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.
Absolute Carnage #1 is an absolute beast of an issue. With a whopping 60 pages, the first chapter in this five-part story delivers plenty of bang for your buck. It's got everything you could ever hope for in a Venom story: symbiote versus symbiote action, Spider-Man, an unlikely team-up, the return of a frightening villain, chills, thrills and a promising cliffhanger.
But that's not all the comic miniseries debut issue offers. On top of all that, Absolute Carnage #1 also features a clever nod to its Distinguished Competition. That's right, the Donny Cates-penned, Ryan Stegman-illustrated issue pays homage to one of DC's most famous and celebrated works: Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen.
In Absolute Carnage #1, Eddie Brock finds himself on the run from both Carnage and the authorities. With his young son Dylan in tow, Eddie has no choice but to turn to the last person he wants to ask for help: Peter Parker. Thankfully, Peter is more than willing to help his frenemy defeat Carnage. Therefore, Eddie brings Peter up to speed about, well, everything: the god of the symbiotes named Knull, the symbiote codex left behind in every person who bonds with one of the Klyntar and Carnage's plan.
To try and beat Carnage to the punch, Peter devises a plan. They need to find someone smart enough to create a machine that will safely remove the codex from a host. And, as it just so happens, Eddie knows exactly who to ask: the Maker.
The Maker is the evil Reed Richards from an alternate universe. Recently, the character has sporadically appeared in the Venom series as somewhat of an ally in Eddie's fight with the symbiotes -- a necessary evil. But the highly intelligent supervillain also clearly has plans of his own. And yet, that doesn't matter for the moment -- what matters is creating a machine that can take the codex out of someone before Carnage can get to them.
Not long after, Eddie and Peter reach the Maker's facility and, to their great surprise, the genius inventor has already created the machine, which is ready to be tested. And that is when the supervillain makes a reference to DC's Watchmen. "You require a machine," he tells Eddie. "Well, here you are... I built it thirty-five days ago."
The Maker explains that the organization he works for is heavily interested in the symbiotes, and that he built this machine before he ever met Eddie. The revelation makes sense, story-wise, but it's also clearly meant to be an homage to Watchmen. In fact, in the penultimate chapter of Moore and Gibbons' 1987 classic, Adrian Veidt, aka Ozymandias, was revealed as the manipulative villain behind the series' plot. In a scene that would become iconic, Veidt revealed to Rorschach and Nite Owl that they had no hope of stopping him because he had enacted his plan "thirty-five minutes ago."
While the Maker didn't create his machine 35 minutes ago, the use of the same number makes this a clear Watchmen reference. What's more, the homage is sure to be picked up by any comic book fan, which is sure to make them wonder: Is this a simple, fun nod to a classic comic book... or is this a warning that the Maker is clearly up to something sinister? We'd be willing to bet on the latter.