Announced by Marvel at last month's C2E2 in Chicago, the publisher's next big summer comic book crossover event is Absolute Carnage. Created by the current Venom series creative team of Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman, the upcoming series teases a showdown of epic proportions between Carnage and the rest of the Marvel Universe after over a year of quiet development.
However, the roots of the story actually go back for decades of publishing history, with Carnage and the alien symbiotes extending far into the Marvel Universe's past. As such, here's a quick primer on the history leading up to Marvel's next epic event, including key characters and previous storylines that will likely play a major role in informing the direction of Absolute Carnage.
What Is Absolute Carnage?
At Marvel's Next Big Thing panel at C2E2, the publisher unveiled an official announcement trailer for Absolute Carnage featuring a video with writer Donny Cates. Cates revealed that the event would launch this August, partially spinning out of the events of next month's Free Comic Book Day title FCBD Spider-Man/Venom #1, out on May 4 from a story written by Cates and illustrated by Stegman.
As for the event itself, Cates teased that the symbiote-bonded serial killer Cletus Kasady would stage his full comeback to the Marvel Universe as Carnage in a major way. More powerful than ever, the homicidal madman would target every character in the Marvel Universe that has ever worn a symbiote before. Given the scope of previous events from Maximum Carnage to Venomized, that puts virtually every major hero in the Marvel Universe in danger of Carnage.
The Alien Costume Saga and Maximum Carnage
Symbiotes were introduced to the Marvel Universe during the landmark 1984 comic book crossover Secret Wars by Jim Shooter, Mike Zeck and Bob Layton. As Spider-Man's adventure on Battleworld left the webslinger's costume in tatters, Peter Parker entered a strange, alien structure where he accidentally bonded with a symbiote that formed the now-iconic black and white costume.
Upon his return to Earth, Peter learned from Reed Richards that the new suit was actually a living, extraterrestrial creature trying to permanently bond with his body. Taking advantage of the symbiote's weakness to sonic noise, Spider-Man used a nearby church bell to remove the alien from his body, where it bonded with disgraced journalist Eddie Brock to become the villain Venom.
In the years that followed, while Venom's hatred of Spider-Man remained, the character had become more of an antihero, a lethal protector dispensing hard-hitting justice as Eddie and the symbiote formed their own strange symbiosis. 1992's Amazing Spider-Man #361 by David Michelinie and Mark Bagley had the serial killer Cletus Kasady bond with the spawn of Venom to become the symbiote-empowered villain Carnage.