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REVIEW: Absolute Carnage Brings Horror Into Miles Morales' World

With Absolute Carnage well underway, Marvel Comics has been releasing the inevitable first wave of tie-in titles, with Absolute Carnage: Miles Morales among those leading the pack. Taking place concurrently with the second issue of the main crossover miniseries, Saladin Ahmed and Federico Vicentini's tie=in story enriches its titular hero's plight as he finds himself drawn into the wider conflict for the fate of the Marvel Universe. The creative team delivers a solid enough story starring the teenage webslinger, if a bit inconsequential so far for the overall crossover event's storyline.

The miniseries begins with Miles and his best friend Ganke hanging out in New York City when the duo cross paths with the classic Spider-Man villain Scorpion in the middle of a heist. As Miles foils the crook's plans, their super-powered brawl is abruptly interrupted when they find themselves targeted by Carnage's followers as Cletus Kasady's fiendish plot spills into the streets of Manhattan, with bloody results and no one safe from the symbiote-fueled storm.

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Ever since taking over Miles' main ongoing series, Ahmed has demonstrated a strong grasp on the character's voice, and though the issue's main narrative is in service to another character's storyline, that depiction is not lessened here. Ahmed knows how to craft a solid, fun adventure for Miles, and the superhero's initial brawl against Scorpion appropriately feels like something right out of the pages of his own series. It's when all hell breaks loose that everything takes a bit of a turn and tone of the book changes accordingly.

Tie-in books, especially tie-in miniseries, usually fall into two separate camps. They either tell a standalone story that uses the background of current crossover event without direct consequence to the actual crossover's story, or they enrich a crucial moment during the main storyline by providing additional background to the events. The opening issue of Absolute Carnage: Miles Morales certainly falls into the latter camp and the issue itself wisely recommends that readers familiarize themselves with the sophomore issue of Absolute Carnage before starting here. Because of this, it also makes sense for this particular story to be given a miniseries rather than unfolding in Miles' own ongoing title.

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Illustrating the miniseries is relative newcomer Federico Vincentini, joined by color artist Erick Arciniega. Vincentini's linework is a little more raw than the main Miles' series, but still perfectly in line with the characters and the visuals of the story. Where the art team really excels is when Carnage and his horrific army of symbiotes inevitably strike in the latter half of the issue, and the story shifts from standard superhero fare to the more horror-tinged action of the core crossover story. Vincentini really knows how to draw a fight scene and with much of the issue devoted to an escalating one, really delivers on the choreographed mayhem. Vincentini's depiction of Carnage doesn't quite match the villain's appearance in the core crossover but is still immediately recognizable as a more classic form the character rather than the grotesque horror seen in the event's first two issues.

Absolute Carnage: Miles Morales is the kind of tie-in comic book that delivers right on reader expectation in an all killer, no filler opening chapter. Saladin Ahmed continues to prove himself more than up to the task of writing the adventures of Miles Morales in an issue that moves at a brisk pace to quickly set the stage before plunging right into the heart of the bloody chaos of the main story. Vincentini's action sequences elevate the material for what is mostly a fight issue though, ultimately, does not forge considerable new ground for the overall event. However, given the events of the issue and the story it spins out of, this may dramatically change in the miniseries' two final issues as Miles firsthand experiences the situation going from bad to much, much worse.

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