Venom Volume 3: Absolute Carnage (2020)
Reprints Venom #16-20
Written by Donny Cates
Art by Juan Gedon, Jesus Arburtov, Iban Coello, Rain Beredo, and Ze Carlos
You’re saying, “Didn’t you review Absolute Carnage last month?” Yes. That was the core mini-series of the event while these are the issues of Venom that tie-in that storyline. Comics are hard to understand sometimes. That said, these issues focus Dylan Brock, Eddie’s son. While Eddie is out fighting Carnage’s hordes of symbiotes, Dylan is staying with Normie Osborn, former host to a piece of Carnage thanks to his grandpa, the Green Goblin. The two kids are being watched over by The Maker, aka Reed Richards. I’d like to talk about that character for a bit.
Once upon a time, Marvel created the Ultimate Universe. This was the early 2000s, and the goal was to freshen up properties that might have been mired in overly complicated continuity after 30-40 years. They started with Spider-Man, who had been left in a less than desirable state after the Clone Saga of the 1990s. This is the line of comics that would lead to Miles Morales’s introduction. With 2015’s Secret Wars, the Ultimate Universe was folded into the Marvel Universe with little mention by characters understanding they came from another reality. The Maker is one character who acknowledges he came from another universe and is actively trying to recreate it somehow.
Reed Richards of the Ultimate Universe started out somewhat similar to his Marvel U counterpart, albeit much younger. A cataclysmic event took place that left New York in ruins, and that world’s Fantastic Four disbanded, with Sue Storm rejecting Reed’s proposal of marriage. This Reed was much more narcissistic, and that only got worse in the wake of trauma and his own bruised ego. He faked his death and returned in disguise as an ultimate enemy that had to be taken down by his former teammates. Reed was left for dead in the Negative Zone but still found a way to return to Earth this time as The Maker. He’d disfigured himself by using his former foot soldiers’ dead brains and increasing his own brain mass. Think of the shape of the xenomorph’s skull in the Alien films.
When the Secret Wars came to pass, The Maker built a liferaft that allowed himself and the villains he joined up with to survive. When the Marvel Universe was returned to normal, there was no Ultimate reality to go back to, so he ended up sharing the same planet as the Reed Richards known as Mr. Fantastic. The Maker has become interested in Eddie Brock because he believes that harness the power of Knull, the dark god worshipped by the symbiotes, he might be able to recreate his old universe, but in the image he wants.
It’s quite an unexpected turn to have The Maker become such a prominent presence in Venom because the characters don’t really have any direct connection until now. I think those choices by Donny Cates are the most interesting because we get to explore the conflicts between two people who don’t have a lengthy history. That history is being created before our eyes, and how it turns out is anyone’s guess. I also really love the grotesque design of The Maker and the idea of a villainous Reed Richards. Reed has always been a character who can walk an ambiguous line, but seeing a version of himself cross over is pretty fascinating.
I am very excited to see where this story goes in regards to The Maker and Venom’s tenuous alliance. The Maker now knows more about Dylan than Eddie does, and that knowledge could be used to do something perilous. There’s a pretty stunning cliffhanger that appears Cates is delving into elements from Jonathan Hickman’s Fantastic Four run, which makes me hopeful that the cosmic horror nature of Venom will be further explored.