You know what? Absolute Carnage #1 by Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman is, actually, really pretty good. Why the qualifiers? Because I’ve never been a big fan of the character, and what little interest I did have in Spider-Man’s stable of symbiotic super-villains dropped off considerably as the ultra-violent aesthetic swallowed up the 80’s anti-hero boom and suddenly, painfully, took precedence over any kind of decent comic book storytelling or artistry. Subconsciously I think I’ve somehow equated the Punisher/Deadpool/Venom-Carnage fanbase with the same people who can’t stand seeing a Black Captain America or a Jane Foster swinging Mjolnir. I don’t have time to waste on that nonsense. So, coupled with my disinterest in the characters, I also assume any new books featuring those guys would therefore target that audience. Pass.
Despite developing an appreciation for the work of Donny Cates, if it hadn’t been for our “Fresh Start” focus group project, I probably wouldn’t have bothered reading the first issue of the new Venom series (see above). And then I would have missed out on arguably the hottest team in comics right now. Ryan Stegman’s work is a revelation, and the storyline involving new, unexpected layers to the symbiote lore has been everything you want from comic book fantasy. Primordial cosmic chaos, terrifying cultish machinations, and millennia-spanning mystery. And, again, totally unexpected (particularly given how terrible the most recent attempt at de-mystifying the symbiotes had been during Bendis’s Guardians of the Galaxy run).
To cut to the chase: Absolute Carnage #1 is a fantastic horror comic. Coupled with Ewing and Bennett’s Immortal Hulk, these are the kind of books that, I’d argue, we’ve never seen dressed up in cape n’ tights veneer and haven’t been worth a damn since the EC heyday.
Al Ewing & Paco Medina
This book seemed bizarre to me. All of these alternate universe characters feel like red-shirts in Star Trek; I don’t care about them. This book really just reeks of that crossover-tie-in funk that bogs down so much of what Marvel publishes. There isn’t really anything substantial in the book even worth writing about – a really lousy comic. I will in no way shape or form be reading any more of this book. – IP
I did not like this at all. I don’t want to play your damn game and I don’t want to read your confusing tie-in. – BC
First collection: Contest of Champions, Vol. 1: Battleworld (May)
64 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Marc Guggenheim & German Peralta
I’m so confused. I thought even with multiverses collapsing, the Marvel Movie U and the ANAD Marvel were separate things. Is that Robert Downey Iron Man? I don’t see this book capturing a wide audience. I don’t think the TV show’s audience is really hankering for more B-listers and primetime tropes in comic form. This is some classically lame, cross-promotional baby shit. Ugly drawings. Boo boo, Peralta. – RF
First collection: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Vol. 1: The Coulson Protocols (August)
Week six of Marvel’s All-New All-Different relaunch puts that mouthful of a moniker right smack on the cover of at least one flagship title. Waid and Kubert’s Avengers title isn’t New or Uncanny, or even Ultimate (also debuting this week), but it does feel like the focal book of the Avengers line. We got out first tease of this series back in May with a Free Comic Book Day edition, and now, in its full-length glory, Earth’s Mightiest kick-off a galactic romp that hearkens back to the pre-Disassembled Kurt Busiek days.
The seven new series hitting shelves this week brings the total up to an even thirty. X-23 takes up the Wolverine mantle. Team Hawkeye picks up from Perez and Lemire’s 5-issue run earlier in the year. A psychopathic super-villain gets top-billing. A cluster of Spider-people are the new Exiles. Heroes for Hire gets worked. And more! Including The Mandarin in a sweet suit.
All New All Different premieres All-New All-Different Avengers #1 All-New Hawkeye #1 All-New Wolverine #1 Carnage #1 Illuminati #1 Ultimates #1 Web Warriors #1