Whether or not you've read this week's Absolute Carnage #4, November's finale is a bit of destiny: Eddie Brock/Venom vs. Carnage, one-on-one. "To the death" as Marvel has promoted in their advance solicitation for the issue.
With Absolute Carnage #5 just a month away, Newsarams spoke with series editor Devin Lewis - who has been with writer Donny Cates and artist Ryan Stegman since they began on Venom - to talk about the event so far, and what's to come.
And we'll try not to spoil this week's Absolute Carnage #4 if you haven't read it yet (but it might help).
Newsarama: Devin, this week's Absolute Carnage #4 has a lot going on - including a Venomized Hulk - a first in the mainstream Marvel U.
Devin Lewis: Huge. Hulk-sized, even!
Nrama: I won't go too far into spoilers, but since it was first broached in #3 I think it's fair game.
Lewis: That moment was hugely important to us – not only to make sure that we got it into the story but to make sure that the moment didn’t get spoiled. Thankfully, we were able to pull both of those off in a big way.
What’s great, too, is that Donny, Ryan, myself, Nick Lowe, and C.B. Cebulski all talked that moment through in our very first meetings about Absolute Carnage way back in January. In keeping with the Absolute namesake, we knew that every issue of this event had be crazier and more intense than the last, and, of course, that meant putting symbiotes on some characters who have never had them before. Not to excess or distraction, of course, but in a way that made sense to the story and emotionally. Thankfully, Donny and Ryan nailed it!
On top of that, we were lucky enough to be joined by Al Ewing, Immortal Hulk scribe, for the Absolute Carnage: Immortal Hulk tie-in, which really gives that issue some weight. It’s not just an important chapter of Absolute Carnage, but of Immortal Hulk as well, and really has a foot in the stories of both books!
Nrama: At some point, this must all come down to Eddie/Venom versus Kletus/Carnage, one-on-one. The solicit for #5 even says they fight "to the death". What can you say about that coming showdown?
Lewis: Not much, other than that readers should pick it up the day it comes out to avoid getting the craziest symbiote story of all time spoiled!
In all seriousness -- where Carnage goes, death and destruction follow, and this time is no different. And as if Cletus wasn’t dangerous enough, he’s finally found a higher power to devote himself to in Knull, the God of the Symbiotes.
Dedicated Venomaniacs already know that Knull and Carnage want exactly the same thing - the eradication of all life in the universe - and that common purpose has renewed Carnage’s bloodlust, and the Marvel Universe is dead in his sights.
Nrama: Beneath the goopy, sludgy high-octone story here, Donny's really telling a personal father-son type of story - for an event, it has some real heart. How important was that for you in shepherding all this along?
Lewis: Massively, and not just to me, but to Donny and Ryan, as well – everyone on the team, really. Back in January, when we all sat down and really started to figure out what exactly this story was going to be, one of the most exciting parts of the process was discovering the part Dylan would play in it. Dylan is a very special character, as devoted Venomaniacs already know - though, I’m not sure they know just how special he is yet. But heroics and powers aside, Dylan is very much Eddie’s son, as we’ve seen in his involvement in Absolute Carnage in Rex’s warehouse.
Nrama: Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe this is the biggest book you've ever been the lead editor on. What's that like?
Lewis: That’s correct, and it’s been such a thrill! This is the largest story I’ve worked on in terms of its scope (all told, I think we’ll close out with about 29 standard-sized issues’ worth of CARNAGE!) and it’s been a dream come true, literally.
Over the course of this event, we’ve been lucky enough to visit corners of the Marvel Universe that don’t usually see symbiote-centric stories, including Weapon Plus and Captain Marvel, both of which are terrifying and awesome. I mean, I got work on a Ghost Rider book! How cool is that?!
Along the way, the fan response has been great, too. I swear, Venom readers are the best readers in comics. They’ve kept me on my toes a bit - I’ve gotten more than one late-night Twitter question about continuity - but are all so passionate and love the character, the book and story. Being a part of that has been very special; still have to pinch myself sometimes.
Naturally, there’s a bit of pressure that comes with that, but my Executive Editor, Nick Lowe, gave me some great advice at the outset - to take the event one book at a time. That’s exactly what we’ve done and it’s great to see that it seems to be paying off.
Nrama: You've been editor for Donny and Ryan since they started on Venom, but they've both grown so much - and Ryan's art has reached a new level with inker JP Mayer. What have you seen grow in them since you three started all this?
Lewis: Donny, Ryan and JP - and can’t forget our insanely talented color artist Frank Martin --are all such talented storytellers in their own right, but when you bring them all together the relationship is nothing short of… symbiotic. [Laughs]
More than any one stylistic choice or direction, though, I’ve seen them all grow together as a team. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a team in comics that works better together. Every email is sent to the whole team, and anyone - at any level – is always welcome to make suggestions, ask questions, or offer ideas.
And as they’ve built up momentum on the title, the Venom title and family have grown, too. Iban Coello, Juan Gedeon, Brian Level, and Kyle Hotz have all been able to lend their unique styles to the series, in a way that feels authentic and right in-line with what Ryan, JP, and Frank have been doing.
Nrama: We're down to it - the finale of Absolute Carnage, #5, comes out in a month. What do you want fans to get out of this ending?
Lewis: A great story! With all the super hero action, emotional tension, and kickass art. I think we’ve given them that and more, and I can’t wait for readers to get their hands on it.
Nrama: And lastly - any spoilers you can give us here about what's come?
Lewis: GOD IS COMING.
But what that means, who’s to say?