Writer: Jed MacKay
Artist: Stefano Raffaele
Colors: Dono Sanchez-Almara
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Release date November 6 2019
Review by D. Brown (WolfCypher)
This issue proves to be a great catch-up to those who have not read the original “Rex” story arc from Donny Cates’ Venom (issues 1-6) and/or his very first Web of Venom story (Ven’am). Most of the early exposition is recap from Venom stories over a year old. It then leads into the second half of the book, where the expected action and fighting happens as Clayton and Dark Carnage throw down. I thought it funny that this new Hulk was able to put up way more of a fight against Dark Carnage than the OG Banner/Hulk with a Venom-powered upgrade (as seen in Absolute Carnage #4); it speaks favorably of Clayton, though. Funnier still how, as of this issue’s release, we are gearing steadfastly into the finale of the event, and this issue takes place before the events of Absolute Carnage #1. This really needed to release during the first wave of Absolute Carnage material, as I see no point, THIS far into the big event’s story, to backtrack to before the event started. This gives me reason to believe this one was a late, tacked on tie-in for the event.
We’ve gotten plenty of Absolute Carnage tie-ins, spin-offs, and side stories already, each with fluctuating results, some less significant to that event’s story than the others. I would place Weapon Plus in the same bubble as the other optional Absolute Carnage add-ons that not at all to significant to justify. The most entertainment I got from this book was the fray between “Wolverhulk” and Dark Carnage. Prior to this second half of the book, I was pretty bored. Like I explained earlier, the first half is all recap of events that happened far long before Absolute Carnage begun. These recaps seem to really only exist to explain to Clayton and us readers the revelation that there have been more Weapon X/Super-Soldier experimentations, but this time using symbiotes as the stock specimen. None of this was new to me. Incidentally, if you aren’t reading Venom or Absolute Carnage at this point in their runs, you probably have no interest in what’s been happening over in those stories, and this recap won’t serve you any better. The art sometimes left a lot to be desired. There were panels and pages that looked really good, including two panels with the Grendal symbiote-dragon (there’s only two in the book) and there was decent detail given to any scene where there was a visible backdrop (opposed to a few instances where the backgrounds are blank or just filled with a splash of color). But once the book shifts into its action-heavy phase, the fighting between Clayton and Carnage is rough to look at. There are two pages of exactly ten panels total of Clayton and Carnage slashing and striking each other, and Carnage looks bad. The highlight of this issue will probably only be the action half of the book, and the art brings that down.
By the end of the book, Clayton doesn’t fell like he has any purpose being involved in this Absolute Carnage event; he himself has never hosted or even encountered a symbiote before, he’s only coerced into this because the Weapon Plus program needs a “Hulk” to contain Carnage, and by the end, he leaves and the book makes it very evident that their won’t be any continuation of Absolute Carnage in Clayton’s future. He’s done.
Now, I’m sure the secret experiments the Weapon Plus program have been working on using symbiotes will come back into Clayton’s purview, but that just makes this whole issue feel like a backdoor pilot for a future Weapon Plus/Hulkverine story arc. No, you do not need to read this if the “Absolute Carnage” branding is all you came for, its barely anything to do with that story. Its very much a fight issue starring Clayton-Hulk using bits from a 2018 Venom arc.
Exposition heavy at the start, popcorn-flick action towards the end, Absolute Carnage: Weapon Plus is an unnecessary recap of events prior to the event its branching from (it takes place before Absolute Carnage #1), and whatever hidden secrets its plot unfolds for our protagonist have little impact on said event. A filler story for the Absolute Carnage crowd, and a mere seed planted for a future Weapon Plus story.