Absolute Carnage vs. Deadpool #1
Written by Frank Tieri
Art by Marcelo Ferreira, Roberto Poggi and Rachelle Rosenberg
Lettering by Joe Sabino
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
The Merc With a Mouth goes head-to-head with a Symbiotic Titan in Absolute Carnage vs. Deadpool, and I gotta say — as far as tie-in comics go, this one ain’t half bad. Piggybacking off Spider-Man and Deadpool’s previous team-up series, writer Frank Tieri finds a surprisingly organic avenue to bring the Regenerating Degenerate in on this new Venom event, while artist Marcelo Ferreira does some solid work in juggling both Deadpool’s comic streak as well as Carnage’s bloody reign of terror.
Of course, given that this is a tie-in comic book to an already popular event series, you can forgive Tieri a bit by leading with some fan-service — namely, Deadpool having an ill-fated team-up with Spider-Man that winds up leading him straight into the lion’s den at Ravencroft. Tieri’s pacing is easy to follow, and he nails the Spidey-Deadpool odd couple dynamic nicely. In fact, Tieri deserves a lot of credit for his restraint — it’s easy for Deadpool especially to come off as too over-the-top rather than being just funny, but Tieri maintains just the right balance, which makes the book’s later scenes featuring Carnage all the more tense later on.
But I’ll be honest here — you know as well as I do that tie-in books can be hit or miss at best. They’re not meant to reinvent the wheel, they’re meant to give readers multiple variations on a storyline they’re already excited about, while also giving the cash cow a little bit of an extra goose. So it’s both surprising and impressive to see Absolute Carnage vs. Deadpool swinging out of its weight class as far as the artwork is concerned. Marcelo Ferreira, teaming up with inker Roberto Poggi and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg, delivers some terrific work here — a double-page splash featuring a horde of enemies is really striking stuff, while a page of Deadpool blithely missing out on one of Carnage’s victims is chilling. The artwork also has a great sense of texture, particularly in the inks — it lends a grittiness that fits Deadpool’s more violent side, but still hits the comedic beats of the title character without even showing his face.
That said, this is a book that’s for fans of Deadpool or Carnage only, so if you’re looking for much extra context for the ongoing Absolute Carnage series, you’re probably out of luck. Like I said before, I wouldn’t even argue that’s necessarily Tieri’s job here — he’s not out to blaze new trails, he’s here to riff on the themes that writers like Donny Cates and Cullen Bunn have already established. But for some readers, the result might be a little too by-the-numbers — while I’d argue that Tieri at least gives Carnage an organic reason for going after Deadpool, you’re not going to get any special insights into any of the lead characters here.
Absolute Carnage vs. Deadpool #1 makes no apologies about being a tie-in comic, and while its overall narrative doesn’t feel like the most ambitious of storytelling, I think there’s a quality to both the pacing and the visual execution that shouldn’t be discounted. Writer Frank Tieri turns in some of his most polished work in recent memory with this issue, and penciller Marcelo Ferreira, inker Roberto Poggi and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg take that ball and run with it, making this unassuming spinoff feel like a strong audition tape for bigger projects down the line. While I wouldn’t say this is necessarily essential reading for the larger Absolute Carnage saga as a whole, I’m pleasantly surprised with how solid this limited series is turning out.