Absolute Carnage #4 Review

Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Ryan Stegman
Colors: Frank Martin
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

Release date October 16, 2019
Review by D. Brown (WolfCypher)

This is the penultimate chapter of what has been one interesting thrill ride, and at the risk of sounding like I’m being negative (believe me, I am not), this issue finally makes this story feel like an event. We have officially gone from a great story that pushed towards all hell breaking loose to the point where the end of the world is about to come crashing down.

Donny Cates, since issue one, has kept up with establishing that Cletus Kasady, as this newly empowered Dark Carnage, is on a whole different level from everyone around him. That holds true when he manages to fight off a symbiote powered Immortal Hulk. Even with the Venom symbiote adding to his might, the Hulk is unable to make any difference against Carnage. Eddie has no symbiote, Carnage’s horde is swarming the heroes, and to make already impossibly bad matters worse, the Maker was not on the up-and-up about the extraction process of the codices he’s been removing from those who hosted symbiotes.

Every issue has exemplified the futility of fighting back against Carnage. Ryan Stegman rises to the task delivering that through the art. With so much going on, he’s able to drive the chaos home through a serious of supercut panels, while Donny Cates wedges narration in between each panel. It’s a very effective method and builds on the tension greatly. It’s crazy how Stegman’s art just continues to push its own limits since I will say this is the best his art has been so far, and by no means did I think any of the previous issues had faltering visuals. This is the best the event has looked by far.

Cates manages to deliver an issue that never feels rushed even with the sheer number of things happening all at once. He’s developed a signature style of putting everyone through the wringer and ending on a crazy cliffhanger that leaves us all with the impression that things can only get worse before they get better. This is the beginning of the end, and even I was wondering if he would somehow deprive us of any chance, any glimmer that these heroes can pull off a win. There’s a brief instance of hope that Cates builds up to, in a twist that I could not have guessed.

Having read so far all the released side-issues and tie-in issues accompanying this main event title, I got to issue four and realized just how unnecessary most of those tie-ins really proved to be. Everything that could possibly matter has been handled either exclusively in Cates’ main book if at all, or has been handled better by him and Stegman. This issue resolves the dilemma of Miles Morales being a captive of the Carnage horde in a way that completely ignores what we read by the end of Saladin Ahmed’s Absolute Carnage: Miles Morales tie-in and even does it in a better fashion. Retroactively, this only makes me view that particular side-story in an even harsher light. This overall event feels much, much tighter a read when you simply plow through only the main Absolute Carnage issues (the issues of Venom that tie-in being one of the few exceptions).

We have reached critical mass with this event. Cates and Stegman have one more chapter to fulfill and its all been one cavalcade of mayhem and bedlam, reaching a new peak with its fourth issue.

Final Thoughts

Absolute Carnage #4 has Carnage bringing the party to our heroes and draws everything closer to its final hour. This is an event I can recommend with great praise, and it still has one more issue left!

8.6/10

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