WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Absolute Carnage #3 by Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman, JP Mayer, Frank Martin and VC's Clayton Cowles, on sale Wednesday, Sept. 18.
The Marvel Universe is currently feeling the effects of Absolute Carnage, an event series focusing on Venom, Carnage and anyone else who has acted as a host for an alien symbiote. Cletus Kasady is back as the psychotic Carnage, with a mission to steal codices -- microscopic pieces of symbiote material -- from former and current hosts. The villain's end goal is to resurrect Knull, the god of symbiotes, who plagued Eddie Brock and Venom during the opening arc of Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman's run.
The situation is so dire that long-time rivals, Venom and Spider-Man, are teaming up to take out Carnage. An unexpected ally in their quest is The Maker, the Reed Richards from the Ultimate Universe that has taken an interest in Venom. The Maker created a piece of technology that should be able to remove a codex from a host. Needing a body to experiment with, Venom and Spider-Man headed to the Ravencroft Institute to break out Norman Osborn. The Spider-Man villain previously bonded with Carnage to create the Red Goblin, though the process left Norman believing he was really Cletus Kasady.
Unfortunately, Carnage met the heroes at the institute and turned Norman back into the Red Goblin. Venom and Spider-Man luckily escaped the no-win situation with their lives, and split up to recruit more heroes to their cause. This brought in Miles Morales and the Scorpion (Mac Gargan), who themselves were battling a horde of Carnage clones. Norman suddenly showed up to steal Gargan's codex, and turned Miles into a Carnage slave.
Things may look bleak now, but a preview of Absolute Carnage #3 reveals the Venom symbiote will take advantage of an opening by dealing a potentially lethal blow to Norman when it drives a sharpened tendril through his chest.
Venom is able to get the drop on Norman when Eddie brings up Norman's grandson, Normie. This proves to be enough to snap Norman out of his false-identity state. The Venom symbiote doesn't want to take any chances by showing mercy to Norman, and starts to act on its own, disobeying Eddie's commands. "You ... you just stabbed him in the heart ...," Eddie says. "Someone had to, Eddie," the symbiote replies. The two have had a complicated relationship the last few issues, with the two being separated prior to War of the Realms, and only just recently reuniting.
Of course, there is a likelihood that the wound isn't enough to end Norman Osborn's life. Symbiotes have the ability to heal their hosts, so Carnage can easily repair any damage done to Norman -- if it chooses to do so. It's hard to trust a serial killer to do the right thing when it comes to saving a life. And something tells us Spider-Man won't be rid of Norman Osborn that easily.