Carnage: Axis Part Three (of Three): Absolution
Writer: Rick Spears
Artist: German Peralta
Colorist: Rain Beredo
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Editors: Charles Beacham & Nick Lowe
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso
Plot: Carnage, after being blown up, sets out to find Alice Gleason, who was kidnapped by Sin-Eater last issue. He does this by extending his symbiote as tendrils through out the city. He locates Alice just in time to save her from Sin-Eater’s killing blow, leading them to a final conflict. Sin-eater drains Carnage of his sins, making both of them more powerful (SE is turned into a giant by feeding on the sins while Carnage moves more freely without them.) Carnage delivers the finishing blow to the massive Sin-Eater by revealing his greatest sin; he loved every moment of death and destruction he wrought. Sin-Eater overloads on his sin and Carnage thanks him for absolving him of his sins so that he can move forward and be a good man. However, Alice has one final lesson to teach Carnage: Nobody is good. She turns on Carnage and has a police squad open fire on him. Carnage misunderstands her final lesson (he believes she is trying to make him realize that a hero will only get loved ones killed) and takes off to the final showdown between heroes and villains in the AXIS conclusion.
Thoughts: Bravo. Spears, Peralta, and the creative team have managed to make every part of Carnage’s road to redemption work. This issue makes this mini more than the sum of its parts, because it managed to take a premise that made me groan and turn it into possibly my favorite Carnage story (Carnage USA is a strong contender.) I’ve reread this series a few times since completion and it still makes me really happy every time I put it down, especially with how it plays alongside the finale of AXIS. It’s exactly as long as it needs to be, it doesn’t drag its feet, and does a Herculean task. I mentioned this in the other reviews, but it is worth saying again here; this bizarre plot works by not discarding who Carnage was but embracing it and pushing the character first. Carnage atones for his sins and it is the pleasure he found in his horrible misdeeds that delivers the killing blow to Sin-Eater. It’s his darkest moments that give him his most heroic one and that’s beautiful storytelling. Am I little disappointed that Katie turns out to be a horrible person? Sure, but I mean that is how her character has been portrayed thus far. This book was about Carnage’s redemption and she was a big part of that while also being able to stand on her own as a character. And that last lesson she gives Carnage? Perfect summation of her character and it gives Carnage a genuine tragic moment, which was the ultimate role I wanted her to play.
From the word go, German Peralta gives his all. He gives us a wonderful version of Carnage’s own personal heaven and hell, before delivering one demonically awesome final boss fight with Sin-Eater. He even gets to play around with a new power for Carnage, which might be the coolest power I’ve seen a symbiote use. German Peralta has become an artist to watch and I actually hope he heads over to DC, where his darker work would be better suited. But hey, the end of the Marvel Universe as we know it is coming, so I’m sure there’s some dark stuff for him to do if he decides to stick around at Marvel. He’s well supported by Rain Beredo’s colors, especially in the final scene where Carnage is mourning the future he will never have as he’s being torn apart by bullet. And Joe Sabino nails it on lettering in this mini, creating a great sense of unease with Carnage’s dialogue and using sound effects to great effect, especially in the one on one brawls. Together, the three of them create a wonderfully visceral world that is perfect for Carnage.
AXIS Spoilers: To stop Apoclypse from killing the human population with his gene bomb, Steve Rogers has his Avengers (consisting of the likes of Loki and Carnage) distract the inverted X-Men while sending Spider-Man and Deadpool to defuse the bomb. The plan goes horribly astray and just before the bomb goes off, Carnage encases the bomb in the only thing that could contain it; himself.
AXIS Thoughts: If you had told me that the most emotional death in Marvel Comics for 2014 would be Carnage, I would have laughed. The character has seen his fair share of highs over the last few years, but there has been a lot of lows too. And I want to thank Rick Spears for making Carnage so damn lovable in just three issues, because Remender’s script does little to endear the readers to Carnage. But his sacrifice in Axis #8 reads as the perfect epilogue to Spears’ fantastic mini.
And yeah, I know its comics and Carnage will be back (I’ll see y’all next week for a Nova review dealing with Carnage’s AXIS fallout) but he really didn’t have to come back for awhile. This could have been a death that matters, proof that even the most villainous people in the Marvel Universe can be a hero. However, they do set up the fact that explosions aren’t likely to kill Carnage in this issue, so nice foreshadowing.
Verdict: Rick Remender knew what he was doing when he suggested Rick Spears to be the man to handle the job of making Marvel’s residential serial killer a hero. This is the book that delivered on the promise of AXIS, far better than the main book did. It should be a textbook example of showing how to evolve a character by embracing who that character is. As a writer, its easy for me to heap praise on the story, but this whole creative team is one to watch. While I hope German Peralta sticks around to do darker Marvel books, I think he could be a golden boy over at Image or DC. This creative team let Carnage go out on top and I thank them for that.
You should all give this a read.
- Art Team
- Carnage going out on top
- Carnage’s ultimate sin becoming his heroic moment
- Tragic moment achieved
A+ (Series Grade)