets off her booby trapped artificial arm; its revealed that before Misty left for Doverton to find John, her superiors considered the possibility that the mysteries behind Doverton could involve Carnage (due to the events of Carnage USA prior having taking a huge toll on Doverton already) and her arm was outfitted with sonic tech. Nonetheless, this disruption doesn’t stop Demogoblin from being successfully renewed as a female Demagoblin, and Misty makes a run for her life, escaping into a grate leading into the sewers. There lies hundreds, maybe more, of Carnage’s symbiote-enhanced henchmen.

Okay, this one taps into quite a bit of stories that have already happened. Its directly a continuation to Web of Venom: Cult of Carnage, itself a semi-sequel to Carnage USA while also being a prelude and build-up into Absolute Carnage. Carnage’s desire to revive Demogoblin is a call-out to Maximum Carnage, and the very title of this book is a reference to the very first Venom-led story Lethal Protector. To get the most bang for your buck, you should read, or knowledge of, Cult of Carnage (which benefits from having read Carnage USA…)

If you choose to read this without the aforementioned events in mind, its not difficult to follow. The standard cover (ignoring variants) is extremely misleading as none of those “Lethal Protectors” show up in this book. This is strictly a Misty Knight story. Where the issue leaves Misty in the end, I sense she’s going to need help. Maybe the team of Cloak & Dagger, Iron Fist, and Morbius will come to her aid in the coming issues, but that’s a maybe we have to sit on until next month.

Its a good enough issue, to say the least. Flaviano’s art is an acquired taste. It sits well with the mood of this story, and my favorite page with his art is the full page of Misty and Demagoblin (its the only page with the two of them alone). I have to question exactly how Shriek was revived as the new Demagoblin. The extent of Carnage’s abilities have not been fully explained, and I’ve gone along with his new powers as nothing he’s done has proven too much of a stretch for me to really overthink, but how much knowledge and ability does Carnage have in the way of supernatural Satanism to pull off killing Shriek and bringing her back as a whole new being?

Speaking of which, I don’t think I like Shriek being turned into the new Demogoblin. Shriek had such a cool design and powerset, and she felt unique enough compared to other villains, as no one comes to mind when I think of characters with her look and combination of powers. But we have enough Goblin villains as it is…even when they get thinned out, the replenish. Among the multiple Hobgoblins, Green Goblin, the Goblin Knight/King, and Menace, (honorable mention to the multiple Jack-O-Lanterns), did we have to sacrifice Shriek to bring back another Goblin? Well, that’s a personal nitpick.

In the end, it was cool to see a relatively normal character get entangled in the madness that is Absolute Carnage and come out of it (so far). These books have featured costumed supers getting involved in this chaos, and the few books to feature non-powered humans have ended with them bound to symbiotes under the influence of Dark Carnage/Knull (such as Separation Anxiety and Scream). Misty plays the normal every(wo)man and survives her encounter with Carnage, but its out of the frying pan and into the fire if issue two has anything to say about it, it would seem.

Final Thoughts

This tie-in ties up some past Carnage-related stories and brings back an old player from Maximum Carnage in a new way. A serviceable installment, but with the event spawning so many books this month, this one feels kind of in the middle: better than some of them have been, not as good as the others.

6.9/10

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