WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Web of Venom: Cult of Carnage #1 by Frank Tieri, Danilo S. Beyruth, Andres Mossa and Clayton Cowles, in stores now.
The Marvel Universe is gearing up for a summer event that will leave every superhero shaking in their colorful boots. In August, Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman will unleash Absolute Carnage, which will see the titular frightening Spider-Man villain go after every single Marvel character who was ever bonded with a Klyntar symbiote.
The event has been carefully seeded in Cates and Stegman's 2018 comic series Venom, which recently featured the long-awaited return of Spider-Man villain Cletus Kasady. Thanks to a cult devoted to Knull, the god of symbiotes, Carnage was reborn, deadlier and more terrifying than ever before. But while we thought we knew everything there was to know about Marvel's upcoming Carnage event, there is actually more to be found... in a past Marvel story.
In Web of Venom: Cult of Carnage #1, Marvel reveals that the actual starting point to Absolute Carnage -- the story where the seeds were actually first planted -- was in the 2011 miniseries Carnage U.S.A.
Carnage U.S.A. was a five-part limited series by writer Zeb Wells and Clayton Crain that saw the Spider-Man villain push his powers to the limit by taking over the small town of Doverton, Colorado by bonding its citizens with duplicates of himself. While the Avengers tried to intervene, most of them also fell under the control of Carnage, and it was up to Spider-Man, Venom and a symbiote-enhanced squad to defeat Cletus Kasady.
In Web of Venom: Cult of Carnage, we discover that, while the town of Doverton may have recovered from Carnage's attack, something is definitely not right with its citizens. In fact, most have fallen prey to Sandra Deel (aka Shriek), who is posing as the leader of a dark cult named The Church of the New Darkness. The purpose of the Church is gruesome. Its members are actually being sacrificed to Carnage, who rips out their spines to bond with the symbiote codex left behind in their system.
But what does that mean for Absolute Carnage itself? Well, we can now say that this is a story that actually stretches back eight years. But what's perhaps most interesting is that, in the letters page at the end Cult of Carnage #1, the editorial message advises readers to go back and read Carnage U.S.A., seeing as how it "may give a hint at what's to come for the Marvel Universe in the next few months."
Knowing that the miniseries featured Carnage taking control of an entire town as well as the Avengers, this sure doesn't bode well for the future of the Marvel Universe as we head into the summer. Will Carnage build his own army of "Carnagized" superheroes? If so, who has any hope of standing in his way? Right now, Eddie Brock is separated from his symbiote, which, in turn, has been de-powered after it was cut off from the Klyntar hivemind. As it stands, there might be little hope out there. Carnage is coming -- and it doesn't seem like anyone will be able to stop him.