WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Absolute Carnage: Lethal Protectors #2 by Frank Tieri, Flaviano, Federico Blee and VC's Clayton Cowles, on sale now.
The first time Carnage became a threat for the entire Marvel Universe was the classic 1993 crossover event Maximum Carnage, with the symbiote-bonded serial killer Cletus Kasady spawning a wave of his own symbiotes that wrecked bloody havoc on New York City, forcing the various heroes to come together to stop him. With Carnage threatening the world once again and more powerful than ever in the current crossover Absolute Carnage, a certain band of unlikely heroes band together again for the first time since that storyline 26 years ago.
In the latest issue of the tie-in miniseries Absolute Carnage: Lethal Protectors, Iron Fist, Cloak and Dagger, Deathlok, Morbius, and Firestar all reunite to deal with Carnage and his symbiote-bonded army festering in the sewers underneath New York. Initially based out of the Ravencroft Institute, Carnage has empowered Man-Wolf to continue his hunting Misty Knight into the sewers leading the street-level superhero to call her longtime paramour Iron Fist and inform him of the coming evil. Witnessing the sewers teeming with symbiote drones, Iron Fist puts out the call of his old Maximum Carnage allies to join him.
However, opposing the ensemble heroes are familiar villains from the old crossover as well: Shriek and Demogoblin are both seen as trusted lieutenants of Carnage, similarly empowered by Knull, the dormant god of symbiotes.
Shriek had been a particularly pivotal figure in helping Carnage and Doppelgänger form a cult on Earth to worship Knull and plan the revival of the dark god. As part of her devotion, Shriek ritually sacrificed herself to bond to Demogoblin, further strengthening the villainous duo's connection in service to Carnage and Knull.
In Maximum Carnage, Shriek and Demogoblin joined with Carnage, Carrion and Doppelgänger to cut a bloody path through Manhattan. Severe infighting and bickering between the evil ensemble had led to their eventual dissolution and defeat but, with the villains now driven by religious zealotry and unequivocally following Carnage's lead, the heroes can't count on internal tension in aiding them to stop the new rise of Carnage, even standing together again for the first time in years.
After getting the heads up from Misty Knight, most of the classic heroes that stopped Carnage in 1993 are back together while the group's former leaders in Spider-Man, Venom and Captain America are already preoccupied ,away from the ensemble with Carnage's other machinations. However, without these heavy hitters, Iron Fist is leading this unlikely troupe of largely street-level superheroes who may not be enough to stop the cosmically empowered serial killer and his growing number of monstrous followers.
Absolute Carnage has been packed with references to classic moments from the symbiotes' extensive history through the Marvel Universe, both linked to Venom and its most infamous, homicidal offspring Carnage. With Maximum Carnage as one of the most beloved, iconic stories to feature Cletus Kasady, the new story heavily references the 1993 storyline in particular as the heroes begin to rally against a resurgent Carnage. However, even together for the first time in years, the reunion of heroes may not be enough to stop Carnage and his cult from reviving Knull and unleashing the fury of the symbiotes on the Marvel Universe.