“God is coming.”
Those were the words on the final page of Venom #1 last year, the words that kicked off Donny Cates’ Symbiote epic of cosmic proportions. For the past year, Cates has teamed up with creators such as Ryan Stegman, Iban Coello, and Cullen Bunn to craft an intricate tale of metal and sorrow by rewriting the very fabric of Venom’s history, a history leading to Absolute Carnage, the Marvel comic event of the summer by the star creative team of Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman.
It all started when the original Venom, Eddie Brock, had a run-in with Jack O’ Lantern, Eddie’s Symbiote began acting much more volatile than usual. He soon met Rex Strickland, formerly a SHIELD agent part of a covert squad of Symbiote-powered soldiers. After the agency’s fall in the aftermath of Secret Empire, a Symbiote dragon called Grendel awakened, escaped their custody, and began to wreak havoc in New York in search of Symbiote offshoots to make itself whole again. One of these offshoots was Rex Strickland, who was actually a Symbiote disguised as its former host. It’s revealed that the Grendel was being controlled by a higher power known as Knull, the god and father of all Symbiotes, who was trapped within the depths of the planet Klyntar. In an unlikely retcon that ties Venom to Thor lore, it’s revealed that Knull was the creator of the All-Black, the sword wielded by Gorr the God Butcher in Jason Aaron’s Thor: God of Thunder, and that the Grendel was defeated by the God of Thunder’s divine lightning many centuries ago and trapped in a glacier until its more recent awakening (inspiring the Marvel universe’s version of the tale of Beowulf). This defeat causes Knull to lose his hive-mind connection to his Symbiotes, causing them to rebel and entrap him. Did I mention that Venom even had dragon wings for a hot minute?
After defeating the Grendel at a heavy cost, Eddie was picked up by the Reed Richards of Earth 1610, otherwise known as The Maker. Richards interrogated Eddie regarding his battle with the Grendel, claiming to be apart of a mysterious group called Project Oversight. It’s then revealed that the severe damage to Eddie and his Symbiote from the battle with Grendel sent them on a feral rampage for almost a month, and sent Eddie back to his father’s house in San Francisco before Richards managed to detain him, Eddie having amnesia about the whole ordeal. Eddie and the badly damaged Venom escape Project Oversight with the help of a copied piece of the deceased Flash Thompson’s consciousness, transforming into Agent Venom (which is one of my favourite moments in Venom history, thank you Donny and Iban.)
On the run from the Mr. Fantastic of another universe and a Symbiote god from another planet, this all lead to the most shocking revelation so far of Cates’ Symbi-epic: Eddie Brock has a nine year old son, kept secret by Eddie’s abusive father, Carl, at the request of Eddie’s ex-wife, Anne Weying. Having bonded with Venom to save her life, Anne became mysteriously pregnant. After giving birth, she left the boy with Carl. Their son’s name was Dylan Brock, who believed that Eddie was actually his older brother, and continues to believe so. When Eddie returned to his father to apologize for his sudden arrival on his doorstep earlier on, Carl scolded his son and sent him off. Dylan snuck out and followed Eddie, expressing his loathing for Carl to him, both of them still under the impression that they’re half-brothers. After getting a PTSD-induced hallucination of Dylan transforming into Knull, Eddie coughed up blood and passed out. Dylan called an ambulance which brought him and his father to the hospital, where the Maker intercepted them and revealed that Eddie’s cancer had returned. But it’s not what you might think.
In a comatose state, Eddie and Venom had a confrontation where even more secrets are revealed about their relationship. In Eddie’s mindscape, it was discovered that the Symbiote had been faking its brain-dead state, and had been manipulating its host since the beginning into needing it by inserting false memories of his sister and uncle, who in reality never existed, gave Eddie selective amnesia, and actually gave Eddie his cancer by altering his biochemistry. Betrayed and enraged, Eddie had the Maker remove Symbiote from his system. Eddie and the Symbiote parted ways. Eddie went on to protect Dylan, while Venom went on a quest to redeem itself in the War of the Realms.
Web of Venom
As Eddie fought his new demons, one of his oldest ones operated in the shadows. Having stolen a piece of the Grendel from Project Oversight, a cult dedicated to worshipping Knull resurrected the recently killed Cletus Kassady. Through his new connection to Knull, Cletus became Carnage once again, and used his new abilities to mind control the cult so that they could reassemble the Grendel in order to free Knull from the depths of the planet Klyntar. The plan? Find and kill everyone on earth who’s ever worn a Symbiote. Everyone’s a target. Eddie and Venom have already had run-ins with the cult and learned of Kletus’ reemergence. The latest issue even had Kassady chase Andi Benton, the former Symbiote called Mania, back to New York.
End of the road
The very last moments leading into Absolute Carnage were in a story by Cates and Stegman in FCBD 2019 Spider-Man #1, where we find Carnage posing as Eddie in Ryker’s and framing him for the murder of Lee Price, the current Mania. The end of the story finally has Kletus set his sights on Peter Parker, the first one to wear the Venom Symbiote. This leads directly into the first issue of the event this coming week.
However this may not be all. Outside of Venom, Cates has built an intricate web tying into the epic. In the pages of Guardians of the Galaxy, the Dark Guardian called Wraith seems to be searching for Knull, while Norrin Radd faces a past version of Knull at his prime at the dawn of time in Silver Surfer Black. Whether or not these things will be touched upon in Absolute Carnage is uncertain, but I wouldn’t doubt for a second that Donny Cates’ has something mind-blowingly awesome planned.
Absolute Carnage #1 hits the shelves this Wednesday coming. I certainly hope that this recap has helped you dive into the madness of the new symbiotic era, because it’s still only just getting started.