WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Absolute Carnage #1 by Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman, JP Mayer, Frank Martin and Clayton Cowles, in stores now.
Since his return in Web of Venom: Carnage Born, Cletus Kasady has been slowly turning into one of the Marvel Universe's most dangerous foes, working behind the scenes to keep tabs on anyone who has ever bonded with a symbiote. His plan is to collect the codex -- what the symbiote leaves behind in its host's DNA -- from each of them, in order to wake Knull, the god of the symbiotes.
Finally, in Absolute Carnage #1, Cletus puts his plan into motion. More powerful than ever, Carnage goes after Venom, but that's only the beginning. Soon after, the supervillain sets his sights on someone else entirely: Norman Osborn, aka the Green Goblin, also formerly known as the Red Goblin.
In a desperate attempt to beat Carnage, Venom and Spider-Man seek the help of the Maker, who has built a machine that may be able to safely remove the codex from a human being. However, the machine hasn't been tested, and there isn't a long line of willing subjects. Therefore, Eddie Brock and Peter Parker set out to find the next best thing: an unwilling subject in dire need of help -- Norman Osborn.
In 2018, Osborn stole the Carnage symbiote and bonded with it in hope of defeating Spider-Man once and for all. The result was the Red Goblin, part Osborn, part Carnage, a terrifying and dangerous new creation. Although Peter was able to defeat the Red Goblin and separate Osborn from the symbiote (with a bit of help), Norman was completely changed: The symbiote infected him with the mind of Cletus Kasady. Therefore, for all intents and purposes, Osborn believes he is Cletus, the serial killer.
Because Osborn was bonded with a symbiote, he possesses the codex in his DNA, which means he's one of Carnage's targets. Therefore, Peter and Eddie rush to the Ravencroft Institute to break out Norman and take him to the Maker. Unfortunately, Cletus Kasady arrives at the criminal institute at the exact same time -- and he doesn't come alone. He transforms all of the prisoners into his drones, creating a veritable army of symbiotes.
The combined efforts of Eddie and Peter aren't enough to match Carnage and his swarm of terrifying soldiers. Unfortunately, the race is lost, and Carnage gets to Osborn first. But the real surprise comes when, instead of ripping out his spine to collect the codex, Carnage instead transforms Osborn into another symbiote.
The implications are absolutely terrifying. Because Osborn isn't himself, the return of the symbiote doesn't transform him into the Red Goblin. However, because he's infected with the mind of Cletus Kasady, the real Carnage has essentially created a second Carnage that is just as demented as the original.
Venom and Spider-Man have their work cut out for them. Not only are they facing an army of symbiotes, but also two Carnages. The return of Norman Osborn has just tipped the scales in favor of Cletus Kasady as Absolute Carnage begins.
But will Osborn remain Carnage's puppet? If Cletus' infection is somehow purged from his min, could the Red Goblin join the fight and become the latest recruit in Venom's team?